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Tuna Pasta Salad

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This tuna pasta salad is made with al dente pasta, crunchy celery, hard-boiled eggs, and protein-packed tuna all coated in a deliciously creamy dressing. Make this easy pasta side dish for a summer BBQ or a quick meal!

Tuna pasta salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon near bread.

BBQ season is just around the corner and I have the perfect side dish for you. This creamy tuna pasta salad is packed with nutrients and flavor. Perfectly al dente pasta carries a hearty dose of protein-packed tuna and hard-boiled eggs. The crunch of celery adds just the right amount of texture and freshness and the creamy dressing pulls everything together in a symphony of mouth-watering goodness. It’s so quick and easy to throw together and is easily adaptable to a variety of taste preferences. Put your aprons on and get cooking!

Tuna pasta salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Why You’ll Love This Tuna Macaroni Salad

I love a simple, easy-to-throw-together make-ahead recipe. This tuna pasta salad fits the bill. Here are some of the reasons I love it and why I think you will too.

  • A make-ahead miracle. Busy week? I get it. This side dish is the perfect solution for your on-the-go lifestyle. Make it Sunday evening and enjoy it for up to 4 days.
  • Versatile. I love this dish because it can be enjoyed in a number of ways at any time of day. Serve it as a side dish, a salad topping, a sandwich filling, or a cracker dip. You really can’t go wrong.
  • Adaptable. A recipe that can be tailored to a variety of taste preferences is something to hold onto. It is so easy to make this pasta salad your own with fun add-ins and substitutions. Check out the section below titled “Variations & Add-Ins” for inspiration.
Ingredients for tuna pasta salad separated into bowls.

What You’ll Need

It doesn’t take much to make this easy tuna pasta salad. Here’s what you’ll need. Make sure to scroll to the recipe card below for detailed measurements.

  • Elbow macaroni – Feel free to use any short pasta shape here. Gluten-free? You can easily sub in your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • Celery stalks – This adds a delightful crunch.
  • Canned tuna – I suggest opting for tuna packed in water as opposed to oil.
  • Mayonnaise – You can use Greek yogurt here instead.
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Hard-boiled eggs – Read up on how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg.
  • Salt and pepper

Variations & Add-Ins

Substitutions and additions are welcome in this recipe. Make it your own with one (or several) of these fun options.

  • Olives. Add a savory, salty spin by adding chopped green or black olives.
  • Onions. Looking for a little extra crunch and some bite? Add finely chopped red onions to the mix.
  • Pickles. I love adding pickles to this pasta salad. Dill pickles are my favorite but the choice is yours.
  • Peas. I love adding peas to this pasta salad for a pop of color and extra nutritional value.
  • Make it spicy. Try adding a few drops of siracha along with the dijon and mayo for a kick of spice. Looking for a smoky spice? Add a teaspoon of smoked paprika.
  • Use a different protein. You can easily use canned salmon or chicken in place of tuna.
  • Consider Greek yogurt. Not a mayo fan? Try Greek yogurt instead. The result will be a tangier tuna pasta salad. Different but still delicious.

How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad

Here’s a quick overview of how to make this tuna and macaroni salad. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

  • Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente.
  • Hard-boil the eggs. Place the eggs in boiling water and cook for 7-10 minutes before transferring them to an ice bath. Keep them there for 5 minutes.
  • Dice the celery.
  • Chill. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath and let them sit for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Peel the eggs, dice them, and add them to the pasta along with the celery.
  • Mix in the mayo, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Tips for Success

Want to make the best pasta salad you’ve ever had? Follow these simple tips and tricks and you’ll be well on your way.

  • Make it the day before. Tuna and macaroni salad is best served cold. I suggest making it the night before you intend to enjoy it to give the flavors a chance to meld together and to give it ample time to chill.
  • Salt your pasta water. Salting your pasta water will impart flavor to the pasta itself as it cooks, helping you avoid a bland dish.
  • Dress the pasta when it’s still warm. Do not wait for the pasta to cool to add the dressing. Dressing pasta salad when it is still warm will help the flavors meld together, ending you with a much tastier dish.
Tuna pasta salad on toast on a plate.

What to Serve With Cold Tuna Pasta Salad

This cold tuna pasta salad is great because you can serve it in so many different ways. Here are some ideas for you.

  • As a side dish. Serve this tuna pasta salad alongside your favorite entree. I have been enjoying it with these Grilled Steak Skewers or my Smash Burgers. The combination of beef and tuna makes for the perfect surf and turf.
  • As a dip. Dip some tasty bread or crackers in tuna and macaroni salad and drizzle it with olive oil for a protein-packed snack.
  • Make a sandwich. Enjoy this pasta salad between two slices.
Overhead of tuna pasta salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon near bread.

How to Store Tuna and Macaroni Salad

Allow the dish to cool completely before sealing it in an airtight container and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze it, just transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw overnight before diving in.

More Easy Side Dishes:

Side dishes are a great way to doll up your favorite entree. I’ve been loving this tuna pasta salad but if you’re in the mood for something different, here are a few other easy side dishes for you to try.

Tuna pasta salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Tuna Pasta Salad

This tuna pasta salad is made with al dente pasta, crunchy celery, hard-boiled eggs, and protein-packed tuna all coated in a deliciously creamy dressing. Whip it up for a summer BBQ or a quick meal!
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Julie Chiou
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  • 8 ounces dry elbow macaroni
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 10 ounce canned tuna
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente.
  • At the same time, bring a smaller pot of water to boil and boil the eggs for 7-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, dice the celery and set aside.
  • Once the eggs are done, put them in an ice bath for 5 minutes.
  • After the pasta is done, drain and put in a large bowl.
  • Peel the shells off the eggs and then finely dice up the eggs and add to the bowl of the pasta. Add the celery as well.
  • Mix in the mayo, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper (to taste).
  • Serve as a side dish or enjoy with some bread or crackers and olive oil or make a sandwich!

Recipe Notes

Note: This recipe requires a prep time of a couple hours prior to serving, as this is a cold dish. It’s best to prep this overnight. 


Serving: 1 bowl | Calories: 515 kcal | Carbohydrates: 32 g | Protein: 21 g | Fat: 33 g | Saturated Fat: 6 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8 g | Trans Fat: 0.1 g | Cholesterol: 160 mg | Sodium: 407 mg | Potassium: 251 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 2 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cold tuna pasta salad, tuna and macaroni salad, tuna macaroni salad, tuna pasta salad recipe
Recipe Rating


Saturday 27th of April 2013

I am always looking for easy lunch meals for my sweetie and I to pack. We both get tired of the typical sandwich and chips. This salad will be so good stuffed into a tomato or green pepper! mmmmmmm Almost makes we wish it was a work day!!!.....yey no.


Sunday 30th of September 2012

No problem! Thank you for replying so fast...I'm making this for a potluck this afternoon. Everythings prep, except...I'm assuming I drain tuna? moist? dry? dry dry?


Sunday 30th of September 2012

Drained, still a bit moist. Not super dry. Just get the liquid out of the can.


Saturday 29th of September 2012

When do you add the tuna?


Saturday 29th of September 2012

Right after step 8, before step 9. Sorry!