Tuna Pasta Salad – An Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna

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Tuna Pasta Salad is an old fashioned macaroni salad that features frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. Its simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table.

It’s summertime which means it’s salad time at our house. It’s the perfect season for pasta salads, bean salads, chicken salads, bologna salads—pretty much any type of salad you can think of.

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna Recipe

This Macaroni Salad as it’s called in the Eastern Airlines Cook Book is unique since it has tuna, peas and cubes of cheddar cheese.

I made it for a family vacation, and we ate on it for several days.  If you are planning to make it ahead, I recommend putting an extra layer of mayonnaise right on top of it. That way, all you have to do is give it a good stir before serving. This will keep it from getting dry.

Tuna Pasta Salad is an Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna that has frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. It's simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table. 

Hellman’s Tuna Macaroni Salad

The original recipe clearly specifies to use Hellman’s Mayonnaise, and I have to agree with her. But, if you can’t find Hellman’s or you have another favorite brand, go ahead and use it.  It will still be tasty.

One minor change that I made to the original seashell salad is to use frozen peas instead of canned peas.  Either can be used, just be sure to drain the canned first. I also let my frozen bag of peas thaw for a little bit before stirring into the Hellman’s Tuna Macaroni Salad.

What goes in tuna pasta salad?

Ingredient List for Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna

Seashell Pasta or Macaroni

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

Tuna, drained and chunked

Frozen Peas

Onion, optional

Green Pepper, optional

Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed

Salt

Ground Black Pepper

How to Make Pasta Salad with Tuna:

For the full ingredient amounts and recipe instructions for pasta salad with tuna, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Cook seashell (or macaroni) pasta according to package instructions; drain and let cool.
  2. Gently mix cooked pasta with mayonnaise, drained tuna, peas, onion (optional), green pepper (optional), cheddar cheese cubes.
  3. Taste and season with salt and ground black pepper.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Tastes best after letting the tuna pasta salad flavors meld together in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Notes About An Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna:

  • Seashell pasta is also called small shells.  Macaroni pasta works too!
  • The original old fashioned macaroni salad recipe calls for canned peas that are drained. Feel free to use this type instead of frozen peas, if desired.
  • I prefer Albacore tuna in this tuna macaroni salad, but chunk light tuna (in water or oil) works too.
  • Substitute mild cheddar cheese or any other cubed cheeses that you prefer.
  • Did you know that the grocery store sells cheddar cheese in cubes?  To save time, go ahead and buy these instead of cutting your own cheese.
  • Onions and green pepper are optional in this tuna macaroni salad.
  • Making this ahead? I always think pasta salad needs more moisture if it sits in the refrigerator over night. To prevent a dry pasta salad, add more mayonnaise.
  • Check out our Amazon Store for our favorite pantry essentials (like tuna) and kitchen gadgets.

Ways to Use Canned Tuna

Mom’s Tuna Casserole

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

Tuna Mac and Cheese

Tuna Macaroni and Cheese is a quick, stove top dinner that can be made from pantry staples.  The extra cheesy tuna mac goodness will satisfy everyone in your house.

Open Faced Tuna Melt

Open Faced Tuna Melts are a classic tuna melt recipe that's quick to make and extremely easy on the wallet. And, kids and adults love them!

Tuna Melt Turnovers

Tuna Melt Turnovers are a new spin on the classic tuna melt. Canned biscuit dough is filled with a mixture of tuna, mayonnaise, celery and cheese--all the ingredients of that tried and true tuna melt recipe. The result is an easy, portable meal on the go.

Tuna Barbecue

Tuna Pasta Salad - An Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna

Tuna Pasta Salad is an Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna that has frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. It's simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: old fashioned macaroni salad with tuna, pasta salad with tuna, seashell pasta salad, tuna pasta salad
Servings: 32 servings
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces seashell pasta (small shells) or elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups Hellman's mayonnaise
  • 12 ounces albacore tuna, drained and chunked
  • 1 - 2 cups frozen peas, slightly thawed
  • 1 small onion, minced (optional)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain and cool.
    Tuna Pasta Salad is an Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna that has frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. It's simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table. 
  • Gently stir in mayonnaise, drained tuna, peas, onion, green pepper, and cheese cubes with the macaroni.
    Tuna Pasta Salad is an Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna that has frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. It's simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table. 
  • Taste, and season with salt and black pepper.
    Tuna Pasta Salad is an Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Tuna that has frozen peas, albacore tuna and cheddar cheese cubes. It's simplicity can be deceiving since it packs a punch of flavor that is perfect for your summer dinner table. 

Notes

  • Seashell pasta is also called small shells.  Macaroni pasta works too!
  • The original old fashioned macaroni salad recipe calls for canned peas that are drained. Feel free to use this type instead of frozen peas, if desired.
  • I prefer Albacore tuna in this tuna macaroni salad, but chunk light tuna (in water or oil) works too.
  • Substitute mild cheddar cheese or any other cubed cheeses that you prefer.
  • Did you know that the grocery store sells cheddar cheese in cubes?  To save time, go ahead and buy these instead of cutting your own cheese.
  • Onions and green pepper are optional in this tuna macaroni salad.
  • Making this ahead? I always think pasta salad needs more moisture if it sits in the refrigerator over night. To prevent a dry pasta salad, add more mayonnaise.
  • Love peas? Try our Old Fashioned Pea Salad recipe. 

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