This Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is a favorite easy meal.

Flaky tuna, tender pasta, some cheese, and a handful of peas are tossed in a simple creamy dressing with a touch of dill.

bowl of Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

Ingredients Tips for Tuna Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is both quick and simple to make with ingredients you likely have on hand. Best of all, it can be made ahead of time.

  • Tuna: Solid or chunk white albacore tuna will have bigger pieces and a slightly milder flavor, while light tuna will have smaller pieces.
  • Pasta: My preference is rotini or shells, so the ridges grab the dressing!
  • Add-Ins: Celery, green onions, frozen peas, and cheddar cheese add texture and flavor to this salad.
  • Dressing: Mayonnaise and sour cream make a creamy base, while sweet relish, dill, and vinegar add sweetness and flavor.

Make It Lighter

  • Choose water-packed tuna over oil-packed tuna.
  • Replace all of the sour cream (and some of the mayonnaise) with Greek yogurt.
  • Stir in extra veggies like diced red bell pepper.
ingredients in a bowl to make Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

Variations

Perfect for potlucks, BBQs, and summer meals – this tuna pasta salad can be made with what you have on hand.

  • Swaps
    • Replace sweet pickle relish with chopped dill pickles.
    • Swap green onion for 2 to 3 tablespoons diced red onion.
  • Additions
    • Add a spoonful of Dijon, a squeeze of lemon juice, or fresh herbs to the dressing.
    • Add chopped hard-boiled eggs.

How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad

  1. Cook Pasta: Boil the pasta (recipe below).
  2. Mix Dressing: Combine the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine & Refrigerate: Add the cold pasta and remaining ingredients to the bowl and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for one hour.

Whether you make it in advance or fresh to eat, keep it chilled until you are ready to serve.

Holly’s Tip

As the pasta salad sits, the pasta soaks in the dressing.

This is great because it flavors the salad throughout (and it’s why refrigerating is recommended before serving). Dress the salad generously so it’s nice and creamy as the dressing is absorbed.

top view of Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad in a glass bowl

Serving, Storage, and Leftovers

When serving it outdoors, put the salad in a bowl on a small tray or plate of ice to keep it cold. Stir frequently to keep it all chilled throughout!

Tuna pasta salad can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days, making it great for lunches.

More Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes

We love pasta salads as a side dish or to serve as a hot weather meal.

Did you make this Tuna Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad in a bowl
4.98 from 101 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Tuna Pasta Salad

This creamy tuna pasta salad recipe makes a great meal any time of day!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
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Ingredients  

  • 3 cups rotini pasta measured dry, approx 6oz
  • 6 oz canned tuna drained
  • ½ cup celery finely diced
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese diced (optional)

Dressing

  • cup mayonnaise
  • cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed or 1 ½ teaspoons fresh chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • In a large serving bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, relish, vinegar and dill.
  • Add the cold pasta to the dressing mixture, along with the drained tuna, celery, onion, peas, and cheese.
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Stir and serve.

Notes

Green onion can be replaced with 2 to 3 tablespoons of diced red onion.
Leftover salad can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
4.98 from 101 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 431 | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 600IU | Vitamin C: 8.7mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 1.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Fish, Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Comments

  1. this one is my fav by far. such a great idea to add tuna in there! awesome recipe, thanks for sharing.5 stars

  2. I used white wine vinegar since I had it on hand. The dressing is delicious. I used 2 cans of tuna and made additional dressing.5 stars

  3. Delicious! I made a few changes to the recipe – ran out of mayonnaise so I used 5% Greek yogurt for most of the mayo replacement, which turned out super creamy and healthy too without compromising flavor. I also used rice wine vinegar instead since I didn’t have white wine, and added generous amounts of Dijon, paprika, and cayenne. Would definitely make again. Thank you!!5 stars

  4. This has become one of my favorite summer dishes! So light and perfect. The only thing I add is a small jar of marinated artichokes. And I serve it over a bed of lettuce. This is pure Yum!5 stars

    1. You can leave it out or swap it for chopped dill pickles and then follow the directions as written. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out Betty!

  5. Made this for the 1st for my husband, and daughter instead of using it for a get together, decided it would a great lunch dish. My daughter asked to try some prior to putting some into a container for her lunch. Her response mom I thoroughly love this, it’s so good. Instead of celery I used red peppers, I didn’t use cheese as it was already really creamy. It is absolutely delicious. It well be on my rotation of recipes when needing something easy & quick. Thank you5 stars

  6. So good! My Bf and I loved it! I chose this recipe to use leftover chicken. I also replaced the sour cream with Miracle Whip and the green onion with regular because it’s what I had on hand. I will definitely be making this again. With chicken but also the recommended tuna, etc.

    Another one of your delicious recipes added to the rotation. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Elaine, I have only tried the recipe as written but you should be able to swap for greek yogurt. It will be slightly less creamy and will have a little more tang but should still be delicious! If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

  7. This is an excellent tuna salad. I love tuna salad and I’m sure this is the best I’ve had. The only thing I would change ( and this is for me personally ) is the pasta. I would use small elbow macaroni so there’s not so much absorption. I’m retired and my wife still works. So I do most of the cooking.
    Since there’s only the two of us, a lot of times we’ll eat left overs. When I made this salad it was pretty dry the next day, so I had to add more mayo, but it was still great.
    I’ve only been cooking for about three years and have had my share of disasters. Thanks to your recipes I’m getting better all the time.

    1. So happy you enjoyed this recipe, Ed! Small elbow macaroni would work great in this recipe, thanks for sharing.

  8. I made this tuna pasta recipe yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised how good it was.
    I’ve been shying away from tuna for the past few years but wanted to try a recipe with the white albacore tuna in it. This recipe has the right combination of ingredients that makes the tuna taste so mild, and with the right amount of crunch. I will definitely make this again!5 stars