Tuna Macaroni Salad

Almost every other Friday growing up my mother would serve the family this tuna macaroni salad. With six kids she loved this standard; it was easy to make, filling, relatively inexpensive, and best, we all gobbled it up.

Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup chopped red, orange, and or yellow bell peppers, seeded and de-stemmed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, packed
  • 2 cans of tuna, packed in olive oil (do not drain), or if you get tuna packed in water, drain the water out and add 2-3 Tbsp olive oil.
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4-1/3 a head of lettuce (preferably iceberg lettuce), sliced first and roughly chopped into 2 inch long strips
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (we use sweet Hungarian)
  • Fresh ground pepper

Method

1 In a saucepan, add 1 cup of elbow macaroni to 1 quart of boiling water with an added teaspoon of salt. Simmer either covered or uncovered for about 10 minutes until the macaroni is just a little more cooked than al dente. When ready, remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water.

2 While the macaroni is cooking, assemble the other ingredients. In a large bowl mix the green onion, bell peppers, parsley, tuna, celery and lemon. Add the cooked and drained macaroni. Fold in the iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise until well mixed. Add the paprika. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Eat up. This salad does not make good leftovers as the lettuce will eventually get soggy.

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15 Comments

  1. Michele

    I make a salad similar to this. I absolutly love tuna and will give your recipe a try, thanks so much for sharing it!

  2. Coralie

    Aha! Something else to do with studenty staples (Tuna, Peppers, Lettuce)
    Hot pasta and bolognaise with a salad on the side gets a bit tired. This will make a fun alternative and no dairy!
    Chunks of apple and nuts would be fine too right? Waldorfy Macaroni?
    Thanks again!

    xX cj

  3. Tara

    I also make a salad similar to this, but without the lettuce. I always make double since leftovers are always the best. There is always a fight for whatever is left the next day for lunch!!

  4. Andrea

    This sounds really good, and I think my family will like it also. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Linda

    My mother made this salad but added chopped hard boiled egg also, it’s delicious.

  6. Bob Sewell

    Instead of intermixing the lettuce with the either ingredients, I make a bed of chopped lettuce in a plate, then serve the salad on the lettuce. This keeps the salad fresh if you have leftovers.

    Otherwise a very good and easy set of instructions. My cat, Bogart, and I both enjoy it although I limit his serving size.

  7. hishtafel

    We just ate this for dinner tonight, and it was SO GOOD. Thank you for posting it!

    ~Q

  8. Susan

    This is similar to my tuna pasta salad that calls for canned tuna packed in olive oil and is adored by my sister. The foundation of the recipe includes the following ingredients:

    cooked pasta; canned tuna in olive oil; extra virgin olive oil and/or a mixture of evoo and walnut and/or hazelnut oils; a lot of fresh italian parsley; green onion; red wine vinegar and/or lemon; chopped garlic; baby tomatoes…

    Capers add a nice touch if you’d like or have them on hand, and though I haven’t used them specifically for this, I believe peppers, especially yellow or red, would be a great fresh vegetable to add as well. I have used shelled edamame, which add more plant-based protein, and beans such as garbanzos and cannellini would be great, too!

  9. Sherihan

    Had this for supper yasterday and packed it for lunch at work, delicious, thx for sharing.

  10. Linda

    Hi! Just made this this morning. I thought it would taste great for dinner especially since it is very hot and humid here in Ohio. Well, I was wrong. This will taste great for LUNCH instead. This is really good, Elise! Perfect to eat out on the patio with some peach iced tea. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. April in Texas

    This picture and description was the best of a day’s recipe searches for mac salad. I hate to try a new recipe and make changes the first time, but the only changes I made were spiral pasta and I roasted Hatch chili peppers with red bell peppers for my peppers. And one BIG change (because I wanted to make a lot to store some) was using spinach instead of lettuce.

    OHMYGAWSH this was/is delish! From my 10 yr old to me, this is a HUGE hit. Love the light hint of lemon. LOVE LOVE LOVE all the greens.

    Thanks for the new family recipe. We’ll definitely make this every summer.

  12. Joe Blow

    This is a great recipe. I cut the mayo and it was still good. Highly recommended!

  13. Gretchen

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have been feeling a little homesick and this recipe reminds me of my big family gatherings. Summer memories in a bowl.

  14. Diannaount

    I made this salad today (only I cut the recipe down by half b/c I only had 1 can of Tuna on hand), and ‘Boy oh Boy’ was it Delish!! So Delish that I was unable to save some for my Husband :-/…He’ll try it the next time around ;-)

  15. Sarah

    I tried this recipe tonight and loved it. I am fond of tuna but haven’t done much apart from tuna salad sandwiches and tuna casserole so this was a delightful change. I might try using more green onion and paprika next time, but don’t want to ruin it.
    I found your website only recently and the few recipes I have used were great. Thank you for taking the time and sharing :)

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