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This canned tuna pasta recipe is quick, healthy, and comforting. It’s the perfect recipe when you don’t have a lot in your pantry!

You may also like my Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad or my Canned Salmon Pasta recipes.

healthy 15 minute canned tuna pasta in a white bowl

Why you’ll love it

This tuna garlic pasta recipe takes me back to my childhood. My mom used to make something similar when I was a kid, and I just loved it. I’ve even made this with just tuna, garlic, and olive oil when I’m in a rush and I really have nothing in the fridge.

I never put this recipe on the blog because I wasn’t sure people would like it even though I know it tastes great. I did a little research, and there definitely is demand for canned tuna pasta, so I figured I’d do it! If you’re busy with after school activities, this tuna spaghetti recipe is one way to save some time and keep your sanity.

What you’ll need

  • Pasta – I use spaghetti
  • Olive oil – for the base of the sauce
  • Garlic – use even more than suggested if you’re a big fan. I like using a garlic press to easily mince the cloves.
  • Tuna – the star of this inexpensive pasta recipe! I recommend using a can of tuna packed in oil for maximum flavor.
  • Lemon juice – for a pop of acidity and brightness
  • Parsley – a little freshness and herb flavor
ingredients for tuna pasta in prep bowls

Pro tip

  • Check out the comments section below for reader suggestions to change up this simple tuna pasta!

How to make tuna pasta

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

making garlic sauce in a small pan for tuna spaghetti

Cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients. When the pasta is almost done, heat up the oil in a saucepan. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tuna, lemon juice, and chopped parsley.

tossing pasta with tuna sauce in a saucepan next to photo of a bowl of spaghetti

Let it heat through. Once the pasta is done, drain it, reserving some of the pasta water. Add a couple of tablespoons of it to the sauce. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, and season with salt & pepper as needed.

Substitutions and variations

  • This healthy tuna pasta recipe can be jazzed up or even made more simple than it already is. For the photos I added some grated parmesan cheese and a little lemon zest (I used the same handy tool to do both so it took me like 30 seconds), but in real life I don’t usually bother.
  • I like to add a handful of fresh spinach and let it wilt at the end. Sometimes I cut a handful of little tomatoes (grape, cherry, etc.) into halves and then toss them in and cook until they’ve softened.
  • My mom would sometimes chop up celery leaves instead of using parsley, but I never have those on hand, so parsley it is!
healthy 15 minute garlic tuna pasta in a bowl with spaghetti twirled on a fork

What to serve with tuna pasta

Leftovers and storage

  • This tuna pasta is best eaten fresh, but it’ll keep for a few days in the fridge in a covered container.
  • Reheat leftovers in a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through.
  • I don’t recommend freezing the sauce. Because it’s a small quantity and so simple, it’s worth making fresh each time.
easy canned tuna pasta in a white bowl

Will you give this easy canned tuna pasta a go? What’s your favorite clean-out-the-pantry recipe? Questions? Talk to me in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram.

This healthy 15 minute canned tuna pasta is a great time-saver when you're short on time and ingredients!
4.79 from 265 votes

Easy Canned Tuna Pasta

This canned tuna pasta recipe is quick, healthy, and comforting. It's the perfect recipe when you don't have a lot in your pantry!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 2


  • 4 ounces uncooked pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (5 ounce) can tuna, drained I prefer tuna packed in oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Boil a salted pot of water for your pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions. Prep your other ingredients while it cooks.
  • When the pasta is close to being ready, add the oil to a small pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook it for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tuna, lemon juice, and parsley. Let it heat through. 
  • Once the pasta is done, add some of the pasta water (a couple tablespoons) to the sauce and then drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Season with salt & pepper as needed. Optional: serve pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest.


  • See blog post for some ideas on recipe variations!


Calories: 400kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 180mg, Potassium: 253mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 83IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 29mg, Iron: 2mg

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.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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  1. 5 stars
    Great for a quick supper. I used Penne and a slightly out of date jar of Albacore tuna, frozen parsley and loads of lemon juice and pepper. It worked a treat.

  2. 5 stars
    I have not tried this recipe yet, but I’m giving it five stars because I have a ton of canned tuna and canned salmon in my pantry that I wasn’t sure what to do with.
    So I am very grateful for your recipes that appear to be great and delicious uses for them beyond the usual mayonnaise and pickle cold salads.

  3. 5 stars
    My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe as a quick meal. Adding the pasta water and/or a bit of olive oil is a good idea.
    Thank you
    I would like to give you some hopefully constructive criticism.
    When you get a one star rating, perhaps responding with “sorry you didn’t like it; thanks for trying it” or “I’d appreciate hearing your specific dislikes for future consideration” might be a bit more professional. He/she might be more willing to try other recipes.

    1. Hi Lydia! I’m glad it was a hit, and I appreciate your review! Re: my/my team’s response to bad ratings… I have been at this for almost 10 years, and millions of people use this website each month. As you can imagine, we get a whole variety of comments and reviews. Most positive, some negative, and some downright rude. The internet is a place where people can hide behind their keyboards and say whatever they want. If someone is outright rude/belligerent/unhelpful, I simply won’t put up with it, and my answer will be curt at best. I highly doubt that the people behind those comments would be as brave if they were with me in my kitchen. My website is an extension of my kitchen, and I choose what behavior I will tolerate. With that said, there is a huge difference between someone being rude for the sake of it and someone saying words to the effect of “I tried this recipe and I am not sure what happened, but it didn’t work out”. When I get comments like that, I do my best to troubleshoot and get more details from them about specifically what went wrong if they didn’t provide any, and I sometimes will then update recipe wording for clarity etc. if I think it’s something that I could improve on.

  4. 5 stars
    I love this. I’ve made it several times. It’s quick, easy, delicious and made with pantry ingredients. I didn’t have parsley when I made it tonight so I used cilantro. It was a great substitution.

  5. 5 stars
    We love this recipe. I have it saved in a healthy meals file for us. I have added onions, red pepper flakes and occasionally a bit of white wine but it does not need any of the extras as is. Thank you for sharing, it is in our regular rotation of favorite week night recipes to make.

    1. I’m thrilled to hear that! I love how easy adaptable it is too. It’s one of my personal favs. Appreciate your review! 😀

  6. This is such a great meal when you’re in a pinch. I had all the ingredients in my pantry. I added some Lemon pepper. My husband is not a fish fan and he said he liked it!