The casual cafe’s wildly popular Tunacado sandwich features a delicious whipped tuna mousse, punchy pesto, and of course, perfectly ripe, rich, and creamy avocados. And if you don’t have a location of this eatery near you, know that making a DIY version at home is as simple as it sounds with the help of the right ingredients—and we’re sharing all of the details. Plus, a registered dietitian explains all the reasons why this ultra-comforting dish is a nourishing, nutrient-dense meal to start making on the regular.
- Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and prenatal and postnatal health expert
What exactly is a Tunacado sandwich?
If you’ve eaten at a Joe & The Juice in the past, you’ve likely seen “Tunacado” on the menu, and yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. It’s made with the company’s signature thin-sliced Joe’s Bread, which is baked with a mixture of wheat and the common Nordic grain, rye (they also add sunflower seeds and flax seeds), which gives it a delectable taste and nutrient-rich profile. But like most things in life, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. The Tunacado sandwich is stuffed with the perfect balance of tuna mousse, avocado, tomato, pesto, salt, and pepper—it’s no wonder thousands are replicating this uber-simple-to-make sandwich at home.
And if you’re fishing (ha) for a step-by-step on how to make it, a recent TikTok video by @dzaslavsky takes us behind the scenes of a Joe & The Juice location on Prince Street in New York City to see what the hype is all about. Like making most sandwiches, the key is the ingredients and how you assemble them together. For starters, the super thin bread is toasted to perfection in a panini press with beautiful cross-hatch marks (45 seconds on each side, to be exact). Then, the bread is carefully sliced and slathered with a generous amount of pesto sauce and layered with thinly-sliced avocado and a few heaping scoops of tuna mousse. The end result is a crispy, crunchy sandwich with a melt-in-your-mouth filling of refreshing tuna salad and creamy avocado. (Okay, officially hungry now.)
@dzaslavsky The making of the Tunacado at the Prince Street ? location in NYC #joeandthejuice #tunacado ♬ original sound - danielle
The health benefits of a Tunacado, according to an RD
According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, Tunacado sandwiches are a “nutritional powerhouse.” She says that this simple lunch item is packed with healthy fats, protein, and many important micronutrients. “Overall, I am a fan of this sandwich. Eating one alongside a veggie-packed side salad or a low-sodium veggie soup can result in a balanced and satisfying meal loaded with good-for-you nutrients,” Manaker says.
To help really lay things out, Manaker breaks down every component of the anatomy of a Tunacado and shares why it’s a great choice: “Tuna is one of the best sources of DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which supports our heart and brain health. Meanwhile, avocado is a popular fruit that is a natural source of satiating fiber and healthy fats, along with nutrients many of us don't eat enough of, like magnesium,” she says. “The pesto addition adds even more healthy fats and flavor, and the tomato gives this sandwich a boost of antioxidants. Then the use of whole grain fiber gives this sandwich even more fiber and antioxidants.”
Tips for making a healthier version of a Tunacado at home
“People can make this sandwich at home, and they can make it even better for you with some simple tweaks. Using whole grain or sourdough bread instead of a combo of white and wheat may be a better option for some. And using a bit of Greek yogurt in place of some of the mayo can give this sandwich some probiotics,” Manaker says. Plus, choosing the right type of tinned fish (major trend alert) is also important. “While tuna is a great source of healthy fats, protein, and a slew of micronutrients, certain tunas can be higher in mercury than others. Opting for skipjack tuna can be a better choice for a person who is trying to keep their methylmercury intake as low as possible,” she says.
So, how do you actually make a Tunacado sandwich?
Making this super simple sandwich at home is beyond easy, thanks to the guidance of thousands of TikTokers who have worked to recreate the recipe. In a recent TikTok video with over 800K views, Emily English from @emthenutrionist offers a few genius tips to make Tunacados taste just like (and maybe better than?) the original version with an extra kick. She starts by using a whole-wheat pita and slicing it into a rectangle, which helps mimic the look, feel, and taste like Joe’s super thin, super crispy toasted bread.
@emthenutritionist At home joe & the juice spicy tuna #joeandthejuice #menuhack #hotgirlsummer #viral ♬ original sound - Emily English
Then, she lathers the bread with pesto and tops it with a few slices of tomato and avocado before adding the tuna. However, in her rendition of the tuna mousse, which deviates a bit from the original version (and we’re so not mad about it), she adds a bit of hot sauce, kefir yogurt, freshly cracked pepper, a few chopped-up pickled jalapeños, and a bit of the brine from the jar for some added flavor and spice.
Ready to try it at home? It won’t disappoint.
An RD shares surprising avocado benefits:
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