Creamy Tuna Macaroni Salad

Creamy Tuna Macaroni Salad is quick, convenient, and a perfect “pantry meal” that you can take on the road or enjoy anytime!

I am a sucker for a good pasta salad. At summertime cookouts I’m the girl hoarding the bowl of creamy noodle goodness while everyone else is eyeballing the grill. You can have your meat, just give me my macaroni!!! Can anyone else out there relate? 

My obsession with this simple bbq staple inspired today’s delicious recipe: Creamy Tuna Macaroni Salad. Zesty, light, and full of flavor, this twist on a simple dish will definitely be a lunch repeat for the next few weeks.

This recipe is an absolute pinch to make. Pro Tip: To save time, we pre-chop my jalapeños and red peppers and pop them back in their jars until ready to use. Then, they can be quickly tossed into any recipe and makes for less work down the road! 

Ok, let’s get started. First slice and dice all your vegetables. We recently found the sweet and spicy jalapeños you see below at Trader Joe’s and man, are they GOOD! If you aren’t in to spice or don’t have a TJ’s by you, you can swap out for pickles or peperoncinis. 

Next, prepare your dressing. Add your mayo (vegan, lite, fully loaded, or Greek yog) to a mixing bowl. Aren’t mayo blobs just SO appetizing!?  

Next, add rice wine vinegar, a few splashes of water, and a touch of sweetness. Whisk until smooth.

It doesn’t look so bad now that it’s mixed together, right?

Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder and whisk again to mix. 

Your dressing should be of medium consistency and light enough to be easily tossed with your salad mixings. 

Now, onto your pasta. Heat a pot of water to a rolling boil and toss in a sprinkle of salt.

Add your pasta and cook until tender. We opted for regular pasta *gasp* but you can certainly swap out for whole grain pasta to increase fiber, nutrients, and satiety. Hey, dietitians like regular pasta too! And, that is totally OK.

Once cooked, drain pasta and run under cool water for 30 seconds to stop the cooking process. This will help keep the pasta from getting mushy once the dressing is added.  

Drain your pasta again and add to a large mixing bowl.

And add your dressing.

And mix to combine. 

Next, add in your colorful veggies:

And toss again.

Last but not least, it’s time to add your tuna! #NotSponsored but we love Wild Planet products (we grab ours from Costco)


Using a fork, flake the tuna into bite size pieces and add to your salad.

And toss one more time. We bet you’re getting good at this tossing thing!  😉 

It is finally time to eat! Serve it up and eat:


6 oz. dry elbow macaroni pasta (approx. 1 1/2 cups uncooked)

1-5 oz. can tuna, drained and flaked

8-10 black olives, diced

1/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and diced

1/3 cup hot & sweet jalapeños, diced (found at Trader Joe’s) – can sub with hot and sweet pickles or peperoncinis if you don’t do spice

2-3 medium celery stalks, sliced


1/2 cup light mayonnaise (can sub for regular, vegan mayo, or Greek yogurt)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp water

1-2 tsp table sugar or preferred sweetener of choice 

1/8 tsp onion powder

Pinch of salt 

Ground pepper, to taste


Slice olives, peppers, jalapeños, and celery, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Dressing should be relatively thin, so it can easily coat pasta. Adjust seasonings per preference. 

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook macaroni until tender. Pour pasta into a colander and rinse with cold water to cool pasta and stop pasta from overcooking (aka getting mushy). Drain pasta and add to a large mixing bowl. Add dressing and toss well. Add vegetables and toss again. Finally, flake tuna and add to pasta, mixing until all ingredients are well incorporated. Serve immediately or save for quick weekday meals. Note: Once chilled, dressing will be mostly absorbed by pasta. You may want to make additional dressing and toss again before eating. 

Nutrition Facts (makes 3 servings)

Calories – 447   Fat – 17g  Carbohydrates – 50g  Protein – 22g  Fiber – 1g

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