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Creamy Tuna Pasta

Creamy Tuna Pasta combines tender and saucy noodles with sweet peas and tuna. Cook everything together in one pot and serve up a seriously creamy and unforgettable dish the whole family will love!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Creamy Tuna Pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 450kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $8.42


  • Non-stick pan


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups; 185g)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup (235g) + 2 tablespoons 2% or whole milk, separated
  • 2 cups (435g) water
  • 2-1/4 cups (510g) chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 pkg. (16 oz.; 454g) small pasta shells (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Note 2)
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 cans (5 oz.; 142g EACH) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 cup (135g) frozen peas
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 cups freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, fresh parsley


  • PREP: Remove 1 cup of frozen peas from the freezer to begin thawing. Grate the cheese, measure, and set aside 2 cups to get to room temperature. Measure milk and set aside to get to room temperature.
  • ONION AND GARLIC: Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set to medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the onion. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until golden and add in the garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • COOK PASTA: Add in 1 cup of the milk, the water, broth, and UNCOOKED pasta shells. Add some salt and pepper to taste (I add 1 tsp fine sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper). If desired, add in 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder (optional, but nice). Still over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer (bubbling at the edges) and then lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring often until the pasta is al dente (about 5-7 minutes). The pasta will continue to cook a bit over the next few minutes, so don’t overcook it here (Note 4).
  • ADD TUNA: Reduce heat to low. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons milk, Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Add the drained tuna and mix gently until combined. Season with salt and pepper. (I add another 1/4 up to 1/2 teaspoon of each.) Stir in the frozen peas. Remove pot from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
  • CHEESE: Off heat, add freshly shredded cheese, and gently stir through, letting the residual heat melt the cheese. Let the pasta rest, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and gets nice and creamy. Taste once more, adding additional seasoning if needed. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and enjoy immediately.



Note 1: Small pasta shells: The pictures can appear a little deceiving, but we do use small shells for this recipe. Any larger and the timing (and liquid amounts) will be off.
Note 2: Dijon mustard: We love the complementary flavor and tang this addition adds, but if you don't like Dijon, reduce or leave it out. Alternatively, try adding 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard powder instead.
Note 3: Pot: The skillet shown in the post was used only for photos to better show the dish -- use a nonstick pot for this recipe.
Note 4: Cooking: Take the pan off the stovetop as soon as the pasta is cooked al dente. Al dente means there is still a good firm bite to the pasta — it shouldn’t be mushy! The pasta will continue to cook and absorb liquid off the stove as we stir in the cheese and as the starches from the pasta thicken everything. It’s better to take the pot off the stove a little early than too late (undercooked pasta is easy to fix; mushy pasta can’t be saved).


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 67.6g | Protein: 28.3g | Fat: 6.3g | Cholesterol: 27.3mg | Sodium: 830.2mg | Fiber: 3.9g | Sugar: 7.8g