This ensalada de atún (Mexican tuna salad) is fresh, creamy, and tangy. Serve as an appetizer, pack it for lunch at the office or school, or make it for a quick lunch any day of the week.
Ensalada de atún is a Mexican salad made of canned tuna, mayonnaise, and vegetables. It has a tangy and mild-spicy taste and a creamy texture combined with chunky vegetables.
The recipe varies from family to family, but there’s always an ingredient that’s never missing: Pickled jalapeños. This simple addition brings to this salad so much flavor!
Why This Recipe Works
- It is quick and easy. You only need to chop a few fresh veggies, open a few cans, throw them all together in a bowl, and toss them with mayo and cream. Easy peasy!
- Perfect to take away. Is a wonderful meal that is easy to bring to potlucks, lunch at work, or picnics.
- Can be made ahead. It makes the perfect prep meal for busy days.
- Use simple ingredients. Not need special ingredients that are hard to find.
- It’s highly customizable. Is one of those recipes that are perfect to “clean your fridge”, you can add other vegetables, use water-canned tuna, add other ingredients, etc.
- Canned tuna. You can choose what type of canned tuna to add. I will always go with packed tuna in olive oil as that’s the one we prefer, but if you want to cut off on calories you can add also tuna in water.
- Fresh vegetables. Red onion, fresh tomatoes, and lettuce.
- Canned vegetables. You can use a can of mixed vegetables (carrots, potatoes, corn, peas), or you can also boil some frozen vegetables.
- Mayonnaise. Use any type of mayonnaise you prefer.
- Cream. Mexican crema is what I used, but you can substitute it with sour cream or even greek yogurt as a healthier option.
- Jalapeno peppers. Those are very easy to find in many countries, look on Amazon or Mexican stores.
- Jalapeno Brine. I highly recommend using the juice from pickled jalapenos as an ingredient. It has tons of flavor but is by far less spicy than the peppers.
How To Make Ensalada de Atún
Place lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a can of mixed veggies in a medium bowl. Drain well the canned tuna and add it to the bowl with veggies.
Add Mexican crema, mayonnaise, and chopped pickled jalapeños.
Top Tip: Add about 1/4 cup of the brine from pickled jalapeños, it adds tons of flavor and makes this Mexican tuna salad outstanding!
Add a pinch of salt and toss everything for one or two minutes to coat nicely all ingredients.
Taste the salad and adjust the salt if needed. Serve your ensalada de atún as suggested below or store it for later.
- Make it creamier. Add 1 avocado cut into cubes for creaminess.
- Make it crunchier. Add crunchy bits of diced bell pepper, cucumber, or celery.
- Fresh and tangy. Lime juice, cilantro, and a bit of mustard add freshness and tanginess to this delicious Mexican tuna salad.
- Add fruit. Add diced apples or grapes for a sweet touch.
How To Serve Mexican Tuna Salad
This ensalada de atún can be served and enjoyed in so many ways, if you want to go for an authentic Mexican eating experience, here are our recommendations:
- On tostada shells. Those crunchy corn tortillas can be found at any Mexican store or also on Amazon, my favorite brand is Tostadas Charras and you can even buy the baked version and save some calories.
- With crackers. Salty crackers (saltines), also known as galletas saladas; are another option to serve Mexican tuna salad.
- In a sandwich. My favorite way of eating this dish, but you might want to make it and eat it straight away, as the bread can get soggy if you prepare the sandwich ahead.
- As a dip. Scoop it up with totopos tortilla chips, rice crackers, toasted bread, or for a low-carb option, with crunchy vegetables.
- Lettuce wraps. You can use crispy romaine lettuce leaves to make some wraps, which is a healthy option for eating this dish.
How To Store
Mexican tuna salad leftovers last up to 4 days nicely stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We recommend the use of glass containers as those preserve best the flavors and freshness in food.
If you want to make it ahead you can also toss everything, but the lettuce, and keep it in the fridge. Lettuce can be stored in a separate glass container for several days.
When you are ready to eat it, add ensalada de atún to a bowl, mix in the chopped lettuce, and enjoy.
This tuna salad is really perfect for bringing to gatherings, and office lunches. And since it stays fresh for a couple of hours outside the fridge, makes also a nice take-away for road trips and picnics.
What can I use instead of mayonnaise?
You can use greek yogurt or sugar-free plain yogurt. Cashew cream is also another good option.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Yes, this Mexican tuna salad is 100% gluten-free. We recommend serving with gluten-free crusty bread or crackers.
How to prevent my tuna salad from getting soggy?
Make sure to drain well the canned ingredients like tuna and vegetables. Also, dry nicely the lettuce with paper towels so it won’t add moisture to the salad.
More Mexican Tuna Recipes
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Ensalada de Atún (Mexican tuna salad)
- 1 -7 oz can tuna (drained)
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce (chopped)
- ½ cup tomatoes (diced)
- ½ cup onions (chopped)
- 1 -8oz can mixed vegetables
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeños (chopped)
- ¼ cup brine from pickled jalapeños
- Place lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and mixed veggies in a medium bowl.
- Add canned tuna to the bowl along with Mexican crema, mayonnaise, pickled jalapeños, and brine.
- Toss everything for 2 minutes or until all ingredients are nicely coated with cream and mayonnaise.
- Adjust salt to taste and serve on tostadas, saltine crackers, or stuffed in a sandwich.
- To prevent your salad from getting soggy make sure to drain well the tuna and vegetables, and dry nicely the lettuce with paper towels.
- The recipe yields 4 appetizer servings.
- This Mexican tuna salad lasts up to 4 days in the fridge stored in an airtight glass container.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.