Healthy Tuna Macaroni Salad

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This healthy tuna macaroni salad recipe is a healthy take on a classic macaroni salad. It’s a creamy macaroni salad made with simple ingredients and it is just as flavorful as the classic favorite and perfect for a side dish, healthy lunch or a main course.

Healthy macaroni salad with tuna in a blass bowl

This tuna macaroni salad is a healthy pasta salad that is refreshing twist on the traditional macaroni salad that often contains excessive amounts of mayonnaise. Instead, this version combines protein-rich Greek yogurt with just the right amount of mayonnaise and fresh vegetables to create a lighter and healthier and creamy dressing.

This is the perfect salad to serve with grilled onion burgers or Bubba burgers at your next summer party or to bring to a potluck.

🤍Why you will love this recipe

  • It’s healthier! Made with a lot of fresh chopped fresh veggies, Greek yogurt and avocado mayonnaise.
  • It’s one of those simple summer salads that comes together quickly and can be served as a main course or a side dish.
  • It’s a versatile recipe! Use any combination of ingredients, and you can even make it gluten-free or dairy-free!
The ingredients to amke the salad.

Here is what you will need

This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this easy roasted potatoes recipe. Scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions.

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🛒Ingredients

🥄Equipment

A view looking down at tuna mac salad in a white bowl with a fork

How To Make this healthy macaroni salad recipe

Prepare the ingredients: cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and rinse it in cold water. While the pasta is cooking, drain and rinse off the tuna, chop up the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

The salad ingredients in a stainless steel bowl

Step 1. Combine salad ingredients

Place the cooked pasta, vegetables, and tuna in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2. Make the Dressing

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or mason jar and pour 3/4 of the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl.

Dressing pouring into the salad bowl

Step 3. Mix it together

Use a wooden spoon to combine all of the ingredients together and refrigerate the tuna macaroni salad until it’s time to serve.

Step 4. Adjust the consistency

To serve the salad, take it out of the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before serving and adjust the consistency by adding more dressing.

tuna mac salad in a white bowl

Tip! If you are not serving the salad within an hour after making it, the salad may be dry, adjust the texture with more dressing. Try adding a little at a time until it’s how you like it.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

The full list of ingredients to make this tuna macaroni salad recipe is above. Below are notes about some of the ingredients along with ideas for substitutes.

Pasta – I usually cook with whole wheat pasta, but I find in this recipe that smaller-sized white pasta works best in this salad. We like the baby shells or elbow macaroni because the little nooks and crannies hold onto the dressing. You can also use a larger pasta such as gemelli or fusilli pasta.

Gluten-free pasta such as chickpea pasta, lentil pasta or whatever your favorite is can be substituted in this recipe.

Tuna – I like to use a high-quality solid white albacore to make this salad. When choosing tuna, look for a brand that follows responsible fishing practices and check the ingredient label for additives.

Vegetables – You can use any combination of vegetables that you like. If you don’t care for bell peppers, leave them out and add more celery or carrots.

Mayonnaise – I like to use mayonnaise with avocado oil or olive oil, but any kind will work in this tuna mac salad recipe.

Plain Greek yogurt – Adds creaminess and flavor and it lightens up this macaroni salad. If you prefer more mayonnaise, you can use less yogurt or vice versa if you prefer yogurt over mayonnaise. I like using equal amounts of each.

Greek yogurt can be substituted with Icelandic yogurt, regular yogurt or sour cream.

a close up view of the pasta salad on a white plate with a fork

Serving Suggestions

Healthy macaroni salad with tuna can be served as an easy meal with a side salad or it can be served as a side with Caramelized Onion Burgers, Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers or Grilled Jerk Chicken Breasts.

Make Ahead Instructions

This healthy tuna pasta salad recipe is the perfect recipe to make ahead of time. You can make it one to two days before serving it by mixing the cooked pasta together with the diced vegetables and leaving the dressing off.

Store the unassembled salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for no longer than two days. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving the salad add the dressing.

How to store leftover tuna macaroni salad

Store leftover tuna macaroni salad in the refrigerator for up to 5 days an airtight container.

If your refrigerated salad appears to be dry, try adding a small amount of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt to it. This should help improve its texture.

Are you too tired to cook dinner?

If you’re feeling uninspired when it’s time to cook dinner, this free guide will help you make a quick and healthy dinner with ingredients you have in your kitchen.

salad in a small white bowl with a fork

Recipe Variations

Vegetarian Macaroni Salad – leave out the tuna.

Chicken Macaroni Salad – Instead of tuna, use 1/4 cup of shredded chicken.

Vegan Macaroni Salad – For a vegan and dairy-free version, replace the mayonnaise with vegan mayonnaise, the Greek yogurt with a plant-based yogurt, and the honey with maple syrup.

Gluten-Free Macaroni Salad – Replace traditional wheat pasta with gluten-free pasta.

Macaroni Salad add-ins – Try adding in any combination of these; thawed frozen peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs, fresh herbs, black olives, cherry tomataoes, pickle relish or chopped pickles.

💡Tips

  • If you run out of dressing, you can also freshen up the salad by adding a teaspoon or two of mayo or Greek yogurt along with a splash of lemon juice.
  • Chill the pasta by running it under cold water this will stop the cooking and help the macaroni to retain its shape and texture.
  • Don’t overcook the macaroni or pasta. Al dente is the best texture for cold pasta dishes.
How do I keep the pasta from absorbing the mayonnaise in the salad?

Try mixing in a teaspoon or two (gradually) to the pasta until the pasta is lightly coated with the oil. Then pour on the dressing.

Can I freeze leftover tuna macaroni salad?

Freezing macaroni salad is not recommended. The mayo and yogurt will separate and the pasta will become extremely soft.

You Might Also Like these Salad Recipes

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Please comment and give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating below!

tuna mac salad in a white bowl

Healthy Macaroni Salad with Tuna

Healthy macaroni salad with tuna is a healthy twist on a classic favorite made with healthier ingredients
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Click on serving size to scale this recipe

Keyword: healthy macaroni salad with tuna
Servings: 6
Calories: 262kcal
Author: Anne
Scale this Recipe 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup bell pepper red, or green diced
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta elbows or small shells
  • 3/4 cup celery diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots diced
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon coconut sugar or honey
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut up the vegetables and place them in a large bowl.
  • Combine the dressing ingredients (mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, mustard, sugar and vinegar),
  • Drain the tuna and place it in the same bowl as the vegetables.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and rinse it under cold water and set it aside to cool.
  • Once the pasta is at room temperature add it to the bowl with the tuna and vegetables.
  • Add half of the dressing and store the salad in the refrigerator until 10 to 15 minutes  before serving. Stir in the remaining dressing.

Video

Notes

Store macaroni salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
 
Recipe Variations
  • Leave out the tuna for a classic vegetarian macaroni salad
  • Substitute 1/4 pound shredded chicken for the tuna
  • Add 1/2 cup peas, chopped boiled eggs, or olives to the salad
See the article above for tips, substitutions and more.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 234mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2453IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used

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2 Comments

  1. My mom always makes a tuna pasta salad with peas and it’s been a favorite for years! I like this version and that you used a bit of yogurt in place of the mayo.