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This tuna pasta salad recipe is tasty, filling, and great for a light summer meal. It’s a fabulous make-ahead pasta salad that’s perfect for gatherings like potlucks or BBQs!

You may also like my Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad or this Easy Canned Tuna Pasta.

a bowl of tuna pasta salad

Why you’ll love it

It doesn’t get much simpler than this tuna pasta salad! You’ll need a can of tuna, a handful of crisp veggies, and a couple of pantry ingredients to make the bright vinaigrette. It’s fantastic for any summer gathering as well as a meal prep or healthy work lunch kinda situation.

This tuna pasta salad is a well-balanced and delicious meal. It has carbs, protein, and plenty of vitamins and other goodness from all the vegetables. There’s the ideal crunch in the variety of flavors and textures in this simple summer salad that’s made without mayo!

What you’ll need

  • Pasta – I chose bows
  • Tuna – I like the kind packed in oil for more flavor
  • Onion – red onion is my go-to for salads because it’s less sharp when raw than other varieties
  • Vegetables – little tomatoes, celery, and cucumbers add a fresh crunch
  • Parsley – it adds another pop of freshness
  • Dressing – I just did a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sometimes simple is best! Feel free to add more oil and/or vinegar to suit your individual tastes.
ingredients for tuna pasta salad

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

  • Here is the glass prep bowl set I use for making salads, and this is my go-to cutting board for the veggies.
  • These scissor salad tongs make dishing it up easy.
  • Store uncooked pasta in one of these airtight OXO containers instead of the original box for freshness.

How to make tuna pasta salad

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

draining pasta in a colander and adding vegetables and tuna to a salad bowl

Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Meanwhile, add the tuna, chopped vegetables, and fresh parsley to a large prep bowl.

a prep bowl with tuna pasta salad before and after tossing

Cool the pasta under cold water and thoroughly drain it. Add to the salad bowl. Pour in the dressing ingredients, toss, and season generously with salt & pepper. Chill if desired to let the flavors meld.

Pro tip

Want to jazz up this easy tuna pasta salad? Try throwing in capers, Kalamata olives, or chopped red bell peppers.

Substitutions and variations

  • I chose tomatoes, celery, and cucumber for the veggies, but feel free to swap out anything you don’t like or for whatever is in your fridge.
  • This salad is very flexible. Some people enjoy more dressing, so feel free to adjust the quantity (or play around with the ratios).
  • You could sub the bowtie pasta for another similar size shape. If using a smaller shape like macaroni, though, reduce the amount.

What to serve with tuna pasta salad

Leftovers and storage

  • This tuna pasta salad makes great leftovers, so it’s ideal for meal prep. It’ll last for up to 5 days in the fridge in a covered container.
  • Keep in mind that it will dry out over time, though. You could always add a splash more oil and/or vinegar.
  • I wouldn’t freeze leftovers of this one.
a glass prep bowl with tuna pasta salad

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

a bowl of tuna pasta salad
5 from 12 votes

Tuna Pasta Salad

This tuna pasta salad recipe is tasty, filling, and great for a light summer meal. It's a fabulous make-ahead pasta salad that's perfect for gatherings like potlucks or BBQs!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 3 cups uncooked pasta (I used bows)
  • 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 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Boil a large, salted pot of water for your pasta. Cook it al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, add the tuna, onions, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, and parsley to a large salad bowl.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, rinse it under cold water and let it drain thoroughly, then add it to the salad bowl.
  • Add the vinegar and olive oil to the bowl. You may want to add more oil and/or vinegar depending on your tastes. Season the pasta salad thoroughly with salt & pepper (it’s a lot of pasta so I added quite a bit). You can serve it right away or chill it first (cover the bowl) for the flavors to meld a bit. 


  • If you use macaroni for this salad, I suggest reducing the uncooked amount to 2.5 cups.
  • As with any pasta salad, feel free to add more/less of any ingredient to make it perfect for your tastes.


Calories: 221kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 116mg, Potassium: 236mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 354IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 20mg, 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 May 14, 2019. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!

Hi! Iā€™m Natasha.

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5 from 12 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Michaela says:

    5 stars
    Great pasta salad! I ended up adding a jar of Kalamata olives and a red pepper as suggested and they were a great addition. I made a pound of pasta and doubled most of the other ingredients/added more to taste and it turned out well

    1. Natasha says:

      Fabulous!! Thanks, Michaela! Kalamata olives are the best! šŸ˜€

  2. Vanie says:

    5 stars
    I made this salad 3 months ago for me and my sister and it was the BOMB!! My son didn’t get any and has been constantly reminding that he didn’t GET ANY (lol) so, I have made it again for him and the family to have for dinner this evening along with some Everything Bagel pita chips. I also used Yellowfin tuna packed in EVOO and jalapenos for that extra zing!! It’s already scrumptious, deliumptious and hasn’t meld together in the fridge yet šŸ¤¤. Thank you sooo much for the delish pasta salad.

    1. Natasha says:

      Aww I love that! thank you for letting me know! šŸ™‚

  3. Sam says:

    5 stars
    Easy to adjust. I mostly needed to use tuna and didnt have a lot of veggies around. I used an elderberry balsamic vinegar from seka hills and some beau monde seasoning to make up for the lack of veg flavor. Its nom. Might throw on some crispy beet shreds that I usually put on my salad for cronch.

    1. Natasha says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Sam!

  4. Samantha says:

    5 stars
    I’ve tried this pasta salad three times now, and it just keeps tasting better and better. I admit I do alter the recipe a bit each time, but I still stick to most of the basics. I also appreciate the fact that you use such a simple dressing (it’s so easy to make and adds plenty of flavor to the dish). My husband and I love this recipe, and we thank you for sharing it with us šŸ™‚

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so glad it’s a hit!! šŸ™‚ You’re very welcome!

  5. Lisa says:

    I just tried this recipie. Tasted like it was missing something. I added some crushed red pepper flakes to give a bit of kick. Not for everyone, but worked for me šŸ™‚

  6. Eli says:

    5 stars
    Made this today and it turned out so nice thank you! I also added sweetcorn and tomatoes to it also. The dressing was great!

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome, Eli!!

  7. Alex says:

    How many grams is a serving?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi Alex! I have no idea – sorry. I’m not a trained nutritionist. The nutrition info is automatically calculated based on 1/6 of the recipe, and it’s designed to be a general estimate. If you need to know the exact info for health reasons, I recommend weighing the food and plugging the ingredients you’re using into something like My Fitness Pal.

  8. Amanda Holan says:

    how many calories is this?

    1. Natasha says:

      Just added it for you. Keep in mind it’ll vary based on actual ingredients… like whether you use oil or water-packed tuna, how much dressing you actually end up adding, how much you serve yourself, and so on.

  9. Zara says:

    How many days can you leave this in the fridge before it go off?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! It’s subjective and depends what you’re comfortable with. Like, my mom and husband probably would give it a lot longer than I would lol, but personally I’m not a big leftovers person, and also a bit paranoid about food safety (and pasta salads tend to dry out quite quickly), so I’d say 3-5 days max.