tuna pasta salad with peas

$3.82 recipe / $0.64 serving

The weather has been getting warmer and the days have been absolutely gorgeous. We’ve been doing a lot of grilling and cooking out lately which puts me in the mood for cold pasta salads and other potluck classics. I’m sure this recipe has been around for a gazillion years and rightly so. It’s delicious, well rounded (starch, protein, veggies) and it fits Budget Bytes principle #2 (using less expensive filler ingredients to reduce cost per serving). Tuna was at one time inexpensive but I wouldn’t exactly consider it so these days ($0.70 for a 5 oz. can). So, by adding pasta and peas to what would be an otherwise fairly expensive and small tuna salad, the volume has increased and cost per serving has decreased.

The sweet peas perfectly balance the pungent onions in this salad and both veggies offer great texture variation in each bite. For the dressing, I used light mayo (because this isn’t 1950) and lemon juice for brightness. It’s simple, it’s delicious, it’s a classic. If you make a variation of this salad at home, I’d love to hear your version!

Tuna Pasta with Peas

Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas

5.0 from 3 reviews
tuna pasta salad with peas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $3.82
Cost Per Serving: $0.64
Serves: 6
  • 12 oz. bow tie pasta $0.88
  • 5 oz. can chunk light tuna in water $0.70
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced $0.25
  • ½ cup diced onion (yellow, purple or green) $0.25
  • ½ tsp. salt $0.05
  • to taste fresh ground black pepper $0.05
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise $1.00
  • 2 cups frozen sweet peas $0.64
  1. Take two cups of peas out of the freezer and let thaw on the counter. Cook the bow tie pasta according to the package directions (boil 5-7 minutes). Drain in a colander and let cool.
  2. As the pasta is draining and cooling, combine the rest of the ingredients (peas, tuna, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onions, salt and pepper). Adjust the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. If your pasta is still hot when you are finished combining the rest of the ingredients, run cold water over it until it has cooled down. Make sure to drain the pasta well before combining it with the rest of the ingredients. Stir the pasta into the pea/mayo mixture until it is well coated. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve!
If you want your tuna to stay in chunks, add it last (after the pasta). The more the tuna is stirred, the more it will break up. I found out the hard way by adding it in the beginning.

You can put frozen peas directly into the salad without thawing them first as long as you do not plan on serving the salad right away. This salad gets even better as it sits in the refrigerator!

Step By Step Photos

salad ingredientsI combined my tuna, peas and onions first. This is a great way to use up left over onions from other recipes. I had both purple and green.

salad dressingNext mix in your mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Tuna Pasta Salad with PeasAdd the drained and cooled pasta and you’re ready to serve!

Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas


  1. Brooke says:

    This is shocking I know, but I made this *exactly as instructed here* and it was delicious. No additions, no substitutions — doesn’t need it for me! This is great.

  2. Darrell says:

    Just discovered your site here and love it!

  3. Lisann says:

    I made this just now and it’d yummy! Added a bit of chopped cilantro before serving..
    Love your blog!

  4. yummy! I will make this and I’m so thrilled I found this website!! I’m on a tight budget yet I’m health conscious, so thank you! :)

  5. Sarah says:

    I made a version of this when I was in college. Great minds! It is easy, fast and delicious. I like adding shredded cheddar and crushed ritz crackers.

  6. Joanna says:

    Made this for dinner and munching on it right now! Great recipe, I love the freshness the lemon gives the dish. Definitely a keeper!

  7. Amber says:

    Yummo! I added radish, dill, celery, and red bell pepper. Think I might do cheddar and bacon next time. Thank you so much I love your recipes!!!

  8. Maybe try a vegan mayonnaise, they don’t contain any eggs.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What to sub for mayo? I allergic

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just made this, added a little dill, and wowee it was GREAT! Can’t wait to dive into the leftovers.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I made this, only I doubled the tuna portion (I love tuna). It is DEEEELICIOUS…Thanks.

  12. Melanie ;-) says:

    Hello, delicious lunch on day 5#

    Threw it together the night before and packed it for mine and the hubby’s lunch today. He sent me a text to ask if there was any leftover, which i take as a thumbs up ;-)

    I took your advice and waited to add the tuna till the end, it stayed in nice defined chunks. I also couldn’t get over how non-vegetal this tasted but it had a ton of peas in it, which was very nice, since I wanted the tuna to be the star, but packing veggies in is important. Only change was the grocery stores fault, I had to get tuna in oil, but frankly, i am not complaining, i am oldschool and like it that way lol.

    Chicken chili verde for dinner and i can’t wait!

  13. This is a great salad- made it today and added celery and cilantro – amazing! Added a bit of a extra crunch and spice to it. I had forgotten to put the mayo in it , and still liked it but even better with mayo! Thank you!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I grew up on tuna pasta salad (broke divorcee father LOVED making it).. we used cream of mushroom soup instead of mayo. Not sure which is more nutritionally sound, but either works just as well. I also though instead of the mayo, a balsamic vinaigrette (creole mustard, olive oil, and balsamic) would be great… much healthier than mayo (less additives as well) without losing the creaminess.

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  16. Thanks for sharing with us this awesome recipe. Not only did I get to save money, but it is also very delicious which my kids really loved! It went really well with an iced cold coffee shake I made using one of my espresso makers at home. Kudos to you!

  17. Yum! I fiddled with the proportions a bit, and used a mix of pasta I had lying around (regular curly egg noodle, penne, and rotini). And added some diced apple (fuji and gala). I tend to like eggs in my tuna salad, but I don’t think this recipe needs any. The sweet peas work wonderfully. Sadly I didn’t have any onion to throw in, and I do miss them, but they have plenty of kick without. Thanks so much!

  18. Wow, Aaron, that is a whole new salad and it sounds awesome! Thanks for the suggestions!

  19. Aaron says:

    I tried this for the first time since I had an abundance of tuna and it was better than I thought it was going to be. I used a pea/carrot mix, added fresh cilantro and some chopped up capers since it pairs so well with tuna. I also added a little bit of chili oil to the mayo to spice it up and did a half mayo/yogurt mix to make it a bit healthier. I will definitely be making this again.

  20. I like this recipe, but I normally like to make an alfredo sauce instead of the mayo.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I love this receipe but I always add chedder cheese and maybe a little ranch dressing.

  22. Leah says:

    After reading this post I realized how long it had been since I last had tuna noodle salad, and decided to make it. I added green peppers, and substituted lime juice for the lemon juice- it added an amazing kick. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Emi!y says:

    This is my favorite way to make a pasta/tuna salad. The red onions are key. Sometimes I add fresh tarragon or dill, and sometimes sub out the lemon juice with a bit of balsamic.

  24. Abby says:

    This look soo good! I can’t wait to make it!

  25. This pasta salad looks perfect!! I’m bookmarking this recipe. Great photos!

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