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Tuna Pasta Salad

This Tuna Pasta Salad pulls together pasta, tuna and delicious summer vegetables with a creamy dressing. This salad is great for school or work lunches for a filling non sandwich lunch idea. It’s even great as a quick and simple weeknight meal. My pasta salad recipe is packed with flavour and deliciously seasoned with a creamy lemon mustard dressing.

If you are a fan of pasta salads then you need to try this recipe. This tuna salad is really quick and simple! It only takes around 15 minutes to prepare. As you’re cooking the pasta you can quickly whip up the dressing and prep the vegetables. And because of this it makes it the perfect tuna pasta salad recipe to prepare for school or work lunches or even for dinner on busy weeknights.

You can even make this tuna pasta salad ahead of time. It’s great for summer parties when you are asked to bring a plate. I do recommend adding the avocado and dressing as you are serving to avoid browned avocados.

I love how substantial this tuna pasta salad recipe is. It’s filling without being heavy so it’s a great option for school lunches instead of a sandwich. This salad has lots of avocado, cherry tomatoes and fresh corn from the cob that add sweetness and great texture along with (of course!) the tuna and pasta. And you can easily double the recipe if cooking for a crowd.

The dressing is delicious. Slightly zingy and spicy from the lemon and the mustard but not so overwhelming that young children will not be able to enjoy. I also think it is just the perfect amount for the salad – it’s balanced to give great flavour and creaminess through the tuna pasta salad without being overly dominant and being too creamy. 

Ingredients and Substitutions 

This salad is made from simple ingredients that are easily found in your local supermarket. The quantities are listed in the recipe card below. 

Salad Ingredients

  • Dried pasta shells (conchiglie) – I like using shell pasta for my pasta salad, but you can substitute with other small pasta if you do not have shells on hand. Macaroni, fusilli (spiral pasta), piccolo or orecchiette would all work well in this pasta salad recipe.
  • Canned tuna – I use a sustainable canned tuna in spring water which I drain. You could also use canned tuna in oil as well, and you would also need to drain the oil before using. Tuna is a great source of fatty acids, potassium and is rich in several vitamins including vitamin B12. OK so technically this is pretty main ingredient given it’s a Tuna Pasta Salad – however if your kids would firmly eschew tuna you could leave out as it would be a tasty pasta salad without it. You could substitute for more vegetables
  • Avocado – adds a delicious creaminess to the salad. Avocados are a good source of healthy fats, potassium, folate and fibre.
  • Corn – I like fresh corn on the cob that I boil with the pasta in the last two-three minutes of cooking. I will then remove, rinse under cold water and cut with a knife. You could use canned or frozen corn if these are what you have on hand. You could also use peas instead of corn. Corn is rich in vitamin C.
  • Cherry tomatoes – You could use any tomatoes if you do not have cherry tomatoes – I just find cherry tomatoes are sweeter. Cherry tomatoes are rich in lycopene and many vitamins.
  • Spring onions – you can omit if your children do not enjoy spring onion or use red onions. Spring onions are a great source of fibre. 

Dressing and Garnish Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise – this tuna pasta salad uses mayonnaise as I like a creamy dressing. You can use an egg free mayonnaise if you have dietary requirements. 
  • Sour Cream – makes the dressing deliciously creamy and balances out the mayonnaise flavour. You could use Greek Yogurt, cottage cheese, Crème Fraîche or buttermilk.
  • Wholegrain Mustard – adds a slightly sweet and spicy flavour to the dressing. You can substitute with dijon mustard.
  • Lemon Juice and Zest – makes the dressing zingy and zesty and pairs really well with the tuna and the sweetness of the salad. 
  • Parsley – adds more flavour to the dressing. I also garnish the salad with chopped parsley leaves too. 
  • Salt and Pepper – seasons the salad and brings out the flavours of the ingredients.

How to make Tuna Pasta Salad 

Prepare pasta according to package instructions. My shells cooked in around 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the avocado and finely slice the spring onion and add into a salad bowl. Drain and flake the tuna and add into the bowl.

Next make the dressing for the pasta salad, in a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and zest, parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop some extra parsley and set aside to sprinkle over the salad. 

Remove the husks from the corn and rinse clean. Then when the pasta has two-three minutes cook time remaining, add the corn cob to the boiling pasta and cook for around two minutes. When the pasta and corn have finished cooking remove from the heat, drain the water and cool under running cold water for a minute or two before thoroughly draining again.

Now the corn should be cool enough to cut the kernels off with a sharp knife. When you have done this, add all the pasta and corn with the other ingredients.

Then, gently toss the salad to mix the ingredients. Finally, stir through the prepared creamy dressing. If you are making this recipe ahead of time it is a good idea to leave out the avocado and dressing until the last minute. 

How long will Tuna Pasta Salad keep in the fridge? 

This creamy tuna pasta salad will last in the fridge for around three days when kept in an airtight container. The avocado will discolour though so I would recommend adding the avocado when you want to serve the salad. I also recommend dressing the salad when you are serving too to maximise the flavour. 

Hungry for more? 

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Image of Tuna Pasta Salad mixed in a ceramic bowl

Tuna Pasta Salad

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  • Author: Bernadette - Goodie Goodie Lunchbox
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 bowls 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Western


This Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is a fantastic option for school or work lunches. It is filling and full of flavour. It is also so quick and simple to prepare coming together in 15 minutes.


  • 250g pasta shells (or other small pasta of choice)
  • 100g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 avocado (200g) diced
  • 1 1/2 spring onions finely sliced
  • 185g can tuna in spring water, drained and flaked
  • 1 corn cob (150g)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing 

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and some freshly cracked pepper


  1. In a medium sized pot prepare your pasta using the packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile chop the tomatoes, avocados and spring onions and add into a salad bowl along with the tuna that has been drained and flaked.
  3. Next make the dressing, in a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon and parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  4. When the pasta has around three minutes cooking time remaining add in a husked and cleaned corn cob and cook together for the final minutes.
  5. When the pasta and corn have cooked, drain immediately then rinse under cold water and drain again.
  6. With a sharp knife cut the kernels from the corn and add into the salad bowl along with the cooked pasta.
  7. Toss the ingredients to combine then gently stir through the dressing. When evenly combined, sprinkle the salad with parsley (optional) and then season to taste.

I hope you love this salad. Remember if you make my recipes and love them please rate them and be sure to connect with me over on Instagram or Facebook

Bernadette x


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