Copycat Joe & The Juice Tunacado Sandwich

Copycat Joe & The Juice Tunacado Sandwich

TikTok is losing its mind over a tuna sandwich, and there are plenty of wonderful reasons why. As a fellow tuna salad fanatic, I was delighted to see the Joe & the Juice tunacado taking over my feed but skeptical at what new hot take the internet could take on this sandwich icon.

You’re probably thinking, “I thought they just did juices?” SAME. Nonetheless, this sandwich's appeal lies in its blissful blend of textures. A crispy flatbread encases a vibrant tuna mixture spiked with just the right amount of heat and whipped to a mousse-like consistency, then layered with an unorthodox pesto, avocado, and tomato. 

The fluffiness of the tuna salad is all thanks to the addition of mayo and the power of a food processor. You can opt for the classic fork-mash technique, but I suggest you give your food processor at least one chance at the task to taste the difference.

This recipe delivers all the key characteristics we love about Joe & the Juice’s tunacado with the addition of some heat, giving a nod to their spicier version which adds jalapeño in place of the avocado. I made a creamy pesto aioli spiked with chili crunch for even more of a punch, then topped it all with banana peppers for a puckery finish.

Tips for Making the Tunacado Sando

  • Make the tuna mixture smooth—Make the tuna mixture as smooth and spreadable as you like by tweaking the amount of mayo you add. If the tuna doesn’t seem smooth and whipped enough, you may need to add a touch more mayo and process it a little longer.
  • Slice the bread thin—If using focaccia, slice it widthwise into thin slices. A good bread knife will help with this.
  • Get them crispy—Part of the appeal of this sandwich is the contrast of its toasty, crispy bread and creamy tuna filling. Take your time toasting the bread and make sure it’s nice and browned.

Make Ahead

The pesto and tuna mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance. For the tuna mixture, wait to add the onions until right before serving as their flavor can overwhelm everything else if allowed to sit.

“The Tunacado sandwich is a far cry from your basic tuna sandwich. It’s no wonder it’s gone viral! This take on the Tunacado is bursting with savory, umami flavors from capers and anchovies and tons of crisp, crunchy texture from chili crunch and grilled bread. This recipe is sure to become a favorite.” —Joan Velush

Whole grain bread topped with tuna salad, tomato, and avocado A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Spicy Pesto Aioli

  • 1/4 cup pesto

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon chili crunch

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Fine salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the Sandwich

  • 5 ounces canned tuna, drained

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon drained capers

  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste, or 3 anchovy filets

  • 1 tablespoon dried dill or 2 sprigs fresh dill

  • 1/4 cup diced red onion

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, more to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 4 thin slices whole wheat flatbread, Sourdough, or focaccia

  • 4 slices tomato

  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced

  • Pickled sliced banana peppers, for serving

Steps to Make It

The Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make spicy pesto aioli

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a small bowl, stir together the pesto, mayonnaise, chili crunch, honey, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until it’s time to assemble the sandwiches.

    A bowl of spicy pesto aioli

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

The Sandwich

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make a tunacado sandwich

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Place the tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, capers, anchovy, and dill in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high until smooth and an almost “whipped” consistency is achieved, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the food processor, about 1 minute.

    Whipped tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic cloves, capers, anchovy, and dill in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Stir in the chopped onions, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning as desired.

    Onions, salt, and pepper added to the whipped tuna mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Preparing the bread can depend on the type of bread chosen—the end result should be thin and crispy. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high, then add 2 pieces of bread at a time, cut side-down. Weigh down using a small skillet or pot and cook until the pieces are golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet (just brown the interior of the bread) and toast the remaining 2 slices.

    Two slices of bread toasting in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. To assemble the sandwiches, divide and spread the spicy pesto aioli over the toasted side of each piece of bread.

    Four slices of bread topped with spicy pesto aioli

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Divide and spread the tuna mixture across two pieces of the bread. Then layer each tuna-topped piece of bread with 2 slices of tomato and as much avocado as desired.

    Two slices of bread topped with whipped tuna mixture, tomatoes, and avocado

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Top with banana peppers for a slightly spicy-briney punch, if desired. Close sandwiches, slice in half and serve.

    Two slices of whipped tuna, tomatoes, and avocado topped with banana peppers

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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