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Recipe Vitello Tonnato

This Italian recipe is amzing if you are looking foe a light and tasty antipasto. Vitello Tonnato is a masterpiece of the mix between sea and mountains.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Vitello tonnato is a wonderful Northern Italian dish made with marinated veal and tuna sauce. The thin slices of veal are coated in the flavorful sauce and served as a dinner or appetizer. It is fantastic either way!

Vitello Tonnato with capers and rocket

What is Vitello Tonnato?

Vitello tonatto is a cold veal dish made with a rich tuna sauce. The recipe begins by cooking the veal in a marinade made with white wine, onions, celery, garlic, and seasonings. The veal slowly cooks in the sauce and, once cooked through it is left to cool. Traditionally, the chef will then thinly slice veal and place it on a large serving tray.

While the veal slices do have a lot of flavor, most of the excitement of this dish lies in the sauce. The powerful fish sauce is made with very strong ingredients like canned tuna fish, capers, lemon juice, anchovy fillets, garlic, and the yolks from hard-boiled eggs. That is one flavorful mix! The sauce is very easy to make and blends quickly in a food processor into a thick, mayonnaise-like sauce that is quite delicious.

The homemade tonnato sauce is poured over the veal on the tray and garnished with whole capers. The classic dish is pretty and super tasty! This is one lesser-known Italian recipe that you need to try.

vitello tonnato in a bowl

How to Make Vitello Tonnato Recipe

We want to give you a quick look at how to make this tasty veal dish so you have a good idea of what to do before you start cooking. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Cook the veal: Add all of the ingredients for the veal marinade to a large pot. Let the veal sit for thirty minutes to absorb some of the flavor from the onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, and wine. Then, cover pot and simmer the meat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. It will be tender and soft.

  2. Cool the meat: Remove the cooked veal from the cooking water and set it on a cutting board to cool.

  3. Make the sauce: While the veal cools, make the sauce. Add the anchovy fillets, capers, egg yolks, olive oil, tuna, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

  4. Assemble: Thinly slice the veal and add veal to a large serving tray. Top the veal slices with the thick sauce and garnish capers on top of the sauce. Serve right away!

vitello tonnato served in a fancy restaurant

How to Store Vitello Tonnato

You can easily make this dish in advance and serve it later at a party or get-together. It is quite a fancy, impressive dish! Assemble the entire platter then cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. The meat is best eaten the same day it is assembled.

You can also cook the veal in advance then slice and assemble it on a different day. The whole, marinated meat will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Make the tuna sauce the day you are ready to enjoy your homemade vitello tonnato.

As this will be your starter, if you want some main courses ideas you must check our Italian meatballs recipe for another explosion of flavour in your mouth.

Recipe Vitello Tonnato Feature Image - 1390x600

Authentic Vitello Tonnato Recipe

Vitello tonnato is a wonderful Northern Italian dish made with marinated veal and tuna sauce. The thin slices of veal are coated in the flavorful sauce and served as a dinner or appetizer.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 652 kcal


Marinated Veal

  • 1 1/2 pounds veal shoulder
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white winw
  • 3 cups water

Tuna Sauce

  • 3 1/2 ounces canned tuna in olive oil
  • 2 ounces caper
  • 4 anchovy filets canned
  • 4 egg yolks hard boiled
  • 5 ounces olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper ground


  • Add all of the ingredients for the veal and marinate to a large pot. Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes to marinate in the seasoned wine mix.
  • After the meat has marinated, bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. Then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour and thirty minutes.
  • Remove the cooked veal from the liquid and set it on a cutting board. Let it cool for about ten to twenty minutes.
  • While the veal coos, add all of the ingredients for the tuna sauce to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice the veal as thin as possible. Serve with the tuna sauce on top.
Keyword Tuna, Veal, Vitello Tonnato

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the food images displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. They do not represent the actual dishes or presentations you might achieve when following our recipes. While we strive to inspire your culinary journey, the appearance of your dishes may vary.

Frequent Asked Questions

Vitello tonnato is a veal with tuna sauce. The word vitello translates to mean “calf” or “Veal” in English. Tonnato is the name for the tuna sauce made with capers, anchovies, egg yolks, lemon juice and seasonings.

Many people like to serve roasted vegetables with tonnato sauce as a dip. Save some reserved sauce and use it to top your veggies! It would also be fantastic as a pasta sauce without any veal or meat. Get creative!

Tonnato is made with tuna, lemon juice, eggs, anchovies, capers and oil. Some people do add mayonnaise to the tonnato but this is not the traditional way to make the recipe.

Vitello tonnato is best served cold. It can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as part of a whole meal.

Yes, vitello is veal which is a young calf. It is technically a type of beef.

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