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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! I’m Natasha.

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5 from 12 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Charlotte Dunaj says:

    5 stars
    Use this as a base and then add or remove stuff to suit. Always well received x

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful! 🙂

  2. CRI says:

    Thank you for this deliciously healthy tuna pasta recipe. I used quinoa/broccoli flat noodles instead and added olives and pine nuts. Next time I’ll add the bell peppers. It was delicious! 😋😋

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome!! Love your additions!

  3. CY says:

    Planning to make this tonight without the tuna. Why no?

    1. Natasha says:

      Lol I guess?

  4. Kathy says:

    5 stars
    Made this today for several work lunches this week. Tasted a bit before I portioned it out and it’s yummy. Added some fresh lemon to the dressing with the balsamic and subbed full chopped NJ tomatoes and carrots for celery. So good! I plan to grate some Parmesan cheese over the bowl prior to serving.

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay I am so happy you like it! Your modifications sound delish.

  5. Dave says:

    I was last-minute drafted to make lunch for my mother-in-law this afternoon. I easily came upon your recipe here, and it was delicious ! Many thanks !

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay!! So glad to hear it! Thanks, Dave.

  6. Sarah Allen says:

    If I were to make this for my lunches for the week would you recommend keeping the dressing separate and pouring some on each day before leaving for work?

    1. Natasha says:

      I think that would work well, Sarah! It does tend to dry out a bit the longer you leave the dressing on.

  7. Karly says:

    Yum! This looks so delicious!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Karly!!

  8. Paula Gouveia says:

    5 stars
    Hi Natasha! I was searching for easy meals and i found your website. Since then i´m a big fan and i´ve tried some recipies. This one is a must…next one to do because its spring time here and the weather is getting hot. I´ll let you know how it worked. Greetings from Portugal!

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay I am so happy you like my recipes! Greetings from Canada. 🙂

  9. Faith says:

    5 stars
    It was so delicious! I needed a low-cost, easy, and healthy meal to take to work that tastes so good that I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out. This recipe was it! Next time I want to use salmon or shrimp—yum! 🙂

    1. Natasha says:

      I am so happy you liked it, Faith!!! 💕

  10. Natasha's Sister says:

    5 stars
    How about you just make this for our picnic without tuna??

    1. Natasha says: