Keto-Friendly Tuna Salad | Ultralight Backpacking Recipe

By Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD

Updated January 14, 2024
This post may contain affiliate links.
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Four words… 205 calories per ounce.

Do we have your attention now?? If you’re a keto backpacker, this tuna salad is not your average keto backpacking meal.

Sorry to nerd out there . . .

We know not everyone gets as excited about ultralight meals as we do. But this one has a lot going for it. Not only is it ULTRA ultralight, but it’s very low volume (great bear can stuffer) and an excellent source of protein with 19 grams per serving.

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Looking for a keto-friendly backpacking meal?

With less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving, this recipe is a keto-friendly tuna salad option. If you’re a keto backpacker, you know exactly how hard it is to find tasty backpacking recipes that won’t blow your carb goal out of the water. Pile it onto parmesan crisps or your favorite low-carb wrap, and you have an easy-to-prepare no-cook lunch option.

This DIY backpacking meal is a perfect no-cook backpacking lunch that goes one step beyond your everyday tuna packet. Non-keto backpackers will want to pair it with crackers, pita bread, or tortillas.

Looking for more no-cook and cold soak backpacking recipes?

Take a look at our 10 favorite no-cook backpacking recipes and our cold soaking guide for stoveless backpackers.

Interested in learning how to make tuna packets ultralight?

Did you know that tuna packets, on average, provide only 27 calories per ounce? That’s because of the significant amount of water in the packets. By dehydrating canned tuna or tuna packets, the caloric density of the tuna is increased to 125 calories per ounce! Check out our How to Safely Dehydrate Tuna for Backpacking Meals post for dehydration instructions and proper storage techniques.

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    Keto-Friendly Tuna Salad Backcountry Foodie Recipe

    Keto-Friendly Tuna Salad

    Backcountry Foodie
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    NUTRITION (per serving)

    cal/oz 205
    cal/gram 7.2
    Calories 246 kcal
    PROTEIN 19 g
    CARBS 0.7 g
    Fiber 0 g
    Added Sugar 0 g
    Fat 14 g
    Sodium 699 mg
    Home Prep Time 3 minutes
    Field Prep Time 30 minutes
    WT/SERVING 1.2 oz (34 g)
    MEAL PREPCold Soak, Dehydrator Required
    Diet TYPESBariatric, Cold Soak, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar, Nut-Free, Reflux-friendly
    Servings1 serving



    INSTRUCTIONS (per serving)


    • Put the dry ingredients in a bag or container to be used in the backcountry. See meal prep tips below.
    • Pair with 1 packet (14 g) of mayonnaise to be added when the meal is rehydrated.


    • Add enough water to cover the tuna mixture and stir to mix well.
    • If using cold water, let the meal stand for 30-60 minutes, allowing the meal to rehydrate fully. If using hot water, let the meal stand for 10-15 minutes. Rehydration times will be much shorter if freeze-dried tuna is used.
    • Once the meal is rehydrated, properly drain any excess water following the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles.
    • Add 1 packet (14 g) of mayonnaise and stir to mix well.
    • Pair with your favorite crackers, wrap, or pita bread and enjoy!



    • If preparing the meal for long-term storage, we recommend packing the parmesan cheese in a separate container just before leaving for the trip. This will greatly lengthen the shelf-life of the meal. Single-serving packets, such as those used by pizza restaurants work well.
    • This is a low-volume meal. Consider making two batches for a hungry hiker.



    • Here’s a detailed how-to guide on dehydrating tuna for backpacking meals.
    • Drain the juice from the can or pouch.
    • Transfer immediately to dehydrator trays.
    • Dehydrate at 145-155℉ (62-68℃) until completely dry.
    • Allow the dried tuna to cool for 30-60 minutes.
    • Package in an airtight container.
    • Dehydrated tuna is shelf-stable at room temperature for 1-2 months, 6 months in the refrigerator, or up to one year in the freezer. Freeze-dried tuna stored in an airtight container is shelf-stable for 10-15 years.



    • You can find a detailed how-to guide on dehydrating green onions for backpacking meals here.



    • Please note that the nutrition information above does not include crackers, pita bread, or a wrap.
    • Total sugar (per serving): 0.3 g with no added sugar
    Did you make this recipe? We’d love to see it!Share photos from your kitchen or the backcountry below.


    Consider checking out our biodegradable food pouches. The small pouches work great for low-volume meals like our Keto Tuna Salad recipe.

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    Ready to see more ultralight backpacking recipes like this one?

    Backcountry Foodie is your go-to resource for over 200 backpacking dietitian-created recipes and a one-of-a-kind automated meal planning tool. The meal planner even creates itemized shopping lists for you! Meal prep has never been easier.

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    Don’t have time to prep your own meals or run to the outdoor store?

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    Not to worry. Our Build-a-Box Shop has everything you could possibly need to fuel your adventures!

    DISCLOSURE: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site running. Our reputation is our most important asset, so we only include links for products we use ourselves.

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    Backcountry Foodie Aaron Owens Mayhew with her dog Ella

    Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD, is a registered dietitian and ultralight long-distance backpacker with over 20 years of nutrition and backpacking experience. She’s also the founder and owner of Backcountry Foodie, an online ultralight recipes and meal planning platform for backpackers. She also enjoys teaching hikers about backpacking nutrition via virtual masterclassesYouTube videos, and podcast episodes. You can follow Aaron’s adventures in the kitchen and the backcountry via Instagram and Facebook.


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