The Classic Dressing That Totally Upgrades Tuna Salad

tuna salad in a bowl
tuna salad in a bowl - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

Tuna salad — birthed in the 19th century when scraps of meats and fish were made into "salads" by adding mayonnaise to create quick, economical meals — has become a classic deli comfort food. Creamy, crunchy, and boasting countless recipe variations including tuna varieties such as albacore and chunk light, it typically features a delectable combination of tuna's mildly fishy flavor with savory mix-ins such as celery, onions, and relish.

But what makes or breaks a great tuna salad is its dressing. The dressing is the creamy, fatty base of the salad which provides its tartness, and soft texture, and binds your other ingredients together. And while there's nothing wrong with a delicious tuna salad with tried-and-true mayonnaise as its central dressing, why not elevate that flavor with the sweet, tangy zing of Thousand Island dressing? Yes, that thick, creamy dressing — which may or may not be the inspiration for your favorite fast food burger's special sauce — will add dimension to your classic tuna salad while keeping your recipe light and flavorful. But brace yourself, because this version just may end up becoming your go-to.

Read more: 12 Canned Foods You Should Avoid At The Grocery Store

bowl of thousand island dressing
bowl of thousand island dressing - Alexpro9500/Getty Images

A great tuna salad with Thousand Island dressing begins with determining which type of canned tuna to use. Using albacore versus chunk light tuna is a matter of personal preference, as both will pair deliciously with your dressing, but it's important to know the main flavor and texture differences. Albacore, which is typically canned as chunk white (smaller pieces) or solid white (larger pieces) is firm, lean, mildly flavored, and light in color. Chunk light, rather, is darker, has a softer texture, and is typically a bit juicier with a richer, more pronounced flavor.

Once you've chosen your tuna, you'll simply add your Thousand Island dressing, either in an even swap for mayonnaise, or a 50-50 ratio of dressing to mayo. Typically, one tablespoon of tuna salad dressing per can of fish is recommended, but feel free to adjust either the dressing or mayo to your taste. Alternatively, you can make Thousand Island dressing from scratch by combining a base of mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice and adding garlic and seasonings (usually paprika) to your liking. Want to save that leftover salad for another day? It can be refrigerated and kept fresh for up to two days.

person slicing boiled eggs
person slicing boiled eggs - AtlasStudio/Shutterstock

For all its zingy flavor, Thousand Island dressing works well with a wide variety of ingredients you can add to your tuna salad for next-level flavor and texture. For example, if you're looking for a texture upgrade while also maximizing your salad's flavor, add some chopped boiled eggs to your tuna salad. The sweet ketchup in the dressing will punctuate the flavor of salty eggs. Additionally, those eggs will provide an extra protein boost to your salad and offer a silky bite to its mouthfeel. Throwing this tuna on a melt? Add a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese or pepper jack — the saltiness of those varieties will bring out the tang in your Thousand Island dressing

Alternatively, you can upgrade your Thousand Island tuna salad by adding some diced boiled potatoes. Yes, a tuna-potato salad hybrid using red potatoes (with the tender skins left on) will add an earthy depth and a starchy flavor, creating a delicious new side dish. Thousand Island dressing works perfectly combined with the flavors of tuna and potato salad. So get creative and take that tuna salad to the next level — you'll be glad you did.

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