Tuna

10 Best Canned Tuna Brands for Sandwiches, Pastas, You Name It

September 25, 2020
Photo by TY MECHAM. PROPS: MEGHAN HEDGPETH. FOOD: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.

There are many factors to consider when judging the best canned tuna. Flavor is a huge one, of course, which is why I always opt for tuna packed in olive oil over water.

Yet just as important is safety. Tuna has been found to contain significant levels of mercury, a toxic heavy metal occurring both naturally and released through industrial pollution. Mercury is airborne, but eventually collects in water, where it is absorbed by fish, entering the food chain and winding up, eventually, on our plates. Though ingesting small amounts of mercury is okay, as it builds up in a body it can cause a host of maladies. To reduce the risk of mercury poisoning, the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as the EPA and FDA, regularly list guidelines for which canned fish are the safest and most environmentally-conscious to eat.

From a sustainability perspective, other fish and seafood are often at risk with conventional tuna fishing practices. Greenpeace notes that “pole and line” or “troll-caught” are two fishing methods for tuna that don’t negatively impact other marine populations. Many other types of fishing use fish aggregation devices, which can draw in young tuna that have not yet bred, thus reducing the overall population, as well as other creatures that weren’t supposed to be caught like sharks, turtles, and seabirds.

Ultimately, if canned (and jarred) tuna are certified to be low in mercury and sustainably caught, it will say so right on the package. Here are 10 brands of canned tuna we feel good about turning into lemony, tomato-y pasta, mixed with mayo for tuna salad, spread onto a pan bagnat, and more.


10 Best Canned Tuna Brands

1. Wild Planet

Wild Planet was founded in order to “promote environmental change from within the seafood industry.” Their tuna, which is available packed in water or olive oil, as well as a number of versions with added seasoning, was ranked number one by Greenpeace in terms of sustainability.

2. American Tuna

“American Tuna is a far cry from the ho-hum canned tuna of my youth. The flavor is truly unparalleled—it tastes like the tuna leapt from the sea right into the can. Not only is the flavor unbeatable, but American Tuna also has a real commitment to sustainability, sourcing only pole and line caught tuna from stateside shores.” Alexis deBoschnek, video host and recipe developer

3. Tonnino

“I usually buy Tonnino. I’m not brand loyal, per se, but I feel strongly that you should buy tuna packed in olive oil, not water.” Lauren Miyashiro, food director, delish.com

4. Whole Foods

The first national retailer to set sustainability and traceability requirements for their canned tuna, Whole Foods ensures their tuna is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, and requires each supplier they work with to employ electronic traceability software, which tracks tuna’s entire journey from fishing to can.

5. Ortiz

If you ask me, Ortiz is one of the best in terms of flavor—their silky tuna is just as good straight from the can as it is in recipes. This brand also sticks to sustainability: “That’s why we use the ‘live bait’ and ‘trolling’ techniques to catch white tuna.”

6. Bela

You may recognize Bela’s label from their sardines, which are superb on toast with a smear of butter or hummus, but their tuna is another great option. With practices to avoid overfishing and bycatch in place, as well as a commitment to packing the fish within hours post-catch, their European tuna is practically begging to come on your next picnic.

7. Ocean Naturals

Committed to producing simple cans of tuna (just water or olive oil), Ocean Naturals believes all fish-eaters owe the ocean a debt of gratitude, which they ensure through their sustainability promise: They distill concise information on the problems within the seafood industry, as well as their specific commitments to how they responsibly catch their slipjack and albacore tuna.

8. Safe Catch

Safe Catch boasts a commitment to protecting the marine ecosystem, plus a wide collection of seasoned tunas (like chile-lime, habanero-mint, and citrus-pepper). I bet the garlic-herb variation would be A+ in a classic tuna melt.

9. Aldi’s Northern Catch

Greenpeace notes that Aldi—which offers a couple canned tuna brand options—has made big strides for sustainability when it comes to their seafood’s in-house brand Northern Catch, though they add that it’s “unclear how Aldi ensures that its suppliers comply with these standards.”

10. Genova

As of 2017, Genova announced they’re holding themselves accountable when it comes to holistic sustainability practices, from the safety of their employees and fishing in a manner that respects marine life, to the legality and responsible operation of the vessels they buy fish from.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Frankly, water-packed tuna makes me gag, but as far as oil-packed tuna, while Wild Planet is considered the most environmentally responsible, I can't say that their product is the best. Tonnino's jar-packed is excellent, but the price has me buying & using it for special dishes. My constant go-to is Genova. It's tender, moist, flavorful, & if I'm not using the oil in a recipe, my cats LOVE it drizzled over a bowl of their dry food - lol!”
— BonnieC.
Comment

What's your go-to canned tuna brand and why? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chef Laura
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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. She tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

69 Comments

Chef L. March 22, 2021
I love Tonnino Tuna from Italy. After reading all the comments I think I will branch out and try a few more. I get Tonnino at COSTCO for a very good price.
 
BonnieC. March 22, 2021
If you have a Lidl grocery market in your area & they're running one of their Italian "theme" weeks, DO NOT MISS buying a jar of their imported Italian tuna loins packed in extra-virgin olive oil for the absolute bargain price of $5.99. (They also offer a larger jar of U.S. tuna packed in regular olive oil for $9.99, but I have yet to try that one yet.) And although off-topic, their imported Italian anchovies, also in olive oil & in nice reusuable metal bale jars, are equally fantastic.
 
Chef L. March 22, 2021
Try it in the jar! It's great. I have a good Italian picnic recipe for tuna packed in oil. I'll send it along if you want it.
Cheflaura
 
Kagman March 22, 2021
If I wanted a lesson in sustainablity, I'd have asked for it. What I wanted to know is what is the best quality Tuna out there. You've failed.
 
Sheree N. March 23, 2021
I believe sustainability was one discussion. Quality and taste were others. And all three considered in judging. No one cares to hear your sarcastic remarks or what you want to know about, really.
 
David B. March 19, 2021
Raincoast canned albacore is the best! Tracking available to boat and rod that caught the fish, single steamed. Available at Amazon or St.Jeans cannery Nanimo, BC
 
Sandra January 28, 2021
Nothing beats Costco’s Kirkland...really!!!
 
Mark G. January 28, 2021
Have you tried Soltuna
 
Paul D. October 23, 2020
I like Genova and Tonnino, but my favorite is Arroyabe in the oval can. I agree with some of the other commenters in thinking taste should’ve been the most important criterion. Discussing the mercury levels and sustainable practices of the best-tasting tuna is useful, but first the taste!
 
Sandra October 23, 2020
Hands down best most consistent can of tuna in water is Kirkland brand from Costco...never disappoints.
 
BonnieC. October 23, 2020
And if you're looking for a bargain in quality olive-oil-packed, Costco also carries multi-packs of 7-oz. cans of Genova. I try to always have some on hand.
 
chefmacgregor October 23, 2020
Something CRITICAL that was not mentioned in the article is that these high end canned tunas should NOT BE drained. Open the entire contents into a shallow bowl and break the tuna apart with a fork. After a minute or so the water will be reabsorbed into the meat. The tuna is cooked in the can and there is no water added. The liquid in the can is essentially tuna broth and should not be drained off. Use the entire can, including the liquid.
 
BonnieC. October 23, 2020
That may be the case with water-packed tuna, but depending on how I'm going to use it, oil-packed tuna would be way too oily if I mixed the oil in. I do leave it in if I'm using the tuna in a pasta sauce, but for other applications I prefer to use it to give my cats a treat over their dry kibble.
 
chefmacgregor October 23, 2020
Only referred to water packed tuna.
 
Shecolt October 22, 2020
My favorite for a very long time, has been Wild Planet. For all the environmental and humane reasons but also for taste and NOTHING added. They even have it on their packaging, “do not drain. Tuna in natural juices.” I buy a six pack at Costco.
 
BonnieC. October 22, 2020
I find Wild Planet's tuna on the bland side, but their canned Yellowtail (a tuna relative) is scrumptious!
 
Bill October 22, 2020
To publish a list of 'best' canned tunas, I am disappointed that TASTE was not the #1 criteria.
 
msherwo2 October 22, 2020
Rio de Mare in olive oil. So good.
 
BonnieC. October 22, 2020
Frankly, water-packed tuna makes me gag, but as far as oil-packed tuna, while Wild Planet is considered the most environmentally responsible, I can't say that their product is the best. Tonnino's jar-packed is excellent, but the price has me buying & using it for special dishes. My constant go-to is Genova. It's tender, moist, flavorful, & if I'm not using the oil in a recipe, my cats LOVE it drizzled over a bowl of their dry food - lol!
 
Kagman March 22, 2021
If I wanted a lesson in sustainablity, I'd have gone to the Greenpeace site... I want to know the best tasting tuna!
 
chambolle October 22, 2020
Arroyabe; Serrats; Ramon Pena; As do Mar... come on guys, you missed some of the best there is.
 
James H. October 22, 2020
This review doesn't seem very objective. When a food site says "best", I'm thinking that means flavor. Nothing against saving the planet, I just don't want that to be my priority at every meal.
 
Dollie A. October 22, 2020
Genova or Cento for ordinary use: all tuna, no soy protein, no soybean oil; good price.
Tonnino in the jar something special. So silky and luscious.
 
Chef L. October 22, 2020
You can purchase Genova Yellofin canned tuna at COSTCO for a much lower price.
 
[email protected] October 22, 2020
I grew up with water-packed tuna, but once I tried Genova packed in olive oil, I've never gone back. It tastes amazing and I'm so glad it is low in mercury and sustainable.
 
Maria S. October 22, 2020
If you've never heard or tried St. Jude Tuna, I highly recommend it. Support small fishermen and eat tuna that is beautifully packed and unlike most other canned tunas. (I have no affiliation, I just love their tuna) https://www.tunatuna.com/
 
Kagman March 22, 2021
$6.65 a can (6 oz) is pushing it... very far....
 
Conchetta October 22, 2020
Tonnino and Genoa packed in oil . are my two favorites I always drain off the oil. I believe they are from the Skipjack tuna which contains less mercury than other brands.