Tuna salad. Everyone has their go-to recipe. Here’s one that doesn’t use mayo and is a fresh Italian version of tuna salad that I had on my trip to the Amalfi coastal region of Italy. They served it as an appetizer in a hollowed-out lemon half. This would make a really delightful way to serve tuna salad at a dinner party! Just get your hands on some fresh lemons and carve them out. That, of course, is optional. Let me show you how to make Italian tuna salad.

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The Ingredients

I really love olive oil-poached tuna. It’s great because it doesn’t taste dry which is one of the reasons this recipe does not need mayo. Capers, lots of lemon juice, and a little bit of fresh tomato really bring this recipe its European vibes.

  • canned tuna in olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • grainy dijon mustard
  • capers
  • celery
  • red onion
  • tomato
  • parsley
  • hollowed out lemons for serving (optional)
  • salt

Making the Dressing

You can either use fresh olive oil or save the olive oil from the tuna cans. Either way, whisk some olive oil, lemon juice, and dijon mustard together in a bowl and start chopping the veggies for the salad.

Mix the Vegetables in with the Dressing

The dressing is now ready for the capers, celery, red onion, and tomato. Mix it together. Don’t be tempted to add salt just yet. The tuna may or may not be salty.

Flake the Tuna

Add the drained tuna to the bowl and break it apart into the salad. Mix all of the ingredients gently. This recipe benefits from sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours for the vegetables to marinate slightly but I’ve been known to throw this recipe together and eat it right away. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh parsley! Buon Appetito! (Impress your friends, that’s “enjoy your meal” in Italian. 😉 )

a photo made for pinterest with the dressing photo at the top and the plated Italian tuna salad on the bottom

Fresh Italian Tuna Salad

Eva Bee
Prep Time 15 minutes
optional marinating time 2 hours
Course Appetizer, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 cans olive oil marinated tuna ¼ cup oil reserved from can
  • cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grainy dijon
  • 1 tbsp capers chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion chopped
  • 1 small tomato deseeded and chopped
  • ¼-½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped for garnish
  • 4 lemons hollowed out (optional, for serving)


  • Open tuna cans and carefully drain out olive oil reserving 1/4 cup of it. Pour 1/4 cup of reserved olive oil into a large mixing bowl.
  • To the mixing bowl add lemon juice and dijon mustard. Whisk to combine.
  • Mix in capers, celery, red onion, and tomato gently.
  • Add in tuna and flake gently with a fork. Add 1/4 tsp salt to start. Stir 2 or 3 times to combine tuna with the rest of the ingredients. Taste. Season with more salt as desired.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve and optionally marinate for 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, gently stir the ingredients to redistribute the salad dressing ingredients that may have fallen to the bottom of the bowl.
  • If using, fill hollowed-out lemon halves with tuna salad and garnish with fresh parsley.

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