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This creamy tuna pasta salad recipe is perfect all summer long for BBQs and potlucks. It’s easy to make and has a creamy and bright dressing that’s made with simple ingredients!

Try this Tuna Pasta Salad instead if you prefer a vinaigrette dressing. You may also like my Easy Canned Tuna Pasta.

a bowl of creamy tuna pasta salad with a fork

Why you’ll love it

Whether you serve this tuna pasta salad as a main or side dish, it’s sure to disappear quickly at your next backyard BBQ or summer dinner on the patio! Canned tuna is so versatile, inexpensive, and it adds protein to make this creamy pasta salad filling and delicious.

It’s bursting with crisp, crunchy fresh vegetables, and the creamy dill dressing is basically like a quick homemade ranch dressing but with more personality. There’s a lot to love about this simple tuna pasta salad. It’s cooling, refreshing, and ready in just 30 minutes.

What you’ll need

For the salad

  • Pasta – we’re going for a classic macaroni salad
  • Tuna – I like the kind packed in oil for extra flavor
  • Onion – red onions are a great choice for salads because they’re less sharp
  • Vegetables – I picked little tomatoes, celery, cucumber, and bell peppers
  • Parsley – it adds a pop of herby flavor

For the dressing

  • Sour cream and mayo – the base of the dressing and for a little tanginess
  • Lemon juice – a touch of brightness and acidity for balance
  • Garlic powder – another layer of savory flavor
  • Dill – this fresh herb complements seafood so well
ingredients for creamy tuna pasta salad in prep bowls

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How to make creamy tuna pasta salad

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

mixing creamy dressing in a prep bowl for tuna pasta salad

Cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, combine the salad dressing ingredients until smooth and set aside. Chop and prep the other ingredients and add them to a prep bowl.

draining macaroni in a colander and adding to a bowl and tossing with dressing to make creamy tuna pasta salad

Rinse the cooked pasta under cold water, and drain it thoroughly. Add it to the salad bowl, and toss with the dressing. Season generously with salt and pepper. Chill if desired.

Substitutions and variations

  • Swap out whichever veggies aren’t to your tastes, or use up whatever is in the fridge. This tuna pasta salad is pretty flexible!
  • While fresh dill is ideal here, you could swap with 1 tsp of dried dill instead.
  • If you want to use a larger pasta shape than macaroni, I’d increase the amount.

What to serve with this pasta salad

  • This tuna pasta salad is the perfect easy summer dish to enjoy on the patio with a glass of white wine or sparkling water!
  • Pair it with a slice of fresh crusty bread to make it a meal, or serve it alongside other summer favorites like my Easy Grilled Pork Chops or Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Thighs.

Leftovers and storage

  • For best results, if you want to make it more than a few hours ahead of time, I’d store the dressing separately. Add it to the salad and toss when ready to serve.
  • Keep any leftover tuna pasta salad in the fridge for a few days.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this one.
a prep bowl with creamy tuna pasta salad

If you give this creamy tuna macaroni salad a try, please leave a star rating and review below! Tag me on Instagram if you made this or any S&L recipe.

a bowl of creamy tuna pasta salad with a fork
4.78 from 9 votes

Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

This creamy tuna pasta salad recipe is perfect all summer long for BBQs and potlucks. It's easy to make and has a creamy and bright dressing that's made with simple ingredients!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 2.5 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tuna drained
  • 2 tablespoons red onion chopped
  • 1 cup little tomatoes halved
  • 2 sticks celery chopped small
  • 1 mini cucumber (or 1/4 English cucumber) chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill see note
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Boil a large, salted pot of water for the macaroni. Cook it al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, get everything else ready. I like to make the dressing first. Combine all the dressing ingredients until smooth and set it aside. Prep the other ingredients and add them to a large bowl. 
  • Once the pasta is done, rinse it under cold water and let it drain thoroughly. Toss with the dressing and other ingredients. Season with salt & pepper as needed (I found this recipe needed quite a bit of salt – it’s a lot of pasta). You can serve this pasta salad right away or let it chill (covered) first for the flavors to meld more. 

Notes

  • Fresh dill is best, but you could swap with 1 teaspoon of dried.
  • If you use a different shape pasta than macaroni, I suggest making 3 cups (e.g. if you use bows). 
  • I didn’t put long for prep because you can prep while the pasta is cooking, so I just count it in there.
  • As with any pasta salad, feel free to add more/less of any ingredient to make it perfect for your tastes.

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 258mg, Potassium: 327mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 801IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

Leave a star rating and comment below!

This recipe was originally published on June 8, 2019. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!


Hi! I’m Natasha.

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28 Comments

  1. I just made this now this afternoon 18/4/2023 I but bacon and tuna with it and biled eggs tastes banging fair play

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was so delicious! Oh my goodness. It was a hit even for my toddler! I didn’t realize how much we’d love it so next time I’ll be doubling the recipe. Definitely a meal repeat in our family!

  3. This is the second time making it.
    I am now taking it to a large pot luck get together.
    I am sure I will be sharing this. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Kathy! You can just leave them out or swap for whatever other veggies you like. It’s a very flexible recipe. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe (as usual)!
    I had to to modify the recipe a bit since I didn’t put sour cream (dairy allergy) so I put 3/4 mayonnaise added roasted garlic powder instead or regular garlic powder and I added a tbsp of capers.

    It taste pretty good. Do you think adding anchovies or anchovy paste might be a good idea too?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I love anchovies and anchovy paste. A little goes a long way, but I think it would work in here!

  5. 4 stars
    I bumped up the seasonings for my own personal taste but this was really good! Really well rounded lunch/dinner 🙂