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Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

This Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is great for a weekday meal or as a side dish. Tuna is mixed with pasta, vegetables, and a flavorful dressing to make the perfect meal. This recipe is simple to follow and only takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish!

There are so many ways you can use tuna in a recipe, but this tuna pasta salad is one of our favorites. This dish is perfect for a summer picnic or potluck.

It’s also great to meal prep and to have on hand for a quick and easy lunch during the week like our Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad, Lemon Pasta or Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. This dish includes tuna, pasta, and crunchy vegetables, all mixed together with a homemade creamy dressing!

Top down view of tuna pasta salad in a serving dish.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This pasta salad is made with simple ingredients you can find anywhere.
  • There are so many different textures and flavors that make this salad comforting and satisfying.
  • It’s packed with fiber, healthy carbs, and a dose of protein from the tuna.
  • You can customize it to add your favorite vegetables and seasonings.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Creamy Dressing

  • Mayonnaise & Plain Yogurt – Makes up the thick creamy base of the dressing that is slightly tangy.
  • Dijon Mustard – Adds a touch of mustard flavor that pairs well with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Dry Seasonings – A mix of garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper are used to flavor the dressing.
  • Lemon Juice – Adds a bright pop of acidity and refreshing flavor.

Pasta Salad

  • Short Pasta – You’ll need a short-shaped pasta such as shells, rotini, or elbow noodles to make sure you’re getting all of the ingredients in every bite.
  • Canned Tuna – Use high-quality canned tuna that has been packed in water for best flavor results.
  • Canned Sweet Corn – Adds a crunch and naturally sweet layer of flavor.
  • Red Bell Pepper – Adds a fresh garden taste and natural sweetness.
  • Red Onion – Adds a mild onion flavor that pairs well with this salad.
  • Fresh Dill – The unique herby flavor of dill is great inside the pasta dish as well as for garnish on the outside.

How To Make Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

  1. Assemble the creamy dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, paprika, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until fully combined. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
  2. Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the box. See below for more pasta cooking tips.  
  3. Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, tuna, corn, bell pepper, onion, and fresh dill. Drizzle with the dressing, and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Chill and serve: Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before garnishing with additional dill and serving.
Collage showing how to make tuna pasta salad.

Cooking Pasta For Pasta Salad

When making pasta for pasta salad, you’ll need to change up a few steps to ensure that the pasta can hold up in a cold salad. Here are some helpful tips below!

  1. Choose a short or textured pasta: Rotini or fusilli pasta would be my top choice as their texture allows the dressing to adhere to the noodle. Your next options would be farfalle, penne, or other noodles that will be good for tossing in the sauce.
  2. Salting the water: add a generous pinch of salt to your pasta water BEFORE adding the dried pasta. It makes a whole lot of difference in the end!
  3. Chill to absorb flavors: after combining all the ingredients in a bowl, I recommend chilling for 15-30 minutes as it helps all the flavors to blend nicely. However, like many pasta salads, on day 2 or 3 you may need to add a little extra mayonnaise or yogurt to make the salad ‘’creamy’’ again.

Variations

  • You can also use tuna in vegetable oil, if it is the only thing you have or can get. Just make sure to drain it well. Tuna in water is a better option as it will make the salad less dry.
  • You could add some chopped celery for a crunchier texture.
  • Try adding other seasonings to the dressing like Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, or cayenne pepper.
  • For more of a Mediterranean flavor, you could mix in some kalamata olives, feta cheese, and cucumber.
  • If you want a heartier salad, add in some cooked white beans or chickpeas.
  • Instead of canned corn, freshly cooked corn on the cob (either boiled, oven-roasted or grilled and lightly charred) will also taste delicious!
Blue plate filled with pasta salad.

Storage

Storing: Keep the creamy tuna pasta salad refrigerated at all times closed in the food container. For best flavor consume within 3 days. Freezing is not recommended.

Maintaining moisture: Please keep in mind that pasta will continue to soak up the dressing as it sits. You’ll need to whip up extra dressing after day 1 or simply add a little bit of milk, mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream before serving to achieve the creamy texture again.

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Top down view of a blue bowl filled with tuna pasta salad.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

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Ingredients

Creamy Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup plain yogurt Regular or Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 8 ounces short pasta cooked to al dente according to package directions
  • 8 ounces tuna in water drained
  • 1 cup golden sweet corn canned, drained
  • ½ bell pepper medium-sized, diced (any variety)
  • ½ red onion medium-sized, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dill weed finely chopped (heaping tablespoons)
  • Dill weed fresh, for garnish

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, paprika, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. 
    ½ cup mayonnaise
    ½ cup plain yogurt
    ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon paprika
    ½ teaspoon lemon juice
    Salt and pepper
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, tuna, corn, bell pepper, onion, and fresh dill. Drizzle with the dressing, and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
    8 ounces short pasta
    8 ounces tuna in water
    1 cup golden sweet corn
    ½ bell pepper
    ½ red onion
    2 tablespoons dill weed
  • Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Garnish with more fresh dill and enjoy!
    Dill weed
  • See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1.5 cups of pasta salad. Actual calories will vary.
 
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
 
*Photos courtesy of Julia Loya from The Yummy Bowl.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 516kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 323mg | Potassium: 416mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 758IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
Recipe Rating