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Published September 8, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Leave the can on the shelf because this fresh tuna salad is loaded with grilled ahi and vegetables in this mouthwatering recipe.
Tuna salad is known as a “bound salad” and combines roughly chopped tuna fish with vegetables and a mayonnaise dressing while being served cooled. During the late 1800s, it was common practice that no scraps would ever go to waste. Any leftover fish would be simply tossed with vegetables and mayonnaise and then served on lettuce for lunch.
While tuna hadn’t become popularized yet at this point, the gesture or technique had already been in place. So, when canned tuna showed up in the early 1900s the tuna salad sandwich became a quick staple at lunch tables across America.
Here are the basic ingredients in a traditional tuna salad:
- Tuna – Freshly cooked ahi is preferred in this recipe.
- Celery – A few ribs of small, diced celery go a long way.
- Pickles – Kosher dill or sweet pickles can be used. Relish is often used as well.
- Onions – Red onion is best in this recipe although you can use yellow, white, or sweet.
- Olives – Sliced black olives or chunks of black olives would be classically used, although I don’t care for them in there.
- Mayonnaise – Any brand will do, although homemade mayonnaise would be amazing.
How to Make Tuna Salad from Scratch
Use these simple to follow instructions to make this delicious tuna salad recipe from scratch:
Coat the fresh tuna in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Grill the tuna on both sides until dark grill marks have formed and cooked throughout. Chill completely in the refrigerator.
Add all the prepared vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper to a bowl.
Roughly mince the fresh tuna and add it to the bowl with vegetables.
Mix until completely combined and serve or cover and chill until ready to serve.
There are several different ingredients you can add to a classic tuna salad to customize it to make it your own. Here are a few things you can put in it:
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Dried Cherries
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead – You can make this up to 1 day ahead of time.
How to Store – Cover and chill for up to 3 days. This will not freeze well.
chef notes + tips
- If you plan on serving this the next day, drain off any excess liquid and re-season with salt, pepper, and toss with a little more mayonnaise.
- You can substitute out the fresh tuna in this recipe with frozen-thawed, or even canned.
- Feel free to pan-sear or broil the tuna if you do not have access to a grill.
More Seafood Recipes
Homemade Fresh Tuna Salad Recipe
- two 10 ounce fresh tuna fillets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 peeled and small diced red onion
- 3 small, diced stalks of celery
- 2 small, diced pickles
- 2 tablespoons roughly minced capers
- 1 finely minced garlic clove
- 4 small-diced hard-boiled eggs
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the grill to high heat, 450° to 550°.
- Coat the tuna in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tuna to the grill and cook for about 7-8 minutes per side or until dark grill marks have formed and the tuna is cooked throughout, no pink. Place the tuna on a plate and chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
- In the meantime, prep all the vegetables and add them to a large bowl along with the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- When the tuna is done cooling roughly mince it until it is in bite-size pieces and then add it to the bowl with the vegetable mixture.
- Mix until everything is well mixed in and serve.