Spicy Tuna Dip – the Month of Mexican

Tuna Dip - Just like Carlos and Pepe's
Spicy Tuna Dip - the Month of Mexican

Last Updated on January 24, 2023

Spicy Tuna Dip with Chips
Spicy Tuna Dip

Spicy Tuna Dip is my take on the famous Carlos and Pepe’s tuna dip. You can make it as spicy as you want. Enjoy it with chips and a margarita.

When I lived in Santa Monica, California, we had a Carlos and Pepe’s Mexican restaurant near our home. I loved to go over there and have their wonderful spicy tuna dip. I have been trying to recreate it for years. My rendition of it is pretty spot-on, if not a little better.

When you make this, please use tuna in oil. The tuna in water tastes very bland and requires more mayonnaise to taste better. My favorite, with the best flavor, is albacore in olive oil. If you can’t find it or don’t want to pay the hefty price for it, use regular tuna in oil.

What sets my dip apart is Aleppo pepper, which you can find at Penzey’s with other excellent spices. I also recommend True Citrus’s True Lemon and Lime. They can be added to foods without worrying about making them too thin. It’s just pure crystalized lemon or lime – delicious!  Links are further down on the page.

Cilantro is an important part of this dip. It blends nicely with the citrus. If you are an “Ew! Cilantro tastes like soap!” person, please feel free to substitute Italian parsley.

You can serve this dip as an appetizer or have it for lunch. If you don’t want to use fried tortilla chips, simply cut tortillas in eighths, put them in your air fryer, spray them with a little oil, and they will crisp up perfectly. When I make enchiladas, I often have a few tortillas either leftover or broken. Chips make an excellent use for leftover or broken tortillas. Make it an appetizer party, and serve guacamole, too.

Let’s Make Spicy Tuna Dip

Spicy Tuna Dip with Chips

Spicy Tuna Dip – the Month of Mexican

Tuna Dip – Just like Carlos and Pepe's
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Difficulty: Easy
Newsletter: 2020-07-31
Servings (slide to adjust): 2 servings
Calories per serving: 233kcal



Ingredients necessary for the recipe step are in italic.


  • Mise En Place
    mise en place
  • Make sure to mince the cilantro well, and keep a little bit for garnish. I have found that a mezzaluna does the best job for this.
    Minced cilantro
  • Mix all together and refrigerate for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with chips.
    Spicy Tuna Dip with Chips


This makes enough for 2 people, so if you want to make more, just increase the ingredients.


Serving: 1gCalories: 233kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 25gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 149mgPotassium: 227mgSugar: 1g
Got Questions? Let me know!Mention @arbpen or tag #arbpen!
Aleppo Pepper
Aleppo Pepper at Penzey’s
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About arbpen

As an award-winning and serious home cook, I seriously believe there is no reason why you can't have a restaurant quality meal at home. One of the good things about eating at home is to save money, so armed with a good menu plan, a shopping list, and an appreciation of good food, we can all have gourmet food on a budget.

4 Responses to Spicy Tuna Dip – the Month of Mexican

  1. Matt says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always really liked that tuna dip at Carlos and Pepe’s and this one is really close.

  2. Mary M says:

    5 stars
    I had a little get together over the weekend and made this along with some of your Guacamole. Just perfect.

  3. Harout says:

    5 stars
    Yeah, I’ll bet this would be good with salmon, too, and lime juice.

  4. Anush says:

    5 stars
    Yummy, I had this with pita bread and it was just delish! Thanks!