White Bean and Tuna Salad

Talk about one of the most unassuming and absolutely delicious concoctions. So good that I literally am addicted. I can’t stop eating the stuff.

First tasted several months ago when my cousin, Julianne, made this for me during my visit home to Montana, I literally fought her for the leftovers during lunch. And then felt really guilty when I found out she was…well, newly pregnant. I know. The shame of taking away food from a starving, pregnant woman. Oh, and fighting her for it, too.

The guilt didn’t keep me from making it since, though. I’ve made this several times and I love it for the following reasons:

a) It is cheap.
b) It is out-of-this world in light, fantastic flavor.
c) It can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, lunch, light dinner, midnight snack, however you please.
d) It can be used as a topper for crackers, bread, lettuce leaves/cups, celery, and I’m sure a million other ways.
e) It is healthy. So I don’t feel so guilty when I combine every option from c and d and eat this for two weeks straight.

It really is that delicious.

What To ServeThe sky is the limit with this salad: serve it with Flat Bread, crackers, toasted Whole Wheat Bread, celery sticks, lettuce, tortillas, chips, sliced cheese, cottage cheese, etc. Add a fresh fruit and a green saladΒ to the other sides you have chosen and you have a meal.

One Year Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner 101
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

White Bean and Tuna Salad

Yield: Makes about 4 1/2 cups of salad

White Bean and Tuna Salad


  • Β½ cup chopped red onions
  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 (5 or 6-ounce each) cans of tuna (I prefer albacore tuna packed in water)
  • 2 (15-ounce each) cans of Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • A few splashes of Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt and olive oil to taste


  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle some of the lemon juice over the chopped onions while you prepare the other ingredients. This will take some of the oniony edge off the onions.
  2. Drain the tuna and put it into a large bowl. Add the beans to the tuna and gently stir to combine. Add the onions, parsley, black pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix to combine. Add Tabasco or hot sauce to taste. If the salad needs more acid, add a little more lemon juice. If the salad seems a little dry, add a little bit of olive oil. Add salt to taste.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature. The salad develops great flavor if tightly covered and refrigerated for a couple hours, or up to a day, before serving. Serve with crackers, lightly toasted bread, lettuce cups/leaves, fresh vegetables, etc.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Simply Recipes

49 Responses to White Bean and Tuna Salad

  1. Alisha says:

    We LOVE this recipe. As is or changed up to include lime juice, cilantro, a dash or two of cumin and a diced avocado. Yum!

  2. Karin says:

    New to your blog. Thos is awesome. So easy and so healthy!

  3. […] most instant feedback from readers. Sometimes I’m surprised! Like when I recently posted this White Bean and Tuna Salad – seriously, who knew that so many would go ga-ga over it. I thought for sure it would be one […]

  4. Christine says:

    I made this stuff this week and it was, as everyone else has said, absolutely incredible. Could not stop thinking about it sitting in my refrigerator. There’s a pic of it on my blog if anyone is interested. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  5. Kathy Mitchell says:

    Could I substitute green onions in this recipe?

  6. Dani says:

    The new website looks amazing!! This looks delicious and I think I will make it this week. Could I make a request to have the “print with photo” option come back?

  7. Celina says:

    What a coincidence…I have leftover Great Northern beans AND tuna! Will definitely give this a go

  8. Nicole says:

    Loved this one too! I make too many of your recipes. I’m sure there are other food bloggers out there… ha ha. Anyway, you do a great job of convincing me to try your recipes. Maybe it’s all the threats. Thanks!

  9. Army of 7 says:

    I know it’s a year later but reading the comments help me choose recipes to make. So I thought I’d just agree with everyone else, this salad is addicting!! Every single one of us loved it. My husband & oldest daughter love tuna pretty much no matter what but even my 4 & 2 yr olds ate this! It’s very quick & tasty πŸ™‚

  10. Elita says:

    Oh, yummy, yummy, yummy!! I made half of this and ate nearly all of it in one sitting! It was fabulous! I’m sure I need to find something else to put it in to finish it off. Or maybe I just need a fork… Good job Miss Mel!

  11. June says:

    This recipe looks yummy! Really clever not to use mayo, I like that!

    I’ve made a white bean spread, kinda like hummus, but minus the tahini, it really boosts the protein level without the fat, used it as sandwich spread; like to add spices that is used in Ranch Dressing, added veggies, yummy!!

  12. Bridgett says:

    WOW! This was absolutely delightful!! I really try hard to incorporate more tuna into our menus as it is very inexpensive and very nutritious, but I have never, I repeat NEVER, made something with tuna that tasted this good!!! I would definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who is not particularly a fan of tuna but is wanting to try to starting eating it. This salad does not have a tuna-y taste, and I even put 3 cans of tuna instead of 2. Another thing I did was let the lemon juice “cook” the onions for over an hour or so as I was cooking up the pot of beans. My husband grew up in Peru and misses the ceviche they serve there, so letting the lemon juice do its magic with the onion reminded him a bit of those familiar flavors πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing such a phenomenal recipe with us! It tasted great sandwiched inside a French Bread Roll!

  13. Kayla says:

    I stumbled upon your website one day while looking for dinner ideas and, without being dramatic, had changed my life! πŸ™‚ This salad is so healthy, yummy, addictive, and filling! I find a lot of salads like this are really one sided. The meat ones (aka “traditional” chicken and tuna salad) are only protein and fat and vegetable and grain (aka pasta salad) ones are all fiber but no protein…but this is the best of both worlds! I absolutely love your website. It is truly the best tool I have to keep putting innovative and always tasty meals on the table! πŸ™‚

  14. sara says:

    Love this! You wouldn’t think beans and tuna could be so great, but it really is! Next time, though, I will add a bit less onions…I bent down to kiss my 5-year-old while I was eating and he looked at me in surprise and said my breath smelled disgusting! :))))

  15. Veronica says:

    I looked through the comments and saw nary a negative one so I feel better about leaving mine. I didn’t like this! But at least I’m in the minority so it’s obviously a personal preference thing. My hubs didn’t like it either. Fear not, you’re still my #1 blog for finding the best recipes! πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Veronica – hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and as long as commenters are nice, I welcome even the ones that say they didn’t love something…so thanks for checking in on this despite the fact that you and your husband didn’t love it. Your comment was sweet, anyway!

  16. k says:

    this was so good! i just knew my vegetarian friend would love it. only problem: she’s vegetarian! ha ha. she ate some anyway and enjoyed it. πŸ˜€ now i’m wondering, what would this taste like with regular white beans? i can’t really figure out what the difference is between great northern and just regular white beans. can you guess what i’m craving and what i actually have in the pantry (and what is actually on sale)? ha ha. thanks for all the great recipes!! if you have any insight on the white beans…. πŸ˜€

    • Mel says:

      k – that’s a nice vegetarian to eat the fish anyway! As for the beans, my personal opinion is you can use Great Northern beans, Cannelini beans and white beans interchangeably so feel free to sub what you have in your pantry!

  17. Kara says:

    So yummy! I thought I’d just eat a cup of this, but ending up eating 2 cups for lunch and then having more for a light dinner. Hubbie liked it too. I will be making these again soon! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  18. Kimiko says:

    This was great! I loved the fact that it used things that I almost always have on hand..and no cooking involved. It was SO easy and quick! I know this will be one that I will definitely be making again. Thanks for sharing this one!

  19. Jenna says:

    Loved it. I am a snackoholic and what a delight to have something so tasty and healthy to snack on. Superb. Thank you.

  20. I cannot eat tuna, but I love chicken with Great Northern Beans in Chicken Chili so I would love to try it like that.

  21. Natalie Berger says:

    Oh my gosh. This dish has changed my life. I think I might be eating it for lunch everyday for the next 247 days. I usually dread lunch because I like to save my calories for dinner (and let’s be honest, dessert) and finding a low calorie, delicious, filling lunch that I can eat quickly before my 16 month old daughter demands my full attention is quite difficult. This fits the bill. Wow.

    • Mel says:

      Natalie – I know. It changed my life, too. We should start a group called “White Bean Tuna Salad Changed My Life…Has It Changed Yours?” or something like that.

  22. Diane Riedel says:

    I am a retail Chef and we prepare a recipe similar to yours for purchase. It is so yummy, like you said. It’s a great seller in the case and we make it often. Thanks for sharing your recipe for home use!

  23. Nancy says:

    OH MY GOSH. This is the best way I’ve ever had tuna salad. And all the protein! I love it. I used onion onion from tastefully simple (dehydrated onion mix) and it was good – fresh would be better though… πŸ™‚

  24. Angie says:

    This sounds like it might be one of my new favorites to keep in the refrigerator on a daily/weekly basis for snack time rather than digging into the Halloween buckets of candy that are currently sitting on our counter ;o) Thanks for the reminder that healthy is better!

  25. TrishInFL says:

    It sounds so good, except that I don’t like tuna! Do you think that subbing in canned chicken or grilled chicken would work?

  26. faith says:

    This looks so good and like something that will be perfect for packing for lunches for my husband and I!!!

  27. Katie says:

    Made it. Loved it. Thanks again for another great recipe!

  28. Naomi says:

    Honestly, I was pretty skeptical when I first read this recipe but I made it for lunch today anyway. Like you, I could not stop eating it! I didn’t even feel guilty afterward having 2 candies from my son’s Halloween bucket instead of my usual 1. πŸ™‚ I left out the onion and used cilantro instead of parsley. I also only used 1 can of each the tuna and beans. So yummy, thank you!

  29. Reyna says:

    Mel…when I saw this post this morning, I was like, “I have to have this TODAY” (that’s the crazy pregnancy voice that comes out) and so I’m just now sitting down to have some for lunch and I have to tell you this is one of the best recipes I could have hoped for. I LOVE that it’s a cheap, easy, healthy yet fancy and grown-up lunch. I can’t wait to make this for friends. I had to improvise a little–by subbing out lime for lemon, and cilantro for parsley–but the citrus and herb mixture did what I think it was supposed to, and I think it’s perfection. Next time I’ll do the lemon/parsley mix (because there will be lots of “next times”) And for anyone who thinks you don’t need the tabasco sauce–you do! It adds just the right pop of flavor, without adding actual heat. This is a HUGE winner in my book. Thanks friend!

    • Mel says:

      Reyna – you are awesome for trying this so soon. I’m glad it filled the craving (tuna always turned my pregnant stomach so I’m glad it doesn’t do that to yours!). And as you mentioned, this is so adaptable so you can usually use what you have on hand. Love that you loved it!

  30. Melanie Maxfield says:

    This recipe looks really good and healthy too! I LOVE your blog with all of your yummy recipes. I recently took your White Bean Chicken Chili to a church function (a Chili cook-off) and it won “Most Extraordinary”. Thanks for sharing your wonderfully delicious recipes.


  31. Cara says:

    Yum!! I made something like this over the summer but it had green beans in it too!

  32. I haven’t been able to eat tuna for 4 yrs…since my last pregnancy. Maybe this will get me eating it again! Looks great!

  33. StephenC says:

    You are spot on about white beans and tuna. We have it a couple of times a year.

  34. Melanie_S says:

    This looks right up my alley!! And I have tons of white beans in my pantry and I’ve been thinking they’ll go great in tuna. Now that I have seen someone’s tried & true way of preparing them, I think I’ve decided what’s for lunch today!!! πŸ™‚

  35. Kim in MD says:

    Thanks for my first laugh of the morning, Melanie! πŸ™‚ Congratulations to your cousin, Julianne! This looks delicious, and it really is so healthy! What a great recipe to make and keep in the fridge for snacking…thanks for sharing!

  36. Angie Walker says:

    I cannot wait to try this. I am a huge fan of tuna and great northern beans. And I have everything on hand right now in my kitchen. I know what I’m having for lunch today!!

  37. LOVE white beans which is funny because I rarely cook with them – will have to try this recipe!

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