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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!
4.80 from 268 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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4.80 from 268 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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  1. TYE says:

    5 stars
    I made this for lunch today and it was delicious. I have extreme migraine triggers, and this gives me a safe meal to eat that isn’t a loaded gun. I used pouch tuna in oil and I have been running out of ways to eat it. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Natasha says:

      Aww I’m so glad to hear that 💕

  2. Ivy says:

    5 stars
    I haven’t tried your recipe yet, but I remembered cooking something similar. I added heavy cream and pesto. So good!

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s a good idea! Let me know if you try this version, Ivy 🙂

  3. Jodi Wer says:

    4 stars
    I make this with anchovies, capers, red pepper flakes and any greens I have. My family loves it.

    1. Natasha says:

      Great!! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  4. Sarah Clark says:

    5 stars
    My super picky one year old loved this! I used elbow noodles and threw in some peas! Thanks for the recipe!!

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay! I am so happy your little one liked it! Thanks for letting me know, Sarah! 🙂

  5. Pamela says:

    5 stars
    Can’t stop making this dish! It is so simple and so delicious.

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s so good to hear!! 🙂

  6. Brian says:

    5 stars
    Just finished eating — outstanding and will be making again! I added red pepper flakes with the garlic sautéing and then drained capers with all the other Ingredients and loved the additions.

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay! So happy you liked it, Brian!

  7. Dania says:

    5 stars
    I was looking for a post-gym meal/ dinner and made this. Absolutely great! Will probably be making it for dinner everyday! Thank u so much🤤

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome ❤️

  8. Judy Mosterd says:

    4 stars
    This is easy and tasty! I would make the sauce and leave out the tuna and toss that in cold as the smell made me gag. Hubby added red pepper flakes. Added steamed broccoli and had salad with it. Will make again!

    1. Natasha says:

      I am glad you liked it, Judy!

  9. Sara says:

    I was so happy, I was able to make this recipe it so easy to make and so fast to make it I add fresh garlic and test so good, my husband love it so much …thank you so much my Natasha..

    1. Natasha says:

      I am so glad it worked out, Sara!! 🙂

  10. Megan says:

    5 stars
    Super easy, delicious, and quick to make!!! Great for a fast family dinner. I would have never thought of using canned tuna like this.

    1. Natasha says:

      I am so happy it worked out, Megan! Thanks for leaving me a nice comment. 🙂