This healthy tuna pasta salad recipe is a must have side at any BBQ or picnic. We have lightened it up with an easy dressing swap and some added vegetables for crunch and nutrients. It is filling, light and fresh and it's perfect for making ahead of time. Pasta in a creamy dressing, with protein packed tuna and some vibrant veg is a delicious summer light lunch.
This cold tuna pasta salad couldn't be easier to make. Just cook and drain the pasta and sweetcorn and then mix everything together. It is ready in under 15 minutes and easy to adapt with your favourite vegetables. We always make a big batch for a BBQ and keep some leftovers for easy lunches for the next couple of days.
Why you will love it
- Protein packed - If you are bored of chicken salads, then this makes a nice change. Tuna is also a great source of protein and has many other health benefits too.
- Easy - This recipe couldn't be easier. Once the pasta is cooked with the sweetcorn (all in one pan for ease), you just drain it and mix everything together. It is ready in under 15 minutes with minimal effort.
- Adaptable - Use this recipe as a base and then adapt it with your favourite vegetables. We have even given options below to add cheese if you want to make it a little more indulgent.
- Stores well - This is great for making in advance and then keeping in the fridge to eat for lunches over the next couple of days. Or you could make it the day before to save time before a BBQ.
- Pasta - This is the bulk of the dish. You can use any pasta you like, or even a mixture of a few if you have lots of little bits in your cupboard. You can use wholewheat pasta for added fibre.
- Tuna - We use tuna in spring water, as that is our personal preference. However, you can use tuna in oil instead.
- Mayo - This is the base of the sauce for the pasta salad and makes it deliciously creamy. You can use full fat or light.
- Greek yoghurt - Instead of just using mayo, we added some fat free Greek yoghurt to make up the other half of the creamy sauce. You could use all mayo, or all Greek yogurt if you prefer.
- Cucumber - An easy way to add some crunch and lighten up the whole dish. We used an English cucumber.
- Tomato - An easy way to add a pop of colour. We used cherry tomatoes, however you could dice up a larger tomato. Add some extra tomato flavour with some diced sun-dried tomatoes too.
- Sweetcorn - An easy way to give these a little veggie boost. You really could add any quick cooking vegetables to these, like peas.
- Celery - This adds lots of delicious crunch to the tuna pasta salad, and a slightly salty flavour too.
- Dill - One of our favourite herbs for a salad. So much flavour, and it really lightens up the salad. You could swap it for chives, basil, parsley or coriander.
- Apple cider vinegar - This helps to lighten up the dressing, and balances out the creaminess of the mayo and yogurt.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Put the pasta and sweetcorn in to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 12 minutes.
Two: Drain the pasta and sweetcorn and add the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Serve.
Health benefits of tuna
Tuna is a great source of protein and is a store cupboard staple for us. Tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and it may help to reduce the level of omega-6 fatty acids and LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that eating more omega-3 is linked with reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks.
Tuna is also a good source of B vitamins, like niacin which is good for the skin and nervous system. Tuna also contains calcium, which good for healthy bones and vitamin D, which is good for the immune system and brain function.
This is such an easy dish to make, and also an easy dish to adapt. Once you have the basic recipe of the tuna, pasta and dressing, then there are so many different vegetables that you can add in.
We stuck to salad vegetables like cucumber, tomato and sweetcorn, but you could give it a burst of colour with some peas (use frozen at the same time as the sweetcorn) or even some red onion or mixed bell peppers. Give this tuna pasta salad a green veggie boost with some chopped up spinach mixed in at the end. We also like olives and capers for lots of flavour.
It's not just the different vegetables that help mix this up, but you could add cheese to make it a little more indulgent. Whether that is finely grated mature cheddar (mature has a stronger flavour, so you can use less) or some chunks of feta or stilton.
If tuna isn't your thing, then why not try our Salmon Pasta Salad? If you want to add some extra protein, then mix some chickpeas or butterbeans in to it. These will add to the creaminess too.
What to serve it with
We love this as a BBQ side dish, and we have shared some of our favourite BBQ recipes below. However, if this is the main dish and you are looking for some veggie based sides to serve it with, then we have some delicious options.
Add some crunch on the side with Roasted Butternut Squash, Air Fryer Carrots, or Roasted Lemon Asparagus. If you are looking for more of a salad side, then try our Little Gem Salad, Spanish Olives or Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
This a really nutritious lunch or side dish at a BBQ or picnic. Not only is tuna a great source of protein, but we have lightened up the dish by using Greek yogurt in replace of some of the mayo and there are lots of vegetables you can add to give it a nutrient boost.
You can store any leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. It is best eaten fresh though.
If you use gluten free pasta, then this is a delicious gluten free meal. Just make sure all the other ingredients are gluten free and there is no cross contamination.
If you are making this for a BBQ or picnic, or even to take to work for lunch, then this can definitely be made in advance. It is best eaten after a few hours being kept in the fridge, but it would keep for 2 days. Try to only add the dressing just before serving. If you do make it in advance with everything mixed together, maybe add an extra spoonful of yogurt just before serving to loosen it all up a little.
You can easily double this recipe and it doesn't change the cooking time.
More pasta salad recipes
Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad
- 200 g (3.33 cups) Pasta shapes - (we used conchiglie)
- 3 tablespoon Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 0.25 Cucumber - diced
- 10 Cherry tomatoes - quartered
- 75 g (0.5 cups) Frozen sweetcorn
- 220 g (7 oz) Tuna - canned; drained
- 2 Celery - diced
- 2 tablespoon (2 tablespoon) Fresh dill - chopped
- 2 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
- Put the pasta and sweetcorn in to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 12 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and sweetcorn and add the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Serve.
- If you don't love creamy dressings, you could use a honey and mustard vinaigrette instead.
- Avoid using long pastas like spaghetti for this.
- Fresh herbs add lots of extra flavour to this. Chives also work well.
- Make sure you rinse the pasta well before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. Firstly, it cools down the pasta quickly, and it also removes excess starch from the pasta which stops it all sticking together. Make sure it is drained well too, as you don't want a watery dressing.
- Add some diced avocado for extra creaminess.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.