Tuna Pasta Salad has been an iconic potluck and backyard barbecue favorite for decades due to its simple ingredients and bold flavor.
Think of tuna salad and macaroni salad combined into one absolutely delicious summer side or a colder version of the classic Tuna Noodle Casserole.
The great thing about this cold tuna pasta salad is that it’s budget-friendly, stretching a few pantry staples into a hearty batch.
Plus, it can be a meal in itself, especially for lunch during the hot summer months; it’s refreshingly cold from the fridge.
- Canned tuna – we used and recommend solid white albacore tuna in water; well drained.
- Rotini pasta – this is our favorite, but fusilli, elbow macaroni, bow tie pasta, and shells are great too. In a pinch, you can use penne pasta.
- Bell pepper – Green and red bell pepper give this dish a great pop of color, but any will do.
- Corn – canned, thawed, frozen, or even fresh cooked corn on the cob (boiled, grilled, oven roasted) gives this dish a tiny bit of sweetness.
- Red onion – finely diced is best.
- Dill – fresh dill is best, but freeze dried dill weed, or regular dried dill will work.
- Mayonnaise – we used full-fat mayo; however, you can use light mayo or vegan mayo too.
- Plain yogurt – plain yogurt is milder in taste, whereas plain Greek yogurt will give this dish a bit more tang.
- Mustard – yellow or Dijon mustard, depending on your taste preferences.
- Seasonings – garlic powder, paprika, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Freshly ground black pepper is a nice touch in this recipe.
Step One – Cook pasta according to package instructions in boiling salted water to al dente. Once done, drain and rinse with cold water. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl. To prevent sticking, toss the drained pasta with olive oil. Mix all the creamy dressing ingredients in a small separate bowl.
Step Two – Add the tuna, bell peppers, onions, corn, and dill to the pasta; toss together until mixed.
Step Three – Pour the dressing in and gently stir to combine. Place a lid over or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Give the tuna pasta salad a quick stir before serving, and garnish with more dill, if desired.
- Herbs – swap the dill for freshly chopped parsley, chives, tarragon, or marjoram. A little celery seed is good too.
- Vegetables – thawed frozen peas, chopped celery, green onions, and/or finely diced radish- add flavor and texture to this tuna pasta salad recipe.
- Hard-boiled eggs – toss in 2-3 chopped hard boiled eggs.
- Dressing – decrease a bit of the mayo or yogurt and add Italian or ranch dressings for different flavor twists.
- Pickles – add diced sweet or dill pickles, depending on the flavor you’re after; relish works excellent too.
You can, but tuna packed in oil will change the overall flavor of this dish, even if it has been well drained.
For the best flavor, eat this salad within three days.
Keeping the salad covered will help, but the pasta will continue to soak up the dressing. Make a little more dressing or simply stir in a small amount of mayo, yogurt, sour cream, or even milk will help restore its creaminess.
If it’s been in the fridge for a day or two, the vegetables may have released some of their natural water, and the dressing may have separated slightly. Just give it a hearty stir to bring all those flavors back together again.
Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe
- 10 oz tuna in water drained (two-5 oz. cans)
- 8 oz dried rotini pasta (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
- 1 cup canned sweet corn drained
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 Tbsp. chopped dill
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt greek or regular
- 1/2 tsp. mustard dijon or yellow
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground paprika
- 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
- In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredeints together.
- Cook pasta according to instructions on the package on the stovetop (pasta should be cooked al dente, do not overcook). Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add the drained pasta and other salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and mix to coat.
- Place a lid or wrap the tuna salad with plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes (or more) before serving.
- Stir just before serving and add additional dill if desired.
Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.