Decoding The Different Kinds of Canned Tuna

Do you know the difference between the different cans in the grocery?

ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

These are many brands and variants of canned tuna in the stores. An entire shelf can be full of all the different kinds of canned tuna, so it can be overwhelming to see all that variety and not know the differences. Learn all there is to know about canned tuna so you are better equipped to make the right choice for your needs and tastes.  

Here are the different kinds of canned tuna you might see the next time you're going grocery shopping and what those words on the can mean: 

Whether in chunks or as a solid, tuna is commonly packed in oil.

1 Canned Tuna in Oil 

The most common way you will find canned tuna is usually packed in oil. Whether it's tuna that's being canned or other food, the canning process needs the food to be packed in a liquid so that the can that the food in can be pressurized and the food sealed in a vacuum.  

The oil is there to help the air be sucked out of the can and form that all-important vacuum that's needed in preserving the canned food. A little seasoning such as salt which is a natural preservative is also added. That's why plain tuna has a little salt added which keeps the tuna fresh even after months and even years on your kitchen shelf without spoiling. This oil can be any edible cooking oil such as vegetable oil, olive oil, and corn oil. Price can rule your choice.  

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You may be wondering what the difference is between tuna that is solid and tuna that is in chunks. The biggest difference between these two is the state of the tuna when it's placed in the can. Solid tuna is tuna that has been left whole and intact while tuna chunks are packed in the cans already cubed.       

Tuna chunks can also be packed in water.

2 Canned Tuna in Water

Did you know that tuna can also be packed in water instead of oil? It can! Just like those tuna packed in oil, these canned tuna are also usually lightly seasoned which is why tuna packed in water can also be called as being packed in brine. A brine is simply salted and seasoned water. 

Canned tuna flakes are tuna in smaller, flaked form.

3 Canned Tuna Flakes 

Did you know that tuna can also be packed as flakes? These cans weigh less than those cans with solid pieces or chunks of tuna inside. These flakes are usually from the parts of the tuna that are not solid pieces of tuna, could not be cubed, or were too small to be cubed. These flakes are still pieces of tuna but come in either smaller or irregular-sized pieces.         

Canned tuna can be canned with a highly seasoned brine, too.

4 Hot and Spicy Canned Tuna

Not everyone loves the taste of tuna but there are those who love it when tuna is already prepared and seasoned in the can. One of the most popular flavored canned tuna is the hot and spicy kind. This tuna is packed like the other tuna but with a big difference: the brine or oil that these are packed in is highly seasoned, usually with spices and other ingredients that taste hot and spicy. The spicy brine can include chili peppers, carrots, tomato sauce, black peppercorns, and bay leaf to give it that delicious tingling flavor. 

Spanish style is a delicious way of preparing canned tuna.

5 Spanish-Style Canned Tuna 

When canned tuna says it's been prepared in the "Spanish-style", all it means is that the tuna has been prepared in a highly seasoned brine in the can. It actually tastes very similar to the hot and spicy brine used for that variant!


Unlike the hot and spicy canned tuna, however, this version is commonly neither hot or spicy. It has all the flavors of the carrots, tomato sauce, black peppercorns, and bay leaf except for the heat from the chili peppers. 

Corned tuna is seasoned just like corned beef.

6 Corned Tuna 

Do you love corned beef? Then you'll love that corned tuna is a delicious option! Corned tuna is basically just tuna that has been treated like corned beef. "Corned" means that the beef has been preserved or cured in saltwater. The "corn" refers to the size of the salt crystal used when making in corned beef. The salt crystals were so big, it was the size of corn kernels! Spices are also added to the mix to get the signature flavor that you love.    

Did you know that canned tuna comes packed in rice?

7 Canned Tuna Paella 

Tuna can come in many different flavors! Since it can be seasoned right in the can, sauces are easy to add to it and emerge ready to eat straight from the can and onto your plate. Your canned tuna can be made to taste like adobo, mechado, lechon paksiw, curry, and even sweet and spicy. There is however one kind that makes a can of tuna an instant meal straight from the can: the tuna paella. A paella is made using tuna, and this rice mix is packed and sealed just like other canned tuna. 

It's an instant rice meal in a can!  

There are actually more brands and flavors tuna can come in! These are just some of the most popular brands and variants you might encounter on your trip to the stores. Armed with all this knowledge, you should be able to more able to make decisions and pick the right canned tuna for you. Grab a can and use in any of these delicious recipes using canned tuna: 




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