Classic & creamy Tuna Pasta Salad is a go-to recipe in warm weather. Loaded with tuna, noodles, onion, and peas, it is a flavorful and easy way to please a crowd! Be sure to try my Greek Salad if you love cold pasta salad!
Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna Pasta Salad is full of flavor, texture, and easy ingredients. For a spring picnic or a light dinner side dish, make a big batch of this and watch it disappear! It is a staple at outdoor barbeques. I make it when I head to graduations, summer parties, or any outdoor potluck. Does that stop me from making this recipe on a random Tuesday? Nope. I love this stuff. My mouth is watering just talking about it!
How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad
The ingredients are simple:
- Tuna – I prefer canned tuna packed in water. It’s easy, inexpensive, and subtle in flavor.
- Mayo – I know there are some die-hard Miracle Whip fans out there, but our preference is mayonnaise.
- Pasta – I’m obsessed with Gemelli pasta here, but you can use your favorite. Most folks make it macaroni.
- Onions – By far the favorite is red onion, but we have also used green onion, yellow onion, and scallion. All will work! You may want to adjust the amount depending on how strong the onion is and your palette.
- Peas – Not going to lie, this is my least favorite part of the salad. I just can’t stand canned peas. However, I am overruled 6-1 in this house, so always include it. You could use fresh peas, but you may need to increase the amount (as well as the amounts of the other ingredients) as the flavor of fresh peas is more subtle and sweet.
- Salt & Pepper – To taste of course!
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Chill and serve!
Tuna Macaroni Salad
If you have the time, make sure to let this Tuna Salad refrigerate for a while (overnight if you can). The chilling process allows all of the flavors to marinate together so nicely. I happen to think this is one of the meals that is better the next day. There are a few other variations that come up quite a bit. If you are like me, you look for variety in your food. We often switch up the pasta and use what we have on hand. Sometimes it’s macaroni, sometimes it is Gemelli, sometimes a shell noodle. I like to use a hearty noodle that can handle the mayo and tuna.
Can You Make Tuna Pasta Salad Ahead of Time?
Apparently, this is a hot topic, but my answer is yes. I happen to think that the flavor improves the next day. However, the pasta may soak up some of the moisture meaning it is less creamy. You can always add a bit more mayo just before serving.
How Long Does Tuna Pasta Salad Last?
If you are able to store it in an airtight container, it will last several days in the refrigerator. Again, you may want to add a little mayo or milk to get back to the creamy texture, but often we enjoy it as is.
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Tuna Pasta Salad
- 1 box (16 ounces) Gemelli pasta
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) tuna in water, drained well
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 can (15 ounces) sweet peas, well-drained
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the Gemelli pasta noodles according to package directions (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water.
Add the cooled noodles to a large mixing bowl and add in the tuna, red onion, peas, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Gently stir to combine all the ingredients, mixing well.
Cover and place the salad in the fridge to cool for at least an hour to allow the flavors to mix.