Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas

$3.82 recipe / $0.64 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.73 from 11 votes
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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 plated on white plate, garnished with parsley

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Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas

4.73 from 11 votes
This creamy tuna pasta salad with peas is easy, delicious, and filling. It's great to eat cold on a hot summer day!
Servings 6
Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins


  • 12 oz bow tie pasta ($0.88)
  • 5 oz can chunk light tuna in water ($0.70)
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced ($0.25)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (yellow, purple, or green) ($0.25)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.05)
  • to taste fresh ground black pepper ($0.05)
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise ($1.00)
  • 2 cups frozen sweet peas ($0.64)


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

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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!


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 347.95kcalCarbohydrates: 51.92gProtein: 14.8gFat: 8.72gSodium: 591.1mgFiber: 3.75g
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Step By Step Photos

Tuna, peas and onions in clear mixing bowl
I 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.

Tuna, peas, onions, salt, pepper and mayo and lemon juice  mixed in clear mixing bowl
Next mix in your mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas finished and placed in clear bowl
Add the drained and cooled pasta and you’re ready to serve!

Close up of Tuna Pasta Salad with Peas

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  1. I’ve been making this exact casserole for decades. My son loves it. In the summers here in Florida it’s a nice cool meal when he gets off work. I have to make a huge batch when I make so he has a couple meals of it. He’s a bachelor but likes to get care packages from mom, especially food.

  2. I liked the recipe,but I told my daughter I had added celery because I needed some crunch. She mentioned that apples would also be good, so the next time I made it, I also added the apples but had to take it a step further and added Craisins. Of course after adding celery, apples and Craisins I had to double the mayo and the lemon juice but I love it with all my additions. Great thing about cooking, it’s not an exact science.

  3. Our family uses green onions, celery, solid white albacore in water (drained) and lemon juice for brightness, too. As well as powdered Ranch-flavored seasoning.

  4. Dinner plans fell through at the last minute, and I desperately needed a pantry meal. Gave this a try and LOVED it. We ate it basically at room temperature and have refrigerated the rest for proper pasta salad tomorrow. Absolutely delicious and just the thing for these kind of emergencies!

    By the way, I used that new chickpea pasta for this and was completely unable to tell the difference between that and regular pasta. For those who love pasta but are watching their carbs!

  5. This is the best simple version ever! The proportions of mayo and lemon in the recipe as stated are spot on! I’ve made variations on this a many times over the years and this one turned out so good I had to comment. There are a lot of tuna pasta recipes out there. I used only half the peas called for, and added some sliced celery for crunch. I used green onion and added a small handful of fresh chopped dill. It’s not as “budget” with fresh dill, but I had it on hand. Fresh parsley would be yummy, too. Really tasted gourmet. It would be great without the extras, for sure. Love you, Budget Byte$! =)

    1. Wait..i pinned this a few years ago. LOVED this recipe! Made it all the time. But it originally had thyme in the recipe. Its no longer listed in the ingredients? Please let me know how much to add from the original post!

    2. What happened to the thyme that used to be listed in this recipe?
      It was so good. Im trying to make it but cant remember how much

      1. I haven’t changed this recipe. I think you might be referring to a different recipe that is no longer on the website, called Tuna Noodle Casserole with Olives & Spinach. That one did have thyme in it. If you’d like that recipe, just email us at support@budgetbytes.com and we can send you a pdf copy. :)

  6. My family has problems with raw onions, but love this salad with dried dill weed for an extra flavor. If I have sour cream I substitute an equal quantity for half of the mayonnaise. 

  7. I loved this! I made it with Banza chickpea rotini. Can’t even tell it’s not regular pasta.

  8. Shredded Parmesan cheese or other Italian cheese blend goes well over it when it is served.  Adds a certain saltiness. That’s yummy!

  9. I’ve always put ketchup and mustard in my tuna macaroni. Sounds weird but it lends a sweet and delicious flavor!

  10. It can be zazzed up nicely with a handful of chopped up olives (with pimento inserts).

  11. It’s super hot in Australia right now and this was the perfect easy dinner to put together without slaving away over the stove, and it’s also so nice to have a nice cool meal on a night like this. Simple ingredients, easy to make, will be good for lunch at work later in the week.