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Classic Tuna Salad Sandwich Recipe

Ksenia Prints, Author at The Road Trip Expert, in the kitchen peeling vegetables

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This tuna salad sandwich recipe is a classic and the best I’ve ever tried. Perfect for road trips with a touch of mayo, pickles, and red onion! Everyone should have a good tuna salad sandwich recipe in their arsenal. It’s one of my favorite road trip sandwiches for a reason!

The mix of tender tuna, creamy mayonnaise, tangy pickles, and crunchy red onions creates an explosion of flavors in your mouth. It’s so simple yet so satisfying. The bread should be fresh, soft, and slightly toasted to add extra texture to the sandwich if you want to go the extra mile.

 It’s a winner in my book, and including it in your road trip food plan is a must!

overhead view of tuna sandwiches on a cutting board.
A tuna salad sandwich is a flavorful and healthy lunch option.
Two halves of a tuna salad sandwich stacked on top of each other and presented

Classic Tuna Sandwich

Recipe Author

Ksenia Prints
This tuna salad sandwich recipe is a classic and the best I've ever tried. Perfect for road trips with a touch of mayo, pickles, and red onion! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 full sandwiches
Calories 168 kcal


  • Can opener
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Knife (for slicing the submarine buns)
  • Baking sheet ( if toasting buns)
  • Oven (if toasting buns)
  • Spoon (for adding tuna salad to the buns)


  • 1 can of tuna in water (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons diced pickles
  • ¼ cup diced purple onion
  • 4 curly leaf lettuce leaves
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 submarine buns


  • Open the can of tuna and drain the water. Transfer the tuna to a mixing bowl and use a fork to break it apart into small flakes.
    Preparing the tuna for the sandwich
  • Add the mayonnaise to the bowl with the tuna. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until the tuna and mayo are thoroughly combined.
    Adding the mayonnaise to the tuna and seasoning it
  • Add the diced pickles and purple onion to the tuna mixture. Stir everything together until the pickles and onion are evenly distributed throughout the tuna salad.
    Combining the ingredients into the tuna mix
  • If you prefer toasted buns, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Slice the submarine buns horizontally and place them on a baking sheet. Toast the buns in the oven for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
    Preparing the buns for the tuna sandwich
  • Open up the toasted or untoasted submarine buns. Add two slices of lettuce to the bottom half of each bun. Spoon a generous amount of tuna salad onto the lettuce. Place the top halves back on to complete the sandwiches.
    Assembling the tuna sandwich



Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 18.7gProtein: 12.4gFat: 4.8gSaturated Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 268mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 1.9g
Keyword classic tuna sandwich, tuna salad sandwich
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Tuna Sandwich in storage container.

These tuna salad sandwiches will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. They will keep ice or cooling packs in a cooler for up to 24 hours. If you use regular sandwich bread, the sandwiches may get soggy and are best eaten within a day.


hands holding Tuna Sandwich.
  • For a vegan tuna salad recipe, try our road trip-ready spicy chickpea sandwich.
  • Add celery for a touch of crunch.
  • Add sweet bell peppers for a touch of sweetness.
  • Add a squirt of Sriracha for a spicy tuna salad sandwich.
  • Pack this tuna salad without bread, and pair it with crunchy lettuce for tuna salad lettuce cups.

Top Tips

overhead view of Tuna Sandwiches on board.
  • For the ultimate gourmet road trip tuna sandwich, toast the bread before assembling your sandwich. This will create a nice crunch and prevent the bread from getting soggy.
  • Opt for crusty bread like submarine buns, which will hold up better to the wet ingredients of the salad.
  • To make the tuna salad, use high-quality canned tuna, and then add your favorite mix-ins, such as celery, pickles, and onions. Be sure to season with salt and pepper to taste. Other tasty additions include hard-boiled eggs, diced apples, or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Assemble your sandwiches with a generous tuna salad and some lettuce or arugula for an extra crunch.
  • Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil for easy transport.


side view of Tuna Sandwich.

What cheese goes with tuna salad sandwiches?

If you want to add more protein to your tuna salad sandwich, pair it with a slice of cheese. Several options can enhance the flavors of this classic sandwich. One popular choice is Swiss cheese, which has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that blends well with tuna. Another great option is cheddar cheese, which adds a sharp, tangy taste and a creamy texture to the sandwich. For those who prefer a more mellow and creamy taste, Havarti cheese can be a great option. Ultimately, the choice of cheese comes down to personal preference, and experimenting with different flavors and combinations can give you an exciting twist on a classic tuna salad sandwich. 

How to make tuna salad sandwiches with eggs?

Try adding hard-boiled eggs to your tuna salad for the ultimate protein boost! To make a delicious tuna salad sandwich with eggs, drain a can of tuna and place it in a mixing bowl. Add chopped hard-boiled eggs, pickles, red onion, and mayonnaise to the bowl. Mix everything until it’s well combined. The eggs make the salad creamier and add extra protein, while the celery and red onion give it a great crunch. 

Is a tuna salad sandwich high in protein?

Yes, tuna salad sandwiches are usually high in protein. Tuna is an excellent protein source, containing around 20 grams of protein per 100 grams. Additionally, the mayonnaise used to make the tuna salad usually contains protein and any other ingredients, such as eggs or cheese, that may be added. Bread also has a small amount of protein, but the protein content of a tuna salad sandwich will largely depend on the type and quantity of ingredients used in the salad.

Can I eat tuna salad sandwiches while pregnant?

Tuna salad sandwiches are generally safe to eat during pregnancy, but there are certain precautions you need to take. High levels of mercury, which is prevalent in tuna fish, can harm your baby’s developing nervous system. Therefore, limiting your tuna intake to two or three servings per week is essential. Additionally, make sure to choose a can of tuna that is labeled “light” or “chunk light” because it contains less mercury than “white” or “albacore” tuna. 

Can you freeze tuna salad sandwiches?

Yes, you can freeze tuna salad sandwiches. However, the quality of the sandwich may suffer when thawed. Be sure to use fresh ingredients and avoid adding elements that may not freeze well, like lettuce or mayonnaise. Instead, consider freezing the tuna salad and using fresh bread when you thaw out the salad. Also, wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic or aluminum foil before freezing to prevent freezer burn. When ready to eat, simply thaw the sandwich in the fridge overnight or defrost it in the microwave on the defrost setting.

What can I use in place of mayonnaise?

If you want to make tuna salad sandwiches but don’t like mayo, are watching your calories, or simply don’t have any mayonnaise on hand, you can use plenty of substitutes instead. Greek yogurt is an excellent option as it has a consistency similar to mayonnaise and is healthier. As creamy alternatives, you can also try hummus, avocado, or mashed white beans. Another option is a vinaigrette dressing or lemon juice mixed with olive oil as a light and tangy alternative. 

Ksenia Prints, Author at The Road Trip Expert, in the kitchen peeling vegetables

Ksenia Prints

Founder of At The Immigrants Table

Ksenia Prints is a food blogger, food photographer, and recipe developer dedicated to exploring different cultures through the kitchen. She spends her days cooking, writing, and photographing food for her blog— At The Immigrants Table —and hosting interactive cooking workshops. Her cooking and writing are a mélange of cultures and traditions that somehow turn out well.

At The Immigrants Table

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