Give your tuna salad a makeover with this chopped Mexican tuna salad. It’s made with iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, pico de gallo, avocado, and creamy cilantro dressing. So good and so fresh!

There’s no doubt that chopped salads are some of my favorites. I typically go with Chopped Greek Salad of some sort or a variation of this Asian Chopped Salad.

Lately, though, this chopped Mexican-style tuna salad recipe has been my go-to for quick lunches or even easy dinners.  It’s a chopped salad loaded with fresh vegetables, pico de gallo, and creamy cilantro dressing.

Just like our Mexican salad recipe, the variety of texture, flavors, and plenty of crunch make this salad so delicious and filling too! Not to mention the creamy cilantro dressing, which ties the salad together.

mexican chopped tuna salad


To make this Mexican chopped tuna salad you will need the following ingredients:

  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • English Cucumber
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Canned Tuna  packed in oil or water
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Black Olives
  • Avocado
  • Pico de Gallo homemade or from the deli
  • Cheesesuch as Monterey, pepper jack, or cheddar (see recipe card for more suggestions)
tuna salad ingredients

In addition to the salad ingredients, you will also need the following ingredients for the creamy cilantro dressing: cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, sour cream, honey, and olive oil.

creamy cilantro dressing ingredients

Ingredient Note: You can use canned tuna packed in water or oil. I personally prefer tuna in oil as I find it more flavorful.  Either way, look for sustainably caught tuna and if buying tuna in oil, always look for olive oil-packed tuna. I love Wild Planet and Genova brands.

How to Make Mexican Tuna Salad


  • Start by gathering all the ingredients and tasting the jalapeno to make sure it’s not too spicy for you.
  • Add the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, sour cream, and honey to a bowl of a food processor. Season to taste with salt and fresh black pepper. Seal the lid over the top and switch the processor on. Pulse until well blended. 
  • Keeping the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil through the opening in the lid until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Open the lid, taste for salt and pepper, and add more if needed.
creamy cilantro dressing recipe

Dressing Tip: The dressing can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.


  • Have all of the salad ingredients washed, drained, and chopped.
  • In a  large salad bowl, combine the iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, and green onions.
chopped iceberg lettuce in a bowl
  • Add the tuna, garbanzo beans, olives, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese. I like to leave these ingredients layered over the iceberg lettuce. I think it makes a pretty presentation. Or you can toss everything to combine.
  • Spoon the creamy cilantro dressing over the salad and serve immediately.
mexican chopped salad in white salad bowl

Recipe Tips

The bright flavors of this Mexican salad will make this one of your favorite things to make for a light meal. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make it delicious every single time!

  • Let the dressing sit: Let the dressing sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before tossing it with the salad to allow the flavors to come together 
  • Use best-quality tuna: Use albacore tuna since it’s high-quality and don’t forget to drain the oil or water from the can of tuna before adding it to the salad.
  • Assemble right before serving: Assemble the salad right before you plan on serving it to keep it as fresh as possible.


This Mexican tuna salad recipe can easily be adjusted based on your tastes and preferences. Here are some options to get you started.

  • Dressing: Substitute avocados or whole milk Greek yogurt for sour cream. Use parsley instead of cilantro for the dressing.  
  • Salad: Try using romaine lettuce for the iceberg lettuce. Add other fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, or parsley.  
  • Toppings: Use pinto or black beans for the garbanzo beans. Leave out the shredded cheese if you’d like a dairy-free option. Add sliced red bell pepper or fresh corn. Top with crushed tortilla chips for more texture.  
tuna salad with cilantro dressing

How to Serve

Serve this delicious salad as a light meal for lunch or dinner any night of the week. It has fresh vegetables, and chopped lettuce, and tuna fish is a good source of protein.

Storing Tips 

Refrigerate: Keep any leftover salad in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a few days. The avocado will turn brown and the lettuce will begin to soften the longer the salad sits.

To Make Ahead: You can meal prep different components of this easy tuna salad up to 3 days in advance. Simply store the salad, avocado, and dressing separately and combine them together right before serving.


Is Mexican Tuna Salad spicy

Even though the dressing contains jalapenos, the dressing is not spicy but more of has a zing to it. Also, keep in mind that jalapenos all have different levels of spiciness. You may want to buy a couple at the store and then taste them to make sure they are at a level of heat you like before adding them to the dressing.

Do I have to use tuna in this Mexican salad? 

Canned tuna is a nutritious lean protein that pairs wonderfully with this salad, but no, you don’t need to use it if you prefer something else. Instead, you can substitute canned chicken or shredded roasted chicken or leave it out altogether.  

What kind of salsa should I use for a topping? 

A little salsa like pico de gallo is an excellent topping for this Mexican salad. You can either buy it from the grocery store or make a small bowl yourself at home using fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, red onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and black pepper.

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mexican tuna salad

Mexican Tuna Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

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  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chopped
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Give your tuna salad a makeover with this chopped Mexican tuna salad. It’s made with iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, pico de gallo, avocado, and creamy cilantro dressing. So good and so fresh!


Units Scale

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice, about 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper


  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced, about 6 cups
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 (5 oz.) cans tuna, packed in water or oil, drained and flaked
  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced back olives, drained
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup pico de gallo, homemade or from the deli
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (see note)


Creamy Cilantro Dressing

  1. In a bowl of a food processor, combine the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, sour cream, and honey. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pulse until well blended.
  2. While the food processor is running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream.


  1. Add the iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, and green onions to a large salad bowl. Toss with a pair of tongs to combine.
  2. Add tuna, garbanzo beans, olives, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese. You can either toss to combine or leave layered.  Spoon some of the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.


  • Pico de Gallo: I made a quick version of my homemade pico by simply tossing halved grape tomatoes with red onions, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. You can also pick up pico de gallo from the supermarket deli. Just make sure it’s fresh.
  • Cheese: I’ve made this salad with a variety of different cheeses: Monterey cheese, pepper jack, sharp cheddar, Cotija, and feta. They all taste great. Feel free to add more cheese if you like.


  • Serving Size: 1/6 salad
  • Calories: 416
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 586.8 mg
  • Fat: 28.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.9 g
  • Protein: 21.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 40.2 mg

Originally published September 2014.