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Tuna Pasta Salad

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posted: 07/14/20

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Tuna Pasta Salad is the perfect picnic food. It is easy to throw together with light delicious flavors everyone will love.

a tuna pasta salad in a bowl garnished with fresh dill

Over the weekend we saw my family and had a picnic outside with them. With everything going on in the world, it was so wonderful to see them, and even better to cook for them. It makes my heart happy.

Our picnic had everything to make sandwiches, my corn salad, my dad’s zucchini salad, and this great Tuna Pasta Salad. It is such an easy recipe and perfect for last minute family gatherings.

overhead photo of ingredients for tuna pasta salad broken up by ingredient in a glass bowl without the dressing

Tuna Pasta Salad Ingredients

Pasta Salads are so great and so often require just a few ingredients. I often have all the ingredients in my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.

With this recipe, I had everything on hand.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Medium Pasta Shells
  • Canned Tuna
  • Frozen Peas
  • Celery
  • Red Onion

Dressing Ingredients:

  • Light Mayonnaise
  • Yogurt
  • Lemon Juice
  • Dill
  • Salt and Pepper
overhead photo of ingredients for tuna pasta salad broken up by ingredient in a glass bowl

Cooking Noodles for Pasta Salads

There are a few important tips to follow when cooking pasta, especially for pasta salads. It is the star of the show and you want it to shine.

  1. Bring the water to a roaring boil. You need more than a few bubbles before you throw in the dry noodles.
  2. Note the cook time on the package. Before you put the noodles in the water, note the cook time and set a timer.
  3. Aim for al dente. When the time frame for cooking ends, taste a noodle and make sure it has bite to it. Then drain the noodles.
  4. Rinse the noodles with cold water. This will stop the noodles from cooking. It will also prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.

This is a cold tuna pasta salad, so no worries about rinsing the noodles. It works out perfectly.

overhead photo of a serving bowl full of tuna pasta salad garnished with fresh dill with more fresh dill on the side

What Type of Tuna to Buy

Please note that this recipe calls for tuna packed in water. If you buy tuna packed in oil, that will really change the flavor and consistency of this recipe.

Dry vs. Fresh Dill

This recipe calls for fresh dill. I love the flavor of dill in my recipes, it really pulls recipes together. That said, if you can’t find fresh, use dry dill. It will still bring that delicious flavor, you will just need al little less.

Note about Salt & Pepper

This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. I would recommend that you make the dressing using half that amount. Taste it, before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, and add more to taste.

Additionally, after you add the dressing, I recommend tasting the salad to see if you would like to add more salt and pepper.

overhead photo of a big bowl of tuna pasta salad garnished with fresh dill

Other Great Pasta Salads

I’m obsessed with pasta salad recipes. If you are too, you might like some of these:

If you make this tuna pasta salad recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

a tuna pasta salad in a bowl garnished with fresh dill
0 from 0 votes

Tuna Pasta Salad

Serves: 12 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
This Tuna Pasta Salad is the perfect picnic food. It is easy to throw together with light delicious flavors everyone will love.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb medium shells cooked, drained, and rinsed with cold water
  • 12 ounces tuna drained (2 cans) (please note this is the dry weight listed on the can)
  • 1 cup frozen peas see note
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 small red onion diced

For Dressing

Instructions

  • Cook the shells according to package instructions, being sure not to over cook. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.
  • Add the noodles, tuna, peas, celery, and onion to a large bowl. Pour dressing over it, and toss to combine.

Notes

There is no need to thaw the peas for this recipe. Frozen peas thaw very quickly and can just be tossed with the other ingredients.
Serving: 1cup Calories: 130kcal (7%) Carbohydrates: 13g (4%) Protein: 8g (16%) Fat: 6g (9%) Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Monounsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 7mg (2%) Sodium: 326mg (14%) Potassium: 19mg (1%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 1g (1%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
a tuna pasta salad in a bowl garnished with fresh dill

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Tuna Pasta Salad

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Claire says

    What does it do to the taste if you use oil packed tuna. Is it foul. Would adding lemon Juice and eliminating the yoghurt work?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Tuna packed in oil is very . . . oily. So it won’t make it foul, it will just make the salad oily. If you were making a pasta salad that had a vinaigrette based dressing rather than a mayo based dressing it would work perfectly. I just think it would throw off the texture and taste in this one.

  2. Vickie Rider says

    do you cook your peas, or use them from the freezer?

    • Lisa Longley says

      My apologies Vickie, I just added a note about this. There is no need to thaw them. I always use mine right from the freezer because they thaw so quickly.

  3. Pat Shorrock says

    nice recipe but what happens to the peas – they are listed in ingredients and not used in the salad ?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you for catching that Pat! I updated the recipe.

  4. Barb says

    Is it 12 oz tuna or 24 oz? Thank you

    • Lisa Longley says

      12 ounces.

  5. linda l schneider says

    oh my lord i opened my email and found this recipe waiting for me…i tell you it was a real gift. My mom always made macaroni salad with tuna it was what ii was used to . When i got married (55 years ago) and was making salad my husband said NO ONE MAKES MACARONI SALAD WITH TUNA, well this recipe is very close to my moms kind and i can show him “YES VIRGINIA THERE IS MACARONI SALAD WITH TUNA”
    have a wonderful day

    • Lisa Longley says

      Lololol! I love it, Linda! I’m so happy that you found a recipe close to your mom’s. I love recipes that remind me of my mom.

  6. Terrie says

    Do you have to add dill? What can I use instead?

    • Lisa Longley says

      You don’t have to, but I think it adds a lot of great flavor to this recipe. If you hate dill, I would substitute with 1/2 a teaspoon dry tarragon and 1/2 a teaspoon dry parsley.

  7. Tina says

    I don’t like mayonnaise can I use miracle whip

    • Lisa Longley says

      That should work fine!

  8. Sharon Fulton says

    Can I substitute something for yogurt?? I’d like to make it!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Sharon! My go to substitute for yogurt is sour cream. That would work really great here.

  9. Pete says

    Can I substitute chicken for the tuna?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I haven’t tried that, but I’m sure it would work!

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