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Pesto Tuna Salad With Sundried Tomatoes

This pesto tuna salad with sundried tomatoes is so good and incredibly easy to make. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

So many companies now have flavored tuna pouches. Granted, they’re made it more ingredients than I usually like to ingest, but man are they good.

And on a hot day, I am not cooking. I’m not even grilling when it’s 90 plus and such high humidity.

Those tuna packages make for such a light and refreshing meal, and I’m all over it.

But I make this homemade version cheaper. And healthier. And potentially yummier.

This might be my favorite way to enjoy tuna, although I do love my tuna and tomato pasta. And homemade spicy tuna rolls (yes -“cheating” with canned tuna).

Looking for more delicious ideas with canned tuna? Check out the list more than 35 of my favorite canned tuna recipes.

Can I just use jarred pesto?

Absolutely. I grow basil so always need ways to use it. (Hello, tomato basil bisque.)

If you prefer to use either homemade or jarred pesto, use one-third cup of prepared pesto in this delicious tuna salad.

Make sure to leave out the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic. That’s what goes into pesto.

Make sure you include three tablespoons of the parmesan in the tuna salad itself, as only one tablespoon gets added to your pesto.

Do I need a blender?

If you plan to make your own pesto, you kinda do need a blender. You could use a mortar and pestle, but that’s more work.

I also feel like if you have that, you’re going to have a blender.

If you don’t have a blender, use premade pesto as instructed above.

And if you want a blender, I love my Vitamix. It’s not cheap, but their warranty is amazing, and mine is still going strong 14 years in.

Can I use jarred garlic?

So technically yes, you can, but I’m begging you not to.

Why? Jarred garlic sits in some brine generally, and it goes rancid way too fast.  And it just doesn’t taste the same.

For this recipe, you don’t need to even chop the garlic, just peel it, so it’s still quick and easy. If you need to learn how, I have an article on how to quickly peel garlic that includes a video demo.

When you buy fresh garlic, make sure you check its origin. You do not want to buy garlic from China.

What kind of tuna is best for tuna salad?

For the pesto tuna salad with sundried tomatoes, use albacore tuna in water. Albacore tuna tends to be flakier rather than mush of cheaper tuna.

No one wants mushy tuna salad. It’s worth the extra pennies to pick up albacore.

And while tuna in oil has its place in many recipes like Nicoise salads and more, you want to purchase tuna in water for tuna salad. The oil can too easily overpower the other flavors in the dish.

How do I make my pesto tuna salad less garlicky?

You have two choices, as the garlic flavor you taste comes from two sources.

Option one: Use slightly less garlic – a small clove or a half clove works. Reducing the amount of garlic in the recipe helps, but I’m always the person who adds extra garlic when I make recipes for myself.

The second option is to add the garlic when you add the second portion of pine nuts and the parmesan. When you blend it less, fewer of the cells in the garlic clove break, so the flavor is less strong.

Did you ever notice that the smaller to chop or mince your garlic, the stronger the garlic taste gets? That’s why!

What kind of parmesan cheese should I use?

Do not, and I really mean it, use the green can.

Ideally, you want to buy a block of parmesan and use your microplane zester to grate it. A wide ribbon grater works, as well.

If you purchase parmesan that’s already grated, they add anticaking agents to keep it from sticking together before you use it. However, that isn’t ideal when you mix it into pesto or the tuna salad.

Read This Next:  Simple And Delicious Tomato Basil Biscuit Cups

Even better? Buying a block of parmesan is cheaper than buying it already grated.

How should I serve pesto tuna salad with sundried tomatoes?

Tuna salad tastes delicious in so many ways. It’s naturally gluten free, though this version is not dairy free because of the parmesan.

I love to serve it in Bibb lettuce leaves as a wrap. It tastes delicious on a sandwich and with crackers.

This would be delicious in a hollowed out tomato, too. I often eat it just in a scoop by itself with fresh fruit like grapes, cherries, and strawberries.

There’s really no way to go wrong with this delicious and unique tuna salad.

How to Make Pesto Tuna Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

Ok ok ok, so you can use your own premade pesto if you want, but it tastes so much better when you make your own.

Gently toast your pine nuts in a dry fry pan for a few minutes until they start to smell yummy. Don’t let them burn though – you’ll want to keep shaking the pan.

Place the basil in your blender. Pour in about half the olive oil and give it a whirl until it’s made a good paste.

For this part, you don’t need to worry about adding it slowly so it emulsifies. You also don’t need to be exact about half, so just estimate.

Add half the pine nuts, all the garlic, and one tablespoon of the parmesan and whirl it up again until it’s all well blended. Add the remaining pine nuts and another tablespoon of the parmesan and blend again.

With the blender still going, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil until it’s smooth. Ta-da! Pesto is really that easy.

Now… open your can of tuna, and drain it. Pro tip: get and use a smooth edge can opener. They’re so much safer and super easy to use.

Add the tuna to a bowl. Chop your sun-dried tomatoes and add them.

Toss in the pesto you just made, along with the remaining parmesan and mayo. Gently fold it all together.

Serve it immediately, or store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to three days.

How will you enjoy your pesto tuna salad with sundried tomatoes?

Pesto Tuna Salad

Yield: 3 servings
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes

Canned tuna CAN taste amazing when you prepare it well. This unique tuna salad tastes absolutely amazing, and it's a fun twist on a classic. The Italian flavors work perfectly in this naturally gluten free recipe.


For the Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

For the tuna salad:

  • 7 ounce can albacore tuna in water
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, drained


  1. Gently toast pine nuts in a dry fry pan over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking constantly. Once fragrant, remove from heat.
  2. Add basil to blender with half the olive oil. Blend into paste.
  3. Add half the pine nuts, all the garlic, and one tablespoon parmesan. Mix again until well blended.
  4. Add remaining pine nuts and blend again.
  5. With the blender still going, slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil until smooth.
  6. Drain tuna, and add it to a bowl.
  7. Chop your sun-dried tomatoes and add them, the pesto, the remaining parmesan, and the mayo. Gently fold it together.
  8. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to three days.


  • You can use premade pesto in place of making your own. Use 1/3 cup premade pesto if doing so.
  • For more tips and recommendations, look in the article.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 420mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 19g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 28th of May 2010

Kelly - Of course with four kids, you might need to increase the dosage just a little bit ;)


Wednesday 26th of May 2010

Thanks for the cheaper version :) Sounds good.


Tuesday 25th of May 2010

Kori - If you buy them in bulk, they aren't so bad. BUT you can also make the pesto without them. It's a slightly different taste, but you're 95% there!

Alexis - So am I. In fact, I really feel the need to make this again tomorrow. And possibly experiment with some other flavors. Maybe a feta and kalamata olive type one?

Hyacynth - Definitely let me know! Yum! :)

shopannies - Absolutely. My husband grilled hamburgers for dinner tonight, and even the thought of eating hot meat turned my stomach a little.

Unknown Mami - And since it doesn't make a TON of food, you can totally make this for yourself and enjoy it :)

Unknown Mami

Tuesday 25th of May 2010

I'm totally going to make this. I will be the only one that eats it in my household but I don't care.


Tuesday 25th of May 2010

sounds like a perfect recipe for summer

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