The Easiest Canned Tuna Recipe – Tuna Barbecue

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This Tuna Barbecue recipe is a simple dish made with canned tuna and is perfect for sandwiches. Grabbing a can of tuna out of the pantry is a quick way to get dinner on the table with this barbecue recipe.

Tuna Barbeque

Whether you are looking for a meat-free, vegetarian, cheap, pantry-staple, Lent-friendly or fast weeknight meal, this Tuna Barbecue has you covered. This simple meal is made with oil, celery, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, dry mustard and canned tuna.

Barbara found this recipe in the Carefree Country Cook, a collection of recipes from the ladies of the St. Patrick Alter Society of Imogene, Iowa. Let us tell you, these ladies know how to cook. Barbara turns to this cookbook often, and it never let’s her down.

She is always looking for recipes that check the box during Fridays of Lent, when my family eats meat-free.  These are the nights that I make meals such as Mom’s Tuna Casserole, Salmon Casserole, Low Carb Salmon Patties (our favorite) and Tuna Salad Coneys.

The crazy thing about this recipe is that it tastes like a BBQ beef, BBQ chicken or pork BBQ.  Using canned tuna makes it economical if you are on a budget. A can of tuna often times costs less than a dollar. This is considerably less than ground beef in sloppy joes or shredded beef barbecue.

Recipe FAQs

  • This recipe serves 2 people.  You can very easily double or triple it for more people.
  • You can use regular canned tuna or the chunked canned tuna.  We easily used the chunked kind because it’s what we prefer but either will work.
  • Tuna canned in water is the way to go for this recipe.  Don’t worry about spending your extra pennies on tuna canned in oil.
  • We used olive oil to saute the celery. You can substitute vegetable oil, butter or margarine.
  • You could easily omit the celery in this recipe if you don’t have any.
  • This recipe calls for apple cider vinegar, but feel free to substitute regular white vinegar if that’s all you have.
  • It also calls for light brown sugar. Use dark brown sugar if that’s all you have.
  • In a pinch, you can use a teaspoon of yellow mustard if you don’t keep dry mustard on hand.

Ingredient List

  • Celery
  • Olive Oil
  • Ketchup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dry Mustard
  • Canned Tuna

How to Make Tuna Barbecue

Step by Step Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan or skillet, saute celery in olive oil until it starts to soften, approximately 5 minutes. 
  2. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and dry mustard to the celery, stir and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. 
  3. Add drained tuna and cook for 10 minutes longer or until heated through.
  4. Serve on buns, over cooked rice, with crackers or topped on a sweet potato or baked potato.

For the full ingredient amounts, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Recipe Variations

  • Use any types of tuna including albacore tune, yellowfin tuna, tuna canned in oil, or tuna canned in water.
  • Want an even bigger shortcut? Use a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce instead of making your own.
  • Use butter instead of olive oil.
  • Jazz up the homemade barbecue sauce with your favorite ingredients.

Are you a BBQ fanatic?  Try our Easy Sloppy Joes, Classic Sloppy Joes, and Instant Pot Shredded Beef with Pineapple.

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Cheesy Tuna Casserole

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Tuna Salad Coneys

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Tuna Pasta Salad

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Tuna Barbacue

This Tuna Barbecue recipe is a simple dish made with canned tuna and is perfect for sandwiches. 
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tuna barbecue
Servings: 2
Calories: 333kcal
Author: Barbara


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 5 oz. canned tuna, drained


  • Heat olive oil in a small saucepan; add celery and cook until softened over medium heat, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and dry mustard.  Stir and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add drained tuna and heat through for 10 minutes.
  • Serve on buns.


Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 1365mg | Potassium: 642mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 713IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg

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