Tuna Macaroni Salad is a classic potluck and picnic staple. It’s creamy and satisfying with tuna, macaroni, hard boiled eggs, peas, celery, and onions in a creamy, tangy sauce. This Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe can easily stand as a meal on its own or serve as a hearty side dish to compliment your favorite summer dishes.
This salad has lots of protein to make it hearty enough to enjoy as a meal, and veggies add a nice crunchy texture.
Canned tuna: I like using albacore because I think it’s got the best flavor. You don’t get that metallic fishy taste that you can get with some kind of canned tuna.
Macaroni: This is one ingredient that we are kind of snobs on! If you can find it, get Creamette brand macaroni because it cooks the best and has the best flavor.
Hard Boiled Eggs: Make your own on the stovetop or buy pre-packaged to save time.
Veggies: peas, celery and onions diced finely add crunch and freshness. Frozen peas are a must (don’t use canned as they can be a little mushy for this salad).
Sauce: The sauce is made with mayo, pickle relish, mustard, salt and black pepper. You could add a little hot sauce to zest it up, or play around with flavors like adding garlic powder or paprika.
How to Make Tuna Macaroni Salad
Start by cooking your macaroni. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil and cook according to the package directions, then drain when the pasta is al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water – this stops the cooking process and rinses off the starches that can make pasta stick together. Set is aside until your ready to finish making the salad or keep it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Make the salad. Drain the canned tuna really well before mixing it with the macaroni, celery, peas, hard boiled eggs and chopped onions in a large bowl. The peas should be thawed and cooked but cooled. Peel and chop the eggs and add them in with the macaroni.
Make the sauce by combining mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish and salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. You can also add hot sauce or flavor with seasonings like garlic powder, dill or paprika. Stir in the sauce, starting with half to make sure you don’t end up with your salad more wet than you like it. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Make your salad ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving to help the flavors come together.
This is a great recipe for picnics and potlucks, because it makes a lot. You can also make it a day ahead of time, or keep it on hand for weekday lunches.
How do You Keep Pasta Salad from Drying Out?
The mayo is what keeps the salad moist. If you have leftover pasta salad that seems a little dry, stir in a couple tablespoons of mayo. It will taste the best when it’s fresh so try to enjoy within 2 hours of making it.
How Long is Tuna Macaroni Salad Good For?
Tuna Macaroni Salad should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Do not leave out for more than 2 hours or harmful bacteria can begin to grow. Properly stored, your salad will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
Can you Freeze Tuna Macaroni Salad?
The finished salad cannot be preserved by freezing. However, it is possible to freeze the salad and dressing separately and have good results.
What can I mix with canned tuna?
Canned tuna can be used for more than just tuna sandwiches. You can mix in mayo, Miracle Whip, avocado, dijon mustard or even just a little lemon and olive oil, and add veggies like peas, white beans, sun-dried tomatoes or capers. Or use it in recipes like my Tuna Melt Sandwich or Tuna Casserole, too.
What can you mix with tuna instead of mayo?
Instead of mayo you can use Greek yogurt, smashed avocado, hummus or even pesto.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.