Tuna noodle salad is a quick and easy dish that you can serve either as part of your barbeque spread, or simply with a crusty bread roll for a light meal on its own. Serve with slices of lemon for extra zing and freshness.
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Easy tuna noodle salad
I’ve been making this tuna noodle salad (or variations of it) for years. This a no-fail recipe that requires hardly any cooking. If you can boil a pan of pasta you can make this salad!
I’ve used cans of tuna (in brine – not oil) to add to the salad, along with frozen peas for sweetness and a finely chopped red pepper for colour and crunch.
The dressing is made by mixing mayonnaise with tomato ketchup and a few drops of tabasco sauce. And I’ve garnished the salad with slices of lemon so that each person can squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the salad just before eating. Fish and lemon go so well together, and the lemon juice really brightens up the flavour of this salad.
This salad is best served cold from the fridge, or you can serve it at room temperature, which makes it ideal for taking on a picnic or serving at your next alfresco cookout or barbeque. It goes really well with grilled sausages or chicken.
Tuna noodle salad is also perfect for packing into your lunch box alongside a crusty bread roll, or simply enjoy a bowl of this salad as a quick and easy lunch.
What you will need
This salad will serve at least 6 people as a side dish.
Pasta – I’ve used orzo pasta (sometimes known as rice noodles) but you can use any small shapes such as shells or elbow macaroni.
Tuna in brine – don’t use tuna in oil as it will make the salad oily. I used 2 small cans each weighing 160 grams/5.6 oz (or 112 grams/4 oz drained weight). You should drain the tuna before adding it to the salad, so in total, I used 224 grams/8oz of drained tuna. The tuna I used was ready-flaked so if your tuna comes in solid pieces you should flake it before using it.
Red pepper – this should be deseeded and the membranes removed before being chopped into a fine dice. You can substitute the red pepper with yellow, orange or even green peppers according to your own taste.
Frozen peas – I find that petit pois are much sweeter than normal frozen peas, so that’s what I use.
Salt – used for cooking the pasta, and also for seasoning the salad if you feel it necessary.
Mayonnaise – use your favourite store-bought mayonnaise, or make your own from this post on how to make mayonnaise.
Tomato ketchup – this is mixed with the mayonnaise along with tabasco to make a quick and easy Marie rose dressing.
Tabasco sauce – you will only need a few drops as it is quite spicy. Add to your own taste.
Lemons – (not pictured) – for garnish.
What to do
This won’t take long – all you have to do is cook the pasta and then mix it with the remaining ingredients and you can have this salad prepared in 20 minutes.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Boil for 7 minutes (or the length of time indicated on the packed).
Drain through a sieve and then rinse the pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking process.
Transfer the drained cooled pasta to a serving dish.
Drain the tuna and chop the red pepper finely.
Add the tuna, red pepper and peas to the pasta.
Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
Add the mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and tabasco.
Mix the dressing through the salad until the pasta is well coated.
Garnish with lemon slices.
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Tips and FAQ
If you don’t cool the pasta by rinsing it under cold water, the residual heat will continue to cook the pasta and it may turn stodgy and it will clump together. You want every grain of pasta to be firm and separated.
The red pepper should be chopped to approximately the same size as the grains of pasta. This way, all the ingredients will be the same size and will combine nicely in the salad.
I wouldn’t freeze this salad as it will turn watery when defrosted.
Yes, you can make this salad up to three days in advance and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. The flavours actually improve on standing.
Leftovers can similarly be stored for up to 3 days.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, not everyone enjoys the flavour of lemon on their food. Secondly, adding the lemon to the dressing would make the dressing too thin. Squeezing a few drops onto the salad just before eating ensures the consistency remains correct.
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If you enjoyed this recipe, perhaps you’d like to try some of my other salad recipes.
- Copper penny salad
- Curried green beans
- Tomato and onion pasta salad
- Spicy beetroot salad
- Creamy coleslaw with buttermilk dressing
Tuna noodle salad – with lemon
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1 cup / 200 grams orzo pasta (rice noodles) or other small shapes
- 8 ounces / 224 grams canned tuna in brine (drained weight)
- 1 large red pepper finely diced
- 1 cup frozen peal preferably petit pois
- ⅔ cup / 160 ml mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup / 80 ml tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or to taste
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Boil for 7 minutes (or the length of time indicted on the packed).Drain through a sieve and then rinse the pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking process.Transfer the drained cooled pasta to a serving dish.1 cup / 200 grams orzo pasta (rice noodles), 1 teaspoon salt
- Drain the tuna and chop the red pepper finely.Add the tuna, red pepper and peas to the pasta.8 ounces / 224 grams canned tuna in brine (drained weight), 1 large red pepper, 1 cup frozen peal
- Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
- Add the mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and tabasco⅔ cup / 160 ml mayonnaise, ⅓ cup / 80 ml tomato ketchup, 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- Mix the dressing through the salad until the pasta is well coated.
- Garnish with lemon slices.1 lemon
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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