Discover Why Making a Tunacado Sando Is Worth Your Attention

The fluffiness of the tuna salad is all thanks to the addition of mayo and the power of a food processor. You can opt for the classic fork-mash technique, but I suggest you give your food processor at least one chance at the task to taste the difference.

This recipe delivers all the key characteristics we love about Joe & the Juice’s tunacado with the addition of some heat, giving a nod to their spicier version which adds jalapeño in place of the avocado. I made a creamy pesto aioli spiked with chili crunch for even more of a punch, then topped it all with banana peppers for a puckery finish.

  • Make the tuna mixture as smooth and spreadable as you like by tweaking the amount of mayo you add. If the tuna doesn’t seem smooth and whipped enough, you may need to add a touch more mayo and process it a little longer.
  • If using focaccia, slice it widthwise into thin slices. A good bread knife will help with this.

The pesto and tuna mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance. For the tuna mixture, wait to add the onions until right before serving as their flavor can overwhelm everything else if allowed to sit.

“The Tunacado sandwich is a far cry from your basic tuna sandwich. It’s no wonder it’s gone viral! This take on the Tunacado is bursting with savory, umami flavors from capers and anchovies and tons of crisp, crunchy texture from chili crunch and grilled bread. This recipe is sure to become a favorite.” —Joan Velush

Whole grain bread topped with tuna salad, tomato, and avocado
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chili crunch
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 ounces canned tuna, drained
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste, or 3 anchovy filets
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill or 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 thin slices whole wheat flatbread, Sourdough, or focaccia
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • Pickled sliced banana peppers, for serving
  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make spicy pesto aioli
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the pesto, mayonnaise, chili crunch, honey, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until it’s time to assemble the sandwiches.

    A bowl of spicy pesto aioli
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make a tunacado sandwich
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Place the tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, capers, anchovy, and dill in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high until smooth and an almost “whipped” consistency is achieved, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the food processor, about 1 minute.

    Whipped tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, capers, anchovy, and dill in a food processor
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Stir in the chopped onions, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning as desired.

    Onions, salt, and pepper added to the whipped tuna mixture
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Preparing the bread can depend on the type of bread chosen—the end result should be thin and crispy. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high, then add 2 pieces of bread at a time, cut side-down. Weigh down using a small skillet or pot and cook until the pieces are golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet (just brown the interior of the bread) and toast the remaining 2 slices.

    Two slices of bread toasting in a skillet
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. To assemble the sandwiches, divide and spread the spicy pesto aioli over the toasted side of each piece of bread.

    Four slices of bread topped with spicy pesto aioli
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Divide and spread the tuna mixture across two pieces of the bread. Then layer each tuna-topped piece of bread with 2 slices of tomato and as much avocado as desired.

    Two slices of bread topped with whipped tuna mixture, tomatoes, and avocado
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Top with banana peppers for a slightly spicy-briney punch, if desired. Close sandwiches, slice in half and serve.

    Two slices of whipped tuna, tomatoes, and avocado topped with banana peppers
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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