Beginner, Pasta, Salads, Side Dishes

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Flaked tuna, sweet peas, celery, and elbow macaroni are combined with mayo and a dash of cayenne pepper in this creamy tuna macaroni salad recipe.

tuna macaroni salad recipe

What are some of your favorite summer memories from when you were a kid?

Since both of my parents worked, they had to find a way to entertain me once school let out.  From about second or third grade until middle school, the city swimming pool was the perfect solution.  During those summer months, I wouldn’t even bother getting dressed in the morning.  I would just put my swimsuit on and wait until 2 p.m. when the gates opened.

tuna macaroni salad recipe

There was a waterslide in the shallow end for the younger kids.  Fifty-cents would buy you a brightly-colored popsicle, a bag of chips, or a dill pickle.  As my friends and I got older, we positioned our lawn chairs out by the deep end so we could watch the older boys behind our sunglasses and hope someone noticed us.  We all had aspirations of becoming lifeguards when we got into high school and by the end of the summer we were all tan as deer.

I think it’s impossible to get through an entire summer without coming in contact with a macaroni salad.  There is nothing particularly unique about this salad.  I imagine it originated as a quick, easy, and cheap meal my mother could just throw together.  I ate this a lot as a kid and it falls into one of my comfort food categories.  A big bowl of this stuff, a glass of cold sweet tea, and suddenly I’m a nine-year old kid in a bathing suit and flip flops with a sunburned nose.

How to Make Creamy Tuna Macaroni Salad

This recipe could not be more simple to make. First thing, go ahead and hard boil a couple of eggs. You can even do this a day or two ahead of time.

Next, start boiling your water for your macaroni. I like to add a little salt to my water before I add the pasta to give the noodles some flavor. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, drain your tuna and add it to a large mixing bowl. Peel and dice your cooled hard boiled eggs and add them to the bowl also. Dice your celery and drain your peas. Go ahead and add them to the mixing bowl also.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and let it cool slightly. Pour it into your mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Finally, add your mayo, dill pickle relish and cayenne pepper. Give everything a good stir to get it thoroughly combined. Allow the salad to chill for a few hours for the best flavor.

What I love most about this salad is that you can make a day in advance and it tastes even better. The macaroni has had time to absorb some of the flavors of the salad. I love the crunchy contrast of the celery and the soft chewy pasta, the bite from the dill pickle relish and the hint of heat from the cayenne. See, easy right?

tuna macaroni salad recipe


More Salad Recipes:

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

A la Carte Italian Pasta Salad

Asian noodle salad

Asian Noodle Salad

Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Salad

Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Salad


tuna macaroni salad recipe
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Tuna Pea Macaroni Salad

Flaked tuna, sweet peas, celery, and elbow macaroni are combined with mayo and a dash of cayenne pepper in this creamy tuna macaroni salad recipe.
Prep Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Lisa B.


  • 1 (8 oz.) bag elbow macaroni
  • 2 (5 oz. ) cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 2 celery ribs diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can sweet peas, drained
  • 1/3 – ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine macaroni, celery, peas, mayonnaise. Stir until well-combined.
  • Add cayenne pepper and additional salt to taste.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour – preferably eight hours – before serving.


  1. Isn’t it great to have such wonderful childhood memories. Would be a different world if all children could experience that.

  2. For some reason, this just looks so amazingly delicious right now. Would you think I was crazy if I added chopped up dill pickles?

  3. We had a pool in our backyard and I remember my mom would always make us popsicles out of orange juice. Those definitely take me back to being a kid in the summer.

    This pasta salad sounds delicious! I love how food can evoke such intense memories.


  5. Barbara kelly

    Can’t wait to try this. My husband doesn’t like Macaroni Salad but I am just going to fix it and see if he likes it. I love it.

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