The Best Tuna Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
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This tuna pasta salad is a quick, easy, healthy, protein-packed side or main perfect for lunch or dinner, picnics, BBQs, and potlucks!

A bowl with tuna pasta salad

Not only is it delicious, but this fresh and zesty tuna noodle salad is also super quick and easy to prepare in just 15 minutes. Plus, it’s economical, meal prep friendly, customizable (to diet and flavor preferences), versatile, and travels fairly well too. It’s a must-have at any picnic or BBQ alongside corn ribs, grilled peach burrata salad, and more.

All the elements for tuna pasta salad in a bowl

Ingredients

You only need simple and inexpensive kitchen and pantry staples to pull together this recipe.

steps for tuna pasta salad
  • Pasta: I used small pasta shells, but any small-shaped pasta, such as bow tie (farfalle), fusilli, rotini, etc., will work
  • Tuna fish: You can use packed or canned tuna. I prefer to use high-quality tuna (like canned albacore, which is firmer with a mild flavor).
  • Mayonnaise: For a rich and creamy base for the tuna salad.
  • Natural yogurt or Greek Yogurt: Adds a lighter texture to complement the mayonnaise.
  • Green peas: Fresh, frozen (no need to thaw), or canned (drained).
  • Celery: to add crunch.
  • Red onion: or shallot/green onion for a milder flavor.
  • Fresh Parsley: Fresh or dried dill will also work. 
  • Mustard: I use Dijon mustard, but any mustard will work, including wholegrain.
  • Seasoning: Garlic powder, salt, black pepper.

How to make tuna pasta salad

Cook the pasta: To get started, you’ll need to cook the pasta. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and let it cool to room temperature.

boiled pasta

Prepare the dressing & veggies: In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the dressing: mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and spices until well combined. Then, finely chop the celery and red onion, and mince the parsley. Add them to the bowl.

Assemble the salad: Add the drained tuna on top, and gently mix. Use a fork to mix everything together, while breaking up any large pieces of tuna. You can serve it immediately or let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour for all the flavors to meld and combine. Enjoy!

Tuna pasta salad in a bowl

How long foes tuna pasta salad last

In the fridge: Once assembled, store the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, stirring it well between each time you serve. The flavors will meld and change over time. It tastes even better on day two, so making it ahead is highly recommended. If need after a couple of days, liven it up with a splash of lemon juice or add a little more yogurt/mayo before serving.

tuna pasta salad in a yellow plate

More Hearty Salad Recipes

If you try this easy tuna pasta salad recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Tuna Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
By: Samira
This tuna pasta salad is a quick, easy, healthy, protein-packed side or main perfect for lunch or dinner, picnics, BBQs, and potlucks!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 10 oz pasta small shells (2.5 cups); any small-shaped pasta (bow-tie pasta/farfalle, fusilli, rotini, etc)
  • 10 oz tuna fish drained (1.5 cups); tuna in water is best
  • 4.1 oz celery 2 large stalks (1 cup chopped)
  • 3.5 oz red onion 1 medium (1 cup chopped); for a milder flavor, use green onion
  • 5.6 oz green peas frozen, 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise regular or light
  • 3/4 cup natural yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped) or dill, or a combination of the two

Instructions 

  • Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and let it cool to room temperature.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the dressing: mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and spices until well combined.
  • Finely chop the celery and red onion, and mince the parsley. Add them to the bowl.
  • Add the drained tuna on top, and gently mix. Use a fork to mix everything together, while breaking up any large pieces of tuna. You can serve it immediately or let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour for all the flavors to meld and combine. Enjoy!

Storage instructions

  • In the fridge: Once assembled, store the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, stirring it well between each time you serve.

Notes

  • Leave it to rest: I recommend letting the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes after assembling it to allow the flavors to meld. This produces a better, more well-rounded flavor.
  • Experiment with veggies: You can choose from plenty to add flavor, color, and texture to the salad. I love using it as an excuse to clear out my fridge. You can use pickles, cucumber, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, carrots, avocado, capers, olives, etc. 
  • Tweak it to your liking: You can easily adjust any of the flavors in the dressing, the size of the chopped veggies, the type of pasta, etc., to suit your dietary and flavor preferences.
Course: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 594kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 693mg, Potassium: 601mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1137IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 112mg, Iron: 3mg

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

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