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Pasta, tuna, and crisp veggies mixed with a creamy yogurt-mayo sauce is the best way to eat tuna! Easily make this Tuna Pasta Salad ahead of time for a refreshing and light cookout-ready side dish.
I’ve always been a tuna fan. It’s a tender and light protein that can really “beef” up an Avocado Tuna Salad and Chickpea Tuna Salad. When I’m not feeling quite a heavy dish, I always turn to this lightened-up Tuna Pasta Salad.
My quick, easy, and healthy tuna pasta salad is made using 5 ingredients, 1 bowl, and 20 minutes of prep time. It’s a simple process of mixing light canned tuna with fresh vegetables and cooked pasta noodles before it’s all tossed in a light and creamy yogurt dressing featuring a homemade Avocado Oil Mayo.
It’s the perfect dish to make for a summer BBQ or pool party. You can even make it ahead of time or enjoy it for delicious leftovers at lunch or dinner!
- It’s lighter than traditional tuna salad and contains healthy fats and protein.
- So customizable! Add in as many veggies, dressings, or herbs that you like.
- The ultimate summertime side dish that can be made a few days ahead of time.
- Tuna - Use a light canned tuna that’s packed in water. Light tuna mixes well with the other ingredients whereas tuna packed in oil will change the flavor and texture.
- Pasta - Any noodle will work! I like using shells or a pasta that holds sauce well. You could even use gluten free noodles to create a gluten free tuna pasta salad.
- Veggies - A mix of onion, cucumber, and tomato gives this salad a Greek-style flavor.
- Yogurt mayo dressing - This healthy homemade dressing is light, creamy, and made from a mix of avocado oil mayonnaise (my favorite!) and Greek yogurt. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, use sour cream instead.
Step 1: Cook the pasta. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Step 2: Prep the vegetables and tuna. While the pasta is cooking, slice the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Place them in a large bowl along with the tuna and cooked pasta.
Step 3: Make the dressing. Whisk the yogurt, mayo, and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
Step 4: Assemble. Pour the dressing over the pasta, tuna, and vegetables. Stir to combine, then add salt and pepper to taste. Let the salad chill in the fridge for a few hours, then serve!
Expert tips and FAQs
- Make it a tuna pasta caesar salad by swapping the sauce for my Healthy Caesar Dressing.
- Cool the cooked pasta down quickly by rinsing it under cold water.
- Give the flavors time to mingle by leaving the pasta salad in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours after it’s made.
What else can I add to pasta salad?
Pasta salad is so versatile! You can add more Mediterranean veggies, like sauteed asparagus, olives, radishes, or marinated mushrooms. Feel free to top each bowl with salty cheeses like feta or parmesan and a hard boiled egg for additional texture. When all else fails, fresh herbs always add a playful, garden-fresh flavor.
Should I serve this cold or warm?
Tuna pasta salad is best served cold or at room temperature. I don’t recommend heating it up so the vegetables can stay crisp and fresh.
Can I make this ahead of time?
You can make this pasta salad 1 or 2 days ahead of time. If you can, serve it on the same day it’s made, otherwise, the liquid will release from the vegetables which can cause them to get soggy.
- Refrigerator: Store the leftover tuna pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The pasta may absorb the creamy sauce as it sits, so you may need to add a bit more Greek yogurt or mayo to rehydrate it when serving again.
I don’t recommend freezing pasta salad because the texture is never quite the same as when it’s made fresh.
More pasta salad recipes
Tuna Pasta Salad
- Cook pasta as you normally would.
- While the pasta is cooking, slice the tomatoes and cucumber and dice the onions; add pasta and veggies to a large bowl, along with the tuna.
- In a small bowl, whisk all sauce ingredients together; then, pour sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in August 2019. It was updated with new text and photos in July 2021.