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15 Substitutes for Sweet Relish in Tuna Salad

The best substitute for sweet relish in tuna salad is pickle juice. Pickle juice can add a savory, salty flavor to a tuna salad recipe. It also adds a bit of sweetness, which makes it an ideal substitute for sweet relish.

Substitutes for Sweet Relish in Tuna Salad

We all love a good tuna salad sandwich.

But sometimes, that sweet relish just isn’t doing it for us. 

Whether you’re out of sweet relish, trying to cut down on sugar, or just looking to switch things up, we’ve got you covered.

15 Substitutes for Sweet Relish in Tuna Salad

Do you love tuna salad?

Do you hate sweet relish?

Then this list is going to blow your mind.

Just kidding—it’s just a list of 15 things you can put in your tuna salad instead of sweet relish.

1. Pickle juice

Pickle juice

It might seem strange, but the briny flavor of pickle juice adds a delicious tang to your tuna salad—plus, you won’t have to worry about finding an excuse to get rid of those leftover pickles!

2. Dill or Sweet Gherkin Pickles

Sweet Gherkin Pickles

Chop up some dill or gherkin pickles and add them to your tuna salad for a crunchy texture and tangy yet sweet flavor.

3. Cucumber


If you’re looking for a crunch and don’t have pickles on hand, try chopping up some cucumbers instead!

The flavor is less intense than pickles but still adds a refreshing note to your tuna salad.

4. Red pepper

Red bell peppers

You can add chopped red bell pepper to your tuna salad, much like you would add sweet relish.

Red peppers are rich in vitamin C and have a nice, crisp texture and a slight sweetness that adds a pleasant flavor to the dish.

5. Sweet onion

Sweet onion

You can also use finely chopped sweet onions to replace the sweetness of the sweet relish.

Sweet onions are very low in calories, which makes them a great addition to your healthy tuna salad.

They also have a natural sweetness that will complement the other ingredients of your dish.

6. Tart cranberries

Tart cranberries

Not only do the tart cranberries add flavor and some crunch to your tuna salad, but they also add nutritional value.

Cranberries provide additional vitamin C and other antioxidants that help keep your body healthy.

Plus, they’re way more flavorful than relish!

7. Capers


Capers are another great substitute if you want to add some extra flavor to your tuna salad.

They’re very low in sugar and salt, so if you’re watching your sugar or salt intake, capers are an even better option than cranberries.

And like the cranberries, they’ll add a little crunch!

8. Grape tomatoes

Grape tomatoes

If you’re looking for something that’s fresh and colorful, grape tomatoes are a great choice.

They can be cut into quarters and added to your tuna salad, or they can be sautéed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and served as a side dish to your tuna salad.

9. Pickled beets

Pickled beets

This is a great option if you want your tuna salad to have that classic sweet-and-salty flavor combo.

Pickled beets are usually easy to find at your local grocery store, but if you can’t find them there, look for them online or at a specialty food store.

10. Zucchini


Zucchini is actually a great substitute for sweet relish in tuna salad.

It’s got the crunch and texture you need, plus it has a sweetness that will totally help bring your dish together and make it taste just like the original.

You can cut it however you like, but I prefer to slice it super thin so it really looks and tastes like sweet relish.

Just be careful not to cut yourself!

11. Celery


Celery might seem weird at first, but when you think about how all of those crunchy veggies are cousins, it starts to make sense.

Celery is a bit lighter than zucchini, so if you want your tuna salad to have more of an airiness to it (like when you’re eating on a hot day), then this is a great option!

12. Pickled okra

Pickled okra

Pickled okra is a wonderful option if you want something with that sweet and vinegary flavor, but don’t have any sweet relish around.

You’ll want to make sure that the pickled okra is chopped up into fine, even pieces before you add it to your tuna salad.

13. Carrots and Raisins (chopped together)

Carrots and Raisins (chopped together) are another great alternative.

Chop your carrots finely and then mix them with raisins of similar size.

A little bit of this mix will go a long way in adding an extra layer of sweetness to your meal!

14. Pickled ginger

Pickled ginger

Have you ever made sushi at home?

If so, you probably have some leftover pickled ginger in your fridge right now.

It’s great as a topping for soups or as an accompaniment to your favorite Asian dishes, and it’s an excellent substitute for sweet relish in tuna salad.

ust make sure that you chop it up finely so that it blends in well.

15. Jalapeños


If you’re looking for something a little spicier, give jalapeños a try!

They’re normally found in the produce section of the grocery store, and they add just the right amount of kick to your tuna salad.

To use them, chop up one or two jalapeños and mix them into the rest of your ingredients until they’re evenly distributed throughout the salad.

You can choose to keep the seeds if you want extra spiciness; otherwise, remove them before chopping up your peppers.

Do You Really Need Sweet Relish in Your Tuna Salad?

No! Sweet pickle relish is a classic part of tuna salad, but it’s not the only way to go.

Want to mix things up? Use dill pickle relish, or—if you’re really feeling creative—pickled jalapenos instead.

Besides adding a kick of spice, jalapenos also bring a pop of color that’ll make your tuna salad look as fresh as it tastes.

If you’re looking for something even more unexpected, try capers or chopped olives instead of relish.

Or leave out the salty flavor entirely and get fruity with chopped grapes or raisins instead. The possibilities are endless!

How to Find the Perfect Sweet Relish Substitute for Your Tuna Salad

Sweet relish is not for everyone.

But if you want to make a tuna salad, and you’re not a fan of sweet relish, how are you supposed to achieve the perfect tanginess?

You’re in luck! Check out these easy 3 steps to find the perfect sweet relish substitute for your tuna salad.

  1. Consider your favorite foods. If you’re a fan of pickles, try adding some dill pickle slices to your tuna salad. If you love guacamole, add some to your tuna salad. If you love salsa, add that!
  2. Experiment with what you’ve got at home. If you don’t have any of the above on hand, just look in your fridge! Do you have tomatoes? A bit of chopped tomato will give your tuna salad some brightness and acidity. Do you have plain yogurt? That might be an interesting addition if you like it—it will give a creamy texture and tangy/sour flavor to your tuna salad as well.
  3. Add some mustard or sriracha sauce if it needs brightening up. If neither of those options seem right, try adding something acidic like some lemon juice or white vinegar—or even something spicy like sriracha or mustard.

5 Reasons Sweet Relish Could Ruin Your Tuna Salad

If you’re a fan of tuna salad, then you probably already know that sweet relish is commonly used as an ingredient.

However, there are many other things you can put in your tuna salad instead of sweet relish if you’re trying to mix it up.

Here are five reasons why sweet relish could ruin your tuna salad:

1. It’s Not Technically Pickled

The first reason is that sweet relish isn’t technically pickled, although it is often assumed to be so.

Relish is made from pickling cucumbers, but unlike other condiments like pickles and sauerkraut, it is not actually a pickle itself.

2. It’s Too Sweet

Another reason why sweet relish could ruin your tuna salad is because it’s too sweet.

If you’re looking for something that has more of a sour flavor profile, then you may want to consider using a different kind of condiment instead of sweet relish in your tuna salad.

3. It Won’t Last as Long in The Fridge

Sweet relish has too much vinegar in it to be stored for an extended amount of time, resulting in spoilage.

The other ingredients in tuna salad, like mayonnaise and mustard, have preservatives that allow them to keep for several days longer than sweet relish.

4. It Doesn’t Pair Well with Other Flavors

Tuna salad is often served on bread or crackers and with vegetable sticks or chips.

The flavors of the bread and crackers do not mix well with the taste of sweet relish.

Additionally, sweet relish tends to overpower the flavor of the tuna itself, which defeats the purpose of including it in tuna salad at all!

5. It Doesn’t Have as Many Health Benefits

This may not be so important if you’re making tuna salad for some hungry kids who just want a quick snack before soccer practice or something.

But if you’re trying to make an adult meal for yourself and your partner, avoid sweet relish. You’ll want all of the health benefits you can get!

For example, chopped cucumbers are full of vitamin C and vitamin K.

So if you’re looking to add some more vitamins and nutrients to your tuna salad, cucumbers are what you’ll want to add instead of relish.

Tuna Salad

15 Substitutes for Sweet Relish in Tuna Salad

Some people substitute sweet relish in a tuna salad because it's cheaper.
But you don't have to just save money, you can also take advantage of the benefits that come with using other types of relish in your tuna salad!
Let's start with the most obvious substitute: dill relish.
Dill relish is a common ingredient in many foods, and if you're looking for an inexpensive way to add more flavor to your tuna salad, dill is the way to go.
But why stop there? There are all kinds of relishes you could use in your tuna salad! You can try a spicy pickle relish, or even a sweet onion relish. The possibilities are endless!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 200 kcal


  • Pickle juice
  • Dill or sweet gherkin pickles
  • Cucumber
  • Red pepper
  • Sweet onion
  • Tart cranberries
  • Capers
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Pickled beets
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Pickled okra
  • Carrots and Raisins (chopped together)
  • Pickled ginger
  • Jalapeños


  • Pick an alternative from this list.
  • Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  • Be ready to munch in no time!
Keyword Substitute for Sweet Relish in Tuna Salad