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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

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • See blog post for some ideas on recipe variations!

Nutrition

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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728 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved how easy this was, with stuff I already had on hand. I added a few chopped dried Roma tomatoes packed in oil. It added a nice “zing” to an already great dish. Thanks so much!!

  2. 5 stars
    I just added McCormick grill
    Master chicken blend and a small stall of celery. 1/4 cup of salt pork crispy. To vermicelli noodles with tomato pesto. You see my man doesn’t like tuna but keeps buying it for myself. So tonight I’ve made this .. and he ate half the pot! Definitely worth ten 🌟❤️💯

    I took pictures lol do t see how to add them 😞 makes a pretty presentation. A definite keeper and would serve this as a dinner party main dish easily 😍🥰

    1. Yay! I am so glad it worked out, Samantha. You can’t add photos on my blog, but if you’re on Instagram you can hashtag it (or tag me in the post) and if your account is public, I will be able to see it. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I never leave comments on recipes, but I just had to say that I’ve made this half a dozen times since I saw it a few weeks ago. So so good. Thank you !!

  4. 5 stars
    I am really happy I came across this recipe, it’s really simple and easy to make, all I had at home was a can of tuna and spaghetti. turns out you can make a really good dish in 15 minutes. 🙂 will make it again for sure. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I don’t know where I got this, but I’ve been making this since the early 1970s. We were broke, underemployed, and paying off school loans. We both loved it. I tried variations, but the only ones I kept were more lemon juice, a small amount of garlic oil instead of the garlic cloves, and some fresh lemon thyme leaves. Wonderful recipe.

    1. Isn’t it funny how this recipe gets around? My mom used to make it for us in the 90s haha. I love the garlic oil idea!

  6. Thank you for a fast & simple recipe that was a hit with all my family. Will definitely be making this again

  7. I was so anxious from work relqted stress. So, I tried this recipe and it made me so happy and relieved. Thanks for sharing!