The Tuna Test: Matt and I taste and compare 7 cans of tuna

In this installment of our canned meat comparisons, Matt and I tasted seven cans of tuna that we picked up at nearby grocery stores.

Tuna is a great inexpensive source of protein and very easy to find at any store that sells even a small selection of grocery items. Every chain grocery store seems to have a store brand available at a slightly lower price than name brands.

Oil vs. Water Packed

Tuna packed in oil has more calories and fat, so it is a better value for the nutrition you get. This is something to consider when deciding what brands to put back in your prepper food stash.

Serving sizes

All serving sizes and nutritional info is based on drained weight. Remember that liquids and oils that are poured off can be used to flavor other foods during a long emergency.

Shelf life

All the tuna tested have best by dates that are 16 months to just over three years. All cans were bought in February 2019. It was surprising that the best by dates varied so much. I expected some of the tuna packed in oil to have a longer best by date, but it does not.  At least part of the reason for this may be that olive oil has a shorter shelf life than some other oils. The trade-off is the oil-packed tuna has a higher calorie count and nutritional value.

Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil

Cost: Around $2.89 per can when bought in a 12 pack

Country Of Origin:  Thailand but canned in the USA

Container Size:  4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 200

Protein Per Serving: 14 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 5 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 250 mg or 10 % based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Solid light yellowfin tuna, olive oil, salt

Best By Date: 07/19/20

The Genova brand is one I see very often in the canned tuna section at the grocery store. There is no major seasoning in this tuna, but it has a great flavor. I like that Genova is so easy to find and offers an option for those that want Yellowfin at a good price that they can use in any tuna recipe. I am interested in experimenting with different spices with this fish in the future. My biggest issue with this tuna is the short period reflected by the best by date.

Note on country of  origin for StarKist Tuna products:

Both StarKist Tuna products tested were lacking a country of origin label. I was able to find this description of where they get their tuna via their online website. This is good to know because StarKist is a major brand at grocery stores.

“The majority of our tuna is produced in either American Samoa (which is a territory of the United States) or Ecuador. While a small amount of our tuna is also produced in Thailand, all facilities must follow the same stringent United States government regulations as plants located inside the country. The FDA and other United States regulatory agencies regulate our operations. In compliance with Federal regulations, if any of our products were produced outside of the United States or one of its territories, the label will list the country of origin. If a product does not specifically state the country of origin, then you can assume it has been produced in the United States or a U.S. territory.”

StarKist Selects Solid Yellowfin Tuna with Lemon Dill and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cost: $2.89 per can when bought in a pack of 12 on Amazon.

Container Size:  4  oz drained weight

Servings Per Can:  1

Calories Per Serving: 200

Calories Per Can: 200

Protein Per Serving:  grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  28 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 500 mg or  22% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Yellowfin tuna, extra virgin olive oil, water. Contains 2% or less of the following ingredients: Dehydrated vegetables (onion, leek, parsley, chives), Spices (including dill weed), sea salt, lemon peel, lemon oil, natural flavor (including spice extractives and lemon oil), citric acid, natural extractives of turmeric (for color)

Best By Date: 07/12/21

This was the only tuna on the list that made us both say wow. The combination of firm flesh, big flaky chunks, and just the right balance of seasonings makes this a fish that is perfect for fancy tuna salad or just alone on your favorite salad. For those trying to watch their weight, this is a good way to add delicious protein and flavor to meals. Even if you don’t normally like to eat tuna, this may change your mind. I encourage you to try this one. I think it would be great for picnics with some cheese, crackers, olives, and fruit. It is always a pleasure to find tasty and reasonably priced ready to eat foods.

StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Water

Cost: Around $3.50 for a pack of 4 cans

Container Size:  4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 1

Calories Per Serving: 90

Calories Per Can: 90

Protein Per Serving: 20 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 0.5 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 360 mg or 16% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Light tuna, water, vegetable broth, salt

Best By Date: 07/30/2022

This can contained a mix of big and small chunks but was really light on flavor. It is basically a blank slate for adding spices and other ingredients too. It is not at all salty, and it is firm. There is no saltiness to this fish. The overall taste is far too bland for my liking, but it is an inexpensive and easy to find brand. There are plenty of bulk packs that you can get to put back in your prepper stash. This is not terrible, but the lack of flavor doesn’t make me want to eat it regularly.

I do like that it is canned in vegetable broth, but it just didn’t have the robustness I like in fish.

 

Great Value Premium Wild Caught Chunk Light Tuna in Water

Cost: $0.68 per can at Wal-Mart. You can get this price online and in store.

Country Of Origin:  Product of Thailand

Container Size: 4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 1

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 100

Protein Per Serving: 24 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 1 gram

Salt Content Per Serving: 360 mg or 16% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Light tuna, vegetable broth, salt

Best By Date: 08/16/21

Matt and I  were actually surprised at the size of the chunks in this can. The texture is firm. You actually have to break up the big chunks to eat them! It appears that there is a single main chunk. Out of all the Albacore, this is our second favorite. It is not at all salty, so that makes it easy to add to recipes without going overboard on the salt. The price is very good for the quality you get.

Wal-Mart has made some efforts to improve the quality of their store brand food products. Of course, they kind of have to in such a competitive market.

Laura Lynn Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

Cost: $1.00 per can

Country Of Origin:  Thailand but canned in the USA

Container Size: 4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 60

Calories Per Can: 120

Protein Per Serving: 13 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  1 gram

Salt Content Per Serving: 140 mg or 6% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Solid white tuna, water, vegetable broth (contains soy), salt, pyrophosphate

Best By Date: 08/02/21

This is the Ingles Grocery store brand. We are lucky to have a regional chain that has exceptional quality store brand items.  This tuna lived up to what we have come to expect from Laura Lynn products. The tuna in the can was mostly a single large chunk rather than the mush that some tuna is. Firm flesh and just a hint of salt are two more reasons why Matt and I agree that this is the best Albacore tuna of all those tested in this post.

This is a prime example of why it is worth it to check out regional store brands for canned meats!

Bumble Bee Chunk White Albacore in Water

Cost: $5.88 for a pack of 4 at Wal-Mart

Country Of Origin:  Fiji but canned in the USA

Container Size: 4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 60

Calories Per Can: 120

Protein Per Serving: 13 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  1 gram

Salt Content Per Serving: 140 mg or 6% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: White tuna, water, vegetable broth (contains soy), salt, pyrophosphate added

Best By Date: 09/28/21

This tuna was far too mushy for our taste. These tiny bits of tuna do not deserve to be called chunks at all. Since the bits are so small, it means the tuna is harder to drain, so you have to be careful or your tuna salad will turn into a runnier consistency than you might like. As far as flavor, it just had an off taste that is hard to put your finger on. Slightly fishy but very bland at the same time is not a flavor profile I would want to consume regularly. Of course, if you are adding a lot of spices or other ingredients, you can probably cover up any unpleasant taste.

Northern Catch Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Cost: $0.68

Country Of Origin:  China but canned in the USA

Container Size:  4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 70

Calories Per Can: 140

Protein Per Serving: 11 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 2.5 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 180 mg or 7% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Light tuna, soybean oil, vegetable broth, salt

Best By Date: 11/19/2021

I might have to stop testing Aldi store brands of canned meat. So far their canned fish has been consistently awful. Tuna is such a pantry staple I had some hopes that they would at least have an edible tuna. When you open the can you notice a big layer of soybean oil that is fairly clear.  All the tuna is in tiny mushy chunks at the bottom. The first thing you notice is how oily this fish is and then comes the bitter after flavor. I am not sure what makes this fish so bitter. Maybe the oil is low quality since it is just cheap soybean oil?

This tuna was immediately fed to Leroy.

 

Ideas for how to use tuna

  • Tuna fish sandwiches
  • On crackers
  • Tuna Mac and Cheese
  • As a protein addition to your favorite salad

Twice Baked Potatoes

Select 4 large baking potatoes. Salt and oil and bake on a sheet at 400F for 45-60 minutes.

Allow potatoes to cool enough so that you can scoop out the insides, leaving a shell that you will fill in later.

Take the potato that you have removed and mash well. Mix with a can or two of drained tuna depending on just how large the potatoes are and just how much fish you want. Mix in some black pepper, your favorite cheese, and a little sour cream or butter.

The filling is very versatile, so you can play around with this recipe a bit and even use different fish.

When filling is creamy, spoon the filling back into the potatoes on the baking sheet. Top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and put back in the oven at 350F. Bake until potatoes are hot and cheese is slightly browned.  Serve with a salad for a complete meal or just eat these as a meal by themselves. This is a very filling and inexpensive recipe to make.

Even the next day these are good to reheat for a fast lunch.

Make sure to not attempt this with small potatoes. I have tried to do this with smaller potatoes and it doesn’t turn out as well. Large baking size is best and due to cooking times, try to pick out some that are in the same size range.

Pollution concerns

As with any ocean fish, it is hard not to consider how polluted the ocean is. While tuna is inexpensive and has a lot of nutrition, women of childbearing age, children, etc., may want to watch out how much they consume monthly. My opinion is that if it is not good for those demographics to eat too much of it, then everyone should be aware of how much ocean fish products they consume in a month.  While oceans near the USA are not pristine by any stretch, all the tuna in this post is caught in Indonesia and then canned in the United States. I think it is important to consider all these things when deciding what you are comfortable feeding yourself and anyone in your family.

Tuna producers claim mercury levels are minuscule in tuna, but I don’t think it is quite that simple.

What is your favorite tuna brand? Do you have any recipes to share to stretch out a can or two of tuna to feed a family during SHTF?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

  1. Wow. I guess people expect different things from tuna. We feed the Walmart chunk light to our dog Moose, one can per day, as a way to hide his medications. He likes it, but we could never swallow it. We used to eat StarKist solid white tuna but they started adding dark meat to it so we switched to Bumblebee solid white. Never tried Aldi tuna, but never expected much from them so never tried it. We have never tried it but I’m guessing yellow fin tuna tastes pretty fishy and our family tends to not like the fishy taste. We couldn’t afford tuna at that price anyway. Interesting review. Tuna is a great source of protein and one of the things we stock in large quantities in our prep routine. Thanks for the great articles.

  2. I used to get only Bumble Bee but now, it’s only Wild Planet at Costco. It isn’t “fishy” it stores very well and is caught in the wild, meaning less mercury. it’s got very little water in the can, more fish.

  3. Please correct your Amazon link to the StarKist Yellowfin Tuna in oil. You have actually linked to a different StarKist tuna product, their white albacore tuna in oil…hope it’s as good as the Yellowfin because that’s now what I received and will be eating.

  4. Give the Kroger brand tuna a try. We’ve eaten it for many years because it tastes very good either plain or dressed up with mayo and pickle relish.

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