17 Canned Tuna Recipes for a Winner-Winner Pantry Dinner

Think: pastas, sandwiches, salads, and more.

March 30, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

Throw open my kitchen cabinet doors and you'll find a host of goodies: baking ingredients and dried goods on one side, a myriad of spices and tins along the other. My husband and I adore tinned things, especially those housing oily, briny, rich-in-flavor sardines, tuna, and shellfish. These have served their duty time and time again as easy weeknight "dinners" when we are just too tired to fire up the stove, or when we couldn't go to the grocery store and needed to rely on what was already stocked.

Canned or jarred tuna serves as one of our most reliable pantry soldiers. Whether they're packed in oil or water, imported from afar or straight from the supermarket (or online grocery delivery), preserved tuna is beloved any which way: folded into pasta; heaped upon bread; even added into recipes that don't originally call for tuna, but would taste mighty fine with their addition.

Lean on these 17 easy canned tuna recipes during your busy weeknights and don't forget to share your own tuna go-tos with us below.

Our 17 Best Canned Tuna Recipes

1. Low-Key Niçoise Salad

Consider this recipe a classic Niçoise salad's chiller, more laid-back cousin—it calls for just five ingredients (not including olive oil, salt, and pepper).

2. White Bean & Tuna Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs & Dukkah

This salad combines pantry staples (white beans, canned tuna, dukkah) with a few fresh ingredients (red onion, lemon, eggs) for a dish that feels rustic and elegant all at once.

3. Tuna & Noodles With Kimchi

Meet the powerhouse duo you didn't realize your noodles were missing: canned tuna and kimchi.

4. First Night in Florence Spaghetti

This spaghetti has over 170 glowing reviews—here's a taste of one: "It takes truly humble ingredients and makes something entirely exceptional. I've made this numerous times and will continue to!"

5. Tuna Noodle Casserole - Redux

Classic tuna noodle casserole gets a bit of an upgrade, thanks to a homemade sauce with herbs and sherry.

6. Zuni's Pasta with Preserved Tuna

Is this the ultimate pantry pasta? Considering the fact that this recipe calls for just one or two fresh ingredients, we're going to say: yes.

7. Noodles with Tuna and Peas ("Tuna Pea Wiggle")

Our co-founder Merrill Stubbs got the inspiration for this recipe from her dad, whose signature "Tune Pea Wiggle" was reserved for their annual sailing trip growing up.

8. Marcella Hazan's Fettuccine col Sugo di Tonno con Aglio e Panna

You probably know Marcella Hazan best for her famous tomato sauce, but this fettuccine with tuna and a garlicky cream sauce is definitely worth adding to your list.

9. Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich

You don't need a fresh baguette to enjoy to the tuna salad that comes with this sandwich recipes—it tastes great on any type of bread, scooped on top greens or grains, or even on its own.

10. Provençal Tuna Melt

This Provençal tuna melt combines many of our favorite things: crunchy-herby tuna salad, good bread, and soft cheese. What's not to love?

11. Classic Tuna Melt, Like Dad Used to Make

Two tuna melt recipes? Oh, yes.

12. Herbed Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad with Cumin, Coriander & Citrus

This entire recipe can come together in about 20 minutes if you multi-task wisely: while the couscous is cooking, get all the other ingredients prepped and ready to go.

13. Shaved Fennel & Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon

If you've got preserved lemons in your pantry (or are thinking about making your own), consider this salad a must-make.

Just Add Tuna

14. Pasta Puttanesca

Every ingredient (from the capers to the anchovies) packs a punch, and a can of tuna would round things out nicely.

15. Curried Chickpea Sandwich

This reviewer said it best: "I've made this dozens of times and it's always exactly what I want to eat for lunch."

16. Jaengban Guksu (Korean-style Soba Noodles with Spicy Dressing)

This easy-to-throw-together dish is totally customizable depending on what you have on hand—mix up the veggies, add canned tuna, you name it.

17. Back-Pocket Canned Salad

A few canned goods miraculously become a zingy salad with the help of some fresh lemon and feta—make it extra hearty by throwing in some tuna.

More Preserved Friends

What's your favorite way to use up the pantry-friendly tuna cans? Let us know below!

This article was updated by the editors in March 2020.

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Hana Asbrink

Written by: Hana Asbrink

Hana is the senior lifestyle editor at Food52.


bookjunky April 9, 2020
#15 is a chickpea recipe. No tuna.
Nancy April 5, 2020
Ina Garten has a Tuna Tapenade which is just delicious as an appetizer, along side a soup or salad, etc. You won’t be disappointed! Brightened with lemon zest, lemon juice, kalamata olives, capers.
Karleen W. June 26, 2018
Thank you.
BerryBaby June 23, 2018
The classic tuna casserole!
Made it a couple nights ago. Always have tuna on hand and love it on my lunch salad with a squeeze of lemon.
Author Comment
Hana A. June 25, 2018
Yum, it's a classic for a reason! Hope all is well, BerryBaby. :)
Nancy June 22, 2018
Lovely collection to help us see tuna in a few new ways.
Two comments -
1) If you love tuna & happen upon an Italian deli or a regular grocery stocked with Italian belly tuna (various brands, look for "ventresca" on the label), treat yourself to a can. You many not thank me (I'm still trying to find the person who spoiled me for regular olive oil.)
2) Add some preserved lemons to tuna salad or sandwich. It gives a depth and roundness of flavor that regular lemon juice or zest don't have.
Author Comment
Hana A. June 25, 2018
Thank you for your comments and tips, Nancy! Love a good Ventresca tuna (and it's so hard going back to "regular" afterward!). Have a great week. :)