Perfect to have in the fridge all summer long, this classic tuna pasta salad is great for lunch, as a side for dinner, or as a perfect addition to picnics or BBQs.
I think everyone has their go-to Summer pasta salad. This is mine. It's simple and classic. It's a version of a salad my Mom used to make when I was growing up. Over the years, I've simplified it and adapted it to use regular pantry items. I love that it makes a big batch, so it sticks around in the fridge a bit, to grab and eat or for summer entertaining, when you need a big bowl.
This is a hearty and filling salad, with the addition of tuna, so it's perfect for a lunch or as part of a salad plate, for dinner. I also have some variations to share, if you'd like to change it up a bit. Scroll down for those!
Pasta - I love to use rotini (corkscrew) pasta for this pasta salad, as it has lots of surface area to grab the dressing and tuna pieces. Fusilli works well, too, as does penne.
Mayonnaise - I have to confess, I don't actually use real mayonnaise when I make this salad. I find it a little heavy for Summer salads, to be honest. I always use salad dressing, aka Miracle Whip™ I love the tangy flavour and I find it lighter tasting. You can use whichever, as it will work fine with both.
Variations to Try
- Up the protein by stirring in chopped, hard-boiled egg.
- Add some shredded cabbage to the bowl.
Be sure to taste your salad after it has chilled and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Store this salad in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Tuna Pasta Salad will keep well in the refrigerator for 4-5 days! If it becomes a little dry, simply drizzle a tiny bit of milk over it and stir. That's all it usually takes to loosen it up.
Classic Tuna Pasta Salad
- 12 oz. rotini pasta, about 4 cups
- 1 can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise or salad dressing, *see Note 1
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. ketchup or tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp. sour cream
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta to al dente. Drain well, then rinse with cold water until cooled.
- While pasta is cooking, prepare the celery and red onion. Mix the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients and mixing well.
- Place the rinsed, cooled pasta into a large bowl. Add the tuna, celery, red onion and dressing and stir well to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating. Taste before serving and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- I actually prefer jarred salad dressing (aka Miracle Whip) with this salad, as I love the tangy flavour and lighter taste. You can use whichever you prefer
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.