Tuna Pasta Salad

| | |

This post may contain affiliate links. Read full disclosure.

This tuna pasta salad is refreshing, tangy and delicious. It features colorful veggies, olives, capers, dijon, apple cider vinegar, parmesan and herbs. Make this cold pasta salad in just 20 minutes. Serve as a main dish or side.

📌 PIN TUNA PASTA SALAD

Tuna pasta salad in a serving bowl with spoon.

👩🏻‍🍳 why you’ll love this TUNA pasta salad

  • This summer salad is cool and refreshing. The perfect dish to serve on hot summer days. Bring it to a picnic or potluck.
  • It’s a healthy summer salad packed with protein and fresh ingredients. To make this recipe even healthier, use light mayonnaise. Or substitute red wine vinegar and plain Greek yogurt for the mayo.
  • This easy recipe is very versatile. Add or subtract ingredients according to your liking. If desired, substitute dill pickles for capers. Use red bell pepper instead of tomatoes. Add in some summer squash. For a bit more tang, use fresh dill instead of basil.
  • You can serve this hearty side for lunch or dinner. It’s a popular feel-good dish that will satisfy even the largest appetites.
  • It’s a great make-ahead dish that will last in the fridge for several days.
Tuna Pasta served in a camping cup.

🛒 INGREDIENTS

  • Albacore Tuna: This ingredient is the star of the show. I prefer solid white albacore. But feel free to use whatever type of tuna you have in the pantry that’s packed in water. Tuna packed in oil will give this tuna pasta salad a different taste and consistency.
  • Medium Shells Pasta: I prefer this shape for tuna pasta salad as it’s hearty and pairs well with tuna. But if you don’t have this on hand, use another sturdy pasta like penne or cavatoppi (corkscrews).
  • Celery: Provides a fresh grassy taste with a crunchy texture.
  • Red Onion: Contributes a bright purple color, a fresh earthy taste, and a crispy texture.
  • Grape Tomatoes: Add color, freshness and a juicy bite. I prefer red grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, but you can use a colorful medley of tiny tomatoes instead.
  • Black Olives: Briny and flavorful, they add a rustic taste.
  • Capers: Salty and acidy, they contribute a robust flavor and lots of tang. Feel free to add more or less, to taste.
  • Fresh Basil: Adds a pop of color with a peppery flavor and a hint of mint. For tuna pasta salad with a bit more tang, use fresh dill instead.
  • Mayonnaise: Adds a delicious tangy taste with a smooth creamy mouthfeel. I prefer Best Foods Mayonnaise or Duke’s Mayonnaise with a hint of lime. If desired, use your favorite light mayo instead.
  • Dijon Mustard: Has a sharp tangy flavor with a hint of spice. I prefer dijon made with white wine.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds tart and tang with a bit of sweet.
  • Parmesan Cheese: It’s rich, tangy and nutty with a umami taste. For tuna pasta salad, I prefer freshly-shredded parmesan because it adds a nice texture, but feel free to use grated parmesan instead.
  • Sea Salt: Season the dish to taste. If you have it on hand, you can use kosher salt instead of sea salt.
  • Freshly-ground Black Pepper: Adds a rustic aroma and a bit of heat.
Tuna Pasta Salad ingredients

📖 RECIPE STEPS

RECIPE PREP: Add water to a large pot. Salt it until it tastes like the ocean. Bring the water to a boil on stovetop. In the meantime, prep the other ingredients for the tuna pasta salad.

  • STEP 1: Dice the celery and chop the red onion. Cut the grape tomatoes and black olives in half. Slice the basil. Drain the capers. Add these ingredients to a bowl. Gently toss to combine.
Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe
  • STEP 2: Once the water comes to a rolling boil, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta well. Then rinse it briefly in cold water to cool down the noodles.
  • STEP 3: In a large serving bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, mayo, vinegar, cheese, salt and pepper.
Tuna Macaroni Salad in a bowl
  • STEP 4: Add the cooked pasta to the tuna mixture. Fold the ingredients together. Add the veggie mixture to the bowl and gently fold it in. If desired, garnish with additional parmesan cheese, sliced basil, and a few more twists of ground black pepper. Tightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving time.
Tuna Pasta Salad served in a large blue bowl.

🧑🏼‍🍳 RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the tastiest tuna pasta salad, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

What type of tuna for tuna pasta salad?

The most flavorful type of tuna is white albacore tuna. But whatever type of tuna you use, make sure that it’s packed in water – not oil. Tuna packed in oil has an oily texture and flavor, both of which will change the taste and consistency of the tuna pasta salad.

Best herbs and seasoning for tuna pasta salad?

Basil is a delicious choice, but for a more tangy taste use fresh dill instead. The only seasoning you need is salt and pepper.

What ingredients to use for super tangy tuna pasta salad?

Use dijon mustard, mayo with lime (or regular mayo plus a squeeze of lemon or lime), apple cider vinegar, capers or pickles, and fresh dill.

Why rinse noodles in cold water for pasta salad?

It’ll stop the heat from cooking the noodles, and will prevent the pieces of pasta from sticking together. The pasta will cool more quickly which is what we want for a cool and refreshing summer pasta salad.

Can tuna pasta salad be made in advance?

Yes, it can. Just assemble and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Can I swap chicken for tuna?

Yes, you can. And it tastes delicious. Shred the breasts of a rotisserie chicken and use it instead of tuna. Because the chicken meat may be slightly drier than tuna that’s packed in water (and drained), you might need to add a bit more mayo to the mix.

Tuna Pasta Salad on a galvanized serving tray.

🍽 How to Serve Tuna Pasta Salad

When entertaining friends on hot summer days, serve your refreshing tuna pasta salad in white tin enamel camping cups. Bring them to the table on a galvanized serving tray with linen napkins.

As a main dish, serve pasta salad with a cool drink like strawberry lemonade, hibiscus tea, or an old-fashioned Roy Rogers drink.

Tuna Macaroni Salad on a tray.

MORE QUICK PASTA SALAD RECIPES

Stay cool during the hot weather months with these refreshing pasta salads. They’re quick and easy to assemble. You’ll be out of the kitchen fast. Add them to your monthly meal plan rotation.

Tuna Pasta Salad with Capers and Colorful Veggies

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flavor testers rated this the BEST tuna pasta salad when compared to 3 popular cookbook recipes. It’s packed with delicious flavors and textures, and plenty of tang – everything you could hope for in a cold pasta salad.

If you agree this recipe’s a keeper, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with friends. 📌 Pin it to Pinterest.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Tuna pasta salad in a serving bowl with spoon.

Tuna Pasta Salad


Save Recipe

Description

This tuna pasta salad is refreshing, tangy and delicious. It features colorful, healthy ingredients. Make this cold pasta salad in just 20 minutes. Ideal for meals and potlucks. Serve as a main dish or side.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 16ounce box medium pasta shells, cooked al dente
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can medium black olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons thinly-sliced fresh basil (or use fresh dill instead), plus more for garnishing
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons non-pareil capers*, drained
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans albacore tuna packed in water, fully drained
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for garnishing

Instructions

RECIPE PREP: Add water to a large pot. Salt it until it tastes like the ocean. Bring the water to a boil on stovetop. In the meantime, prep the other ingredients for the tuna pasta salad.

  1. Dice the celery and chop the red onion. Cut the grape tomatoes and black olives in half. Slice the basil. Drain the capers. Add these ingredients to a bowl. Gently toss to combine.
  2. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta well. Then rinse it briefly in cold water to cool down the noodles.
  3. In a large serving bowl, mix together the tuna, mayo, mustard, vinegar, cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the tuna mixture. Fold the ingredients together. Add the veggie mixture to the bowl and gently fold it in. If desired, garnish with additional parmesan cheese, sliced basil, and a few more twists of freshly-ground black pepper. Tightly cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Notes

* Quantity of capers: I love the tangy flavor of capers, so I use 5 tablespoons in this recipe. But if you’re not familiar with this ingredient, start with 4 tablespoons. Then do a taste test. If desired, add in more capers.

How to store leftovers: Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: tuna pasta salad, cold pasta salad, tuna pasta salad recipe

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

TUNA pasta SALAD 👉🏻 JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

Do you have a favorite summer salad recipe? What do you think about this tangy tuna pasta salad? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

30 Comments

  1. I made a HUGE batch of this and shared a little with the kids but most I have kept for lunches for myself. It makes a really delicious change to my sandwiches for lunch.

  2. This looks really good. In fact, I am planning to whip this up later tonight. Luckily, I have all the ingredients available. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I am so excited.

  3. This looks like the perfect summer dish! I will definitely be making this for our next cookout! Thank you for sharing!

  4. This looks amazing, I make a lot of Pasta Salad in the summer and with the addition of capers my husband will love. Making this for lunch tomorrow. thanks for the recipe.

  5. Oh this tuna pasta salad looks so incredible! Id love to make this salad for an upcoming picnic with my friends along with some cheese crisps. thanks for the recipe!

  6. I love the idea of adding capers to the classic tuna salad! I think I’ve just found the perfect dish for June 1st summer corn roast. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. This looks so perfect for spring or summer! I can’t wait to try it!

  8. Love all the tanginess in this pasta salad from the olives, capers, and mustard! so good!