Best Canned Tuna: Cans, Pouches, and Kits!

Canned tuna is a pantry staple. It’s there for you when you need a quick chunk of protein or something to feed the stray cats. But the best canned tuna to buy? Well, that’s dinner right there. The best can of tuna is a lunch you look forward to. Don’t just grab any old can the next time you’re stocking up—you deserve the best tuna fish. 

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 treated as bland casserole fodder or a vehicle for mayonnaise. But over the course of two taste tests in which we thoroughly stank up the office, we found that canned tuna can astonish and delight all on its own. The best canned tuna can be a delicacy.

Here’s what we want in the best can of tuna: We want the fish to be tender, salted, and meaty. We don’t want mush. We want high quality, sometimes fatty tuna that is good all on its own, but we also want tuna that elevates salads and sandwiches. Give us flavor. Give us quality. Give us flaky fish with a toothsome bite.

Here is our updated list of the best canned tuna—and some tuna pouches, too.


 Bumble Bee Lemon Sesame Ginger

Best for Noodle Salad

Bumble Bee Lemon Sesame Ginger

I was shocked to find actual chunks of diced ginger in this tuna pouch. Lots of ginger. And it actually tasted like ginger. It didn’t just look like ginger. Sesame and ginger are often used with tuna—they’re all good buddies and they taste great together. There’s no reason to mess with a classic trio. Toss this tuna pouch with some soba noodles and cucumber batons for a fresh and simple noodle salad. —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

5.5/10

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Starkist Tuna Creations Light Tuna in Sunflower Oil

Best Sunflower Oil

Starkist Tuna Creations Light Tuna in Sunflower Oil

For a light tuna, this is quite good. The sunflower oil isn’t quite as flavorful as olive oil in other oil-packed tuna, but it still gives it that rich, luxurious oiliness you want in tuna when you’re making something like a salad nicoise. Plus, this pouch tuna is more affordable than some of the other oil-packed tunas on this list. It’s the best tuna in oil if olive oil isn’t your thing. —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

6/10

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Starkist Tuna Creations Hickory Smoked

Best Unexpectedly Good

Starkist Tuna Creations Hickory Smoked

The folks over at Starkist really went for it when they were creating their lineup of flavored tuna packets—some were misses (no thank you to the bacon and ranch we tried) but others were unexpected hits, like this hickory-flavored tuna pouch. It doesn’t really taste like tuna, tbh, which can be a point in its favor or against it, depending on what you’re looking for. It does taste like if jerky and tuna had a baby. It’s very smoky and meaty. I want this in a tuna melt topped with some smoked cheddar. It’s BBQ tuna and we love it. —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

6.5/10

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Safe Catch Elite Garlic Herb

Best Herby

Safe Catch Elite Garlic Herb

After taking a bite of this seriously herby tuna pouch, I immediately pictured myself sitting at a little wrought iron table in a garden with a lunch of this tuna on some lovely, crunchy bread. It’s extremely flavorful with lots of fresh garlic flavor and other fresh herbs. It’s a fancy tuna pouch that certainly challenged my perception of flavored tuna packets.  —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

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Best in Oil

Genova Premium Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Sea Salt

This can says that it’s packed in olive oil, and I believe the label, but there’s something nutty here, almost like it’s sesame oil. The olive oil is light and doesn’t outshine the tuna itself, which is flaky and tender. This is a great can of tuna with a rather unique flavor. Eat the fish by itself, or take it right from the can and throw it on a salad. You won’t be disappointed buying Genova. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Genova

Rating:

7/10

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Best Budget

Great Value Chunk Light Tuna in Water

Walmart’s Great Value tuna is really good. The meat is chunky and tender, and the salt content is at just the right level. Also, look, it’s time to say this: If you’re sleeping on Great Value products, it’s probably time to wake up. I fancy myself a skilled cook and food writer, and I can’t believe the quality of some of the stuff Walmart is putting out. The flavor is phenomenal, the price is great, and the amount of tuna you get is substantial. It’s the best tuna brand if you’re on a budget, for sure. Absolutely nothing to complain about. My mom is right; Walmart carries good stuff. Are you happy now, mother? ARE YOU HAPPY? —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

7/10

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 Best Smoked Tuna

Fishwife Smoked Albacore Tuna

Fishwife has lovely branding, and their product is ethically sourced and sustainable. Its meaty hunks of smoked tuna are a tasty if not fancy delight. The can, with its minimalist aesthetic, belongs on a charcuterie board with cheese, crackers, fruit, and mustard. It’s certainly the best tuna brand in terms of looks if nothing else. I’d put this on a cracker with some dill creme fraiche or eat it straight from the can. My only quibble is it is a bit plain for smoked tuna. The tuna comes brined in extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and brown sugar, but honestly it’s kind of hard to taste those things. That said, the quality is high, the fish is firm, and the oil is flavorful. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Fishwife

Rating:

7.5/10

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Best for Tuna Salad

Trader Joe’s Albacore Tuna in Water, Salt Added

The texture of Trader Joe’s canned tuna is firm and yet perfectly tender, making it the best tuna for tuna salad because it won’t immediately turn to mush. 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 is dark and fatty, too. This should be your new standard for tuna salad. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

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Scout Seafood Snacks Chile Jalapeno

Best Lunch (Runner-Up)

Scout Seafood Snacks Chile Jalapeno

Scout rivals Fishwife for having the best looking packaging. Their boxes and tubs of canned seafood are so pretty you shouldn’t hide them away in the pantry. And their new line of seafood snacks look so good, your coworkers might not even mind when you open up a can of tuna for a desk lunch. Each snack comes in an ice cream pint-esque container filled with a can of their firm, not-too-fishy, oil-packed yellowfin tuna, a packet of seasoning, and a little fork. The chile jalapeno mix includes toasted pumpkin seeds, corn nuts, and a mix of herbs and spices like jalapeno, cilantro, cumin, chiles, and dehydrated lime, which gives the mix a great pop of acidity. Mix everything together, scoop some onto a tortilla chip, and really enjoy that desk lunch. —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Scout

Rating:

8/10

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Safe Catch Wild Yellowfin Tuna in EVOO

Best Low Mercury

Safe Catch Wild Yellowfin Tuna in EVOO

Safe Catch prides themselves on offering tuna with the lowest mercury levels of any brand. So, if you’re eating tuna frequently or pregnant or just watching your mercury levels, this is definitely the best tuna brand for you. And this is one of the best products they make. The olive oil is super flavorful. It adds a great olive-y sweetness to the firm, savory tuna. Do not drain the oil. Use that oil! —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Safe Catch

Rating:

8.5/10

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Best Flavor

Tonnino Tuna Fillets with Garlic in Olive Oil

Mythical Kitchen’s Josh Scherer joined us for one of our canned tuna taste tests and this was his top pick—and we totally agree it’s some of the best tuna fish out there. The flavor is just incredible. The garlic smacks you in the face, and the rich extra virgin olive oil drips with every bite. “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 said. 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. It’s not exactly canned tuna (it comes in a jar), but hey, outstanding flavor is outstanding flavor. Splurge for this. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

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Scout Seafood Snacks Chili Crisp

Best Lunch

Scout Seafood Snacks Chili Crisp

Like the jalapeno version, this kit from Scout comes with a little wooden fork, a can of tuna in oil, and a packet of seasoning—for this one, it’s a mix of peanuts, chile flakes, Szechuan peppercorns, ginger, and other seasonings. I love how much seasoning mix you get to mix with your tuna—there’s a ton, so every bite is packed with crunch and flavor. Make sure you pour all of the oil from the can into the container; that’s how you transform the dry mix into a DIY chile crisp. I’m a bit of a salt fiend, so personally, I would add a few drops of soy sauce to the mix. But overall, this is an exciting, portable lunch you can pop into your bag and bring anywhere. The best tuna to eat for lunch on the go. Plus, it’s packed with 30g of protein!  —Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

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Scout Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil

Best Smoked Tuna

Scout Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil

While Scout’s tuna kits are great, the best tuna in a can they sell is a classic can of smoked albacore. It’s sweet like it’s been smoked over applewood. The texture is firm but flaky. And the olive oil makes every bite wonderfully silky. It’s definitely some of the best tuna fish to add to a charcuterie board. It deserves to be appreciated on its own, though it would be incredible with some chunks of super ripe tomato and a sprinkling of flaky salt. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Scout

Rating:

9/10

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Best White Tuna

Ortiz Bonito Del Norte White Tuna in Olive Oil

Ortiz white tuna is tender, meaty, and incredibly flavorful. The olive oil 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. The wonderfully oval shaped can and excellent fishboat branding really sell the product, too. Oh, and the tuna comes as filets. These are big chunks of tuna steak that taste great. I really want these on a saltine cracker. Ortiz nails it; one of the best canned tuna brands, hands down. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

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Best of The Best

American Tuna with Sea Salt

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 is so incredible that it took us all by surprise. This tuna doesn’t feel like it’s 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 best canned tuna ethos. Use it for sandwiches, salads, or eat it straight up. American Tuna makes the best can of tuna you can buy. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

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Other canned tunas we tried: Starkist Tuna Creations Lemon Pepper, Starkist Tuna Creations, Starkist Tuna Creations Bacon Ranch, Starkist 25% Less Sodium Wild Caught Light Tuna, Starkist Deli Style Tuna Salad, Starkist EVOO Wild Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Starkist Tuna Creations Herb & Garlic, Starkist Tuna Creations Honey BBQ, Starkist Tuna Creations Jalapeno, Starkist Tuna Creations Ranch, Starkist Tuna Creations Thai Chili, Starkist Tuna Creations Hot Buffalo, Bumble Bee Lemon & Pepper, Bumble Bee Applewood Smoke, Bumble Bee Spicy Thai Chili, Bumble Bee Chipotle, Wild Planet No Salt Added Albacore Wild Tuna, Wild Planet No Salt Added Skipjack Wild Tuna, Sustainable Seas Chunk LIght Tuna in Water, Sustainable Seas Chunk Albacore Tuna in Water, Chicken of the Sea Infusions Thai Chili, Great Value Lemon Pepper Chunk Light Tuna, Great Value GInger Sesame Chunk Light Tuna, Great Value Ranch Chunk Light Tuna, Safe Catch Elite Citrus Pepper, Safe Catch Chili Lime, Safe Catch, Scout Seafood Snacks Za’atar Crisp, Scout Wild Albacore Tuna


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.

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  • Omg you guys are so goated for this. I love this site.

    Reply
  • A really important thing about eating tuna is being aware of how much mercury is in it, and the albacore tuna tends to have more, as does any larger tuna. So tiny cheap tunas tend to be better for you. Hell, forget tuna and eat sardines.

    Reply
  • This website often feels sponsored by Trader Joe’s and Great Value 😅

    Reply
    • it’s not, but something I am going to write soon is about how often I’m surprised that Great Value products taste good.

      Reply
      • I know it’s related, but I believe it based on years of GMM taste tests. Constantly beating other store brands up and down the block.

  • It would be nice if you listed all the brands you tried somewhere.

    Reply