3 Ways to Use Canned Tuna

3 Ways to Use Canned Tuna

Need some new ideas for using canned tuna? Tuna in a can lasts for years and makes for an easy meal, so having some simple tuna recipes in your back pocket can seriously improve your life!

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • April 16, 2020

It’s rare to find a high-protein food that stays good for years, tastes great, and can be used in a wide variety of dishes, but canned tuna is just that. It can last three to five years unopened and is much more versatile than many people believe. It’s an ideal food to have on hand for those moments when you need protein in a pinch — and sure doesn’t hurt when you just want some extra flavor, either!

Here are our favorite (and extremely easy!) ways to use canned tuna:

1. Tuna + Tomatoes + Bread = Open-Faced Sandwich

Don’t underestimate the humble tuna toast! With just a few easy ingredients, you have a complete meal. Pop open a can of tuna and drain it, slice some tomatoes, and throw ‘em on bread (toasted is our preference, but you do you!) for a ready-in-one-minute lunch. 

Have a few extra minutes to spare? Stir some chopped green onion, mayonnaise, and mustard into your tuna along with some chopped celery or bell pepper for a little crunch. Salt and pepper it to your taste and layer the tuna over the tomato on your bread, then top with a slice of cheese. Throw it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

2. Tuna + Sauce + Spaghetti = Pasta

Spaghetti with sauce is one of the easiest shelf-stable meals you can make, but there’s just one problem: the protein. Either you need to cook some ground beef to mix into the sauce, bake some chicken to go on top, sauté some tofu, or top it with a fried egg. And those things are great, but they take a little extra time to prepare (and they’re certainly not shelf-stable). 

Enter canned tuna. It can be used in a variety of pasta dishes, from primavera to classic marinara. The easiest way to add tuna is simply to drain it and stir it into a premade jar of sauce you’re heating in a pan, but sautéeing some garlic in olive oil, stirring in tuna, and tossing it with pasta doesn’t take much longer. You can add any veggies you want or keep it simple. Tuna also goes well in creamy pasta sauces such as Alfredo sauce, or in cold pasta salads. And lemony pasta with olive oil, olives, and other Mediterranean flavors is great topped with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

3. Tuna + Breadcrumbs + Egg = Tuna Patties

And speaking of breadcrumbs, for something a little different you can turn your canned tuna into tuna patties! Yes, much like hamburger patties, you can serve tuna patties on buns or alongside a salad or other sides. Mix drained canned tuna with breadcrumbs and an egg so that it sticks together while grilling, and for best flavor, mix in some lemon juice and other seasonings of choice. Consider some of the following, depending on your flavor profile preferences, or just go with your gut: 

  • Mustard
  • Chives or green onion
  • Hot sauce
  • Dill
  • Celery
  • Lemon zest
  • Soy sauce
  • Miso
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin

Form them into patties and cook over medium-high heat in a skillet until browned on both sides. So good with some tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes, you won’t even miss the beef. 


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