What to do With Canned Tuna (Other Than the Obvious)

October 06, 2017 | Food Lion
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Canned tuna has long been a pantry mainstay, and while tuna salad is a bagged lunch classic, there's so much more to be done with those storable cans than a basic sandwich.Tuna is something of a blank canvas, and just like there's many ways to upgrade the classic tuna sandwich – from the bread we use to the mayo and add-ins we include in the tuna salad – there's a lot to do with tuna that is not tuna salad at all. Tuna can work in everything from casseroles to muffins and pasta dishes, and even soups. The possibilities really are endless.

Tuna cakes

We don't always have crab meat available – and it tends to run expensive. That makes delicious treats like crab cakes a rare treat to enjoy, home or out. But we can shake things up with really delicious “tuna" sweet potato cakes can be made instead – using canned tuna, like this sweet potato tuna cake recipe from Life and Thymez. If you are looking to jazz up a can of tuna, this recipe calls for sweet potatoes and lots of fresh herbs. Make it even healthier by mixing in some diced veggies.


A great way to lighten up a pasta dish is to add a source of protein, like this pasta recipe from Food52 that calls for pasta paired with seasonal herbs, preserved lemon, and – yes! – canned tuna. For this dish, your best bet will be a high-quality olive oil packed tuna. The olive oil will fit well with the Italian theme. Preserved lemon is full of flavor and who doesn't love mixing lemon with their fish? Another spin is this gorgeous tuna bake with shells and lots of cheese. Think that fish and cheese don't go together? That's a misnomer, and doesn't a mac and cheese made healthier via the protein of tuna sound amazing? In this dish, pasta shells are mixed with a creamy tomato sauce, tuna and ricotta, and baked until brown and crusty.

High-protein snack

Eggs and tuna are both high in protein, and an important part of our diet. Put them together in this recipe for eggs stuffed with anchovies and tuna, via The Luxury Spot, which takes tuna off bread and pairs it with eggs and anchovies for a delicious snack that packs serious protein. You maybe never considered putting tuna into a hardboiled egg, but once you do, you'll wonder why you never have before!

Tuna Melt

Tuna Melts are a diner favorite and a great way to make a classic tuna sandwich feel a touch elevated. Yes, it's just tuna with melted cheese, but there's lots of ways to make it feel more special, such as switching up the type of cheese you use, or adding some spice. For example, check out Emeril's Kicked Up Tuna Melts, on MarthaStewart.com, which takes the basics like tuna and mayo, and brings it to the next level with upgraded cheese in the form of provolone, capers, onion, and lots of seasoning.

Or take that tuna melt next level

“Open faced crostini melts - I just did this last night for my wife and I," said celebrity chef Jeffrey Saad. “Two cans of tuna into a bowl, a handful of arugula, half of a leftover roasted red pepper chopped up, cherry tomatoes, really good olive oil and a big squeeze of lemon. Mix together and the arugula surrenders into the mix giving it a bring green, fresh flare. Thick sliced bread drizzled with olive oil and into the Panini press until golden and chewy. Top with the tuna mix and a slice of gruyere. Under the broiler for 2 minutes," says Saad. Simple, clean and delicious.


We love a burger, especially during barbecue season. However, beef can be fatty and high in calories, so it's great to find healthy substitutes that are still delicious — especially if you are inviting those who do not eat meat over for dinner. A Quick Tuna Burger is is a great way to reimagine that canned tuna, and the roasted red peppers, pimiento, onions, and celery you will mix in with the tuna will add a savory flavor . Or this Scallion and Sesame Tuna Burgers, via Flourishing Foodie, is loaded with flavor via avocado and ancho chili sauce, and only takes 20 minutes to make since it utilizes canned tuna. Fast, delicious, and also healthy is absolutely worth adding to our menus.


As weather cools, we'll be enjoying a lot more soup. We probably don't often consider this, but soup is another great place to use that tuna. For example, a soup comprised of tuna, white beans, and kale is a crowd favorite. The soup is based on the concept of a classic Tuscan tuna salad (also a great choice), and mixes tuna with Italian seasonings, white beans, kale, and a touch of spice. This soup would pair great with some crusty bread on a cold day.

Get creative

We don't all have a ton of fancy recipes at our disposal, but sometimes the greatest creativities are found in keeping things simple. “I survived in college by crunching up Cheez-Its with canned tuna and a little bit of olive oil. Another idea is to toss canned tuna into Guacamole to add some protein and make it a full meal," says Lola Mendez of MissFilatelista.com. So, the sky is the limit, whether that means going spicy, via tuna black bean quesadillas, or keeping things simple with a Mexican Chopped Tuna Salad. The beautiful thing about salads is you can throw just about any veggies in your fridge in, so it's a great idea to stretch what you have between shopping trips.

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