The BEST Tuna Salad with a SECRET Ingredient

mixed up tuna salad

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I feel like tuna salad is often overlooked. Maybe you think of tuna salad as gloopy and gray and mayo-y and gross. But this recipe is NOT gloopy or gray or gross. It is super delicious, fresh, and loaded with crunchy bits of yummy goodness, plus the SECRET INGREDIENT used in Jimmy Johns tuna salad that makes this recipe so tasty.

Also, tuna salad is a great source of protein and good fats. It’s super packable for school or office lunches—just add crackers and you’re all set. My favorite way to eat it is on a toasted slice of Mom’s Hearty Whole Wheat Bread, with a big slice of summer tomato and bubbly melted cheeeese on top. Yum.

Alright, what makes this like Jimmy Johns tuna salad?

I know you’re dying to know what the secret ingredient is. I bet you have it in your cupboard. The secret ingredient found in Jimmy Johns tuna salad is… SOY SAUCE!! YES! YUM! Something about soy sauce makes tuna salad extra tasty!

tuna salad before mixing

BUT! Soy sauce is not the only secret to this recipe. The second secret is to let it sit at least 3 hours or overnight if possible. It tastes a MILLION times better after letting the flavors develop and marinate. It’s still great right away but it’ll be so much better later on.

I know people have a lot of preferences about their tuna salad so feel free to add or omit whatever you please. Some people love a gloopy tuna salad?? Feel free to add extra mayo. Or I guess… Miracle Whip… if that’s what you’re into (weirdo). I know celery can be divisive as well so you can leave it out if you’re a celery-hater. But I love a good crunch to my tuna.

Tools I Used for Tuna Salad

  • Wild Planet Albacore Tuna: This isn’t really a tool, but it’s the canned tuna that I use. It’s pole & line-caught and one of the most sustainable tuna brands out there, which is important to me. It’s the little things we can do y’all. You can also buy this tuna at Costco!
  • Measuring spoons: I love these nice metal ones. I’ve broken the plastic ones before :/
  • Cutting board: These boards are great because they have rubber on either ends to prevent them from slipping around. Also, it comes in all sorts of fun colors!
  • Sharp chef’s knife: This is the one I use. You better not be chopping stuff with a paring knife!! Or worse… a STEAK KNIFE. Get a good chef’s knife! You deserve it, and it’ll last forever. So worth the $$.
  • Microplane grater: I use this guy all the time! It’s great for grating the garlic and zesting the lemon in this recipe. It can also be used for grating parmesan or chocolate bars!
  • Citrus juicer: This handy tool squeezes any citrus and catches the seeds. This gadget gets used in my kitchen several times a week, and I just give it a quick rinse when I’m done with it. It is dishwasher safe too though!
  • Glass container: Glass is great because it won’t soak in the smell or taste of tuna like a cheaper plastic container might. Tuna salad is great… but it’s not great when it’s mixed with something like cookies.

Let me know what you think of this tuna salad! Do you think it compares to Jimmy John’s?

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mixed up tuna salad

The BEST Tuna Salad with a SECRET Ingredient

  • Author: Megan B-L
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


It is super delicious, fresh, and loaded with crunchy bits of yummy goodness, plus the SECRET INGREDIENT that makes my tuna salad so tasty.


  • 3 five-ounce cans of tuna (I use Wild Planet, don’t drain) or 2 seven-ounce cans of tuna, drained
  • 2 ½ tablespoons mayo
  • 2 teaspoons dill pickle relish (NOT sweet relish!!)
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 ½ tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ medium shallot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon &  juice of ½ lemon


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a glass tupperware.
  2. Let flavors develop in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight if possible.


  • The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products that could help you make this recipe! 

Keywords: tuna, salad, soy sauce, celery

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