Delicious and Easy Smoky Tuna Salad Recipe

As soon as I open the can of smoked tuna, my kitchen fills with the aromatic and mouth-watering scent of hickory smoke. There’s something about that smoky flavor that instantly transports me to a New York deli, where I can indulge in a delicious and hearty meal. That’s why I created this Smoky Tuna Salad Recipe – to bring the flavor of a classic deli-style tuna salad to your kitchen.

This recipe is perfect for anyone who loves the taste of smoked tuna or wants to try it for the first time. It’s one of my favorite salad recipes, and I’m excited to share it with you. The key ingredient here is, of course, the smoked tuna – so don’t skimp on quality when purchasing canned or fresh tuna steaks from your local fishmonger.

To complement the smoky flavor, we’ll be adding some classic ingredients such as red onion, lemon zest, celery, and mayonnaise to our chunk light tuna. We’ll also include some liquid smoke for an extra punch of smokiness.

Whether you’re looking for a quick appetizer or an easy lunch option, this Smoky Tuna Salad Recipe has got you covered. It’s simple to make and will leave your guests wanting more. So let’s get started on this delicious journey together!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Smoky Tuna Salad
Smoky Tuna Salad

Picture this, it’s a hot summer day, the sun is shining, and all you can think about is a refreshing and hearty lunchtime meal. That’s where my smoky tuna salad recipe comes in. This dish has been my go-to for years now, and I know that after just one taste, it will become a staple in your recipe box too.

What makes this salad so special, you ask? Well, to start, I use a combination of both canned chunk light tuna and hickory smoked tuna to bring both texture and depth of flavor to the dish. The smokiness from the tuna pairs perfectly with the tartness of the lemon juice and zest, making for an impressive taste like no other.

One thing I love about this recipe is its versatility. You can serve it as a main dish with a side of crackers or on top of a bed of greens for lunch. Or you can make small canapes for your next party appetizer by piping the salad onto thinly sliced baguette rounds. It’s even perfect for meal prep – it stores well and lasts up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

So whether you’re whipping up a quick lunch or hosting a backyard barbecue, my smoky tuna salad recipe is sure to impress every time. Trust me – you’ll fall in love with this delicious and flavorful dish!

Ingredient List

 Bite into the smoky goodness of this tuna salad
Bite into the smoky goodness of this tuna salad

Let me walk you through the ingredient list for my smoky tuna salad recipe. Here’s what you need:

Main Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 can hickory smoked tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

Smoky Flavor Boosters:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Tangy and Zesty Additions:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients to Experiment with :

  • Cream cheese, softened
  • Fennel seeds (2 teaspoons)
  • Flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • Aioli (2 tablespoons)

Gather these ingredients and we’ll get started on making the best-smoked tuna salad recipe you’ve ever tasted!

The Recipe How-To

 Bring the beach vibes to your plate with our smoky tuna salad
Bring the beach vibes to your plate with our smoky tuna salad

Chunky and Smoky: How to Make Tuna Salad with a Twist

Are you tired of tuna salad that tastes the same every time? If you’re looking for a recipe with a unique flavor profile that will leave your guests impressed, try out my Smoky Tuna Salad Recipe. The combination of chunk light tuna and smoked tuna creates a balance of textures, while the addition of liquid smoke adds an element of flavor that’s sure to turn heads. This recipe is perfect for any party or pot-luck, and it’s so easy to make!


  • 2 cans canned tuna (preferably hickory smoked)
  • 1 can (5 oz) smoked tuna
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ red onion chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the canned tuna, smoked tuna, mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, red onion, and celery. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

  2. Add the liquid smoke slowly to the mixture, stirring constantly. Be careful not to add too much at once – remember that it’s easier to add more than to take it away.

  3. Once you’ve reached your preferred level of smokiness in your salad, season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and creates a more cohesive dish.

  5. When you’re ready to serve your smoky tuna salad, give it one final mix in the bowl before plating.

  6. Garnish your servings with a sprig of flat leaf Italian parsley or some freshly cracked black pepper, and get ready for compliments from your guests!

Substitutions and Variations

 The perfect meal for any summer party
The perfect meal for any summer party

Now, let’s talk about some substitutions and variations for this smoky tuna salad recipe. One great substitution is using canned tuna instead of smoked tuna if you can’t find it or prefer a milder flavor. However, if you want to go big and bold, try using hickory smoked tuna for an even smokier taste.

You can also switch up the vegetables in this salad if you want. Try adding diced bell pepper, shredded carrot, or chopped cucumber for some extra crunch.

Another variation is to turn this tuna salad into a dip. Simply mix the ingredients together as described in the recipe, then add in cream cheese and a drizzle of olive oil to create a creamy and flavorful dip. This would be perfect for get-togethers as easy-to-make appetizers or canapes that are sure to please any crowd.

If you’re following a paleo lifestyle or just trying to cut back on dairy, try making your own homemade paleo mayo using avocado oil instead of traditional mayonnaise. You can use it in place of the mayonnaise in this recipe for a healthier twist.

Finally, if you can’t find chunk light tuna, feel free to use tuna steaks instead. Just grill or pan-sear the tuna before adding it to the salad for an extra layer of flavor.

With these substitutions and variations in mind, feel free to get creative with this recipe and make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

 Fresh ingredients + a smoky twist = the perfect tuna salad
Fresh ingredients + a smoky twist = the perfect tuna salad

Holy mackerel, you’ve made a delicious smoked tuna salad! Now, let’s talk about serving and pairing options that will make this recipe even better.

First things first, I recommend serving this smoked tuna salad on a bed of fresh greens or toasted bread. The salad is already super flavorful, but the greens or bread will provide a nice texture contrast and help balance out the smokiness of the dish.

For a more elegant twist, you can also serve this smoked tuna salad as chic canapés, topped with chopped red onion or flat-leaf Italian parsley. Your guests won’t believe how easy it was to make!

Now, let’s move on to pairing options. For drinks, I suggest serving a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. The acidity in the wine will complement the citrus notes in the recipe and leave your tastebuds singing.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, try pairing the smoked tuna salad with iced tea or sparkling water with a splash of lemon juice.

This recipe also pairs well with sliced vegetables and fresh fruits like grapes or sliced apples. This adds more freshness and texture to the plate and helps counteract any saltiness of the dish.

Lastly, whether you’re serving it at a fancy dinner party or as part of your backyard barbecue spread, this smoked tuna salad recipe is sure to be the star of the show!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Elevate your tuna salad game with this smoky recipe
Elevate your tuna salad game with this smoky recipe

As a scribe for home chefs, I understand the importance of being able to serve delicious and fresh food at any party. The make-ahead option is perfect for those who have a busy schedule but still want to impress their guests with an incredible smoky tuna salad recipe.

To make the recipe ahead of time, prepare the tuna salad as directed in the recipe, and leave out the celery until ready to serve. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you want to store it for a longer period, you can freeze it for up to 2 months. When you are ready to serve, just add the celery, give it a good stir and serve.

Making small changes while reheating this smoky tuna salad recipe is important so that you don’t lose any of the flavor or texture. If you plan on reheating in the microwave, heat it in shorter time increments allowing time to stir between each session until warmed through. On the other hand, if using oven method, cover with aluminum foil, and reheat in a preheated oven (350°F) for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to stir it every 6 minutes.

You can also serve this smoky tuna salad recipe as canapés or as an appetizer by pairing them with crackers or sliced cucumbers for friends and family at your party. Trust me when I say that this dish will be devoured faster than you could imagine.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This smoky tuna salad is sure to make your taste buds dance
This smoky tuna salad is sure to make your taste buds dance

Now that you’ve gathered all the ingredients and are ready to cook up a storm, let me share with you my invaluable tips for making the perfect smoky tuna salad recipe.

1. Use a mixture of chunk light and smoked tuna

One of the most critical components of this recipe is the tuna itself. I recommend using a combination of chunk light and hickory smoked for added depth of flavor. The smoky aroma will tantalize your senses, while the chunk light tuna adds texture to the dish.

2. Experiment with different herbs and seasonings

While the recipe calls for flat-leaf Italian parsley, you can always mix it up by adding other herbs such as fresh dill, basil or cilantro. Feel free to adjust the amount of salt and pepper to your taste.

3. Add a little bit of liquid smoke

To enhance the smoky flavor even further, consider adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the mayo dressing. Be careful not to add too much as it can easily overpower other flavors in the dish.

4. Make sure to chill before serving

After preparing the salad, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will allow all the flavors to meld together, resulting in a tastier dish. Plus, it’s always better to serve a chilled salad on a hot summer day!

5. Serve on toasted bread or as canapes

This smoky tuna salad makes for an excellent appetizer when served on crostini or toasted bread slices. You can also get creative and use it as a filling for canapes or mini sandwiches.

Follow these tips, and you’ll have all your guests asking for seconds (and thirds) of this delectable smoky tuna salad!


It’s common for home chefs to have questions about recipes to enhance their cooking skills. To make sure that you have everything you need and all your doubts are cleared up, we have gathered some frequently asked questions about smoky tuna salad recipe that will help guide you through the process. Let’s take a look at them!

How do you make Paula Deen’s tuna salad?

Let’s start by mixing some delicious ingredients together to create a crowd-pleasing tuna salad. In a mixing bowl, we will combine a can of tuna, a couple of eggs, some creamy mayonnaise, tangy lemon juice, savory chives, crunchy celery, sweet relish, and chopped onion. To enhance the flavors, we will add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and give it a good stir to combine everything. You can choose to serve this delightful salad on a bed of fresh salad greens or add some crispiness to it by serving on toasted bread.

What to add to canned tuna to make it taste better?

Looking to add some heat to your tuna dish? Consider using a spicy mayonnaise for an extra kick. To balance out the heat, try switching out the soy sauce for ponzu or incorporating lime juice to allow the citrus flavors to cut through the spice. Want to elevate your dish even further? Consider adding specialty ingredients like chili oil, kimchi, or melted cheese as a delicious topper. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t forget that tuna tastes even better with a hint of sweetness.

What should I mix with canned tuna?

Incorporating tuna into your meals is a quick and easy way to add some satisfying protein. You can pair it with a variety of common pantry items, such as pasta, cheese, bread, beans, and eggs for a delicious and filling dish. Read on for some tips on how to make the most out of this versatile ingredient.

Bottom Line

Now that you have learned how to make a delicious and smoky tuna salad recipe, it’s time to grab your ingredients and get cooking! Whether you choose to use canned tuna or hickory smoked tuna, this recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any party or gathering.

As mentioned, this recipe is also versatile – you can easily substitute and vary the ingredients to your liking, making it personal and unique. You can even turn it into a tasty tuna dip by adding cream cheese, aioli, or other herbs and spices.

So next time you’re looking for a quick yet delicious appetizer or canape to serve at your event, give this smoky tuna salad recipe a try. I promise you won’t regret it!

Remember, the key to the best results is using fresh and high-quality ingredients, as well as taking the time to follow the instructions carefully. With a little bit of effort, you can create amazing flavor combinations that will keep your guests coming back for more.

Thank you for reading this article and happy cooking!

Smoky Tuna Salad

Smoky Tuna Salad Recipe

Even with all the great Tuna Salads on Recipezaar, I did not see this one. My husband raves about it, and I do too. We eat this on toasted bread and lettuce, as well as on crackers; it would also make a great filling for pita bread or wraps. Hope you like it.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer/Salad
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 144.7 kcal


  • 2 (6 ounce) cans chunk light tuna, well drained (or white albacore)
  • 2 1/2 celery ribs, with leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon dill relish (rounded)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 lemon, zest of, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke (very scant, I use Wright's Hickory Seasoning Liquid Smoke)


  • Note: do not pour the liquid smoke directly from the bottle into the tuna mixture, as it comes out quick and is very concentrated (and will easily ruin and overpower your tuna salad) The smoke flavor is meant to be very subtle.
  • Be sure to drain your tuna well.
  • Mix ingredients together and serve as sandwiches or spread on crackers (I like Triscuit or Ritz).
  • Refrigerate any leftovers.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 65gCalories: 144.7kcalCarbohydrates: 7.6gProtein: 11.2gFat: 7.8gSaturated Fat: 1.2gCholesterol: 18.5mgSodium: 346.3mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 2.2g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Lunch, Tuna
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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