Looking for a keto lunch that is packed with omega-3s and fresh veggies? This low-calorie and low-carb keto salmon salad fits the bill! Try this canned salmon salad (no mayo) for a healthy main dish that is under 400 calories. Packed with “real food” ingredients, it’s Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, dairy-free, LCHF, and pescatarian-friendly. You’ll love how beautiful the rainbow of crisp vegetables looks on your plate, and how good these health-promoting foods make you feel!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. People just don’t seem to like salads. As a matter of fact, the salads tend to be some of the least popular recipes on the site.
It makes me sad, because I love a colorful and healthy salad! In fact, I eat a salad nearly every day for lunch.
This keto canned salmon salad recipe is a personal favorite. With inexpensive tinned pink salmon, and a vibrant citrus sesame dressing, it’s hard not to love this delicious entrée.
If your experience with salads has mostly been limp garden salads served as sides in restaurants, let’s change things! Once you start making salads at home, customized to your taste and dietary preferences, there’s no going back.
If you follow certain ways of eating, such as “clean eating” or an ancestral diet, DIY salads are really the way to go. You can easily skip the ultra-processed ingredients and added sugars that are often in salad dressings from the store. Additionally, you can add and subtract fruits, veggies, and proteins to make your favorite salad ever.
I hope you’re feeling encouraged to try this no mayo salmon salad. The general guidelines recommend to aim for at least two servings of seafood per week. With this meal prep, you’re all set!
📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
One serving of this keto salmon avocado salad provides 331 calories, 11.2 grams net carbs, and 26.6 grams protein. If you want to bring the net carbs down a smidge more, swap the orange juice in the dressing for lemon juice.
Why make this low carb canned salmon salad? Here are a few of my reasons:
- Filling: This salad is packed with protein and provides a lot of volume for few calories. The abundant non-starchy vegetables here offer over 8 grams of fiber, while non-fiber carbs are minimized. These elements make this salad a great choice if you have a weight loss goal.
- Inexpensive: Though you could use fresh salmon fillets in this salad, tinned salmon will save you money. Plus, salmon in a can has already been cooked, so it’s easier to prepare than raw salmon.
- Omega 3s: Salmon is a fatty fish that is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. If you’ve been looking to increase your intake of heart-healthy fats, salmon salad is a super seafood to enjoy!
- Vitamin D: Salmon is also one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D.
- Calcium: We’re using tinned fish with bones in this recipe, a rich source of non-dairy calcium. If you’re on a dairy-free diet, your options for excellent sources of highly bioavailable whole foods calcium sources are more limited. Per salad, the salmon here provides approximately 15% of the DV for calcium. The entire salad, including salmon, offers over one-third of the calcium that you need in a day. It’s a great way to get calcium with no dairy!
- Mediterranean Diet: Aside from fitting keto, Paleo, low carb, dairy free, and gluten free diets, this salad also aligns with the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a diet pattern that is linked to a lower risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases.
- Easy Lunch or Dinner: No cooking is involved with this recipe! It’s the perfect easy meal for warm summer evenings.
What do you need to make this low carb salmon salad? Here's the rundown:
- Bagged salad mix (mixed greens)
- Lemon juice
- Canned salmon (with bones)
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Yellow pepper
- Chopped cucumber
- Chopped red onion
- Sliced scallions
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Fresh squeezed orange juice (or lemon juice for keto)
- Toasted sesame oil
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos for Paleo, Whole30, and gluten-free)
- Orange zest
Be sure to mash the bony salmon up well if you dislike seeing vertebral pieces in your food. When it is mixed in with everything else in these salads, you may not even notice the bones. You could also use boneless canned salmon, but you’ll lose out on the calcium if you do that.
I used a small amount of toasted sesame oil in this recipe, which lends a wonderful flavor to the dressing. If you don’t eat seed oils, you could substitute with olive or avocado oil. The flavor will not be the same, however.
Small amounts of sesame oil are generally considered fine for the Paleo and Whole30 diets. The Whole30 rules recommend limiting sesame oil and not making it your primary cooking fat.
Paleo guru Mark Sisson also suggests using sesame oil no more than “semi-regularly.” However, Paleo isn’t a medical nutrition therapy (Whole30 isn’t either), and the restrictions vary depending on who you ask.
At only 11.2 grams of net carbs per serving, this salad is an easy fit for low carb and keto diets. That said, many on the keto diet prefer to completely avoid orange juice. You can substitute with fresh squeezed lemon juice (plus a little of your preferred keto sweetener) if you wish.
The main things you need to make this no mayo keto salmon salad is a good knife and some salad bowls. I’m linking to my favorite salad containers in the recipe card below. I also like to have a one-cup canning jar (with lid) on hand to mix the dressing.
🔪 How to Make Canned Salmon Salad
Let’s learn how to make keto salmon salad! I usually make the dressing first to give the flavors time to meld.
To make the low-carb salad dressing, add the orange (or lemon) juice, sesame oil, coconut aminos, and orange zest to a small glass jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake. Set the dressing aside while you work on the salads.
To make the keto salads with salmon, chop the avocado and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice. This will help keep it from turning brown.
Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Chop the broccoli, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and scallion into bite-size pieces. Drain the canned salmon and mash it very well with a fork.
Now all you have to do is assemble the salads. Divide the lettuce between four bowls. Top each bowl with equal amounts of salmon, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, pepper, cucumber, and red onion.
Garnish the salads with the scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle on the salad dressing.
What are some good dressings for salmon salad? If you don’t like the orange sesame salad dressing I’m providing, here are some alternatives:
- Italian dressing
- Ranch dressing
- Balsamic dressing
- Cilantro-lime dressing
- Caesar dressing
- Green goddess dressing
- Sesame ginger dressing
- Buffalo sauce
Primal Kitchen brand offers a lot of good keto salad dressings that are also Paleo and Whole30 compliant. They tend to be one of my go-to store brands when I don’t feel like making salad dressing from scratch.
You could also spice up a no mayo salmon salad in different ways! Try adding Old Bay, Cajun spice, jerk seasoning, garlic powder, or chili powder.
How long does salmon last in the fridge? If you aren't too picky about the avocado browning, this salmon salad bowl can last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Just make sure the salmon and dressing is kept separate from the salad until serving. They will make your lettuce leaves soggy if packed together.
🥑 Side Dishes
This low carb salmon salad is a main dish salad. If you want more carbs, consider adding one or more of the following side dishes for salmon salad:
- Air Fryer Garlic Bread
- Air Fryer Corn Bread
- Whole Grain Crackers
- Fresh Fruit Salad
- Quinoa or Brown Rice
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). This keto salad has all of the elements needed to create a satisfying but low-calorie meal: protein, fiber, and fluid volume. If you are trying to lose weight, this salad is likely a great option for you, whether you’re following a keto diet or not. If you need a higher energy recipe, consider adding more avocado or some pecans.
Since there is already plenty of healthy fat in this salad from the salmon, avocado, and sesame seeds, you could skip the added oil entirely. Adding a couple of extra tablespoons of the orange juice (or lemon juice) will help ensure that you have enough dressing for each salad. However, this change will alter the flavor and the salad is already pretty low calorie.
Whether you are new to meal prepping or have been at this a while, I hope that you find this recipe helpful. It also makes a super light dinner idea. It’s perfect for those hot summer nights when you can’t be bothered with cooking.
The great thing about salads (aside from the nutrients they provide) is their adaptability. If you don’t like a specific ingredient here, it is pretty easy to swap it out for another. Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen to keep your low carb, keto, or Paleo diet from getting boring!
You can make your keto salmon salad like a tuna salad (i.e., with the mayo) very easily! Try substituting salmon for the sardines in this sardine salad recipe. Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are two other ways to make creamy seafood salads without mayo.
In general, salads packed with protein and non-starchy vegetables are terrific choices for keeping you in ketosis. That said, high carb ingredients like sugary salad dressings and croutons can kick you out of ketosis. The answer to whether eating salads will stop ketosis depends on what you’re putting in your salad.
Yes, you can make this low carb salad with chopped smoked salmon rather than canned salmon. Be sure to keep the salmon separate from the salad if you’re using this recipe as a meal prep to enjoy later. These containers are great for keeping the lettuce and wetter ingredients separated.
Both tuna and salmon are great seafood options, and tuna can be substituted for salmon in this recipe. Tinned tuna tends to be less expensive than tinned salmon, but an advantage of the salmon is you get more omega-3s. If the salmon was canned with bones, you get more calcium from the salmon too.
👩🏻🍳 Other Keto Salmon Recipes
Looking for more high protein, low carb salmon recipes? I’ve got you! After you make this salad, check these out these ketogenic salmon recipes next:
- How to Smoke Salmon
- Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce (serve with keto-friendly side dishes)
- Deconstructed Sushi Bowl (swap all the brown rice for cauliflower rice)
We also offer a keto recipe page which features all of our very low carb dishes! Don’t miss it!
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Canned Salmon Salad No Mayo (Keto, Low Carb, Paleo)
For the Salmon Salads:
- 8 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 avocado, chopped
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 15 ounces salmon, canned with bones, drained (425 grams)
- 12 ounces grape tomatoes, halved (340 grams)
- 1 cup broccoli, finely chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large cucumber, chopped (about 8-9 ounces/227-255 grams)
- ½ small red onion, chopped
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
For the Salmon Salad Dressing:
- 5 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed (for keto: use fresh squeezed lemon juice plus preferred keto sweetener to taste)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (for Paleo, gluten-free, and Whole30: use coconut aminos)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
To Make the Salads:
- Sprinkle the chopped avocado with the lemon juice to keep it from browning.
- Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Chop the broccoli, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and scallion into bite-size pieces. Drain the canned salmon and mash it very well with a fork.
- Divide the salad greens between four containers. Top each bowl with equal amounts of salmon, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, pepper, cucumber, and red onion.
- Garnish each salad with some chopped scallion and toasted sesame seeds.
To Make the Salmon Salad Dressing:
- Note: I typically like to make the dressing before the salad to give the flavors in the dressing time to meld.
- Put the orange juice (or lemon juice), sesame oil, soy sauce (or coconut aminos), and orange zest in a small canning jar.
- Put the lid on the jar and shake. Drizzle the dressing over the finished salads right before eating.
This no mayo salmon salad recipe has been updated from 2019 to include new photos, a recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!