Your Tuna Salad Deserves High-Quality Ingredients

There are a head-spinning number of ways to make tuna salad: with or without fruit or nuts, incorporating a little celery or pickles for crunch, and adding a dash of various herbs and spices. However, the foundation of tuna salad typically begins with mayonnaise. Mayo is the creamy binder that forms the base and helps hold everything together, so you want to ensure you're not using cheap mayonnaise or low-quality substitutes.

One of the most common mistakes made with tuna salad is using a cheap mayo substitute such as Miracle Whip. Speaking of, Miracle Whip was initially created as a less expensive alternative to mayonnaise. It has less oil than regular mayo and includes water, sugar, and spices. In contrast, mayonnaise generally consists of egg yolks, oil, and some acid, such as lemon juice. 

A quality mayonnaise will give your tuna salad a creaminess and a smooth texture and add a nice tang. If you're unsure where to start with store-bought options, Hellman's and Blue Plate topped our popular mayonnaise brands rankings list. For another take on mayo consider the product that ranked fourth on the list, the Japanese mayonnaise Kewpie, which contains more egg yolks than regular mayonnaise and contributes umami and savory flavor notes.

Crafting your own mayonnaise, other ingredients

Of course, if you really want to know that you're using only the highest-quality ingredients for the mayo in your tuna salad, you can always prepare your own homemade mayonnaise. This way you can elevate your tuna salad with herbs and spices like oregano, dill, or parsley. We have a foolproof homemade mayonnaise recipe that can help get you started, then you can supplement the recipe with your own select seasonings from there.

When shopping for your core ingredient, canned tuna, the optimal route for tuna salad is procuring albacore chunk-style tuna, which works better for achieving that creaminess and smooth consistency. Buying tuna in water as opposed to oil will bring a milder flavor and fewer calories. You can further up your tuna-salad game by incorporating a pickled element. Sweet relish balances the salty and savory with an element of sweetness. Or you can use capers, which pair well with fish and add acidity and brininess. 

While mayonnaise may work for some people, it certainly has its detractors. Some either can't stand it or prefer to substitute a less fatty option better suited to their dietary regimen. For those seeking a mayo alternative to use in tuna salad, two other possibilities will still lend that creaminess without imparting the mayo taste: mashed avocado and yogurt. Other stand-ins could entail cottage cheese or Dijon mustard. These substitutes deliver the same smooth texture and consistency while offering different nutritional value than mayo.