Classic Tuna Pasta Salad (Easy Recipe) + Video

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My Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe features a dressing that’s so creamy and tangy, with plenty of lemon and fresh dill. Take a stab at this zesty pasta salad with tuna! It’s one of my favorite cold pasta salad recipes, for good reason! 

titled: tuna pasta salad


Creamy tuna pasta salad is one of those dishes that everyone has a recipe for — and most of them taste pretty much the same.

While this might be a classic recipe, there are still a few things that can be done to change the flavor of this easy tuna macaroni salad.

No matter if you’re making this for a summer picnic or just needing a way to make a pairing for a main dish, any tuna fan will agree that this easy pasta salad recipe is one of the best. 

ingredients for tuna pasta salad

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

Now’s your chance to blow everyone away with this new and improved tuna pasta salad recipe!

The secret? A mayo and sour cream dressing flavored with lemon, celery salt, fresh dill, and a pinch of pepper and sugar. It’s so simple, but so spectacular!

While noodles and canned fish are the stars of the show, grape tomatoes, dill pickles, and red onions add pops of flavor and some truly succulent bites.

There’s nothing I love more than a quick, easy casserole or bake to make meal prep a breeze. 

Try out my baked zititaco lasagna, or broccoli casserole recipes for a delicious dinner for any day of the week.

mixing dressing for tuna pasta salad

Pasta Tuna Salad Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Perfect for picnic prep. This recipe is fantastic for cooking in large quantities and preparing the day before. 

    That way it’s ready to just grab and go! It’s a summertime barbecue favorite. 

    Plus, I think cold tuna pasta salad is even better once it’s had a day to sit in all of the seasonings.
  • Al dente is the way to go. The last thing you want is super mushy noodles! 

    I recommend following the package directions for cooking al dente — tender, but just a bit firm.
  • Try a different noodle! If cellentani (sometimes labeled cavatappi) is hard to find, you can use rotini, bowtie, or macaroni instead.
  • Keep it chilled. In my opinion, this pasta tuna salad is at its best when chilled for at least an hour. 

    And it’s not only a flavor thing — with both dairy and seafood in the mix, you’ll want to avoid letting it come to room temperature. 

    To help it stay cool while serving, use ice packs or place the serving dish in a larger container filled with ice
overhead: ingredients for pasta salad with tuna in a bowl

What You’ll Need For This Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Large Pot and Strainer for the noodles
  • Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Can Opener – It seems like a no-brainer, but a good can opener can save your hands and a lot of frustration as well! 
mixing dressing into tuna pasta salad

Cold Tuna Pasta Salad FAQ

What should I serve with pasta tuna salad? 

All of your favorite barbecue goodies go great with this dish! Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob… really, any meal that would benefit from a bright, zesty side is a good match.

Personally? I like to just enjoy this creamy tuna pasta casserole on its own for a light lunch! Spoon onto bread, a sub roll, or wrap if you’d like, or enjoy it as it is with some veggies on the side.

How long do leftovers last in the refrigerator? 

Cold tuna pasta salad (if you even have any left!) is good in the fridge for up to 4 days, but not any longer. Be sure to store leftovers of this creamy tuna macaroni salad in an airtight container for the best results. 

I would not recommend freezing this dish. Besides, it’s so easy and quick to make that you really have no need to!

What can I add to pasta salad with tuna? 

There are so many options to choose from! Extra veggies like thawed peas, red bell pepper, avocado, or cucumber would be delicious in this tuna pasta salad recipe. 

For something extra creamy, try cubes of cheddar or Colby Jack.

You can add sweet relish or even top with sunflower seeds for a crunch to this already perfect side dish. 

The great thing about this macaroni salad recipe is that whatever you add to it will still give it that perfect balance of flavors. I’ve even crushed up some potato chips and tossed them on top of this classic tuna macaroni salad, and it’s really enhanced this great recipe! 

Keep in mind that sometimes simple ingredients are some of the best – and this allows the flavor of this creamy pasta salad to stand out on its own. (I also like to add a little bit of lemon zest to this creamy tuna pasta salad recipe! It’s a great way to add a burst of citrus flavor!) 

pasta salad with tuna on a wooden serving spoon

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fork in a bowl of creamy pasta salad with tuna

fork in bowl of tuna pasta salad

Classic Tuna Pasta Salad (Easy Recipe) + Video

Donna Elick
This tuna pasta salad recipe is an easy side or potluck dish that comes together in a snap. Make creamy tuna pasta for dinner tonight!
4.50 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Method Mixed, Stovetop
Servings 8


  • 1 cellentani pasta, uncooked
  • 10 ounces tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup baby dill pickles, diced (about 3 baby dill pickles)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Cook cellentani pasta according to the directions on the package (about 10-11 minutes, or until al dente). Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add all dressing ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked pasta, drained tuna, grape tomatoes, dill pickles, onion, and dressing mixture. Toss to coat.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Garnish with chopped fresh dill and serve cold. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.



Serving: 1 | Calories: 200cal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 650mg | Sugar: 2g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published April 2021, updated and republished April 2024

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  1. This looks absolutely delicious!!
    There is nothing quite as refreshing and satisfying as a cold pasta salad to complement a grilled burger.
    BRAVO on your recipe, can't wait to try it!

  2. 5 stars
    This never lasts long in my fridge, so I always make a double batch! My whole family goes to town on this recipe.

  3. 4 stars
    Looks fabulous except for the pickles! I would substitute celery slices and rework the seasoning to taste.

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