This healthy, keto tuna salad is made without mayo and is bursting with flavor! It’s an Asian-style salad that totally raises the bar on canned tuna recipes. And, it’s easy meal prep that can be ready in minutes!
Say good-bye to boring canned tuna and hello to this simple Asian tuna salad without mayo that is also a major flavor-fest. It has nutty and bold flavors and a healthy dose of umami from tamari, fish sauce and seaweed flakes (which are optional, but recommended). You may never feel the need to grab a jar of mayo for your tuna again.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s so good. I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but it’s one of my favorite things, ever.
- Meal prep is a snap. This recipe comes together in just minutes.
- If you’re looking for awesome nutrition, you’ll find it right here
- This is a great addition to your canned tuna recipes, and it’s a Whole30 and paleo tuna salad if you use coconut aminos instead of tamari or soy sauce
- It is FODMAP-friendly, low-carb keto-friendly, Whole30 compliant, and there’s even a variation so you can add this recipe to your AIP food list!
- Canned tuna – salt-free, packed in water is best. It’s a very versatile, inexpensive, healthy low-carb pantry staple. I like to use albacore.
- Toasted sesame oil – the best sesame oil for this recipe because it is nutty and rich, with a distinctive bold flavor
- Fish sauce – This gives a punch of umami to anything it touches
- Lime juice – Light, bright citrus adds a bit of brightness
- Ginger – Zesty, spicy ginger adds a touch of magic
- Tamari, light soy sauce or coconut aminos – Any of these add a rich, savory, salty flavor
- Lemongrass powder (optional) – Powdered lemongrass adds a light citrus, ginger and floral minty flavor
- Seaweed flakes – I like wakame flakes or furikake seasoning. This adds even more umami and a good dose of extra vitamins and minerals.
- Chili paste or red chili flakes – This is optional, but I like just a tiny kick. I recommend Sambal Oelek chili paste or sriracha sauce.
- Cilantro – Just because it tastes so good and the flavor blends so well with the other ingredients. However, if you’re one of those folks who thinks it tastes like soap, feel free to omit it.
- Green onion – Use the green part only for low-FODMAP
- Black pepper – It tends to bring the flavors together
- Shredded carrot – To add a touch of color and sweetness. 1/4 cup of shredded carrot adds less than 1g net carb per serving, keeping this salad keto-friendly.
- Sesame seeds – These make a nice garnish, but aren’t essential for the recipe. You can use white sesame seeds or black sesame seeds. See below for other optional add-ins and toppings.
What is the best tuna for salad?
The variety to use is entirely up to you. There are several available, but my favorite is albacore. You can make an ahi tuna salad if you like (using canned yellowfin is the same as ahi, as they are the same fish). However, there are many kinds of tuna that are great for this recipe, including skipjack and tongol.
I prefer unsalted and packed in water, with no other additives or spices. But if salted tuna is all you have, that should work well, too. If you’re sensitive to sodium and using a product packed with sea salt, reduce the fish sauce by half, as it’s quite salty. I’ve used tuna packed with sea salt and found it was just fine and not too salty for me. However, individual tastes vary. Try cutting back on the fish sauce and if you feel like it could use more salt, you can always add more.
Is tuna keto?
Yes – canned tuna is keto-friendly. It’s a great protein option for a keto diet and a staple for a keto pantry. It’s inexpensive, healthy and contains no carbs.
Is tuna low-FODMAP?
Yes! Fish and seafood are considered to be great sources of protein and do not contain carbohydrates, making them FODMAP-free and a healthy addition to a low-FODMAP diet.
What is the best seaweed to use?
If you’re using seaweed in this recipe (which I hope you are!), there are a few great options. Don’t worry – if you’re not a lover of tuna sushi or sashimi, this actually tastes nothing like it. Seaweed flakes are a highly nutritious superfood and add a layer of umami that is savory and so satisfying.
My favorites are:
- Furikake – What is furikake, you ask? It is a Japanese condiment that includes sesame seeds, seaweed, herbs and sometimes fish flakes, sugar and salt. Some brands also add monosodium glutamate (MSG). It can be sprinkled on vegetables, fish, meat, salads and rice. It’s a delicious addition to this recipe and is something I keep as a keto-friendly and low-FODMAP seasoning. I’m a fan of spicy furikake that is seasoned with wasabi.
- Wakame flakes – Wakame is a seaweed that is often used in traditional Japanese cooking. It has a mild flavor and is used in salads and miso.
- Roasted seaweed snacks are a great option. These are thinly pressed sheets of seaweed that are available in many flavors and are delicious for snacking, but can be cut or crumbled and added to salads.
Is seaweed low-FODMAP?
Yes! Seaweed is a naturally low-FODMAP sea vegetable. Monash University has reported that seaweed is FODMAP-free.
Where to buy seaweed for salad
Pretty much every store sells seaweed flakes or snacks of some kind. If you really love eating seaweed snacks, Costco carries a couple varieties that are tasty and are easily cut or broken into flakes. However, you would need to purchase a large quantity (it IS Costco, after all!). If you don’t fancy a trip to the supermarket, your seaweed can come to you, if you order it on Amazon. There you’ll find a wide variety of seaweed flakes and furikake, as well as roasted seaweed snacks.
It doesn’t get much easier than this! All you need is a bowl, spoon and measuring spoons. It’s a snap to bring together and is perfect for make-ahead lunches. Simple meal prep just makes life easier.
- Drain the tuna and place into a medium bowl
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined
How to make an AIP tuna salad
This recipe is a delicious addition to an AIP diet plan. There are some great sesame oil alternatives: simply replace the sesame oil with coconut, avocado or olive oil, use coconut aminos in place of tamari or soy sauce and eliminate the chili paste, black pepper and sesame seeds.
If you’re following the autoimmune protocol, be sure to stop by my AIP recipes category for more delicious AIP-friendly inspiration.
There are so many ways to enjoy this salad that go far beyond sandwiches. Here is a handful of my favorite low-carb lunch ideas:
- In an avocado (for my keto friends) or papaya half (yes, papayas are a low-FODMAP fruit. However, they are high in carbs, so if you follow a keto diet, watch those macros). Seriously, having this healthy tuna salad with papaya is out-of-this-world kind of good. It’s been one of my favorite low-FODMAP lunch ideas.
- Over lettuce with some Cilantro Lime Dressing or your favorite Asian low-FODMAP salad dressing. This is a low-FODMAP lunch that is very popular in my house.
- Add a scoop to some Keto Coleslaw with Cilantro and Lime (be sure to check out my post on how to shred your own cabbage for this one). This is one of my favorite keto salads.
- Make a tuna pasta salad and serve on cold shirataki noodles or spiralized cucumber with Sesame Ginger Dressing. This makes an awesome Asian cold noodle salad.
- Tuna lettuce wraps – stuff your favorite lettuce leaves
- Scoop it up with crackers, cucumber or bell pepper slices
- Fill up a low-carb tortilla and add some sprouts, avocado and cilantro. Some Sesame Ginger Dressing would be awesome here, too.
- Make a kimchi salad with tuna – serve on top of your favorite kimchi for a spicy, crunch-fest
How to store
Store in a sealed, airtight container in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 5 days.
- Spicy tuna salad – Feel free to add a little more chili paste, chili flakes or wasabi paste or wasabi powder for some additional heat
- Chickpea tuna salad – Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are a delicious addition and give a protein boost to the salad. If purchased canned, they are also low-FODMAP beans. Chickpeas are high in carbs, so they may not be the best choice for a low-carb diet.
- Use canned salmon in place of tuna, or canned chicken for an easy Asian chicken salad
Optional toppings or mix-ins
- Coconut flakes
- Chopped peanuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Crisped shallots or onions (omit for low-FODMAP)
- Finely chopped garlic or garlic powder
An unopened can will have a stated best by date of about 3 years. It could still be eaten after that if the can is undamaged. Once opened, it will last 3-5 days in the fridge.
Canned tuna, whether packed in water or oil, has 0g of carbohydrates.
Yes – seaweed is considered one of nature’s superfoods. It’s a good source of iodine, vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
Freezing your salad makes for fast, easy meals. Make a large batch ahead of time and defrost when you need a quick lunch or dinner idea. One advantage of making tuna salad without mayo, is that it doesn’t become watery when thawed. Mayonnaise tends to break down when frozen, becoming ‘melted’ as it thaws out.
Freeze in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to three months.
Lemongrass has a very distinctive flavor that is very similar to lemon. It has a slight citrus-like flavor with hints of mint and ginger. It tends to add citrus notes to dishes without adding the acidity and sometimes overpowering flavor of lemon.
Other Asian recipes you might like
- Keto Lo Mein with low Carb Asian Noodles
- Homemade Asian Cabbage Rolls
- Keto Bibimbap Bowl – The Ultimate Meal
- Sesame Ginger Dressing
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Asian Tuna Salad (without mayo)
- 10 ounces canned tuna (2 cans. In water, no salt is best. )
- 1 green onion (green part only for low-FODMAP – finely chopped on the diagonal)
- ¼ cup carrot (finely diced or shredded)
- ¼ cup cilantro (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (use avocado oil or coconut oil for AIP)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (can go up to 2 tablespoons for those who like it saltier)
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or light soy sauce. Use coconut aminos for AIP and paleo)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 tablespoon wakame seaweed (or furikaki seasoning)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (finely minced or powdered ginger)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional. See Notes for optional toppings and mix-ins)
- 1 teaspoon lemongrass powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon chili paste (or chili flakes. I like Sambal Oelek or sriracha sauce. Omit for AIP)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (omit for AIP)
- Drain the liquid from the canned tuna.
- Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until combined.
- Serve and savor!
How to serveThere are so many ways to enjoy this salad that go far beyond sandwiches: In an avocado (for my keto friends) or papaya half (yes, papayas are a low-FODMAP fruit. However, they are high in carbs, so if you follow a keto diet, watch those macros). Seriously, having this healthy salad with papaya is out-of-this-world kind of good. It’s been one of my favorite low-FODMAP lunch ideas. Over lettuce with some Cilantro Lime Dressing or your favorite Asian low-FODMAP salad dressing Add a scoop to some Keto Coleslaw with Cilantro and Lime (be sure to check out my post on how to shred your own cabbage for this one) Make a tuna pasta salad and serve on cold shirataki noodles or spiralized cucumber with Sesame Ginger Dressing. This makes an awesome Asian cold noodle salad. Tuna lettuce wraps – stuff your favorite lettuce leaves Scoop it up with crackers, cucumber or bell pepper slices Fill up a low-carb tortilla and add some sprouts, avocado and cilantro. Some Sesame Ginger Dressing would be awesome here, too. Make a kimchi tuna salad – serve on top of your favorite kimchi for a spicy, crunch-fest
How to storeStore in a sealed, airtight container in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 5 days.
VariationsSpicy tuna salad– Feel free to add a little more chili paste, chili flakes or wasabi paste or powdered wasabi for some additional heat Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – are a delicious addition and give a protein boost to the salad. If purchased canned, they are also low-FODMAP beans. Chickpeas are high in carbs and may not be suitable on a low-carb diet. Use canned salmon or canned chicken in place of tuna for an easy Asian chicken salad
Optional toppings or mix-insCoconut flakes, chopped peanuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, crisped shallots or onions (omit for low-FODMAP) or add some finely minced garlic or garlic powder.
*Net carbs = carbohydrates – fiber
Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools and does not include optional ingredients unless otherwise indicated.