30-Minute Tuna Macaroni Salad

Tuna Macaroni Salad
Tuna Macaroni Salad. Photo: Diana Rattray
  • Total: 28 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
461 Calories
37g Fat
13g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 461
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Sodium 466mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Protein 18g
Calcium 22mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

I remember first tasting this macaroni salad with tuna when we visited my Aunt Dorothy one summer. I was about 11 years old, but never forgot it! I've added a few more vegetables, like the red bell pepper and a little onion, but the flavor hasn't changed much at all.

For extra flavor, add a tablespoon or two of chopped dill pickles or sweet pickles along with the mayonnaise. Make it at least a few hours in advance for best flavor.

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a potluck gathering or party. If you are serving the salad at a cookout or taking it along on a picnic, be sure to store it safely at a temperature of 40° F or lower. See the tips and variations below the recipe for some flavor and safety tips.


  • 8 ounces cooked and drained macaroni
  • 12 ounces white tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Bring a large saucepan with about 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the macaroni in the boiling salted water for "al dente" -- about 6 to 9 minutes according to the package instructions. Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse it under cold running water. 

  2. In a large bowl combine the drained tuna and macaroni. Stir in 1 cup of mayonnaise, the lemon juice, green and red bell pepper, and onion. Stir in more mayonnaise, as needed.

  3. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

  4. Cover the macaroni salad and refrigerate it until serving time. 

Tips and Variations

  • A tablespoon or two of chopped dill pickles or capers may be added to the mayonnaise for extra flavor.

  • To dress it up a bit, serve the pasta salad on lettuce leaves or mixed salad greens with avocado wedges or sliced tomatoes.

  • Replace the tuna with cooked and cooled shrimp or crabmeat. 

  • Instead of green onion, use about 1/3 cup of chopped red onion or sweet onion.

  • Keep pasta salads refrigerated until serving time. If serving at a cookout or picnic, keep the salad on ice in the cooler (40° F or below) until you're ready to eat, and keep the cooler in the shade if at all possible. The salad should not sit out for longer than 2 hours -- 1 hour if the temperature is above 90° F.