Mexican Ensalada de Atun (Mexican tuna salad)

This easy Summer recipe is perfect for lunch or a light dinner when you want something quick, inexpensive and nutritious. Ensalada de Atun is a common occurance on the Mexican table, but the purists tell you it must be eaten with saltines (and I tend to agree)!

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Bowl of Mexican Ensalada de Atun.
Bowl of Mexican Ensalada de Atun.

What Makes this Tuna Salad a Mexican Dish?

Ensalada de atúnis a classic dish all over Mexico and usually involves canned tuna tossed with something creamy (like mayonnaise), crisp lettuce, something spicy and some fresh lime juice. Vegetables are also typical, but the exact type of vegetable varies.

The fresh lime juice and the spicy peppers are must-have ingredients however, and the Mexican version is most often served with saltines.

While pickled jalapeños are common as the spicy ingredient, my friend from the Bajío region of Mexico made the recipe below, and she insisted on fresh serrano peppers.

Another popular tuna salad is the French nicoise salad (Salade niçoise). It also includes tuna and vegetables, but it does not typically mix everything together with a creamy dressing. The French version almost always includes green beans and hard boiled eggs.

The classic American version of a tuna salad, to me, is canned tuna with mayonnaise and pickles. My mom would often add celery for the crunch and sometimes she would add some chopped hard-boiled eggs. Never lime juice or spice however! Those are reserved for the Ensalada de Atun.

Bowl of Mexican tuna salad with saltine crackers.
Bowl of Mexican tuna salad with saltine crackers.

Classic Ingredients of a Mexican Tuna Salad

Every Mexican household adds their own touch of course, but the recipe below is from my friend from the Bajio region of Mexico. She was very specific (and adamant) on the ingredients that were needed.

The quantities of each ingredient were not standardized however. Many Mexican recipes include pickled jalapenos, but she made quite a face when I recommended this. The spice in her recipe comes from fresh serranos.

Ingredients for Mexican Tuna Salad.
Ingredients for Mexican Tuna Salad.

Other ingredients include:

  • fresh tomatoes,
  • fresh serranos,
  • canned corn,
  • fresh cucumbers,
  • mayonnaise,
  • purple onions
  • fresh limes
  • cilantro
  • romaine or crisp lettuce
  • served with saltines

Modifying to Low Carb

There are two ingredients in this recipe that are not compliant with a low carb diet: the corn and the saltines. It is a simple matter to leave the corn out of the salad and to skip the saltines.

Some will consider it blasphemy to not serve this salad with the classic saltines, but if you are really strict on your low carb lifestyle, crackers are not allowed. I would add some celery to the salad to give it a little more crunch.

How Long will it Keep?

This Tuna Salad will last about 3 days in the refrigerator once placed in an airtight container. The lettuce might get a little soggy however, so I would crisp it up with some fresh lettuce when serving the leftovers (especially if you are foregoing the saltines).

Bowl of Mexican Ensalada de Atun.
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5 from 2 votes

Mexican Tuna Salad

Mexican Ensalada de Atun is a refreshing tuna, cucumber and mayonnaise salad that is common to most Mexican home tables. Simple, easy, affordable and nutritious. This makes a big batch which can serve as a lunch or dinner for a large family.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Ensalada de Atun, Mexican tuna salad, Summer salad
Servings: 8
Calories: 270kcal
Author: Dorothy Stainbrook


  • large mixing bowl
  • long handled spoon
  • spatula
  • sharp knife


  • 28 Ounces canned tuna (water packed) drained
  • 14 Ounces canned corn delete if low carb
  • 4 roma tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise may need to add more at the end
  • 8 serrano peppers chopped
  • 1 Bunch cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 2 Large cucumbers coarsely chopped
  • 1 Head romaine lettuce coarsely chopped
  • 3 limes cut into wedges for individual use


  • Chop all the vegetables and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the tuna, the corn, the tomatoes and the mayonnaise. Gently mix all together until combined.
  • Add peppers, cilantro, onion, cucumbers and lettuce, mixing each one in as you go. Add salt to taste and stir in. All ingredients should be thoroughly mixed together by now.
  • Serve with lime wedges and saltine crackers (optional).


Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 270mg | Potassium: 494mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 7279IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg


  1. Maria on July 19, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    5 stars
    With the current temperatures here in Europe this summer I think this is a winner, thanks!

    • Dorothy Stainbrook on July 19, 2022 at 2:21 pm

      Yes, those temps sound brutal. We’re roasting here in Minnesota with 95 F and high humidity. Not a great time to be turning on the oven!

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