Modern society doesn’t show canned tuna enough respect. It’s often viewed as a source of low-fat, protein-rich sustenance and that’s it. When it’s not a part of diet culture, it’s being used as bland casserole fodder or a vehicle to simply ingest tablespoons of mayonnaise. Nobody, except for people with 3% body fat and the alley cats out back, eat canned tuna straight up. But during this taste test we found that canned tuna can astonish and delight all on its own. Canned tuna, it turns out, is a delicacy when done right.
For this ranking, Sporked invited Mythical Kitchen‘s Josh Scherer to come test tunas. During our typical tastings, we take turns trying each product, but for this we sent Josh through a canned tuna gauntlet. Mythical Kitchen’s brave maniac vs. 15 cans of tuna in a row was as frenetic and hilarious as one might imagine. So, here’s what we decided that we want in canned tuna: We want it to be tender, salted, and meaty. We don’t want mush. We want high-quality tuna that is good all on its own, but that we taste and dream of using for salads and sandwiches. Give us flavor. Give us quality.
Some of these brands turned us into canned tuna converts. Find out which ones below:
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- American Tuna with Sea Salt
“This is deliciously tender, well-salted tuna,” said Josh, “I don’t know if we’re going to find one that beats this.” We tasted American Tuna first, and, boy, it’s tasty. American Tuna is pole caught, sustainable, and packed right in the Pacific Northwest. (You can read about that on their website if you wish.) The flavor here is so incredible that it took us all by surprise. This tuna doesn’t feel packed in water so much as it feels packed in the natural juices of the fish itself. It’s a really fresh, excellent product that fully embodies the canned tuna ethos. Use it for sandwiches, salads, or eat it straight up. American Tuna rules.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart
- Ortiz Bonito Del Norte White Tuna in Olive Oil
Ortiz white tuna is tender, meaty, and incredibly flavorful. The olive oil it’s packed in is light and doesn’t overpower the fish itself, and everything is just so pleasantly salted that you’re able to eat the fish plain no problem. Inside the wonderfully oval can with excellent fishing-boat branding you’ll find hearty tuna filets versus what you find in typical cans of tuna. These are big chunks of tuna steak that taste great. I really want these on a saltine cracker. Ortiz nails it.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon
- Tonnino Tuna Fillets with Garlic in Olive Oil
“This is cheating, but dammit it’s so good,” said Josh, referring to the sheer amount of olive oil in this jar of tuna. The flavor here is just incredible. The garlic smacks you in the face, and every bite drips with rich extra virgin olive oil. “This is utterly delicious. I would eat this like a snack pack. I want you to put this in Go-Gurt form so I can squeeze it into my mouth,” Josh continued. Tonnino is flavored and packed with so much opulent olive oil, it almost feels like confit tuna. Also, extra points for the tuna fillets being so damn tender. This feels like steak. It’s not exactly canned tuna, but, hey, outstanding flavor is outstanding flavor. Splurge for this. Tonnino also has a ton of other flavors that my gut says are all very, very good.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon
- Trader Joe’s Albacore Tuna in Water, Salt Added
This was divisive, but our editor-in-chief Justine Sterling went hard for it. The tuna’s texture is firm and yet perfectly tender, making it ideal for tuna salad. It also comes salted. I can’t stress this enough: Buy salted tuna. You don’t want to use bland, flavorless tuna for tuna salad. Pre-salted ensures that every morsel of salad will be seasoned well. The meat here is dark and fatty, too. This should be your new standard for tuna salad.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon
- Fishwife Smoked Albacore Tuna
Fishwife has lovely branding, and their product is ethically sourced and sustainable. Outside of the colorful box it comes in, the can has a minimalist aesthetic that belongs on a charcuterie board with cheese, crackers, fruit, and mustard. I’d put this on a cracker with some dill creme fraiche. Make a fish salad out of it. Eat it straight from the can. “I’d carry this around in my pocket and pick little tuna shavings out,” said Josh. Justine envisions eating a can of Fishwife smoked tuna with a glass of white wine. It’s on the fancier side, but it is tasty, if not a bit plain.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Fishwife
- Great Value Chunk Light Tuna in Water
Great Value tuna is really good. The meat is chunky and tender, and the salt content is really nice. Also, look, it’s time to say this: If you’re sleeping on Great Value products, it’s probably time to wake up. I’m shocked. I fancy myself a skilled cook and quality food writer, and I can’t believe the quality of some of the stuff Walmart is putting out. The flavor here is phenomenal, the price is great, and the amount of tuna you get is substantial. Absolutely nothing to complain about. My Mom is right. Walmart carries good stuff. Are you happy now, Mother? ARE YOU HAPPY?
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Genova Premium Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Sea Salt
This says that it’s packed in olive oil, and I believe them, but there’s something nutty here, almost like it’s sesame oil. The olive oil is light, much like Ortiz, and doesn’t outshine the tuna itself. This isn’t straight-up decadence like Tonnino. Regardless, the meat is flaky and tender, and the oil is flavorful. This is a great can of tuna that brings in a rather unique flavor. Eat it by itself or take it right from the can and throw it on a salad. You won’t be disappointed buying Genova.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Genova
Best of The Best
Best White Tuna
Best for Tuna Salad
Best Smoked Tuna
Best in Oil
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