If you are looking for a great recipe for meal prep, a cold salad to take on a picnic or to pack for a work lunch, look no further! This easy, filling and budget-friendly Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad has everything you will need to combat hunger! Packed full of vegetables, but oh-so-decadent dressed with mayonnaise, this is a brilliant recipe that will be loved by adults and children alike!
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Why You Will Love This Simple Tuna Pasta Salad
- A great meal prep recipe: you can make it on a Sunday night and it will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days! Just as great as our Mexican Tuna Salad!
- This Tuna Pasta Salad has a perfect balance of filling pasta, creamy mayo and nutritious veggies. Just like our Tuna Rice Salad.
- You can use a variety of vegetables in this salad, making good use of any leftovers.
- Only takes about 15 minutes to make!
- This Classic Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is inexpensive to make (about £1 per portion (based on Aldi UK prices in October 2023).
Ingredients and Substitutes
- pasta: ordinary, wholewheat or gluten-free pasta will work well in this recipe. No need to buy fancy pasta, the mayo and crunchy veggies will add all the flavour and texture you will need.
- bell pepper: choose any colour you like, but yellow will give the most appealing vibrancy!
- tomato: we used a cheap salad tomato, but cherry tomatoes, beef or heritage tomatoes will work too!
- gherkins (dill pickles): are our favourite ingredient to use in this salad. They provide tiny little bits of juicy tartness.
- lettuce: we used gem lettuce, but iceberg or Romaine lettuce will work too.
- tuna: tinned (canned) tuna in spring water or brine.
- mayo: we use light mayo in our cooking, but it’s just a preference.
Variations: What Other Veggies To Add To Tuna Pasta Salad?
This is a great tuna pasta salad to add your own twist on. You can easily incorporate extra vegetables, herbs and other delicious ingredients to make it even more special. Try adding:
- Finely chopped red onion.
- Parsley, coriander or chives.
- Grated carrot.
- Hard-boiled egg.
- Tinned sweetcorn.
Cook pasta in salted water following the instructions on the packet.
In the meantime, chop up all of your veggies into small pieces. Add them to a large bowl.
Then drain the tuna and add it to the veggies. Season with salt and pepper.
When your pasta is cooked, drain it and run plenty of cold water through it. This will wash off the starchy coating and prevent the pieces of pasta from sticking together and cool the pasta along the way too, so you can add it to your salad immediately.
Drain the pasta well and add it to the bowl with tuna and vegetables. Give everything a good mix. Then add mayonnaise and stir to combine.
Expert Tips for Best Results
This Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad is extremely easy to make. Even beginners can make it within 15 minutes! But here are some tips that will make this salad extra good!
- Shred your lettuce into small thin pieces, so that they are easier to pick up with a fork alongside other ingredients.
- Cut all of the other vegetables into small pieces, about the size (or smaller) than your pasta shapes.
- Cook your pasta well. You don’t want to leave it too al dente for this Tuna Pasta Salad. Undercooked pasta will absorb too much moisture from the mayo, leaving you with the “not-so-creamy” Tuna Pasta Salad.
- Always cool your pasta completely before adding it to the salad. Warm pasta will make the lettuce wilt, and other veggies to release water.
- Drain your pasta well. You don’t want it watery.
- Don’t be stingy with the mayonnaise. As the salad is stored in the fridge, the pasta will keep absorbing the mayo further, so it will be less creamy after a couple of days.
- If you’re planning on storing this tuna salad 3-4 days later, we recommend adding the mayo on top, but not stirring it in. Mix the salad just before serving to have the creamiest Tuna Pasta Salad.
In this particular recipe, yes you should cool the pasta completely. The hot pasta will make the lettuce wilt and other veggies lose their crunchy texture. The hot pasta will also absorb more of the mayo dressing. If you want your pasta salad extra creamy, you definitely want your pasta cold.
This recipe works well with a mixture of mayo and sour cream. Alternatively, try mixing it with creamy pesto.
Absolutely! We always make this salad ahead of time!
The world is our oyster! We love extra creamy tuna pasta salad, so we choose pasta shapes with lots of nooks and crannies to hold the mayo, like conchiglie, bowtie or fusilli. But penne and macaroni will work well too!
This pasta salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days, if you use fresh vegetables. Store the salad mixed with mayonnaise in airtight containers. Alternatively, mix the cold pasta, tuna and veggies and add the mayo just before serving.
What Goes Well With Tuna Salad?
Tuna Pasta Salad makes a wonderful office or picnic lunch, and it never leaves anything to be desired. It is filling and satisfying, but if you fancy serving it as part of a buffet-style meal, here are some of our favourite recipes that go well with this pasta salad:
- Savoury Polenta Muffins
- Spinach Filo Pastries with Goats Cheese
- Grilled Mushrooms Stuffed With Blue Cheese
Other Pasta Salad Recipes To Try
- Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
- Vegan Avocado Pasta Salad
- Quick Smoked Mackerel Pasta (can be served as a hot meal or a cold pasta salad)
Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad
- 100 g pasta
- ½ gem lettuce finely shredded
- 1 salad tomato chopped
- ½ bell pepper chopped
- 1 gherkin (dill pickles) finely chopped
- 1 tin of tuna (145g)
- 1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
- Cook pasta in salted water following the instructions on the packet.
- In the meantime, chop up all of your veggies into small pieces. Add them to a large bowl. Then drain the tuna and add it to the veggies. Season with salt and pepper.
- When your pasta is cooked, drain it and run plenty of cold water through it. This will wash off the starchy coating and prevent the pieces of pasta from sticking together and cool the pasta along the way too, so you can add it to your salad immediately.
- Drain the pasta well and add it to the bowl with tuna and vegetables. Give everything a good mix. Then add mayonnaise and stir to combine.