8 Recipes for Making Sushi From Canned Tuna

Sushi is tasty and nutritious and can be easy to make if you know how to roll it well. You may be used to using the freshest ingredients to make delicious sushi, often made of raw fish and veggies. But what if you don’t have fresh fish and only have canned tuna lying around?

Here are eight recipes for making sushi out of canned tuna:

  1. Spicy Tuna Roll
  2. Tuna Salad Roll
  3. Tuna California Roll
  4. Tuna & Avocado Roll
  5. Tuna & Cucumber Roll
  6. Tuna, Mango & Avocado Roll
  7. Tuna, Cream Cheese & Avocado Roll
  8. “Kitchen Sink” Tuna Roll

Read on to learn a little bit more about what ingredients go well with canned tuna and how to make delicious sushi with it every time!

How To Make Delicious Sushi With Tuna From a Can

Many recipes make it a point to tell you to avoid canned tuna and to only use what is called “sashimi-grade” tuna. 

“Sashimi-grade” simply refers to the high-quality fish usually reserved for sashimi, a Japanese delicacy consisting of only raw fish. There’s no official way to rate whether a fish is “sashimi-grade,” so this advice boils down to recommending that you always use fresh tuna.

However, there’s no reason to avoid using canned tuna in sushi completely. 

Obviously, a spicy tuna roll made with fresh, expensive fish will taste better than one made with canned tuna, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a delicious sushi roll with it. If you’re a canned tuna fan, you will love putting it in sushi.

There are some things you can do to improve the flavor of your canned tuna roll, however. You never want to put plain canned tuna into your roll, unlike fresh raw fish.  

Let’s take a look at some general tips on how to make great sushi with canned tuna.

Treat Canned Tuna Like Crab

Canned tuna is most often shredded into manageable bits of meat. Since whole tuna is usually cut into strips, canned tuna should be treated differently. It is similar to a crab’s consistency and must be “spread” over the nori, or sheet of seaweed, instead of “laid out” like a strip of fresh tuna.

This might be confusing, but think of it this way: 

If you have a favorite type of sushi that usually uses crab or imitation crab meat, you can easily replace it with canned tuna. Also, while you can usually put fresh tuna in sushi without any sauce or seasoning, canned tuna is usually mixed with mayonnaise to help the roll stay together.

Drain Tuna Thoroughly

Canned tuna is usually sitting in a layer of liquid. 

It might not look like it tastes so good, but the water that the tuna is sitting in keeps it tasting fresh and prevents it from drying out. You want your canned tuna to look somewhat wet when you first open it.

When all that moisture soaks into the sushi, however, it will come out soggy. 

The rice may start to fall off, and the other ingredients will fall out. To avoid this, make sure to drain the canned tuna completely before putting it into sushi.

Place the tuna in a mesh strainer and press on it gently with a rubber spatula above your sink, making sure not to “mash” the tuna together. When no liquid drips out from the tuna, it’s ready to be mixed into a filling.

Cook Rice Completely

In any sushi dish, you want to make sure that you’re preparing your rice correctly. Since canned tuna is shredded, the rice must stick together well so the roll doesn’t fall apart.

Make sure to purchase short-grain rice instead of other kinds like brown rice or jasmine rice. Most sushi rice is prepared with rice vinegar, so mix in a few tablespoons once your rice is finished.

Also, make sure you don’t mash the rice too hard when preparing your sushi. 

You want to press the rice firmly so that it rolls evenly, but you still want the individual grains of rice to be distinguishable from each other.

Making sushi rice is an art, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t get it right the first time. If you haven’t successfully made it before, keep practicing until your sushi is sticky, fluffy, and evenly cooked.

Invest in Sushi Roller

A sushi roller is one of the best ways to get consistent sushi. Again, you need your filling to stick together, so this is especially important when you’re making sushi with canned tuna.

For a great option that will work for beginner and advanced sushi-makers alike, the Premium Sushi Making Kit on Amazon.com comes with five sets of chopsticks and a paddle, all made of bamboo. It’s one of the most popular kits on Amazon, and its sleek design will fit into kitchens of all styles.

Rolling sushi is another skill that doesn’t come naturally to all people, so be aware that you might need to gain some experience with your roller before your sushi becomes completely neat-looking. 

If you’re having a party, plan out a few “practice” rolls.

Garnish Your Sushi Rolls

Since canned tuna is on the cheaper side of sushi ingredients, you can make up for it by giving your canned tuna sushi roll a fancy garnish.

The best kinds of garnishes for a canned tuna roll have a bit of salt or acidity. Capers go well with them, but so do pickled vegetables like carrots or daikon. Alternatively, you can top each roll with a dollop of salted canned tuna, marking its contents.

Here’s a list of great garnishes that will work for your roll:

  • Capers
  • Canned tuna
  • Pickled ginger
  • Pickled daikon
  • Pickled carrots
  • Scallions
  • Wasabi
  • A drizzle of mayonnaise and sriracha sauce

Spritzing lemon juice over the sushi before serving is another way to bring out the umami taste of the tuna while eliminating its “chalky” taste.

Sushi Is Highly Customizable

There are dozens of sushi recipes that you can make with canned tuna. Even if none of the following recipes appeal to you, simply think of your favorite sushi roll and substitute the meat with canned tuna.

Sushi is highly customizable, and you don’t need a recipe to make a delicious creation all your own.

Some sushi-lovers will claim you can’t make a tuna roll without high-quality, sashimi-grade tuna, but there’s no reason to purchase a costly cut of fish if canned tuna is just as tasty to you. If you like eating canned tuna, you’ll love it in a sushi roll.

So let’s get started making these amazing sushi rolls!

1. Spicy Tuna Roll

The most common sushi roll with tuna in it, a spicy tuna roll, can easily be made with canned tuna. This will appeal to many people, so if you’re having a party, this should be your go-to option.

To make a spicy tuna roll, mix sriracha sauce with mayonnaise to taste, then toss your canned tuna in this sauce. If you like, you can also chop up green onions and mix these into the tuna as well.

Roll the sushi tightly, and you have a delicious spicy tuna roll.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Green onions (optional)

2. Tuna Salad Roll

The main difference between a tuna salad roll and a spicy tuna roll is the seasoning. While spicy tuna rolls tend to use sriracha, a tuna salad roll will be seasoned with soy sauce and salt instead.

Alternatively, if you have a great original tuna salad recipe, simply whip up a batch of it and wrap it up into a sushi roll.

Tuna salad rolls are good for kids or people who like the taste of a spicy tuna roll without all that spice. If you’d like to add a kick of spice that isn’t quite as intense as sriracha, add a hint of chili paste or mustard to the tuna salad. 

However, if you’re serving these alongside spicy tuna rolls, skip the paste and offer the tuna salad roll as a mild option.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Chili paste, mustard (optional)

3. Tuna California Roll

Most people have heard of a California roll, as it’s the most accessible of all the sushi rolls and is found at grocery stores across America. Crabmeat, or imitation crab meat, is usually used in the California roll, but canned tuna will work just as well in a pinch. 

It’s a similar texture and will give sushi-lovers a new flavor to try.

Simply roll the tuna up with avocado, cucumber, and julienned carrots, and you’ll have a tuna California roll. You can also coat the roll in roe if you’re feeling fancy.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Julienned carrots

4. Tuna & Avocado Roll

If you have kids who might not like tuna salad, don’t like spicy food, and don’t like mayonnaise, consider the tuna & avocado roll. Avocado is a great accompaniment to the tuna taste and will add some creaminess that the mayo usually adds.

These kinds of rolls have the added benefit of being extremely easy to make. Just make sure to pack the tuna tightly so that it stays together. 

You can also douse it in soy sauce for flavor.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Avocado

5. Tuna & Cucumber Roll

For another mild sushi roll with a bit of crunch in it, consider adding cucumber to your tuna rolls. Cucumber is refreshing and will give the sushi some structure. It also stays fresh longer than avocado does, so you can keep your sushi in the fridge for a few days.

You can choose to give the tuna some spice with sriracha or mustard, but you should mix your tuna with mayonnaise to keep it together and contrast with the cool cucumber.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cucumber
  • Sriracha (optional)

6. Tuna, Mango & Avocado Roll

For a sushi roll with some unexpected sweetness, consider adding mango to your tuna rolls. Mango is tart, but its sweet taste complements the salty tuna, and adding a bit of avocado will make it rich and filling.  

There’s no need to use mayonnaise here since the avocado adds enough creaminess to this roll. Give this recipe a try if you’re going for something unexpected with your canned tuna.

However, you might want to add a little spice or flavoring to your canned tuna to increase its flavor profile in your sushi.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Mango
  • Avocado

7. Tuna, Cream Cheese & Avocado Roll

If you love Philadelphia rolls or other sushi rolls with cream cheese in them, this roll is the one for you. To use cream cheese in your sushi rolls without making a mess, soften it and then mix in your canned tuna. 

Layer a slice of avocado on top, and you have a delicious sushi roll.

If you’d like, you can also mix green onions into the cream cheese. Just like every other roll on this list, you can easily modify this recipe according to taste!

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Cream cheese
  • Avocado

8. “Kitchen Sink” Tuna Roll

This is the easiest roll to make because you can put whatever you want in it! 

This recipe calls for all the sushi ingredients you have handy or “everything but the kitchen sink.” All you need to do is get creative with the vegetables you have lying around. Asparagus, tomato, and carrots all go well with tuna. 

If you happen to have crab or salmon in your fridge, you can pack in those kinds of fish with the tuna for an interesting seafood medley.

If you feel especially bold, you can coat your sushi roll with roe or fish eggs, which is relatively common in sushi. It can be tricky to get right without smashing your sushi roll since you want the roe to stick to the outside. 

The best way to do it is to pour roe onto a plate, then gently roll your sushi over it several times.

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori
  • Canned tuna
  • Filling Ingredients: Asparagus, avocado, cilantro, crab meat, cream cheese, cucumber, jalapeno pepper, julienned carrots, pickled daikon, mango, red pepper, salmon, or tomato.
  • Roe (optional)

Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.

Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.

Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.

Sources