Tuna Pasta Salad is a classic side dish made with cold pasta, canned tuna, fresh veggies, and a creamy mayo and Greek yogurt dressing. Everyone loves this summer salad!
Tuna pasta salad, sometimes called tuna macaroni salad is sure to make an appearance on any bbq spread you see this summer.
This cold pasta salad with tuna is a long-standing favorite, probably because it’s so easy to make! Tuna pasta salad is made with inexpensive ingredients and it takes less than a half-hour to throw it together.
My recipe for tuna salad with pasta is just like the classic recipe you remember, but with a few added ingredients to make it extra creamy and flavorful!
You might also enjoy another old-fashioned classic: Fruit Salad with Whipped Cream.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas! I know that not everyone is in love with peas in their macaroni salad, but personally, I enjoy this addition very much. They add sweetness and extra veggies to the dish.
- Traditional Flavors with a Kick – My recipe for tuna pasta salad is very close to the original that typically uses just mayo, salt, and pepper as a dressing. I’m adding herbs, garlic, lemon juice, and Greek yogurt to make this pasta salad extra flavorful and unique.
- Perfect for Potlucks– Bring a big bowl of this salad to that barbecue party you’re invited to next weekend, or any time you’re asked to bring a dish to pass. It’s a crowd-pleasing favorite. Feel free to double the recipe to serve extra guests.
Ingredients In Tuna Pasta Salad
Here’s what you need to make this delicious recipe for tuna salad with cold pasta.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Small Pasta: I’m using small shells (conchiglie), but you can also use elbow macaroni, rings, ditalini, bow tie (farfalle), or any type of short pasta you enjoy.
- Canned Tuna: Pick up canned tuna in water, or use the type in the pouch if you prefer. We’re using 10 ounces (2 cans) in this recipe.
- Celery and Onion: These diced veggies are crunchy and flavorful. I like to use red onion for its spicy bite. If you like onion, but would like it to be milder, soak the diced onions in ice water for 20-30 minutes before adding it to the salad. You can also use a sweet onion, or green onions instead if you prefer.
- Frozen Peas: Thaw the peas on the counter for 20 minutes or so and then drain away any extra liquid.
- Mayonnaise and Greek Yogurt: Adding plain yogurt to the traditional mayonnaise base of this salad gives it a lighter, brighter flavor, extra creaminess, and a bit of a tang. You can use sour cream instead of yogurt if you prefer.
- Dijon Mustard and Lemon Juice: Mayo and yogurt don’t have much flavor on their own. We are jazzing up the dressing with savory mustard and bright lemon juice. Use fresh lemon juice please!
- Fresh Garlic: Finely mince a clove of garlic to add savory, rich flavor to the tuna salad dressing.
- Dill: Dill is an herb that goes really well with all types of fish, and it also just screams “summer” to me. You can use fresh dill weed or dried in this recipe.
- Salt and Pepper: Make sure that everything is well seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper. Adjust to your own taste.
How To Make Tuna Salad with Pasta
- Cook Pasta: Follow the package directions to cook your pasta in salted water until it’s soft but not overcooked. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Make the Dressing: While the pasta is cooking, combine mayo with yogurt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Make Tuna Pasta Salad: Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl with tuna chunks, celery, red onion, and peas. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir well to combine. Garnish with fresh dill if desired and then cover and chill until you’re ready to serve.
Many people enjoy chopped hard boiled eggs in their Tuna Pasta Salad. Feel free to add them to this recipe if you like.
- Add Other Ingredients: Other fresh veggies like bell peppers or carrots can be chopped up and added to tuna pasta salad. Chopped hard-boiled eggs, sliced green olives, and shredded cheese are also commonly added to this recipe.
- Skip the Peas: Honestly, I won’t be offended if you leave them out. I know that peas are one of those love/hate things. If you aren’t sure about the peas in this recipe, I suggest you try them. They are really good!
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Because tuna pasta salad is made with mayo and yogurt (or sour cream) it’s important not to let it sit out in hot temperatures or even at room temperature for very long.
Keep your cold pasta salad chilled as much as possible.
What To Serve With Tuna Pasta Salad
This recipe for tuna pasta salad is going to get you through the whole summer barbecue season! Try these other summer recipes with it:
For Dessert: No-bake desserts like No Bake Peanut Butter Pie, Million Dollar Pie, and Orange Jello Salad are perfect for hot days. Everyone will go nuts for this Homemade Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream too!
Aside from the peas, celery, and onions in this recipe, you can add other veggies. Try bell peppers, carrots, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped broccoli, or radishes.
You can definitely make this salad a few days ahead of time. As it sits, the pasta will absorb the dressing. So if you don’t plan to eat your tuna salad right away, only dress it with half of the dressing, and save the rest to add just before serving.
You certainly can use Miracle Whip to make pasta salad with tuna, but I don’t recommend it. Miracle whip is sweet, and won’t blend well with the other flavors in this salad.
You can use shrimp in place of tuna in this recipe, or follow my Shrimp Pasta Salad recipe instead!
Everyone is going to love YOUR tuna pasta salad so much this summer, that they’ll be begging you for the recipe. Feel free to share it, or Pin it to save for later.
- 3 cups (12 oz./340g) uncooked pasta any small shape
- 10 ounces (280g, 2 cans) canned tuna in water, drained
- ½ cup (2 stalks) diced celery
- ¼ cup diced red onion see note 1
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed and drained
For the Dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise full-fat
- ½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to the package instructions. Most small pastas will be ready in 10-12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- As the pasta is being cooked, make the dressing: In a bowl, combine mayo with yogurt, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with tuna chunks, celery, red onion and peas. Dress the salad and give everything a stir until well combined. Garnish with additional fresh dill if desired.
- Cover and chill until you’re ready to serve.
- I like the spicy bite of red onion in this recipe. You can use sweet onion or green onion instead if you prefer. You can also remove some of the bite of diced red onions by soaking them in ice water for 20 minutes before adding them to the salad.
- Other fresh veggies like bell peppers or carrots can be chopped up and added to tuna pasta salad. Chopped hard-boiled eggs, sliced green olives, and shredded cheese are also commonly added to this recipe.
- Be sure to use full-fat mayo and yogurt or sour cream to make the dressing. I’d also avoid Miracle Whip or other similar salad dressings.
- To Store: Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure not to allow this salad to sit out at room temperature or on a hot day for very long. It’s best to keep it refrigerated at all times.
- To Make Ahead: Assemble the salad up to 2 days ahead of time, but only dress it with half of the creamy dressing. Save the other half in a separate container. Just before serving, stir in the rest of the dressing so that it will taste like you just made it!
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen