How to Remove the Fishy Taste from Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is a pantry staple for many people. It’s affordable, non-perishable, and a great source of protein. However, that distinct “fishy” flavor can be off-putting for some. If you love the convenience of canned tuna but not the taste, there are several tricks you can try to remove or mask the fishy flavor.

Why Canned Tuna Tastes Fishy

Canned tuna often has a stronger flavor than fresh tuna because of the canning process When the tuna is cooked inside the can, the proteins break down, releasing more of that fishy flavor and scent This intensifies the briny taste.

Additionally the tuna usually sits in water or oil inside the can. Over time the fish absorbs these liquids, which can also contribute to a more pungent fish flavor.

Easy Ways to Remove the Fishy Taste

Luckily, you don’t have to accept fishy canned tuna as inevitable. With a few simple prep tricks, you can enjoy canned tuna recipes without the overpowering flavor.

Rinse the Tuna

Before using canned tuna drain it and give it a good rinse under cool running water. This helps wash away some of the fishy odor and liquid absorbed during canning. Rinsing only takes a minute and can make a big difference in mellowing the flavor.

Use Oil-Packed Instead of Water-Packed

Pay attention to whether your tuna is packed in water versus oil. Oil-packed tuna often has a milder flavor. The oil helps block the fishy scent. Water-packed tuna can intensify a fishy taste since the meat soaks up the water.

Buy Low-Sodium Versions

Sodium adds a briny flavor and aroma. Choosing low-sodium or no salt added canned tuna can help tone down fishiness. You can always season it later how you like.

Switch Brands

Not all canned tunas are equal when it comes to fishy flavors. Certain brands or sustainable fishing methods may produce less pungent meat. It’s worth experimenting with a few different brands of albacore or skipjack tuna to find one with a milder scent and taste.

Cooking and Mixing Methods to Remove Fishy Taste

Beyond choosing and rinsing the tuna, the way you cook and mix the canned tuna also impacts flavor. These tricks pull out more of the fishy taste before you eat the tuna:

Cook the Tuna

Heating canned tuna helps mellow the flavor. Try tossing it in a pan with a little oil or butter over medium heat.Cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed through and slightly browned.

You can also add tuna to any cooked foods like a casserole or pasta sauce. The combination of heat and mixing with other ingredients dilutes the fishiness.

Marinate the Tuna

Letting canned tuna soak in an acidic marinade chemically breaks down some of the fishy compounds.

For easy marinades, use lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or a dressing with citrus juice or vinegar. Let the tuna marinate for at least 10 minutes, or longer is even better.

Use Strong Seasonings

Spices, herbs, onions, and other aromatics help mask fishy undertones. Add bold flavors like garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, rosemary, onion, or chives. Allow time for the tuna to soak up the flavors before serving.

Try Creamy Mix-Ins

Dairy and other creamy ingredients work well to cover up fishy smells. Mix tuna with ranch dressing, mayo, plain Greek yogurt, mashed avocado, or hummus. The creaminess blankets the fish flavor.

Add Acidic Foods

Foods with bright, acidic flavors help balance and camouflage fishy tastes.

Mix in things like chopped pickle relish, olives, capers, mustard, or hot sauce. Diced onions, bell peppers, and celery also add freshness.

Use Strong Cheeses

Cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack, feta, and Parmesan have bold enough flavors to stand up to tuna. Mix in shredded cheese or sprinkle on top. Melting the cheese fully incorporates it.

Handy Recipe Ideas to Remove Fishy Taste

When making canned tuna recipes like sandwiches, salads, snacks, and casseroles, incorporate the tricks above to make the most of your tuna.

Tuna Salad

  • Rinse and drain a can of tuna
  • Mash with mayo, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, celery, onion, dill, and pepper
  • For creamier texture, substitute yogurt for some mayo
  • Add other vegetables like diced cucumber or bell pepper
  • Serve on bread, lettuce wraps, or crackers

Tuna Melts

  • Sauté rinsed tuna with diced onion in olive oil until onion is soft
  • Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • Combine tuna mixture with shredded cheddar, Swiss, or Monterey jack
  • Scoop onto English muffins or bread and broil until cheese melts

Tuna Casserole

  • Cook noodles according to package directions
  • In a skillet, cook rinsed tuna and mushrooms in butter
  • Make a sauce by whisking milk, soup, and seasoning into flour
  • Combine noodles, tuna mixture, sauce, and frozen peas
  • Top with crushed potato chips or fried onions and bake until bubbling

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

  • Marinate rinsed tuna with lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and oregano
  • Toss tuna with diced cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and parsley
  • Serve over spinach leaves and drizzle with red wine vinegar

Tuna Quesadillas

  • Sauté rinsed tuna with taco seasoning and diced tomatoes
  • Fill tortillas with cheese blend, tuna mixture, and avocado
  • Cook quesadillas in a skillet until crisp and cheese is melted
  • Serve with salsa, Greek yogurt, and lime wedges

Ranch Tuna Snack

  • In a bowl, break up rinsed tuna into flakes
  • Add shredded cheese, ranch dressing, and chopped green onions
  • Scoop tuna mixture onto crackers or cucumber slices

Enjoy Fish-Free Canned Tuna

With a few easy prep and cooking tricks, you can remove or cover up the fishy taste of canned tuna. Rinsing, marinating, seasoning, and mixing tuna with other ingredients helps balance and mask fishy flavors.

Experiment until you find the best tuna brands, prep steps, and recipes that make canned tuna taste delicious. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy convenient canned tuna without the fishiness putting you off. Ditch the smell and open up a world of quick and easy tuna meals.

FOOD HACK!! How to remove the fishy smell from canned tuna!!


How do you make canned tuna taste less fishy?

It sounds unusual, but adding a sugary ingredient to canned tuna tones down the fishiness, making it more palatable for those who a less than enthusiastic about seafood. One option is to add white sugar to canned tuna. You don’t need much to notice the difference.

Why does canned tuna taste so fishy?

Another thing to consider is that tinned fish usually comes packed in either water or oil, and oil-packed tinned fish generally has a stronger, slightly fishier flavor.

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