Pinchin' Pennie$ in the Kitchen: 7 Ways to Use Canned Fish

(FN1716, Reviewed Aug. 2019)

Canned fish is a great source of protein for a low cost. Canned fish can be made into patties, sandwiches, and served with pasta and salads. Pinchin' Pennie$ offers 7 ways to use canned fish and three easy recipes to get you started.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. Food and Nutrition Specialist
Other Authors

Nicole Vasichek, Dietetic Intern (former)

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Publication Sections
Tuna Salad on Lettuce

Have you ever had a craving for seafood but you live miles from the nearest body of water? Canned fish such as salmon and tuna are an excellent source of protein and they are cost-effective alternatives to fresh seafood.

Canned salmon and tuna contain an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your health. These polyunsaturated fatty acids may play a role in preventing heart disease. You can make many satisfying and economical meals for your family using canned fish.

1. Make it into patties

Add chopped fresh herbs, spices and glazes. Mix canned salmon with brown rice and add a dollop of spicy mayo.

2. Serve it with pasta

Make a tuna casserole or use it in a macaroni salad.

3. Pile it on a green salad

Add canned tuna or salmon to a green lettuce salad to boost your protein. This creates a filling nutrient dense meal.

4. Mix it with rice

Canned fish adds a ton of flavor to bland rice. Make rice as directed and then top with canned salmon or tuna, steamed vegetables of choice and spice to taste.

5. Make a sandwich

Combine canned tuna or salmon with plain Greek yogurt or mayonnaise and chopped celery. Spread mixture onto a slice of whole-wheat bread and top with a leaf of lettuce and another slice of bread.

6. Create dips and spreads

Combine canned tuna or salmon with plain Greek yogurt or mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, onion and preferred spices. Serve dip with whole-wheat crackers.

7. Build fish tacos

Sauté onion, tomato and tuna or salmon in a pan until heated through. Add cilantro and other veggies to add flavor. Pile mixture onto a tortilla and top with a lemon wedge, avocado slice, salsa and/or sour cream.

How to make three easy canned fish recipes

Creamed Tuna or Salmon on Toast

  • 2 Tbsp. margarine, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 c. low-fat milk or dry milk equivalent
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1 c. peas
  • 1 (7-oz.) can tuna (or salmon), drained
  • 8 slices bread for toast

Wash and slice carrot and celery. Cook them in a saucepan with 2 c. water until soft. Drain and set aside in a small bowl. In the same saucepan, melt margarine. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir until it looks like paste. Add the milk and stir while it cooks until the sauce gets thicker. Do not boil. Add the carrots, celery, peas and tuna (or salmon). Stir and cook until the mixture is hot. Make toast and serve the creamed mixture over it. You also can serve it over biscuits or noodles.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 344 calories, 10 g fat, 42 g carbohydrate and 993 mg sodium.

Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 2 c. macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 (6.5-oz.) cans tuna, water-packed
  • ½ c. celery, chopped
  • 1 c. raw carrots, sliced
  • ½ c. green pepper, chopped
  • ½ c. light salad dressing, mayonnaise type
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. milk (more or less for desired consistency)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and cool. Drain tuna. Wash vegetables; chop celery, carrots and green pepper. Mix macaroni, tuna and vegetables together in mixing bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and stir into macaroni mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 140 calories, 5 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate and 232 mg sodium.

Tuna Melt

  • 2 (5-oz) cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • Salsa to taste
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • ¼ c. finely shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler. Toast bread. Combine tuna, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salsa and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread one-fourth of tuna mixture on each slice of toast; top with cheese. Place on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is bubbling and golden brown, three to five minutes.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 250 calories, 7 g fat, 32 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate and 400 mg sodium


c. = cup Tbsp. = tablespoon
qt. = quart tsp. - teaspoon
oz. = ounce g = gram
  mg = milligram

Check out the recipe database and other cooking/nutrition tips at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food