Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad is one of our favorite versions of classic tuna salad! When you add in a handful of veggies and some pasta, this becomes an entire meal in no time at all! 

This pasta salad recipe is a warm-weather go-to for quick meals or even potlucks!

closeup of Tuna Pasta Salad mixed

What’s In Tuna Pasta Salad?

Just like most tuna recipes (think tuna casserole or tuna melts) this pasta salad is simple and delicious. With two main ingredients, tuna and pasta this dish is no-fuss and great as a quick dinner or an easy lunch.

This pasta salad uses sweet pickle relish in the dressing but of course you swap it with chopped dill pickles (but you may want to add a pinch of sugar to the dressing if you do).

  • Tuna: Choose good quality tuna that is packed in water so it doesn’t make the rest of the salad oily. Be sure to drain it well.
  • Pasta: A medium shape pasta works well for this recipe like rotini or shells, the ridges grab the dressing well adding lots of flavor!

overhead of ingredient for Tuna Pasta Salad before being mixed

How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad

Making a pasta salad isn’t hard! With a little prep work and three easy steps, you can have this salad ready in 30 mins!

  1. Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta. Drain, set aside to cool.
  2. Drain tuna and add in vegetables.
  3. Gently fold in the mayonnaise and add diced cheddar cheese (cheese is optional).

Whether making in advance or making fresh to eat, keep it chilled until you are ready to serve. Add in a little salt and pepper to taste and watch the flavors pop when served cold!

overhead of Tuna Pasta Salad in a bowl

Here’s How to Store It

Keep your tuna pasta salad in a sealed container so it doesn’t absorb the flavors of the other things in the refrigerator. And if taking to a potluck, put ice packs in a cooler around it to keep it chilled!

When serving it outdoors where everyone is helping themselves, put the salad in a bowl and try to position it on a small tray or plate of ice to keep it cold. Stir frequently to keep it all the same temperature!

More Delicious Pasta Salads

closeup of Tuna Pasta Salad mixed
4.96 from 44 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

This creamy salad combines pasta & tuna to create the perfect light lunch or side to supper! With the addition of pickles, cheese, and peas it is sure to be a hit!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 3 cups rotini pasta measured dry
  • 6 ounces canned tuna drained
  • ½ cup celery diced
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • ¾ cup baby peas defrosted and drained
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese diced (optional)


  • cup mayonnaise
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill


  • Combine all dressing ingredients and set aside.
  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.


Nutrition Information does not include optional ingredients.
4.96 from 44 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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 Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. I am seeing this for the first time and definitely want to try. I think you could really change up the flavor by using flavored/seasoned tuna that comes in pouches. Thanks for all your great recipes!

  2. Creamy, delicious! This is a perfect tuna pasta salad.
    I used 4 cups of rotini, 2 tins of tuna and a variety of fresh vegetables served on fresh greens. No cheddar. I followed your directions for the dressing exactly.
    Absolutely delicious. Thank you Holly.5 stars

  3. This was a very big hit. I made this salad just as written by the author. The cheddar cheese was optional so I did NOT add it. I did use tri-color rotini pasta. The family liked everything about this salad. No complaints at all. I will save this recipe and definitely make again. Thank you Holly Nilsson for publishing it.5 stars

  4. love this recipe second time making it! only this time i added cuccumbers and spinach we were out of celery. Tweaked the mayo mix but was still outstanding. 5 stars for sure5 stars

  5. Loved this salad and will be making again. My whole family was very happy – ages 3 and 2 and husband. Didn’t add the cheese but I’m sure it would be good. I also think hard boiled eggs would be great in it.5 stars

  6. I have made this two times now and it is a new family favorite. I double the dill pickle relish (love me some dill!) and make it with extra sharp cheddar cheese. Like Angelina said before, one 6-oz can of tuna is too little given that it’s supposed to be tuna pasta and not pasta tuna. I double that as well. Mixes up super easy. I’m not a peas guy, so for this round I added a cup of cooked corn for the veggie. Everything tastes fantastic, and the xtra-sharp cheddar gives it a nice “punch” in every biteful. It may be great for summer, but it’s winter here, and we love having a quick-grab meal in a bowl that we can enjoy any time.

  7. I added diced sweet peppers tomsti and peas since I hate celery and my husband hates onions. It turned out really really good! Great meal for lunches this week!5 stars

  8. Very good classic pasta and tuna salad recipe. To use cheese in this or any cold recipe, put the cheese on the side or add it to only the portion you know you will eat that day. Cheese gets a little mushy when sitting in a dressing, so it’s better to add it shortly before eating and store it separately for leftovers.4 stars

  9. Delicious tasting tuna salad! Easy, light for summer dinner option. Had to modify recipe with chopped purple onion and dill pickle since I didn’t have green onions and sweet relish. Turned out just fine. Will definitely make again! Thanks Holly!

  10. So good! My son asked me why I was looking up a recipe as I already had a good one according to my family. Well this one is a keeper. I used “smoked cheddar cheese ” and I think that was what made us all love it. I also omitted the relish but will try next time.5 stars

    1. You can definitely add more tuna to your liking, Angelina! But I am glad you enjoyed it :)

  11. I have to say this was a very pleasant surprise. It was very good, only thing I did differently was add an extra tbsp of relish and add boiled eggs. Even my husband who is not tolerant of other foods besides our native food said he love it.5 stars

  12. I just put this all together for dinner about 90 min from now. Plenty of time to get chilled. It looks and tastes fabulous. The dressing is quite tasty. I didn’t have the green onions and almost substituted white onion but decided it was fine without it. This looks like a keeper recipe. Looking forward to a cold dinner on a 90 degree day!5 stars

  13. Holly, the tuna pasta salad looks so good, can’t wait to try this. Perfect for these HOT summer days. Anything I don’t have to turn the oven on is a blessing.5 stars

  14. This looks really good, and nice to have when it’s so HOT outside!!! And easy to make also! :)
    Thanks…. will be trying it soon and let u know how it much we enjoyed it. :)5 stars