Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

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This healthy tuna pasta salad is a quick and delicious meal for any night of the week!

Pull out a bowl and brace yourself for seconds. This delicious tuna and pasta dish make for a wonderful family meal. It’s dairy-free and can easily be made gluten-free as well by switching the pasta to gluten-free pasta.

A white pasta bowl filled with this Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe.

What Is Tuna Pasta Salad?

This delicious pasta salad is made with two main ingredients, tuna, and your favorite pasta. Then toss in some green peas, purple onions, and a bit of mayo and you’ll have a dish that is sure to please the tuna lovers at your dinner table. It’s a very filling meal that truly satisfies.

Is Pasta Salad Healthy?

As with most things, it all depends on what you put into it. If you use healthy ingredients, then yes! It’s perfectly healthy!

I’ve seen pasta salads made with chopped-up salami and crushed Doritos. While I’m sure things like that are delicious, they don’t do much for your health or your waistline. Keep your ingredients clean and healthy, and there is no reason you can’t enjoy pasta on a semi-regular basis.

How To Make Pasta Salad Healthier

Look for alternative pasta. While regular pasta isn’t exactly the devil himself, it’s not great on blood sugar. Especially if pasta is the main course. And for those with sensitivities and allergies, regular pasta can wreak havoc on your body Here are some things to consider when making any pasta salad healthier.

Pasta – Consider a bean-based pasta, such as the Banza brand. It’s gluten-free and made with garbanzo beans instead of wheat. There is also a brand of pasta on the market made from hearts of palm. Pasta’s like this are a great way to get some extra nutrition into your eating plan.

Additions – Obviously, crushing Doritos into pasta probably isn’t going to be your healthiest choice. Read ingredient lists on packages, and whenever possible, use fresh ingredients that don’t need an ingredient list. Fresh veggies are a fantastic start!

Sauces – Any sauce you add to pasta salad will have a fairly major impact. In this case, you’re adding mayo. And while mayo certainly can pack on the fat and calories, it doesn’t have to be a nutritional bomb either. Look for healthier mayo that has no added sugar, or make your own at home. Little decisions like this are what add up over time and make a healthier diet overall.

Cold Tuna Macaroni Salad

One of the best things about this tuna pasta salad is that it can be served warm or cold. In fact, you can serve this straight from the fridge if you want to make it ahead of time. 

I serve it warm in winter and cold in summer. It’s always a perfect meal, just the way it is.

Recipe Variations and Additions

If you want to switch things up a bit, here are some suggestions:

  • Add some lemon juice to taste
  • Stir in a small amount of dijon mustard
  • Sprinkle in some fresh dill
  • Add any other fresh herbs you might enjoy with tuna
  • Try switching the mayo for plain Greek yogurt – This can be an acquired taste, to try it first.
  • Add some green onions
  • Stir in some cut cherry tomatoes for extra nutrients.
  • Try adding any other vegetables you like. Asparagus would be tasty here.
  • Stir in some chopped, fresh spinach
  • Add some cooked, chopped shrimp instead of tuna.
  • Add a little cheese to your liking
  • Add some finely chopped celery
  • Substitute the tuna for salmon – This gives you lots of healthy fatty acids!
  • Garlic – especially if you use salmon instead of tuna!
And up close view of this Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe in a white bowl. You can see the cavatappi pasta, green peas and bits of purple onion in the noodles.

Types Of Pasta You Can Use For Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad

Let’s face, it this is basically tuna salad with pasta mixed in. So the shape doesn’t really matter unless you are particular about that sort of thing. So pick your favorite! Here are some suggestions:

  • Fusilli
  • Penne
  • Cavatappi
  • Macaroni

About The Ingredients

1 lb. pasta – This can be any type or shape of pasta you prefer. I used Cavatappi pasta because that’s what I had on hand. But rotini or macaroni will work well here too.

2 cups green peas – I bought mine frozen and boiled them with the pasta. But you can use fresh if you like. It’s really easy to just dump them into the pot with the pasta and let them cook together. Saves time and dirty pots. You could use canned peas if that’s what you have, just be sure to read the ingredients. Avoid peas with added sugar.

1 cup chopped red onion – Yellow onions work, but purple (red) onions are the best in this salad. I highly recommend them. I do not recommend white onions.

1 cup mayonnaise – You can make your own homemade mayo, or purchase a clean version, depending on what your priorities are. I highly recommend avoiding mayo with sugar in it because it will be too sweet in this dish.

2 cans water-packed tuna – I used water-packed tuna. I highly recommend it to avoid excess calories and fat.

Salt and pepper – as needed

How To Make Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad

Chopped red onions on a wooden cutting board.

Cook the pasta to the package directions and chop the onions finely.

Chopped onions added to cooked pasta in a stainless steel mixing bowl.

Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the chopped onions to the bowl as well.

Canned tuna added to pasta and onions in a mixing bowl.

Add the canned tuna to the mixing bowl.

Cooked peas added to mayo, tuna, onions and cooked pasta in a mixing bowl.

Add the mayo and peas to the mixing bowl as well.

Mixing all the ingredients in this Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe together in a stainless steel mixing bowl.

Mix well to combine.

Side view of a bowl filled with this Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

Serve warm or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Can be served cold.

What To Serve With Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad?

Truly, this is a full meal all on its own. But if you want a side dish or something to pair it with, this will go very well with a green salad on the side and maybe a slice of bread. Although the bread may be a bit much for some.

How To Store Leftover Pasta Salad

Here’s the general rule of thumb.

  • Pasta with meat – Keeps for 3 days if packed well and stored in the fridge.
  • Pasta without any meat – Keeps for 4-5 days if packed well and stored in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Pasta Salad?

It’s best not to. Once everything is mixed together for serving, it becomes a dicey situation as to how long it will last in the freezer. Each ingredient may or may not freeze well, and of those that do freeze well, they may hold up in the freezer for different lengths of time. So it’s best just to store pasta salad in the fridge, and throw out any leftovers after they are set to expire or become unsafe.

A bowl of soup would be a good starter for this dish as well. Something like a vegetable or Tomato Soup, Minestrone, or even a Potato Corn Chowder.

And overhead view looking down into a white pasta bowl filled with this Tuna Pasta Salad. You can see the creamy mayo, green peas, purple onions and a bit of fresh, green garnish sprinkled over the top.

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A white pasta bowl filled with this Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe.

Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad

A delicious bowl of pasta that is a filling and complete meal all by itself.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 475kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta (cooked to package directions)
  • 2 cups green peas (cooked – you can cook them with the pasta for convenience)
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (no sugar added)
  • 2 cans tuna (water packed)

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta to the package directions and chop the onions finely
    Chopped red onions on a wooden cutting board.
  • Drain the pasta and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped onions to the bowl as well.
    Chopped onions added to cooked pasta in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
  • Add the canned tuna to the mixing bowl.
    Canned tuna added to pasta and onions in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the mayo and peas to the mixing bowl as well.
    Cooked peas added to mayo, tuna, onions and cooked pasta in a mixing bowl.
  • Mix well to combine.
    Mixing all the ingredients in this Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe together in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
  • Serve warm or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Can be served cold.
    Side view of a bowl filled with this Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 289mg | Potassium: 326mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 1/17/21.

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2 Comments

  1. Rebecca Bergman says:

    5 stars
    This was awesome – we love pulling this out and snacking on it when we’re super busy — this will be part of my weekly meal go-to prep. 🙂

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