Of all our favorite pantry staples, the humble can of tuna is probably the most overlooked. We all know it is easy to make a tuna salad sandwich, but that’s far from the only canned tuna recipe out there. Tuna fish is inexpensive and versatile, and there are many ways to turn it into a light lunch or dinner.
Add it to tomato sauce for a delicious pasta dish (not just a cold tuna macaroni salad!), create tuna cakes similar to crab cakes, or a crispy Mediterranean salad that—gasp—doesn’t involve mayo. So step away from the boring tuna sandwich and try one of these creative canned tuna recipes instead.
Quick and Easy Italian Tuna Melt
Let’s start with a classic—the warmest, gooiest tuna sandwich you can make at home with a can of tuna. It’s got red onions, green olives, jarred pesto, tomatoes, and capers. Everything comes together under a blanket of melted mozzarella cheese, between slices of whole wheat bread.
Get our recipe for Quick and Easy Italian Tuna Melt.
Healthy Tuna Veggie Melts
Opt for this light, calorie-saving tuna melt by making your sandwich open-faced and adding extra vegetables: celery, sweet peppers, and chickpeas.
Get our recipe for Healthy Tuna Veggie Melts.
Chickpea Tuna Salad
This is not your average sad desk salad. It is bursting with a rainbow of crispy, crunchy vegetables (red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, and arugula) which are added to the holy trifecta of quick pantry salads: tuna, chickpeas, and feta.
Get the recipe for Chickpea Tuna Salad from Well Plated.
Tuna Green Chile Zucchini Casserole
If you are paleo or doing Whole30, this zoodle-y, spicy take on a tuna noodle casserole may just become your go-to dinner recipe. The sauce is made from coconut milk, which is soaked up by the thinly cut zucchini noodles. Yum!
Get the recipe for Tuna Green Chile Zucchini Casserole from Cotter Crunch.
A weeknight dream recipe, this tuna pasta uses lots of zesty, flavorful ingredients to create a quick sauce for any pasta shape you have kicking around in your pantry. The briny olives and capers, anchovies, and tuna, all get stirred into crushed tomatoes, then slathered over pasta.
Get the recipe for Pasta Puttanesca from What’s Gaby Cooking.
RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.
Tuna “Sushi” Stacks
Ditch the takeout menu and make these “sushi” stacks of rice, avocado mash, cucumber-mango salad, and canned tuna. There’s even spicy mayo in there to get that sushi restaurant vibe at home.
Get the recipe for Tuna “Sushi” Stacks from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.
Mexican Chopped Tuna Salad
All the flavors of taco night in an easy, craveable tuna salad. It is customizable based on what you like in your tacos. Combine greens, avocado, black olives, corn, red bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, tuna, and black beans, with a Greek yogurt–based, dressing for your new favorite dinner. Wrap in lettuce leaves instead of tortillas to keep it low carb.
Get the recipe for Mexican Chopped Tuna Salad from Kim’s Cravings.
Tuscan Tuna Sandwich
Tired of the usual tuna-mayo-celery combo in your sandwich? This picnic-ready upgrade has sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives mixed into tuna which is then topped with avocado, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, arugula, purple cabbage, and feta cheese. It’ll keep you full for hours.
Get the recipe for Tuscan Tuna Sandwich from Half Baked Harvest.
Lighter Tuna Casserole
This retro casserole gets a modern makeover with a lighter, brighter take that is less saucy and has more vegetables. You’ll still find cheese in this recipe, but it won’t be in a richly overpowering sauce that hides the beauty of the tuna and pasta combo.
Get the recipe for Lighter Tuna Casserole from Gimme Some Oven.
Avocado Tuna Cakes
When you’re dreaming of crab cakes but on a canned tuna budget, make these easy pan-fried tuna and avocado cakes. Cilantro, red onion, and lime juice keep them tasting fresh.
Get the recipe for Avocado Tuna Cakes from Well Plated.
Smoky Tuna Pickle Boats
Pickle lovers, this one is for you. This low-carb, gluten-free recipe has a flavorful tuna salad (onion and garlic powder are your best friends) inside hollowed out dill pickles.
Get the recipe for Smoky Tuna Pickle Boats from I Breathe I’m Hungry.
Tuna Egg Salad
Tuna salad or egg salad? You don’t have to choose with this protein-packed lunch. Serve it with vegetables for dipping (like cucumber) if you want to go carb-less.
Get the recipe for Tuna Egg Salad from Fit Foodie Finds.
Spicy Tuna Onigiri
These handheld Japanese rice balls are great to take to work or pack in your kids’ lunches. Make them as spicy as you want, using a little or a lot of Sriracha in the mayonnaise mixture.
Get the recipe for Spicy Tuna Onigiri from A Beautiful Plate.