This Tuna pasta salad is an easy pasta salad recipe that is perfect for summer. Made with simple ingredients including pasta, tuna fish, peas, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and paprika for a cold tuna pasta salad the whole family will love!
Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna pasta salad is a hit anytime I make it for my family or I bring it to a get together. This pasta Salad is my most requested easy pasta salad recipe that I make. However, I can not take credit for this amazing recipe. This pasta salad recipe is my Mother-In-Law’s recipe that she has been making forever. It is loved so much, I knew that I had to share it with all of you!
Pasta Salad is a classic side dish for the hot summer months, as soon as the warm weather starts I start making pasta salads. There are many different ways to make tuna pasta salad, however this on is my FAVORITE! I have made many different pasta salad with tuna recipes, but this one is really the best tuna pasta salad recipe in the world! No I am not trying to win brownie points with my Mother-In-Law by saying that either. 😉
Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes
- Egg salad Pasta Salad
- Red pepper pasta salad
- Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Sun dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Is It Tuna Pasta Salad or Tuna Macaroni Salad?
I know some of you call pasta salad, macaroni salad so this would be a tuna macaroni salad. However, since pasta and macaroni are the same things you can use either name you want to. I just grew up calling cold pasta dishes with tasty stuff thrown in them Pasta salads. 🙂
I mean I have to be totally honest here, seeing a big bowl filled with pasta and other tasty goodness mixed in, you really don’t have to call it anything but tasty right!?! Of course, there are always other amazing side dishes when you go to a BBQ or a potluck, but it is the pasta dishes that tend to have the crowds around them! I know the cold salads are the first thing my kids put on their plates whenever we are having a meal with them.
Can you make pasta salad ahead of time?
So this is one of my FAVORITE things about pasta salads, aside from the fact that my whole family loves them. I can make a pasta salad and double or triple the recipe and have it as a side dish for dinners for a few nights. My kids also love eating pasta salad for lunch, so I like to make pasta salad and keep it in the fridge for them to have an easy lunch.
If I know I am going to a potluck or a BBQ and I am making a few dishes to bring with us, I make this one the day before and store it in the fridge.
How Long will Tuna Pasta Salad Keep in the Fridge?
As long as you store this creamy tuna pasta salad recipe properly, tuna pasta salad will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to store it in an airtight container, like the rubbermaid containers after you have served it for dinner or if you are making it ahead of time.
Sometimes when you are storing pasta salad with mayo in the fridge, the may will dry out a little bit. If this happens just add a bit more mayo when you are ready to serve it and the amazing creaminess that you love will be perfect again!
What to Serve with Pasta Salad
If you are eating macaroni salad for lunch then you don’t have to make anything else to go along with it. At least that is how it goes in our house and my kids love eating pasta salad for lunch.
If you are making pasta salad as a side dish, there are so many other amazing side dishes and main courses that go perfect with a summer side dish! I like to have a meat as the main dish and love cooking on the grill as much as I can during the warm months. My go to main dishes to serve with pasta salad are Steak Kebabs, Grilled Salmon, Grilled Steak with Butter, Chili Lime chicken, Hawaiian Burgers, Jalapeno Burgers, and parmesan pesto chicken kabobs.
Of course in our house we never have just one side dish with a meal. I like to have a pasta salad or a potato salad and then some veggies side dishes to go with the meal. If you are looking for other recipes to make as side dishes when you make this, here are a few of my favorites.
- Microwave Sweet Potato
- Grilled Green Beans
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Garlic Green Beans with Bacon
- Easy Fruit Salad
Tips for Making Pasta Salad
Don’t over cook the pasta. It is important to not over cook the pasta. Cook just until al dente and then drain them and then cool the pasta while in the strainer with cold water until all of the pasta is cooled. This will prevent a soggy pasta salad.
Chill the pasta before making pasta salad. I do want to note, that it is important to rinse your pasta with cold water after you have drained it. It cools the pasta down faster and makes the wait time less. Plus mixing mayo in with the warm pasta doesn’t keep the salad as creamy when you store it in the fridge. It is ok to have the pasta at room temperature, it does not need to be freezing cold, but warm right from the pot after you have drained it doesn’t give you the best results.
Let pasta salad sit before serving. You can serve this pasta salad immediately after making it however I find pasta salad is best when it has time to sit in the fridge and all of the flavors are able to mix together.
What is the best pasta to use for pasta salad?
The main ingredient for this easy tuna macaroni salad is pasta and a shortcut of pasta like fusilli, penne, bow tie, elbow macaroni, or farfalle works best. You can use any type of pasta including whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta, or any other legume-based pasta you like.
What other Veggies can I add?
If you are wanting to add more veggies you can, we love it this way but cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, green onions, and shredded carrots are all great ad ins.
Tuna Pasta Salad Ingredients
Pasta. You can use any shaped pasta or macaroni when you are making this tuna pasta salad. Personally whenever I am making a cold pasta salad I prefer to use bowtie pasta or rotini pasta. If I am really wanting to make my pasta fancy looking, then I use the tri-colored rotini pasta. The colored pasta is great at making a salad that normally looks kinda boring because of lack of different colors look amazing.
Canned Tuna Fish. Some people prefer tuna in oil, I find that it makes pasta salad to oily and always use canned tuna in water. You can use any type of tuna, including albacore tuna. Normally I just go with whatever tuna is on sale that is in water.
Peas. You can use canned peas fresh peas or frozen peas when you are making this tasty tuna pasta salad with peas recipe. Just make sure that you cook and cool your frozen peas or fresh peas before making your pasta salad if you are using frozen peas. If you are using canned peas then all you have to do is drain them before dumping the can in.
Mayonaise. In our house we use Hellmann’s Mayo or Duke’s mayo. Just use your favorite brand of mayo when you are making this creamy pasta salad with tuna recipe. The mayo is what gives this amazing dish its perfect creaminess.
Spices. To give this easy summertime recipe the perfect flavor, the only spices you need are salt, pepper, and paprika!
How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta according to package. Drain the pasta in a colander, then rinse the pasta with cold water to cool it down. Pour the pasta into a large mixing bowl and set pasta aside and let it finish cooling for about 10 minutes.
Open your can of tuna and drain the liquid out.
Open your can of peas if you are using canned peas and drain the liquid out. If you are using frozen peas, cook them according to the package and then using the colander rinse them with cold water to cool them down.
Get a large bowl to mix everything together in. When your pasta is cooled, mix together pasta, tuna and the peas. Be sure to break up the chunks of tuna while you are mixing it so it is evenly distributed through out the pasta salad.
Now add the mayo until it is as moist as you like. I normally start with half a cup and work my way up to about a cup. You can add more mayo if you would like it creamier, but do so slowly by adding 1/4 cup more mayo at a time until you reach your desired creaminess.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Normally about 1/8 a teaspoon is enough of each for me. You can do a little less or a little more depending on what you prefer. Mix everything together well.
On top of the pasta salad sprinkle paprika, I normally just shake the bottle until it has what I think is enough, but it ends up being roughly 1/2 tablespoon that I end up using.
If you are going to a potluck, BBQ or just having a nice summer night dinner then dessert is also probably on your mind. Here are a few of our favorite summer time desserts to enjoy!
- Chocolate Covered Bananas
- Oreo Milkshake
- No bake Summer berry Lasagna
- Fruit Pizza
- Smores Dessert Pizza
tuna pasta salad
- Cook the pasta according to package. Drain the pasta in a colander, then rinse the pasta with cold water to cool it down. Set pasta aside and let it finish cooling for about 10 minutes.
- Open your can of tuna and drain the liquid out.
- Open your can of peas if you are using canned peas and drain the liquid out. If you are using frozen peas, cook them according to the package and then using the colander rinse them with cold water to cool them down.
- Get a large bowl to mix everything together in. When your pasta is cooled, mix together pasta, tuna and the peas. Be sure to break up the chunks of tuna while you are mixing it so it is evenly distributed through out the pasta salad.
- Now add the mayo until it is as moist as you like. I normally start with half a cup and work my way up to about a cup. You can add more mayo if you would like it creamier, but do so slowly by adding 1/4 cup more mayo at a time until you reach your desired creaminess.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Normally about 1/8 a teaspoon is enough of each for me. You can do a little less or a little more depending on what you prefer. Mix everything together well.
- On top of the pasta salad sprinkle paprika, I normally just shake the bottle until it has what I think is enough, but it ends up being roughly 1/2 tablespoon that I end up using.
13 Weight Watchers SmartPoints per serving on the Freestyle Program
More Summertime Recipes you will love!
Do yourself a favor and print out the How Many Cups in a Gallon? and other liquid measurements printable to help you with your measurements in the kitchen! I have mine hanging on my fridge. It makes a super easy cheat sheet for whenever I am cooking and need to use liquid measurements.