Tonnato is a creamy and tangy sauce made with anchovies, capers, and canned tuna that tastes waaaaay better than it sounds. It’s a Whole30- and keto-friendly sauce that tastes delicious drizzled on veggies and roasted meat!

An overhead shot of a white plate filled with colorful raw vegetables and a small white ramekin filled with tonnato sauce.

Okay: what do you think of tonnato? For those of you smiling—high five! And if your nose is wrinkled in anchovy-hating disgust or bafflement, hear me out. I was once in your shoes, but this umami-packed paleo sauce is truly a cinch to make from pantry staples and tastes good on EVERYTHING.

What is tonnato sauce?

If you’ve never tried tonnato sauce, you’re in for a treat! This traditional Italian sauce is made with anchovies, capers, and canned tuna—it sounds wacky, but it tastes so dang good! Plus, this version is rich, savory, Whole30- and keto-friendly, and totally versatile!

A spoon filled with a thick, beige colored sauce from a blender, keto Tonnato Sauce

How do you use Tonnato Sauce?

This classic Italian sauce is typically paired with chilled poached veal (vitello tonnato) and served as a picnic dish. Sadly, I almost never have poached veal lying around the house, so after I blitz a fresh batch of tonnato, I pour it on crudités (raw vegetables), hard-boiled eggs, sliced heirloom tomatoes, cooked chicken, or steamed vegetables. Or all of the above.

A closeup shot of a sliced tomato salad topped with creamy, Whole30 Tonnato Sauce and Italian parsley.

How long does it keep in the fridge?

You can keep the tonnato sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. I don’t normally freeze it because the texture gets wonky when you thaw it. Just put it on all the things already!

Time to blend up a batch of tonnato sauce!

Makes 2 cups. Serves 8.


  • 1 (7-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 5 anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Paleo Mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Start by cracking open a can or jar of your favorite olive-oil packed tuna. Drain it and toss the fish in the blender.

An overhead shot of a can of tuna in olive oil, with the oil drained out.

Add two tablespoons of capers…

An overhead shot of drained capers in a green silicone prep bowl.

…and five anchovy filets.

A closeup of an open jar of anchovies in olive oil with a spoon inside.

Don’t be afraid!

An overhead shot of the inside of a blender filled with ingredients for Tonnato Sauce before it has been blended.

Grab a large lemon…

A shot of someone washing a lemon under a kitchen faucet.

…and add the juice (about 3 tablespoons) to the fishies and capers.

A shot of a spoonful of lemon juice positioned over an open blender container filled with Tonnato Sauce ingredients.

Then, pour in the olive oil

Pouring olive oil from a liquid measuring cup into an open blender container to make Tonnato Sauce

…and the mayonnaise.

A hand is adding paleo mayonnaise to an open blender container to make Tonnato Sauce

Cover the blender and give the ingredients a whirl…

A side shot of a blender filled with all of the Tonnato Sauce ingredients before it is turned on.

…until a thick and creamy sauce forms.

A side shot of a blender filled with creamy Tonnato Sauce

The consistency should be that of a pourable cream.

An overhead shot of a open blender container filled with creamy and keto Tonnato Sauce

A spoonful of Tonnato Sauce right out of the blender.

Taste for seasoning and adjust with additional lemon juice, salt, and/or freshly ground black pepper as needed.

Now go dip some raw veggies in it…

A slice of cucumber is dipped in a bowl of Tonnato Sauce

…or dress up a boring old chicken booby!

A white plate topped with poached chicken and sliced cherry tomatoes, drizzled with homemade Tonnato Sauce

Doubters: Try it and let me know what you think.

[Originally posted on May 28, 2013. Updated on January 19, 2020.]

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).


Tonnato Sauce

4.91 from 10 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 8 1/4 cup servings
Tonnato is a creamy, tangy sauce made with anchovies, capers, and canned tuna. It's so simple to make and tastes delicious drizzled on veggies and roasted meat! Don't doubt it, try it!


  • 1 can (7-ounces) tuna packed in olive oil drained
  • 2 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
  • 5 anchovies packed in olive oil drained
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup  paleo mayonnaise
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt  to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
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  • Dump all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.
  • Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • The sauce can be kept in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for a about a week.



Once you have a batch of tonnato sauce, pour it on crudités, hard-boiled eggs, sliced heirloom tomatoes, poached or sous vide chicken, or steamed vegetables. It tastes great on everything!


Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 27g | Fiber: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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  1. I just made a batch and LOVE the flavor, and it makes a great addition to most dishes. The only thing is it came out a little grainy instead of creamy…. perhaps I didn’t blend it long enough?? Has this ever happened to you and do you have recommendations on how to fix it?

    Thanks!! Monet

    1. The smooth texture is probably due to how powerful your blender is more than anything else. I have a Vitamix and it makes a really creamy sauce. You can try blending longer or adding a little lemon juice to thin it out.

  2. The best way I can describe the flavor is it tastes like a Caesar dressing! Mine came out pretty thick so it’s perfect as a dip with roasted Brussels and broccoli.

  3. This was delicious! I fell in love with vitello tonnato, but it’s always a rare find in restaurants. This sauce tastes exactly like I remember it from authentic Italian places.

    The icing on the cake, though, was the comment looking for a tonnato recipe that didn’t include…tonno. If I were allergic to lemons I’m not sure I’d spend my time reading lemon based recipes. There’s always one!!

    Thanks 🙂