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Tuna Pasta Salad (+Video)

This Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is a classic favorite. Elbow macaroni, canned tuna, peas and a seasoned mayonnaise all combine for a family favorite!


Tuna Macaroni Salad is a dish that doesn’t get a lot of credit. It’s one of those meals that most of us remember our Mommas making. It is economical and it makes a lot. I absolutely love to dig into a bowl of this stuff. It is one of my favorite comfort foods (besides The Best Potato Salad). This classic pasta salad really is an entire meal in one!

a close up photo of tuna macaroni salad shown in a large white serving bowl.


What is Tuna Pasta Salad?

Tuna Pasta Salad is a dish made with macaroni pasta, canned tuna in a creamy, mayonnaise based dressing. It is typically served cold as a refreshing meal or side dish.

Why use a shallot instead of an onion?

Shallot has a very light onion flavor and doesn’t overpower the other flavors. But you certainly can use an onion if you prefer.

Any substitute for vinegar?

Just add a bit of mustard. You won’t taste the actual mustard flavor. It will provide just enough slight tang to balance the other flavors.

Can I use another pasta shape?

Elbow macaroni is a traditional pasta shape to use for this recipe. However, you really could use any pasta shape you enjoy. Cavatappi or shell pasta would work great.

What kind of canned tuna should I use?

I only use canned tuna in water. Canned tuna in oil or any other flavors will change the consistency and texture of the tuna pasta salad.

Is Tuna Pasta Salad healthy?

Tuna Pasta Salad can be a healthy and nutritious meal if made with wholesome ingredients and a balanced dressing. Tuna is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the amount of mayonnaise or other dressing used will obviously impact the calorie and fat content of the dish.

Can Tuna Pasta Salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, Tuna Pasta Salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to serve (about 24 hours in advance). In fact, I think that the flavors of the salad improve after a few hours or even overnight in the fridge.

How long does Tuna Pasta Salad last in the fridge?

Tuna Pasta Salad can last for up to four days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container. However, it is important to note that the quality of the salad may start to degrade after a day or two.

The Best Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe from The Country Cook, tuna pasta salad shown close up in a small white bowl.


  • elbow macaroni – you can use any small shaped pasta.
  • canned tuna – I prefer the canned tuna in water – not oil.
  • shallot – you can use an onion but I prefer the light onion flavor of a shallot (it also gives it a touch of garlic flavor).
  • mayonnaise – I like Hellman’s or Duke’s mayonnaise but you could use Miracle Whip if you really love it.
  • sweet pickle relish – don’t like pickle relish? leave it out or substitute with dill relish.
  • celery seed – this adds a light celery flavor, you could substitute with finely diced celery.
  • lemon juice – this brightens the overall flavor of the pasta salad as well as the tuna (you don’t taste it as a separate flavor).
  • frozen peas – pease are frozen at peak ripeness and work perfect here but you could use drained canned peas as well.
elbow macaroni noodles, canned tuna, hardboiled eggs, shallots, mayonnaise, sweet relish, salt, pepper, celery seed.


Cook macaroni according to directions on package. While pasta is cooking, drain cans of tuna well. Chop hard boiled eggs and shallot. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, relish, celery seed, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir well to combine.

drained canned tuna added to mayonnaise mixture in a large clear bowl.

Stir in tuna.

cooked macaroni, diced shallots, peas, chopped eggs added to tuna mixture.

Once macaroni is cooked, drain well and rinse with cold water until pasta has cooled. Pour drained macaroni into a large bowl. Pour mayonnaise mixture onto pasta.Then add chopped eggs and shallot, followed by thawed peas. Stir well.

Cover with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

The best Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe shown in a large white bowl with a white napkin in the background


Originally published: October 2018
Updated & republished: March 2020

Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe

Tuna Pasta Salad (+Video)

Tuna Pasta Salad (a.k.a. Tuna Macaroni Salad) is a classic favorite. This recipe that comes out perfect every single time! Just a couple secret ingredients that makes it so good!
4.98 from 311 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10


  • 16 ounce box elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sweet pickle relish
  • ½ Tablespoon celery seed (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 (5 ounce) cans tuna packed in water, drained well
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed


  • Cook 16 ounce box elbow macaroni according to directions on package.
  • In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sweet pickle relishrelish 1/2 Tablespoon celery seed 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice. Stir well to combine.
  • Stir in 3 (5 ounce) cans tuna packed in water, drained well.
  • Once macaroni is cooked, drain well and rinse with cold water until pasta has cooled. Pour drained macaroni into a large bowl.
  • Pour mayonnaise mixture onto pasta.
  • Then add 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped and 1 shallot, diced, followed by 1 cup frozen peas, thawed. Stir well.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Put bowl into the fridge for a couple of hours, then serve.



  • Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions. 
  • Letting the tuna pasta salad hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours really makes a difference. It helps the flavors to meld and just makes for a better tasting tuna macaroni salad. 
Course: Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American


Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 602mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Delicious salad. I have been making a similar version for years. I have not used peas before. Mine I usually put diced cucumber, and diced tomato. They both taste yummy in the salad, and look great.

  2. 5 stars
    I catch and can my own yellow fin tuna in olive oil, so I drained it and let it sit on paper towels to get most oil off. But simply amazing!!! Best simple recipe for this, thanks so much for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    Just made this. Fantabulous really. I made exactly as written but used chopped red onion rather than shallot.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this recipe with my zucchini relish and added celery and shredded carrots. It was delicious!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this pasta for out dinner today. My husband said “it is the best tuna salad I have never made”. I changed a litter bit for our taste. I replaced peas as celery, shallot as sweet onion, and fresh lime….. my husband said “please keep this recipe and this will favorite pasta salad for summer and pot luck”. Thanks for sharing

  6. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. I made it exactly as written but added 2TBS of sour cream as that is a personal preference and used shell macaroni as that is what I had on hand. We really enjoyed your recipe, thank you for sharing.

    1. 5 stars
      I replaced the celery seed and shallot with celery and red onion. Adjusted the proportions based on personal preference (wanted more peas). Also added a sprinkle of Splenda to the mayo sauce. Very good!

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe exactly as shown and for us the sweet pickle relish was a tad too much. I would do half of what was recommended next time. Otherwise a great recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! My only question is- the serving says 413kcal per serving but there isn’t a serving size anywhere! :0 is that per cup? Per oz? Please help!

  9. I always worry when I serve a new recipe to company, but this one was fabulous. I made it without the peas, because we have some non-pea eaters in the crowd. I did everything else exactly according to the recipe , and everyone came back for seconds (and more!).

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! I wanted to follow it exactly so my review would be 100% based on the original recipe, but it turns out I didn’t have sweet pickle relish. I did have Heinz hot dog relish which is very similar with the addition of a little mustard. I actually think that addition took this recipe to the next level, but would be five stars even with just regular sweet relish. Overall, very flavorful and delicious! I highly recommend giving it a try. Enjoy! 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    This is a great basic recipe that hits all the flavor palettes for a good tuna salad. It doesn’t have too much mayo and doesn’t need any extra (per my mayo loving hubby). I used frozen peas, carrots and corn and onion instead of shallots (that’s what I had on hand) and it was great. Can’t wait to try the shallots, that will make it even better! Thanks for sharing!

  12. 5 stars
    Good recipe. Of course, I use my own variations. I use dill pickle relish rather than sweet. I use petite frozen peas, and I do not thaw them. I use much less mayo than the recipe calls for.

  13. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe but needed some tweaking for my personal tastes….
    I added 4 stalks of chopped celery because it needed some crunch, otherwise it is just mushy with no texture. I added an extra egg and used only 3/4 of the macaroni. If it sits overnight I feel like it gets too dry and more mayo is needed. Loved the add of the sweet relish and celery seed – really brought this up a notch or ten!!!

  14. When Tuna Helper first came out years ago, they had a cold Tuna Helper that they no longer make, but your recipe looks like it could be very close. My family loved the cold Tuna Helper we had 2-3 times a month for lunch. I am going to give this a try.

  15. 5 stars
    With my area of Pennsylvania gearing up for some humidity here shortly, I wanted fuel for the machine that wouldn’t heat up my kitchen. (No AC)
    This was amazing, delicious and easy, and it makes a lot more than I thought. Reminds me of Friday Lenten lunchtime at my Nonnis. Thanks for sharing

  16. 5 stars
    Top notch! I always loved my MIL’s tuna salad but could never get it just right. Well let me tell you this is even better! . I did substitute maille brand dijon mustard for the lemon juice. I used about a tablespoon. Thanks for a great recipe!