Last updated on July 3rd, 2020.
This is the absolute best Tuna Pasta Salad I’ve ever made. It has an amazing creamy but not heavy dressing, and the tasty tuna pairs perfectly with soft, chewy pasta and crunchy veggies added in.
This tuna pasta salad with peas and vegetables makes a great side dish for parties or an easy dinner for hot summer days, and is very kid friendly!
It’s been ages since we’ve had tuna pasta salad. But our toddler suddenly started LOVING tuna, so we’ve been making this tuna pasta salad ALL THE TIME.
And I’m not sad about it.
I totally forgot how DELICIOUS the combination of tuna and pasta is, and how EASY it is to make pasta salad and call it a meal.
Quick meal idea
This tuna pasta salad takes only 15 minutes to make – as long as it takes for you to to cook pasta and drain it.
All the prep work of chopping and veggies and thawing the peas and corn (if frozen) can be done while the pasta is cooking.
The just combine everything once the pasta is rinsed in cold water and draining and pasta salad is ready to serve.
This recipe uses two small 5-oz cans of tuna, and that little bit goes a long way. This tuna pasta salad is a great meal to stretch the grocery budget because those two cans of tuna are pretty inexpensive and add a lot of protein.
To chill or not to chill – that is the question
This pasta salad can be served immediately after cooking or chilled in the fridge.
I love chilled tuna pasta salad – there is something about eating this salad right out of the fridge that is strangely satisfying to me, especially for hot summer days.
My husband prefers to eat this at room temperature. It’s the perfect temperature for him when it’s just cooked, since the pasta is still a little warm. When we have leftovers, I take out his portion 15-20 minutes before we are ready to eat so it warms up a little.
If you’re using this tuna pasta salad for a party appetizer, then it will probably be almost room temperature when people get around to serving themselves, and that’s totally fine!
My super picky eater toddler, surprisingly, does not care whether it’s cold or warm.
And shockingly enough, he eats the heck out of this tuna pasta salad without stopping to think about what vegetables are lurking inside.
Tuna pasta salad with peas and vegetables
I LOVE this dish because it’s got your protein (tuna), carb (pasta), and veggies ALL IN ONE DISH. No need to prepare vegetable side dishes.
This tuna pasta salad is loaded with peas, corn, bell peppers, and onions.
I use about a cup of each vegetable (peas, corn, chopped bell peppers) for this recipe. You can use more or less, depending on your family’s preference. Want to pack in more veggies? Add up to 1.5 cups of each. Think the veggies are not going to go over well? Reduce the amount!
We love the vegetables in tuna pasta salad because they add a nice little crunch and burst of flavor.
You can use frozen corn and peas for this salad – just microwave them with a little bit of water to thaw them. You can also use canned corn and canned peas, or fresh corn and fresh peas if you have those.
I also add a lot of parsley to this recipe – I love the flavor, the pop of fresh green color, and on top of that it is very healthy and loaded with nutrients.
My secret trick: quick-pickled onions
One of my favorite tricks to use when I make salads is to marinate chopped onion in vinegar or lemon juice / lime juice – whichever of these acidic ingredients is going into the dressing.
For this tuna pasta salad, I add lemon juice to the mayo and Greek yogurt dressing (more on that later!), so I will use that same lemon juice to quickly marinate the onions.
Before I do any other prep work for this salad, I chop up the onions and place them in a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of the bowl. This can be a small separate bowl, or the bowl where you will mix your tuna pasta salad together.
The onions marinate in the lemon juice while I prep and cook the rest of the dish. This mellows out the flavor a little bit and makes them a little less oniony. At the same time, this gives the lemon juice a nice mellow onion flavor that flavors the whole salad because the lemon juice mixes in with the rest of the dressing.
Just add these onions to the salad when you’re ready to mix everything together! Or add all the salad ingredients on top of these onions if you’re marinating them in the large bowl where you’ll mix your salad.
Mayo + Greek yogurt dressing
For this recipe, I use a mixture of 50/50 mayonnaise/plain Greek yogurt for the dressing (along with the above-mentioned lemon juice and quick-pickled chopped onions).
I find that substituting up to 1/2 of the mayo with Greek yogurt does not have an overall huge change on the final taste of the salad, but it sure helps with making the salad more nutritious and healthier!
Make sure you use plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. Any kind will do – whole milk, reduced fat, or fat-free.
What kind of pasta to use for tuna pasta salad
My favorite kind of pasta to use for these types of salads is rotini – or any other similarly shaped pasta. It is the perfect shape for trapping little bits of tuna and dressing in between its ridges, making sure every bite of this salad is extra delicious.
Of course, you can use any pasta that you like – my second choice would be good ol’ macaroni, and third choice would be bow ties.
You can use whole grain pasta to add a little more nutrition, protein, fiber, and whole grains to this dish.
Whatever kind of pasta you use, however much vegetables you want to add, I hope you get to make this pasta tuna salad! It is such a great easy meal idea with minimal cooking, and makes a great potluck, picnic, or barbecue side dish too.
Looking for other easy minimal-cooking dinner recipes?
- Mediterranean couscous and tuna bowls – even less cooking than this tuna pasta salad!
- Ground pork burgers – ready in 15 minutes!
- 3 ingredient kielbasa bites
- Shrimp and vegetable couscous salad
Looking for other great side dish ideas for bbqs and parties?
- Coleslaw orzo salad – perfect combination of pasta salad and coleslaw with a light citrusy dressing
- No-mayo potato salad with feta and olives
- Calamari salad with bell peppers
- Spanish-style calamari salad with potatoes
If you enjoyed this tuna pasta salad, please let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don’t forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Tuna Pasta Salad
- 1/2 small yellow onion finely diced
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1/2 - 1 lemon, to taste)
- 8 oz uncooked pasta (such as rotini)
- Salted water for cooking pasta
- 2 5-oz cans tuna drained
- 1 bell pepper cleaned and finely diced
- 1 cup corn thawed and cooked if frozen
- 1 cup peas thawed and cooked if frozen
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt unsweetened, fat free or low fat
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise or up to 1/2 cup, to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley finely minced
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the minced onion and lemon juice in a small bowl and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is no longer hot.
- Finely dice the bell pepper so that the pieces are not much bigger than the corn and peas you'll be adding.
- Combine all the ingredients, including the marinating diced onions, in a large bowl (or in the pot where you cooked the pasta) and mix well. Add a tablespoon or two of additional Greek yogurt or mayonnaise, if you need more dressing. Season with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.