Make an easy summer salad that is packed full of protein with this tuna macaroni salad recipe.
This twist on a traditional macaroni salad is light and delicious! Fully loaded with tuna, crunchy veggies, sweet and tangy pickles, and elbow macaroni, all mixed in a creamy tangy dressing!
While we love tuna casserole during the cooler months, this salad is great for a hot weather dinner or lunches!
We have partnered with Chicken of the Sea to bring you this recipe.
Tuna Macaroni Salad
- Perfect at a potluck or picnic, tuna macaroni salad is a light and refreshing option.
- Make ahead and for lunches throughout the week! The flavors will blend even more as it chills.
- Pasta salads are so versatile and this recipe has variations from Hawaii to the South!
- It’s delicious and nutritious as an entree salad or tuck a few scoops into a pita pocket or wrap for an energizing workday lunch!
- Stretch it even further with the addition of extra veggies or pasta.
Ingredients & Variations
Tuna – Canned tuna such as Chicken of the Sea is a protein that is affordable and accessible. If tuna isn’t available, canned salmon, canned chicken, or bay shrimp will work as well.
Elbows – Elbow macaroni, shells, or any small pasta that the dressing can cling to is perfect in this recipe! Whole wheat pasta, plant-based pasta, and gluten-free blends will work as well.
Add-Ins – Both sweet and tangy dill pickles (or sweet pickle relish) amp up the flavor and celery, diced red bell pepper, and a little white onion add color and crunch!
Dressing – Greek yogurt keeps this salad lower in calories (and reduces the mayo). Relish, mustard, and vinegar varieties can be experimented with whatever’s on hand, simply adjust to your preference. Fresh dill is a great addition for a fresh summer salad taste.
Variations – Peas, chopped sundried tomatoes, shredded carrots, diced red onion, or chopped hard-boiled eggs can be added.
How to Make Tuna Macaroni Salad
The tuna adds a little extra protein and flavor to a classic macaroni salad!
- Make dressing and set aside. Boil pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
- Place all ingredients (per recipe below) in a large bowl & gently toss with dressing.
- Season with kosher salt & black pepper to taste and garnish with fresh sprigs of dill or sliced pickles.
Storing Tuna Macaroni Salad
Keep tuna mac salad in a covered container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Stir and adjust seasonings before serving. Pasta salads do not thaw well so freezing is not recommended.
More Tuna Favorites
Did you make this Tuna Macaroni Salad? Leave us a rating and a comment below!
Dilly Tuna Macaroni Salad
- 8 ounces macaroni noodles
- 2 cans tuna 5 oz each
- ¾ cup celery diced
- ½ cup sweet pickles chopped
- ½ cup dill pickles chopped
- ⅓ cup red pepper diced
- ¼ cup white onion minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped , or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- ¾ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup light dressing or mayonnaise
- ¼ cup relish
- 2 tablespoons pickle juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Top with dressing and gently toss to combine.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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The term “Macaroni” by itself is a very broad term. Most folks use the term ‘macaroni’ when referring to pasta, but they then go on to identify which ‘macaroni’ they’re referring to…. i.e. “Elbow Macaroni”. It’s good that you posted a photo, so that everyone could see that you used “Elbow” macaroni, and were not left wondering which ‘macaroni’ you actually used. I’m sure that your box of pasta calls it ‘Elbows’, or something to that effect on the front, not just ‘Macaroni’…. since there are many ‘macaronis’ available..
Hi Angelina, for this recipe we preferred to use elbow macaroni but it is delicious with whatever your preferred pasta is!
Give me a break Angelina….You are a very argumentative person and are obviously full of yourself since you have the audacity to berate the recipe author, Holly, not once, but twice. Most people associate macaroni with the only pasta that has macaroni in its name, “Elbows”. Young, inexperienced, whoever…can easily look at the included picture or just ask a question…not berate the author. The absolute gall of some people! SMH
Very tasty, but the pasta is called “ELBOW Macaroni”, NOT Macaroni Noodles. ‘Macaroni’ is a very broad term, which encompasses several different kinds of pasta shapes. I’m just sayin’……. If you look at the box of pasta which you used, I’m sure it will say “Elbows”! Let’s not confuse young & inexperienced cooks, who perhaps wouldn’t’ know which pasta you’re actually using.
The package on the two brands I generally purchase actually do say “macaroni” and not elbows although hopefully the images with the elbow macaroni will help act as a guide. Any medium/short pasta works perfectly in this recipe. Enjoy!
Saw your tuna pickle salad recipe and pinned it. It looks amazing! I do have one question? The dressing calls for relish. There are both sweet pickle relish and dill pickle relish. Which one is in your dressing? I don’t want to mess it up, I know it will make a huge difference in the flavor. Thanks! Can’t wait to make this!
Hi Pam, I used dill relish!
BRING ON THE PICKLES! This pasta salad looks killer! I fell in love all over again with tuna just a few months ago when I started nursing again. It’s such an easy way to get in some protein for lunch!
I agree Karen! I love it for lunch on a salad!
You are the pickle queen! I love pickles and love how creative you get with them!
LOL Thanks Averie… I love how much flavor and crunch they add to dishes like this! :)