This easy tuna pasta salad recipe is packed with the good stuff: snap peas, radishes, pasta, tuna, gherkins, and hard boiled eggs in a creamy dill dressing. And it takes just 30 minutes to make!
Tuna Pasta Salad is light and fresh, bursting with veggies and packed with protein. It’s the perfect light meal by itself, or as a side dish for brats or burgers.
It’s also perfect for a brown bag lunch—it’s a meal all in one with the veggies, pasta, and tuna.
And how about picnics and potlucks? It will fly off the table at either one—it’s that good. (This Shrimp Macaroni Salad is another winner for potlucks!)
The inspiration for the recipe is from a church cookbook from the early 2000s, though tuna pasta salad has, of course, been served for decades before that.
The original recipe calls for serving the pasta salad in a large bowl lined with Boston lettuce leaves.
I skipped that option because it seemed most suited for a potluck than for serving my family. But if you try it, send me a photo! 🙂
- Use your favorite pasta shape here—I like the corkscrew shape for holding onto the dressing.
- Radishes, celery, gherkins, red onion, and snap peas add great color and freshness to the salad.
- You’ll need 2 cans of tuna. You can substitute chicken, if you wish!
- Fresh dill flavors the dressing—don’t skip it!
- A combo of mayo and buttermilk create the creamy dressing. You can use light mayo if you’d like. See below for how to make your own buttermilk.
- Hard boiled eggs make a pretty garnish and complete the dish.
It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but the salad comes together really quickly. The vegetables can be adapted to your liking, or you can leave out one or two altogether.
How to make tuna pasta salad
Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Drain and cover the eggs with cold water. Peel and chop the eggs.
While the eggs are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
Add the snap peas for the last minute of cooking time.
Rinse the pasta and the snap peas in cold water.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dill, buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Stir in the pasta and vegetables.
Then gently stir in the tuna, taking care that you don’t break it up too much.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can store tuna pasta salad in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Place it in an airtight container before placing in the fridge, and give it a good stir before serving.
It depends on what healthy means! This salad has lots of vegetables and the dressing can be made with light mayo and nonfat buttermilk, so it is definitely on the lighter side.
To make your own buttermilk, use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk.
So if you need ½ cup of buttermilk, add half a tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup, and fill the remainder of the cup up to the ½ cup line with milk. You can use skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk.
For the vinegar, you can use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Yes! Substitute 1 cup of cooked and chopped chicken breast in place of the tuna. You could also leave out the tuna altogether and make it meatless.
I don’t recommend freezing tuna pasta salad. The dressing will separate when it thaws.
Can I make tuna pasta salad ahead?
You can make this recipe up to 24 hours in advance of serving. Store it in the refrigerator, tightly covered, and give it a stir right before serving.
What to serve with tuna pasta salad
Tuna Pasta Salad is a great all-in-one meal—it has carbs from the pasta, lots of veggies, and protein from the tuna. The eggs on top add even more protein!
So while it can be served on its own, it makes a great side dish for cookout food, too. I love it with burgers or bratwursts, or with grilled chicken or grilled pork chops.
Add a leafy green salad and your meal is complete.
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Tuna Pasta Salad
- 2 eggs
- 8 oz corkscrew pasta
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, halved
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise (light mayonnaise is fine)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 ribs celery, finely diced
- 3 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped gherkin pickles
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 (6 oz) cans white tuna, packed in water, drained
- Place eggs in a saucepan and cover by 1 inch with water. Place on a burner over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Remove the pan from the stove, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Run cold water over the eggs, then peel and chop.
- Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Add the snap peas to the pasta for the last minute of cooking time. Drain the peas and pasta, and rinse with cold water.
- While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, most of the dill (reserve a little dill for garnish), vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Stir in the pasta, snap peas, celery, radishes, pickles, and onion.
- Gently stir in the tuna, taking care not to break it up too much.
- Transfer the pasta salad to a large serving bowl, and top with the chopped eggs and remaining dill. Serve immediately, or refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.
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