Nothing like a classic Tuna Pasta Salad to beat the heat in the summer! Loaded with shell noodles, peas, tuna, celery, onions and more for tons of flavor.
If you love tuna salad, you will love this tuna PASTA salad! It has many of the same flavors and textures but amped up with pasta. It’s on of our favorite summer salad recipes for a quick lunch, side dish for dinner or bringing to BBQs.
Why You’ll Love This Tuna Salad with Pasta Recipe
- This cold tuna pasta salad is easy! There’s hardly any prep and you can make it ahead so it’s ready to go.
- This salad has the best creamy dressing with mayonnaise, dill, and lemon juice. It tastes rich but light!
- There’s plenty of crunch, too, with red onion and celery mixed in.
- Peas add a pop of color and canned tuna makes it a snap to make!
The flavors in this salad are always a hit and it’s a great twist on tuna salad – make it and you’ll get rave reviews.
Ingredients for Tuna Pasta Salad
- Small pasta shells – Or any short pasta shape will work! Try penne, rotini, orecchiette, or cavatappi.
- Canned albacore white tuna – You can use your favorite canned tuna, but we like it packed in water so it’s not too oily.
- Celery – Finely chop it so you don’t have big chunks in the salad.
- Diced red onion – Or you can use white, yellow, or chopped green onions.
- Green peas – Use frozen peas to make it easy! Just thaw them first in some cool water.
- Mayonnaise – We love full-fat mayo for this recipe, but you can use low-fat if you prefer. To lighten it up you can sub some of the mayonnaise for plain Greek yogurt.
- Lemon juice – Get some lemons and squeeze the juice yourself for the best flavor.
- Salt and pepper – Season to taste.
- Dried dill weed – You can also use chopped fresh dill. You will need about two to three teaspoons.
Can you make tuna pasta salad without mayonnaise?
If you don’t like mayo, you can substitute the same amount of Greek yogurt or sour cream. The flavor won’t be the same, but it will work!
Can I use a different type of pasta?
Yes, you can use any short pasta shape that you prefer or have on hand. Penne, rotini, orecchiette, or cavatappi are all great options.
Can I use a different type of tuna?
Absolutely! While the recipe suggests canned albacore white tuna packed in water, you can use your favorite canned tuna variety. Just make sure to drain it before adding it to the salad.
How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad
Boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain it and rinse it under cold water. This will cool it quickly and keep it from sticking.
Mix: Place all of the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the rinsed pasta and stir to coat it in the dressing.
Chill: Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving it.
Should you rinse pasta for salad?
I like to rinse pasta for cold salads. First, it cools the pasta quickly – you don’t want to mix the salad dressing with the hot pasta because it will make it runny. Cooling the pasta quickly first keeps this from happening.
It also removes some of the starch so the pasta doesn’t get sticky.
Can you make it ahead?
Yes, this is a great make-ahead pasta salad! I like to make it the day before and keep it covered in the refrigerator. It will taste even better once the flavors develop. Just give it a good stir before serving it.
How long does tuna pasta salad last in the fridge?
It will keep well for three to four days in the refrigerator as long as it’s kept in an airtight container.
Since this is a mayo-based pasta salad, be sure to keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. It can sit out for up to two hours at room temperature but if it’s hot, you will want to refrigerate it sooner.
If your tuna pasta salad is a little dry after sitting in the fridge, you can add a few squeezes of lemon juice and a little mayo to freshen the dressing.
- Customize the flavors: Feel free to adjust the seasonings and ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Add more lemon juice for a tangier flavor, or increase the amount of dill weed for a stronger herb presence.
- Add freshness with herbs: Consider adding chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or cilantro to the salad for an extra burst of freshness and aroma.
- Adjust the dressing consistency: If the Tuna Pasta Salad seems a little dry after refrigeration, you can add a few squeezes of lemon juice and a bit of mayo to freshen up the dressing. Adjust the consistency to your liking.
- Garnish before serving: Just before serving, garnish the Tuna Pasta Salad with some additional chopped herbs, a sprinkle of dill weed, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This adds a finishing touch and enhances the presentation.
- Make it your own: Feel free to add other ingredients to the salad, such as diced tomatoes, sliced olives, or grated cheese, to customize it according to your preferences.
Creamy, cool, and loaded with flavor! This tuna pasta salad is a summer must-make for all the potlucks, BBQs, and pool parties. Don’t miss out – give it a try soon!
What to Serve with Tuna Pasta Salad
- Planning to fire up the grill? Be sure to try our BBQ Chicken Marinade! It’s a summer staple at our house.
- Grill up burgers and slather them with the Best Burger Sauce. It takes them over the top!
- Make quick and easy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches to go along with this pasta salad.
More Summer Recipes!
- If you love this tuna pasta salad, you have to try our Crab Salad and Shrimp Salad, too!
- Make a big Chef’s Salad for dinner – it’s the perfect warm summer night meal and totally satisfying.
- Refreshing, classic Creamy Cucumber Salad is a summertime favorite at any picnic, party or potluck!
- This creamy Dill Potato Salad is a delicious twist on your traditional version.
- Quick and easy creamy Shrimp Pasta Salad comes together quickly for summer picnics and potlucks.
- Red, White & Blue Salad is a refreshing, patriotic dessert packed with fresh blueberries and strawberries!
- 16 ounces small shells pasta or favorite small pasta
- 12 ounces canned albacore white tuna packed in water, drained
- 4 ribs celery finely chopped
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 2 cup frozen peas thawed
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions, until al dente, drain water off pasta and rinse under cold water.
- While pasta is cooking combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Add rinsed pasta to bowl and stir to combine.
- Refrigerate pasta salad for at least an hour before stirring.