Looking for a delicious and easy-to-make dish that’s perfect for any occasion? Try this tuna macaroni salad recipe that adds a flavorful twist to the classic salad.
With just a few simple ingredients, you will have a tasty and refreshing dish that your family and guests will gobble right up.
WHY WE LOVE THIS MACARONI SALAD WITH TUNA
- It only takes a few minutes of prep, and since you don’t have to defrost any meat, it’s a perfect last minute dinner recipe.
- After a hot day, it’s so refreshing either as a main dish or a side dish.
- With tender pasta, crisp vegetables, chunks of tuna, and a creamy dressing, it is packed with texture and flavor.
- Just a bit of ranch dressing mix makes it the most delicious tuna mac salad ever!
- It’s easily customizable – you can add or swap out any ingredients that your family loves, or that you happen to have on hand.
Frequently asked questions:
Yes, macaroni tuna salad is a perfect make ahead dish. You can make it several hours ahead of time and chill it until ready to serve. It can even be made a day ahead of time. Some people prefer it that way!
Just keep in mind that the pasta will absorb the sauce, so you may need to stir in some additional mayonnaise or milk if it seems dry.
Or if you prefer, you can simply prep everything, store it in separate containers in the fridge, then just stir everything together when you are ready to serve it.
Absolutely! If you like the sweet tang of Miracle Whip, it totally works in this macaroni tuna salad. As a bonus, it’s less than half the calories of mayo. Sometimes I use half mayonnaise and half Miracle Whip, and that’s tasty as well.
Leftover macaroni salad will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Stir before serving in case any of the sauce has pooled at the bottom of the bowl.
The pasta absorbs the sauce as it sits, so if your salad is dry, you may need to add additional mayonnaise or milk before serving.
Salads made with mayonnaise or dairy shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours, especially on a warm day.
When making pasta for cold dishes like macaroni salad, rinsing with cold water is helpful for two reasons.
First, the cold water cools down the pasta. This stops it from cooking, and makes it ready for your salad sooner.
Second, it removes some of the excess starch on the outside of the noodles. That starch can bind together, and you will end up with a clump of pasta. Rinsing prevents that.
HOW TO MAKE TUNA MACARONI SALAD
- COOK PASTA – Boil your pasta in salted water according to package directions until it is al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water; place in a large bowl.
- CHOP VEGETABLES – Dice the celery and pickle; slice the green onions.
- MAKE SAUCE – In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, and dry dill.
- COMBINE – Add the vegetables and tuna to the pasta. Pour the dressing over the top and stir until everything is well coated.
- CHILL – Cover the salad and let it chill for at least 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together. When you’re ready to serve, just give it a quick stir.
- Make sure you salt the water when you cook the pasta. It makes a big difference in the taste!
- Cook macaroni just till it is “al dente”, or barely tender. It will soak up some of the dressing, so if you overcook it, you end up with mushy pasta.
- This salad is easily doubled or tripled if you need to feed a crowd.
- Be creative! You can substitute or add any ingredients to this salad that your family likes. It’s so versatile.
- Instead of using dill pickles, you can use diced sweet pickles, or relish.
- To make the salad more filling, you can use two cans of tuna fish.
- Hard boiled eggs are a tasty addition. You can either chop and add them to the salad, or slice them and use them as a garnish on top.
- Stir in some diced cheese. Cheddar or colby jack would be great, but you can experiment with other flavors of cheese.
- If you like a bit of tang, you can add some yellow mustard, vinegar, or lemon juice to the sauce.
- Green, yellow, or red peppers add a lovely color as well as flavor and crunch.
- We like rotini pasta because all the grooves hold the sauce really well. But you can use elbow macaroni, or any small pasta you have on hand.
MORE SALAD FAVORITES:
- Green Salads – I’m in love with this brussel sprout salad, and this strawberry spinach salad recipe is so simple. My oriental salad is always a crowd favorite.
- Pasta Salads – Chicken bacon ranch pasta salad is packed with flavor, and easy Italian pasta salad is perfect for potlucks. When I need to feed a crowd, I make a double batch of chicken pasta salad with grapes. Everyone loves it!
- Sweet Salads – It doesn’t get much easier than fruit salad with sour cream. And if you love grapes, this grape salad with cream cheese is a must try!
TUNA MACARONI SALAD RECIPE
- 8 ounces dry pasta (rotini or small shells)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 3/4 cup diced dill pickle (1 large)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 5 oz can tuna in water, drained
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp sour cream
- 1 tsp ranch dressing mix, dry
- 1/4 tsp dry dill
- In a large pot, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Pasta cooking time varies, so follow the directions on the box to get the time right.
- Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Pour into a large bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, wash the celery and green onions. Dice the celery and pickle; slice the green onions.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, sour cream, dry ranch dressing mix, and dry dill.
- Add the celery, onions, pickles, peas, and tuna to the pasta. Pour the dressing over the top, then stir until everything is well coated.
- Cover and chill for 30 minutes to blend flavors. (Or serve immediately.)
-You don't need to thaw the peas, they will thaw quickly once added to the pasta.
-Feel free to use Miracle Whip instead of mayo. You can also use sweet pickles or relish in place of dill. Make the salad your own and add any ingredients you like!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 337Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 442mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g
This easy tuna macaroni salad with ranch dressing mix is sure to be a hit at your next potluck or barbecue!