The best macaroni tuna salad bursting with flavor and so simple to make. This salad can be ready in less than 30 minutes!
I suppose this seems a little bit like a summery recipe, but a macaroni tuna salad screams colder weather to me! Growing up, my mom made tuna casseroles, cheesy tuna pastas, and tuna pasta salads only when the weather got colder outside. So this is my type of cooler weather comfort food.
We even used to have creamy macaroni tuna pasta salad (similar to this recipe) as a Thanksgiving side dish! And while you won’t find this salad being highlighted too many places as a typical Thanksgiving side-dish, if you are looking to be a little unconventional, try this. You won’t regret it!
I’ve taken my mom’s famous macaroni tuna salad and tweaked it over the years. As many times as I’ve tweaked this salad and tried other tuna macaroni salads, I’m convinced this one is the best around! A few things that make this one the best? First, the tuna. One of my all-time favorite canned tuna fish is ‘Albacore Tuna’ made by Genova Seafood. I talked about this tuna fish when I shared these Sushi Stacks that have been a huge hit here! It’s packed in pure olive oil which I think makes a huge difference in flavor. The taste is truly superior to any tuna I’ve tried before! I use Albacore Tuna in this salad, but Genova also offers a yellowfin tuna that I’m thinking would be pretty good in this salad as well!
The other ingredient that I consider one of the secrets to the phenomenal flavor of this salad? Ceasar salad dressing. I know, a little unique, but its a huge flavor enhancer. It really complements the tuna and veggies nicely. It also adds a lot of seasoning flavor without adding tons of different herbs/spices. And the last secret ingredient: bread and butter pickles. If you are a fan of combining tuna, pickles, and mayo (one of my favorites) then you’ll be obsessed with this salad! The pickles add a nice tang and cut down on the sweetness of the salad. The real secret to adding pickles though is using “bread and butter” pickles. They are the best complement to the tuna and dressing!
The rest of the veggies are easily interchanged with veggies you might prefer more. The five I use: frozen peas, red pepper, onion, carrot, and celery. All these veggies are pretty finely diced in and add to the flavor and texture. But if you aren’t a fan of one of these — leave it out! Or add in a different veggie in its place. 🙂
- 3 and 1/2 cups COOKED elbow macaroni noodles
- 2 cans (5 ounces EACH) Genova Albacore tuna fish
- 1/3 cup prepared Ceasar salad dressing
- 3/4 cup regular mayo
- 3/4 cup sour cream I use fat-free
- Seasoned salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup bread and butter pickles
- 1/2 cup (1/2 of a pepper) red pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery
- 1 cup carrot sticks
- 1/2 cup onion diced*
Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions.
Drain and rinse under cold water until cold.
Meanwhile, toss together the dressing: the ceasar salad dressing, mayo, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and garlic powder.
Prep the veggies (measure all AFTER dicing): let the peas thaw, dice the bread and butter pickles, dice the bell pepper, dice the celery, dice the carrot sticks, dice the onion.
Add the veggies into the dressing.
Add in the cooled macaroni.
Thoroughly drain the tuna and mix that in.
Stir until everything is well coated.
Store in the fridge until serving (best served when the salad has been chilled)
*Use a shallot for less intense onion flavor. Also my husband hates onions, so I've made this salad without onions entirely and it's still so delicious!
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Special thanks to Genova for providing me with the product for this post as well as compensation for my time. As always, all opinions in this post are my own.