Pasta with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce

Cooking for TwoBudgetQuick and EasyCanned TunaPasta and Noodles

Pasta served with a sauce made with oil-packed canned tuna, onions, capers, white wine, and parsley.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Here’s a little secret: olive oil-packed canned tuna, chili pepper flakes, and pasta is a master combination (and classic Italian).

One of my favorite dishes on this site is the tuna, arugula, chili pepper, pasta recipe. So when I stumbled on another variation with similar core ingredients in Giulia Melucci’s I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti I had to try it.

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Score! If you like canned tuna and pasta, you must try this.

I made one batch (serves two), ate half of it for lunch and the rest for dinner. Because I know someone is going to ask, if you don’t cook with wine, try substituting 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup of water for the white wine the recipe calls for.

Regarding tuna packed in water, I’ve tried it and believe me, it doesn’t work (dry, tastes bad). You need to use tuna packed in olive oil.

Pasta with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2

You can easily dress up this recipe with a few more ingredients - chopped garlic added at the end of the onion cooking, chopped tomatoes and/or olives in with the tuna, lemon zest to serve, etc.


  • Salt
  • 4 ounces bow tie (farfalle), linguini, or spaghetti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • Pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt (1 1/2 teaspoons for every quart of water), return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until cooked through, but still firm (al dente).

2 Cook the onions and chili pepper flakes: While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe. In a large, wide sauté pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and chili pepper flakes and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes or so.

3 Mix in the canned tuna, the capers, and the salt. Add the wine, bring to a simmer then lower the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes or longer, while the pasta is cooking. If the mixture begins to dry out, add a little more wine.

4 Add the drained pasta to the tuna mixture: When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it in to the pan with the tuna. Toss to mix.

Drizzle on a bit more olive oil over it all, then add the chopped parsley and a few grinds of black pepper to taste.

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Adapted from a recipe in Giulia Melucci's I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

Pasta with Tuna and Capers

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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58 Comments / Reviews

No ImagePasta with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. October

    I was trying to read the comments & see if anyone had tried subbing chicken, I’m not a big fan of tuna & my husband doesn’t eat seafood at all, lol… not too sure about it but I suppose I’m gonna try, lol….

    My fave way to prepare chicken for slicing is to sear each side in my cast iron skillet for a few mins, then lower the heat, insert my digital thermometer, cover & flip every 5 mins…. I cook to temp of 170 because the new recommendation of 165 is just too squishy even for me, lol… at 170 it comes out so juicy I just want to die! ugh! Perfection! I’ll try to come back & report how it came out

  2. Catherine

    This dish did not disappoint!
    I have been intrigued with this recipe since I first happened upon it, but my husband was skeptical. Retired with ample opportunity to cook, we had fallen into the habit of eating out, often with friends. Now, with our stay-at-home order, we have been forced into cooking. :-)
    I followed the recipe exactly except I had accidentally picked up a can of albacore in vegetable oil. I drained that well, mixed in olive oil, and drained that. The result was delicious! My husband licked his plate clean, and asked why I hadn’t doubled the recipe!
    Thank you!


  3. Stan

    Simple, easy, customizable, and delicious! A great weeknight meal that exceeded my expectations.

    Added a clove of garlic and a tomato which I thought gave some nice color and flavor complexity.


  4. Jess

    Love! So delicious and so easy! Thank you Simply Recipes


    Show Replies (1)
  5. Sally

    Delicious had everything on hand! Thanks

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Pasta with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce