"You’re The Top" Tuna Salad


Dave is a fan of my homemade mayo, but he confessed a few days ago that since his Whole30, the idea of tuna salad left him cold.

“I miss the sweet pickle relish,” he said, oh-so-sadly.

Which got me thinking: is there a healthy way to make tuna salad with a touch of sweetness and crunch?

And then I remembered the Waldorf salad.

When we made Waldorf Salad in sixth-grade home ec class, I declined to eat it. The concoction was created at the Waldorf Hotel (later to be the Waldorf-Astoria) in New York in the 1890s. To my 8-year- old mind, the original Waldorf salad sounded both gross (apples and mayo?!) and romantic (a glittery hotel in Manhattan!). But now, I appreciate its elegance, its short preparation time, and the contrast of crisp apples and tangy mayo.

Waldorf salad appeared in a cookbook in 1928, and it was so popular, it was featured in Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” from the musical Anything Goes.

You’re the top!
You’re a Waldorf salad.
You’re the top!
You’re a Berlin ballad.
You’re the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You’re an old Dutch master,
You’re Lady Astor,
You’re broccoli!


Waldorf Tuna Salad

Serves 2  | Prep 10 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1 small apple, diced (about 1 cup)

  • 2-3 scallions, dark green tops only, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup) 

  • 4 pecan halves, coarsely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna

  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

  • 3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil Mayo

  • salt and black pepper, to taste


Place apple, scallion tops, nuts, and parsley in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork.


Drain the liquid from the tuna and add the tuna to the bowl. Mash with a fork to break it up until no big chunks remain.


Add the mustard and mayo to the bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until blended. Try a bite, then add salt and pepper to adjust the seasonings. If you can stand it, let the tuna salad sit for 15 minutes so the flavors meld.

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  • Leah says:

    I make home-made chicken and tuna salad a lot. I like to add grapes to my chicken salad for the sweetness and apples to my tuna salad! Yummy! Haven't tried adding scallions yet but definitely will. Thanks!

  • Heide says:

    This looks yummy! I thought the idea of mayo and apples were gross until I tried it a few years ago, for the same reasons you stated. I use the combo in chicken salad a lot, but I never thought about tuna. I'm fortunate to live close enough to the pacific coast where we can get tuna from the boat. Then we take it home and can it ourselves and now I'm spoiled. It's hard to eat tuna from the grocery store now. It's even good straight from the jar 🙂 But I LOVE LOVE LOVE me some tuna salad and I can't wait to try yours.

  • AllieNic says:

    Yum! I love tuna these days…this looks delicious. I also appreciate the Cole Porter reference…I was once in a Cole Porter Revue at this really intense theatre camp…your lyrics bring back geeky memories.

  • slowmiles says:

    Oooh this looks amazing. And I pretty much love your mayo. It's bordering on obsession.

  • A Girl and her Puppy on a Paleo Mission says:

    I added capers, some Sarracha (sp), and chopped bell pepper! Super yummy, thanks for saving my paleo booty tonight!

  • Ami Marie says:

    This looks super yummy! What brand of olive oil do you use to make your mayo? Everytime I try to make my own mayo it just doesn't taste very good and I suspect my brand of olive oil may be the issue.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I'm so glad y'all are excited about this recipe. I made a batch of mayo at, like, 9:30 last night, just so I could make tuna salad today. YUMMY!

    Girl + Puppy –> Love the mods!

    Ami Marie –> I use my grocery store brand of "light tasting" olive oil. You can't use extra-virgin… my recommendation is to buy the cheap0 kind and look for a label that says "light tasting" or "light flavor" — that means it won't taste too olive-y. If you can't make it work with olive oil, you can use a nut oil instead but they can be expensive.

  • Marcus says:

    I would suggest raisins for sweetness.

    I also like sweet relish but find raisins and finely chopped apples to be a suitable replacement.

  • Ami Marie says:

    Thanks for the speedy reply! I'll pick up some cheap0 olive oil this weekend and give it another shot!

  • Angie says:

    I think I've become addicted to the homemade mayo. I don't know if it's just because "I made it" or because I know it's "clean" or because it tastes so yummy!

    So, I'm curious. Did he like the tuna salad with the apple??

  • CarreyB says:

    Looks delicious. I had a friend who used to make one like this, but also added shredded carrots and caraway seed sometimes.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Marcus –> I agree: raisins are yummy, but I have a tendency to overeat them, so I usually stick with fresh fruit, rather than dried, because it's less like candy 🙂

    But now you've got me thinking: curry powder, raisins, nuts… that's a tasty combo.

  • Joshkie says:

    For the longest time growing up I thought the only way you made tuna fish salad was with apple in it; as that was the way my Nany (Grama) made it. This was up
    until I was over at a friends house and his mother made it with put it. I was like sorry you forgot to put apple in it or are you out if so I can get a couple from my house. And that's how I found out not everyone put apple in their tuna fish sanwiches.

    Now I need to make some of my own.

  • Joshkie says:

    Also in stead of tuna fish try it with baked salmon or other baked fish if you don't liked caned tuna.

    Oh, good stuff.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Josh –> That's awesome: "You forgot the apples."

  • Flowerdew Onehundred says:

    My mom always put apples in tuna salad. It's a definite improvement!

    Where I miss the sweet pickle relish is, believe it or not, in deviled eggs.

    I like them without it (spicy mustard to the rescue), but I'd like them better with it!

  • stephclarkin says:

    After all the praise for your mayo, how could I NOT want to try it?!?! That's on the list for this weekend. 🙂 What is the white accompanying veggie on the plate in your photo? Jicama? If so, do you cook it? I've been wanting to try it lately.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Yes, it is jicama — and it's SO yummo!

    I eat it raw in sticks or grated in salads. It can be tricky to prep. Here's what I do:

    Wash the jicama.

    Cut it in half through the roots (like you would an onion).

    Peel it. (This step is annoying!)

    Cut into 1/2 inch slices, then cut those slices into matchsticks.


  • Becka says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I am taking this to work for my lunch. I work in a cafe by the way, so having something delicious to eat while my co-workers are eating the typical Ecuadorian meal of Rice with potatoes, with less than a 1/4 cup of meat will be important.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Becka –> Being around other food all day must be kinda tough. Hang in, sister!

  • Bonnie says:

    just made this and the paleo mayo! Patience is the key. The tuna salad looks totally yummy – I’m letting it chill for a bit before I dig in but the sample I snuck was sooooo good. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Mel says:

      I’ve been working on a series of different tuna salad seasonings because it’s so easy and so healthy… love to take it to work with raw veggies. Hope you like this one!

  • Rita says:

    What a great recipe! Had it tonight for dinner over some baby greens. I made it with your homemade mayo, which turned out wonderful too. Didn’t have light oil on hand so EVOO had to do. The flavor is a quite strong on olive oil, but as part of a dressing the flavor melds with other ingredients and vanishes. Thanks!

  • Beth says:

    I thought I was the only one who used apples in tuna salad! I started using them a year ago, to add crunch (replacing onions, which ten to overpower). Works beautifully, either with homemade mayo or a lemon and oil dressing, and with lots of lemon juice in and fresh herbs like Italian parsley or cilantro. Fennel and cucumber also work really well, together or alone, and some finely diced jalapeno. Yum!

    Thanks for the posting your great recipes.

    • Mel says:

      Oooh, fennel sounds like a great idea! And I love to put my tuna salad ON cucumber rounds, but I don’t like the cucumber IN the salad. Weird,right?!

  • Tracey says:

    OMG! I just made this and it is unbelievable 🙂 At first I was scared to add the mustard because I have never experienced mustard on tuna so I just used half the amount and it was fabulous.

    Also, I can’t thank you enough for the mayo recipe. I made it and it came out beautifully. I am starting my Whole30 today and was so dismayed to find that all commercially prepared mayo, even at Whole Foods, contains SOY OIL 🙁 Even the stuff that says “made with olive oil” contains all kinds of other crappy ingredients. This recipe is sublime 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I’m glad you tried it and that you were happily surprised. That’s my favorite thing about trying new recipes… when that first bite is, like, “Hell, yeah!”

      Congrats on making mayo! It opens up a whole new world of creamy food possibilities. Enjoy!

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  • Peggy says:

    I’m allergic to tree nut & peanuts. What would be a good substitution?
    We’re trying to eat a healthier diet so your blog looks like just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Peggy! The flavor won’t suffer at all without the nuts. Just leave them out, and you’ll be good to go. I make this without nuts all the time.

  • Kathryn Foster says:

    Sooo yummy! Yet again a hit from you with your mayo recipe LOVED IT!!! Thank you!!

  • sandie swanson says:

    love your recipes so far, but i hesitate to buy your cookbook cause you don’t show nutritional info. how come?

    • Mel says:

      That’s a great questions, Sandie! I went back and forth in my thinking while writing the cookbook and ultimately decided not to include nutrition info for two reasons:

      1. Well Fed isn’t a “diet” cookbook. It’s a collection of recipes that follow the paleo framework, and it’s a great way to lose and manage weight, but it’s not a diet book.

      2. I really wanted to honor the paleo philosophy that moves away from weighing, measuring, and food logging toward “eating until satisfaction.”

      As a lifelong dieter and food logger, it was a tricky decision to make, but I wanted Well Fed to accurately represent my thinking right now.

      Having said all that, the recipes include suggestions regarding the number of servings for each recipe, and you can always plug the ingredients into this tool to get the nutrition info:

      I hope you’ll give Well Fed a try!

  • Peggy says:

    Hi, I’m five days into this program and I’m learning alot reading your blog.

    I want to try this but haven’t bought tuna for years. Do you have a favorite brand? How about cans vs pouches?

    Also, I hoping to have the courage to make the mayo tomorrow.


    Happy Day!

  • Peggy says:

    Wow, thank you so much for the quick response with the link. I do much better with photos! I’ve have to see if my store carries it.

    Can I be so bold to ask a few more questions since Im making myself dizzy working on a shopping list for tomorrow?

    (I’m on a very limited budget, so it’s a little hard to figure this all out)

    My balsamic –


    Is this OK? I’ve had it in the cabinet and wanted to use it for dressings. It shows 3grams of sugar, but no sugar in the ingredients.

    For your mayo, you stress room temp – then say to leave it in the blender for another 30 minutes?

    Thanks again!

    • Mel says:

      The biggest no-no in balsamic vinegar is sulfites. You want a brand that does not contain sulfites — other than that, you’re good to go — although organic is preferable over conventional, if you can swing the cost.

      I usually put my lemon juice and egg in the blender for 30 minutes before making the mayo.

  • Kathryn says:

    I use StarKist Selects solid light tuna in Extra Virgin Olive oil. The price difference is $1.29 per can for these in comparison to. 99 a can for regular StarKist. Oh and for the mayo its just 30 minute minimum but I usually leave mine out for at least an hour and so far all of ny batches have been great! Good luck, the first grocery trip is the worst and after that you kinda figure it out!

  • Jared says:

    This is an awesome recipe. What vinegar do you use or does it matter?

    • Mel says:

      You can use whatever vinegar you like. Cider and white wine vinegars are a little sweeter… I have a pomegranate red wine vinegar that’s really good…

  • Julia says:

    What do you put your tuna salad on i’m so used to eating it with crackers what do you use?

    • Mel says:

      If I’m feeling “salad-y,” I put it on a plate and surround it with sliced cucumbers, red pepper strips, carrot sticks, and snap peas.

      If I’m feeling “sandwich-y,” I cut a bell a pepper in half, and stuff the tuna into the halves so I can eat it like a sandwich. Always with a few dill pickles on the side.

      If I’m feeling like having a mini party, I cut a cucumber in half, scape out the seeds, and put the tuna in the wells to make tuna boats.

  • Alana says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I made 1/2 of it for my lunch–and 1/2 of it is still left for tomorrow. I served it on a mountain of spinach. What a great little ditty of crunch and brightness on a wintery autumn day!

  • Jessica says:

    I just wanted to say you are one of my heros! I just got your Well Fed cookbook a few weeks ago and I have really enjoyed all of the recipes I’ve made from it so far. I’m a “dino-chow” newbie and it has been overwhelming, but your advice, wisdom and suggestions on how to prepare in advance for the week have really helped me out tremendously. I enjoyed reading your adorable tales about you and your family.

    Just got done making this tuna salad and it’s perfect! I threw in a chopped hard-boiled egg as well, simply because my father always put that in his tuna salad and its what I grew up with to enjoy in my tuna salads. 🙂 I look forward to trying the Tex Mex version next!

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Mel says:

      You’re so nice to let me know you’re enjoying Well Fed — I’m so glad it’s helping you make the switch to dino-chow!

      Hope you like the Tex-Mex, too!

  • Coles says:

    I recently picked up your Well Fed cookbook and I love it. It’s far more practical than a lot of the other ones I’ve come across (i feel like the “hot plates” idea is critical for Paleo success, an the recipes themselves are simple and delicious).


    I managed to overcook 2lbs of salmon the other night and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I made this salad with it in place of tuna (i’m not crazy about tuna). The salmon really took it to the next level. Definitely rank this recipe very high on the NOMNOMNOM scale.

    Thanks for being awesome!

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you like Well Fed — thanks for letting me know! And I agree: Hot Plates are a lifesaver most days of the week 🙂

      Love that you used salmon in the recipe. I have a very good friend in Alaska who scolded me for not making my tuna recipes SALMON recipes to being with 🙂

  • Ang says:

    I made this tuna salad last week and took some to work for lunch. I get a text from hubby around 12:30 “Your tuna salad was amazing” I actually had to call him to make sure he wasn’t lying. He has never described anything I’ve made as amazing. I used dijon mustard, not sure if it changed flavor much. Also, love homemade mayo!

  • Sheri says:

    So because I have made this 3 or 4 times successfully in the last 30 days of my 1st Whole30, I decided to double the recipe. Epic fail! 🙂
    I guess I just got the cockiness slapped out of me! haha
    Love this new staple that I’ve added to my new way of eating. Especially love it as the Italian salad dressing.

    I have made a ton of your recipes over the last 30 days, Melissa, and there has not been ONE that I didn’t absolutely love.

    Thank you!!

  • Fay says:

    Made this with macademia nuts because that’s what I had. Delish! Great recipe, thanks!

  • Jessica says:

    I make your Waldorf Tuna Salad once a week!

  • katie says:

    I love this idea, and kudos on the broadway reference! I shared it on my facebook group. Please stop by and say hi!

  • Amy says:

    i missed the sweet pickle relish too… I found that if I finely diced cucumber, Vidalia onion, and celery -tossed it with a bit of sulfite free balsamic vinegar, let it sit for 10-15 min and then worked in the tuna and mayo it made a good substitute and upped the veggie content