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:
“While fresh tuna is fabulous, most of us like to have some canned tuna on hand. I like Tonnino, but it is too expensive for me and not readily available where I live. I am very happy to see Genova yellowfin tuna in olive oil on this list, as this is a staple item for me. It is reasonably priced and I can find it in most of the major grocery stores. ”
— Tessi
Comment

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

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Hannah
    Hannah
  • witloof
    witloof
  • Rose Marie Higgins
    Rose Marie Higgins
  • Shipzilla
    Shipzilla
  • Tessi
    Tessi
Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, 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.

23 Comments

Hannah September 29, 2020
Trader Joe’s skipjack tuna had been rated by the Seafood Watch as sustainably caught and low in mercury, so I’ve been eating it this summer on salad and sandwiches. It’s very tasty and I’m looking for a good tuna burger recipe because the skipjack variety doesn’t seem to flake and fall apart as easily as most brands of white tuna.
 
Tessi September 29, 2020
If I were going to make a tuna burger, I would likely start with a recipe for a salmon burger or salmon fish cake. While the flavors of the fish are different, they both would benefit from at least some of the seasonings. I would definitely use dill, some dijon and likely some capers, unless I planned to have a sauce that could contain capers. I will have to try your idea myself!
 
witloof September 27, 2020
Big Tonnino fan here. It is expensive but I can get four sandwiches out of a ten dollar jar.
 
Rose M. September 27, 2020
I grew up with Genova tuna fish in olive oil. It was always available in NYC. But for several years it was difficult to find, especially after moving to NJ and VA but now it’s in every supermarket.
 
Shipzilla September 27, 2020
Tuna in Olive Oil is the best...
Your review was excellent... and spot on! I use to work for one of the 3 largest tuna companies.
I would NEVER buy any tuna from any of the big three... They are the worst espy when it comes to susantainability and Mercury.
 
Tessi September 27, 2020
While fresh tuna is fabulous, most of us like to have some canned tuna on hand. I like Tonnino, but it is too expensive for me and not readily available where I live. I am very happy to see Genova yellowfin tuna in olive oil on this list, as this is a staple item for me. It is reasonably priced and I can find it in most of the major grocery stores.
 
MamaCruz4 September 27, 2020
All canned tuna is second class. Buy fresh tuna and preserve it yourself, that way YOU control the quality and ingredients. Yes, it's a little more work and takes time, but there's no comparison between that stuff you buy in metal cans on store shelves and the high-quality result of making your own. Ingredients list in my jars: freshly caught wild tuna and salt. Seriously. Make it yourself.
 
Douglas September 27, 2020
Mama4Cruz: If willing, please post your recipe for preserving fresh tuna.
Thanks.
 
toby September 27, 2020
I moved from Michigan to Arizona with 200 cans of Aldi's Northen Catch tuna albacore
it is absolutely the best!!Aldi's is finally coming to Arizona can't wait..
 
Ptnancy September 27, 2020
Do you know which stores? Im in Prescott.
 
Tam56190 September 27, 2020
There probably aren’t any left in AZ now, either. What hoarding.
 
WALTER B. September 25, 2020
Forget tuna. Try mackerel. Better flavor, no mercury.
 
Glen R. September 26, 2020
I'm a big mackerel fan as well and the great thing about it is that i find even the cheaper brands are of good quality, unlike sardines where I feel I need to splurge to get something decent.
 
Glen R. September 25, 2020
This tuna is all crap compared to al manar. I probably shouldn't let the secret out about that one, but i have a good supply.
 
Michele K. September 26, 2020
Do you mean El Manar?
 
Glen R. September 27, 2020
yes, that's it, thanks for the correction
 
Tam56190 September 25, 2020
Great but I’ve never once seen these brands on store shelves. They’re not the ones readily available in most stores’ tuna sections.
 
Tessi September 27, 2020
I likely depends on where you live. Here in NH, I can usually find Genova Yellowfin tuna in olive oil at Shaw's and Hannaford's markets. I may have also purchased it in Market Basket, though I haven't been there recently. I have seen Tonnino and Wild Planet in some health food stores. These days - for a price - you can find many things online.
 
Liz S. September 25, 2020
Vital Choice!! (www.vitalchoice.com). Vital Choice is my source for all seafood as well as other items. Items are not inexpensive, but all are sustainably caught/sourced and if you join their rewards program and email list for "sales", you can save a lot. With the exception of an order for beef patties (and I don't know why I ordered as I don't like preformed patties), I have found every item of the highest quality and flavor. And when I gave a 3 star review for the patties ... they refunded the entire amount which I did ask for nor expect. I've been buying from them for close to 10 years. Canned tuna and salmon look like I'd cooked the fish myself. Sardines and mackerel - stellar... Ok, Yes, I AM a huge fan :)
 
HalfPint September 25, 2020
The Wild Planet tuna is a good solid chunk of tuna in each can. I get it from Costco and it is reasonably priced too. When I can find it and afford it, Ortiz is a favorite too.
 
Shipzilla September 27, 2020
But Costco is probably buying it from one of the major tuna companies and have it packed for them...
Don't be fooled!
 
Cindy September 27, 2020
Costco sells Wild Planet. It's not repackaged under their Kirkland Brand - Wild Planet IS the brand. It's also available in local (Seattle) supermarkets (at $5 per 5oz can)
 
HalfPint September 29, 2020
No, the label is Wild Planet, not Kirkland's. If the Costco private label looks as good as Wild Planet or Ortiz, there is no reason not to buy and consume :)