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Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Bacon

Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Bacon

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  • 1 box of elbow macaroni
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 green onion, diced
  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
  • Pepper, to taste


Cook the macaroni two minutes less than packaged directions say, then drain, and set aside. Add salt to taste.

Cook six slices of bacon on medium high heat for about 3 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp. Place on paper towel to drain oil, set aside.

Once the macaroni has cooled, add two cans of tuna, diced red bell pepper, diced green onion, and ½ cup mayonnaise. Mix until all ingredients are combined and add pepper to taste. Serve.

Nutritional Facts


Calories Per Serving946

Folate equivalent (total)48µg12%

Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg15.9%

Macaroni Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

My Macaroni Salad recipe is tossed with fresh, crunchy veggies, a homemade creamy dressing, and my secret ingredient: bacon. It’s always a hit at the dinner table on a busy week night, a potluck, or a sunny summertime BBQ.

Today I’m on a mission to make classic macaroni salad, and I think I’ve done just that. I mean, who doesn’t get giddy over bacon? Time to toss that bland, flavorless grocery store macaroni salad to the curb and say hello to this major improvement.

I wanted to keep this recipe really simple so that you have a minimal grocery list for ingredients. Now there’s no excuse to serve a pre-made side for your guests or family! It’ll take you just 20 minutes from start to finish to make this recipe, and most of that time is simply boiling the pasta.

Old Fashioned Tuna Macaroni Salad

Along with tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon, I have eaten this macaroni salad so many times over the summer, I figured it was about time to share it!

It's not anything new of course, or even anything I've created - frankly it's been around longer then me - but if you're a little younger than me, you may have grown up with it. If you're closer to my age, you may remember it through your early days of marriage, or those struggling first apartment or college years, because it was both easy to make and economical. I'd be willing to bet that at least some of you also still make it yourself!

It's nice and light on these hot summer days, when you just want something simple for lunch or supper - or even to snack on throughout the day. I literally get a craving on for it, especially this time of year!

I've written my version in the ratios I like, and the way I've always made it - in the old fashioned way - simply tuna, noodles, chopped egg, celery, peas and salt and pepper, but for me, two individual touches. Old Bay, which makes an appearance with just about any seafood dish I make, and a touch of Cajun seasoning - our standard Deep South all-purpose seasoning. I'm not too big on "chunk light" tuna, but my husband picked this up so I'm using it. It works okay for this but not my number one choice. I prefer "solid" and in olive oil albacore or yellowfin for flavor - just a personal preference. Use whatever your budget allows.

Oh goodie, this also gives me a chance to tell you about my Fasta Pasta microwave cooker ! Y'all know I love telling you about products I have, love and use regularly, and this certainly is one of them!

I learned about Fasta Pasta from The View on ABC more than a year ago when Whoopie talked about products she loved. so I'm surprised I haven't told you about it before now, because I use this just about every time I need pasta for a recipe. It's especially good for those times when you only need a half pound or less of pasta, but I've cooked rice, potatoes, green beans and broccoli in it too.

Basically you dump in your pasta, add water to the recommended fill line (from the booklet that comes with it), microwave without the lid for the recommended time, stir and microwave a few minutes longer, put the lid on and drain. It has handles to make it super easy to remove from the microwave, and the lid has drain holes so you can walk it right to the sink, drain it and then you're ready to go. No watching a pot and waiting for the water to boil. Another of my favorite kitchen gadgets !

For the salad, my secret is to mix the mayonnaise in while the noodles are still hot, then add the other ingredients, gently folding in the tuna and peas last. You can use tuna in water if you like, but I prefer the flavor tuna in oil adds.

Adjust ingredients as you please of course - less or more mayo, more tuna or eggs, whatever you like! Though I hope you'll try it once as written, I've included some of the typical add-ins that have appeared in more recent years in the cook's notes. Some will tell you it absolutely must have bell pepper. Others feel pickles are necessary. I say, let your imagination run free and make it your own.

I like to serve it right when I make it, when it's soft and creamy, but of course, refrigerate if your prefer it cold and be sure to refrigerate any leftovers. If there are any! Great as a side dish, main dish or just to grab a couple of spoonfuls throughout the day.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Tuna Macaroni Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 20 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 pound elbow (or shell) macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise , more or less
  • 1 hard boiled egg , chopped
  • 1 stalk celery , chopped
  • Salt , pepper , Cajun seasoning and Old Bay , to taste
  • 1 to 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna in oil , undrained
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas , thawed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pickle juice , optional

Prepare macaroni according to package directions drain and place into storage or serving bowl. Immediately add mayonnaise and toss until well coated. Mix in the egg, celery and seasonings. Add the tuna and peas and gently fold in, adding pickle juice, if using, and/or additional mayonnaise if needed for desired moisture. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers. Double or increase as desired.

Optional Add-ins: Chopped sweet onion, purple or green onion, chopped sweet or dill pickles or relish, chow chow, black or green pitted olives, sweet bell pepper, pimentos, chopped or shredded carrots, shredded cheese, 1-2 tablespoons of a creamy salad dressing, juice from a wedge or two of fresh lemon, splash of pickle juice or cider vinegar, chopped fresh parsley, dill, and paprika, are a few of the more common ones. Shredded iceberg lettuce was often used as an extender. May also substitute flaked salmon, boiled shrimp or shredded or chopped cooked chicken for the tuna. For a sweeter taste use a salad dressing like Miracle Whip, for the mayo, if you prefer.

Check These Recipes Out Too Y’all!

Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Recipes are offered for your own personal use only and while pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, do not copy and paste post or recipe text to repost or republish to any social media (such as other Facebook pages, etc.), blogs, websites, forums, or any print medium, without explicit prior permission. Unauthorized use of content from ©Deep South Dish is a violation of both the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and copyright law. All rights reserved.

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad

Today we’re reposting our Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad! I was never a fan of mac salad I always thought of it as just macaroni noodles loaded with mayonnaise and some diced celery and it just never did “it” for me. That is until I had a “Hawaiian Style” one! I tried it for the first time in Hawaii and was blown away by the flavor! There was something so deliciously umami in flavor and I couldn’t figure it out! Come to find out it was the mere addition of bonito flakes! Who would’ve known that the little, dry and briny flakes would impart so much great flavor. I’m sure some of you are thinking…”dry fish flakes, seriously?” But I promise you it works and doesn’t leave your pasta salad tasting fishy at all!! I wrote about it in the original post and you can read it below!

This dish is PERFECT for this holiday weekend. I love Memorial Day weekend because it really kicks off the summer season and basically lets everyone know it’s time to dust off their grills for a few months of nonstop use. I’m actually in Hawaii right now with the boo, enjoying a quick and relaxing weekend away, but we’ll be back tomorrow night, ready for any and all Monday festivities! Is anyone making anything they’re particularly excited about this Memorial Day?? I’d love to hear your meal plans! Enjoy! xx, Jenny

Check out our Favorite Summer BBQ Recipes, and here are some other BBQ recipes that pair perfectly with this recipe:

This post was originally published March 20, 2020. It was updated with new photos, a revised recipe, and a recipe video on February 28, 2021.

Please note: Mae's Menu is supported by readers. Many of the product links on Mae's Menu are affiliate links, where this reader-supported publication makes a small profit at no expense to you. See my disclosure policy for details. Thank you so much for your support!

One of my favorite comfort foods since I was a little girl, my Mom's Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe is easy-to-make, made with easy-to-find vegetables and pantry staples, and is ready in under 30 minutes.

This tuna pasta salad also has twice as much tuna as typical recipes, bringing about 22 grams of protein to each pasta salad serving! Whether you make this for lunch or bring it to a potluck, this tuna pasta salad is sure to satisfy --- inside, and out.

I've been going more for comfort food and pantry recipes lately. Not only do I not want to make a grocery trip if I can avoid it, but I want to feel like I'm eating well while I stay at home.

So, the other day when I scanned the pantry before lunch, I realized I had all the essentials on hand for my Mom's Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe. I had pasta, tuna, mayonnaise, dried dill, and mustard in the cabinet and some hearty veggies in the fridge.

And, in my world, tuna macaroni salad qualifies as the ultimate comfort food. Whether we ate the salad in the car on road trips or whipped it up together for Saturday lunch, growing up it was always a dish that meant safety, comfort, and Mom's love.

I asked mom how she got into making the easy pasta salad recipe, and she said that her mom made it for them during the summers growing up. Often made with defrosted green peas and served with some toast, it was a dish her mom cared for her family with, too.

And so I started to think about the traditions of care and food that are passed down through generations how we're shaped to like similar foods because of similar experiences and how we show others we care based on how we've been showed we're cared for.

Hopefully, my family knows how much I care by making this for them and hopefully, your family will know that about you, too. From my family to yours',

Here at Mae's Menu, we have a variety of readers: those who are more experienced in the kitchen and want to zip straight through to the recipe and those who want to learn more about the dish, potential substitutions, and more.

To skip straight to the recipe, just click "Jump to Recipe" at the top left of this post. To browse the post quickly, just click the headings in the table of contents below.

Table of contents

This Macaroni Salad with Tuna Is.

  • Creamy
  • Hearty
  • Crunchy
  • Filling
  • Ready in under 30 minutes
  • Made with easy-to-find ingredients
  • Rich in protein
  • Delicious for leftovers
  • Great for picnics, barbecues, and potlucks!

Add a new favorite pasta salad to your family's menu with this tuna pasta salad recipe!

What ingredients are in this tuna macaroni salad?

  • Pasta -- macaroni, rotini, shells, or any small pasta are great in this salad.
  • Canned Tuna -- two 7 oz. cans of solid white albacore tuna make this salad chock-full of protein.
  • Mayonnaise -- olive oil or avocado mayonnaise work perfectly fine in this recipe, too!
  • Distilled white vinegar -- adds a little kick and flavor to the pasta salad
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Dried dill weed
  • Dijon mustard
  • Onion -- sweet yellow, white, or red onion are best for this salad.
  • Celery
  • Sweet pepper-- green or red pepper are delicious in this salad.
  • Peas -- we'll defrost frozen green peas for this salad. Super easy and adds a few extra veggies!

What recipe substitutions can you make for this recipe?

Pasta -- any small shaped pasta can work in this recipe

Canned tuna -- canned chicken or even canned salmon can work in place of the canned tuna

Mustard -- if you don't have dijon mustard, you can substitute classic yellow mustard. It will add a bit more zip to the recipe, but the overall flavor profile will still be similar

How do you make tuna macaroni salad from scratch?

  1. Cook your pasta according to the package's directions, in heavily salted water.
  2. While the pasta cooks, whip up your salad dressing -- whisking together the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, and seasonings and stir in the veggies.
  3. Flake the tuna and fold it into the dressing.
  4. Drain the pasta -- placing the frozen peas in a colander and pouring the hot pasta water over them to drain.
  5. If you will be serving the salad immediately, cool the pasta by rinsing the pasta with cool water in the colander.
  6. Gently fold the pasta into the dressing until coated. If the pasta is still warm, cover and let it cool in the refrigerator until serving. If the pasta is cool, serve!

Pro-tips to make this recipe perfect every time!

  1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted water - this makes all the difference in the flavor of your pasta!
  2. Finely mince the onions - this helps the onions add dimension to the dressing without adding an intense bite
  3. Use good quality tuna - solid white albacore tuna packed in water is my top pick. It's meaty and hearty but has a pure and non-fishy flavor. If you can't find albacore, I recommend chunk light tuna packed in water as a back-up.
  4. Make the pasta ahead of time - for the best flavor, make the pasta salad ahead of time with warm pasta (i.e. don't rinse the pasta with cool water before folding it into the dressing). When the pasta is warm, it best absorbs all the flavors of the salad dressing, making this dish super tasty.

A note on the pasta temperature:

If you are going to serve this pasta salad immediately after making it, chill the pasta before adding it into the salad. If you are making the pasta salad ahead of time, add it in warm, as the extra heat of the pasta will help it absorb the dressing flavors better.

To chill your pasta, simply run cool water over it in the colander until the pasta is cool to the touch.

How do you easily thaw peas for tuna pasta salad?

Here's a super quick pea thawing trick my mom taught me: place the peas in the colander. Then, drain the hot pasta water and pasta over the peas. The heat from the pasta water will cool the peas just enough for this salad.

Can you make this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this salad is very simple to make gluten-free. Just use gluten-free pasta (rice or chickpea are both delicious) in place of the traditional wheat pasta and this recipe will be good to go!

Can you use olive oil, avocado oil, or another reduced-fat mayonnaise for this recipe?

Yes, you definitely can use a reduced-fat mayonnaise for this recipe. In fact, I make this recipe most with olive oil mayonnaise.

The recipe calories are calculated using an olive oil mayonnaise, so if you use a full-fat mayonnaise, the fat and calorie count may be higher than estimated (and please see my nutrition facts disclaimer, since the calorie count is only an estimate).

Do you serve tuna pasta salad warm or cold?

Usually, this salad is served cold. I occasionally like to serve it warm, however, on cooler days or when I'm just craving a warm meal.

Can you make this macaroni salad with tuna ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this tuna macaroni salad ahead of time. Ideally, I like to make it a few hours ahead of time, to give the salad time to marinate in and absorb the flavors of the dressing.

Storage directions:

Refrigerate the leftover salad in a covered container for up to 3-4 days. If the pasta has absorbed the dressing, you may need to stir in some milk (see notes below) to remoisten it.

This recipe does not freeze well.

How do you keep this pasta salad moist?

The first way to keep our tuna pasta salad moist is to store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Your pasta may still absorb a lot of the dressing, however.

To remoisten the salad, just mix in a teaspoon or two of milk to the pasta salad until the dressing gets creamy again.

What can you add to this tuna macaroni salad?

There are so many delicious add-ins you can mix into this salad. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs
  • Seeded and diced tomatoes
  • Seeded and diced cucumbers
  • Cubed sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sliced blacked olives
  • Bacon bits

Tools needed to make this easy tuna mac salad:

What type of tuna is best for tuna pasta salad?

Canned tuna is the best for tuna pasta salad. In particular, I like flaked albacore tuna for this salad, as it has a richer and cleaner flavor than flaked light tuna.

What can you serve with this tuna macaroni salad?

This tuna macaroni salad is hearty enough to serve on its own, but you can also serve it with the following dishes or drinks:

  • Fruit salad
  • Crusty white bread
  • A leafy green salad with carrots, tomatoes, croutons, and cucumbers
  • Vegetable crudite with hummus
  • White wine -- sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, or pinot grigio are delicious with this salad!

Check out these other delicious tuna recipes:

If you're looking for another comforting way to serve tuna using pantry staples, this Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole from my friend Norine is just perfect! Throws me back to childhood every time!

For more healthy salads and barbecue side dishes:

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  • Elbow macaroni &ndash Technically you can use any type of pasta, but traditionally macaroni salad calls for elbow macaroni. The nice thing about elbow macaroni is that it has all those nooks and crannies to hide the dressing and make every bite flavorful.
  • Mayonnaise &ndash Mayonnaise is the base so your macaroni salad is super creamy and delicious. Please do not substitute Miracle Whip, it is not the same!
  • Dijon mustard &ndash This adds a great tang and high note, also a little more creaminess.
  • Crumbled bacon &ndash Salty, smoked, and adds perfect texture!
  • Cherry tomatoes &ndash I love the sweetness of tomatoes for this salad, but my kids are super anti-tomato, so if I&rsquom making it with them in mind, I&rsquoll skip the tomatoes. But it makes me sad.
  • Lemon juice &ndash Brightens the whole thing up!
  • Garlic salt &ndash I&rsquom almost sure that garlic salt is good on everything. Literally everything.
  • Green onion &ndash For a pop of color and flavor!

How to make old fashioned Tuna Pasta Salad:

Dice the onion and set aside.

Cook the pasta in a sauce pan according to the package directions. Click for a sauce pan.

Empty the pasta into a colander to drain, rinse well with cold water, and then drain again.

Place the pasta into a medium bowl.

Add the oil and tuna to the cooked noodles. Toss to coat.

Stir in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper and mustard.

Fold in the onion and frozen peas. The peas will thaw within minutes. Do not thaw or cook them ahead of time.

Place into the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.

Easy Classic Tuna Macaroni Salad

Tuna Pasta Salad

  1. First bring a large pot to a boil with a little salt. Cook macaroni noodles until they are al dente.
    1. you can use elbow macaroni or any other small noodles like you see here
    1. sweet relish, dill pickle relish, or dice sweet pickles for larger chunks which is my preference
    2. diced red onions
    3. black pepper
    4. we love diced hard boiled eggs
    5. some like a squeeze of yellow mustard

    I actually prefer to cover and cool it in the fridge for at least an hour beforehand and then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper just before serving

    Any way you mix it up, tuna macaroni salad is a classic dish everyone loves. Everyone says it&rsquos super delicious (even those who typically don&rsquot care for tuna)!

    The more ingredients the better if you ask me! If you love our totally loaded tuna pasta salad recipe here you will love our easy baked brie recipe too.

    If you&rsquore having a potluck or you need other barbecue side dish recipes here are a few more:

      makes a great addition to get togethers, this bacon pasta salad is pretty amazing too. is something different to bring to a potluck &ndash there&rsquos a Hawaiian version too is a bit different without the tuna for the non meat lovers

    For another similar, but hot dish, try our tuna noodle casserole and/or easy homemade macaroni and cheese dishes too.

    Want to see a few of my favorite things you might want to write on your Christmas list this year. 😉 Take a peek and see how many you might already have&helliptwinsies!

    Looking for more easy family recipes and tips? LIKE The Typical Mom Facebook page?

    ***** If you LOVED this recipe give it 5 Stars below and let everyone know what you thought about it. 😉

    • 1 pound elbow or small pasta
    • 4 hard peeled hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
    • 2 (2.26 ounces each) albacore tuna fish in water
    • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
    • 1/2 cup finely diced celery (about 2 to 3 stalks)
    • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
    • 1 to 2 cups mayonnaise
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain the pasta well a second time before adding to a large mixing bowl.
    2. To the bowl with the pasta, add in flaked tuna, finely chopped hard boiled egg, red onion, celery and relish. Mix to combine.
    3. Add in enough mayo to coat and season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
    4. Chill until ready to serve.

    Nutrition Information:


    Serving Size:

    All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on should only be used as a general guideline.

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    Easy Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

    • Author: Tracy Nawara

    The perfect lunch comes together quickly and keeps you full until the evening. Bonus points are given if this dish is a make-ahead, where you food prep it and grab yourself a serving whenever you are hungry. Even more bonus points if the dish is healthy!

    Easy Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad is a quick, make-ahead meal that is also good for you. It combines the tang of southern tuna salad with the satiation of macaroni salad. If you make this dish during your weekly food prep day, you can have a healthy scoop of tuna pasta salad for lunch all week long!

    What makes tuna salad southern-style is the addition of pickle relish, usually sweet, and some kind of spicy seasoning. This recipe uses the classic sweet pickle relish along with some authentic Creole seasoning, which packs quite a punch. Cage-free egg mayo (AKA the best mayo on Earth) adds the creamy element and lemon juice adds the acid to this dressing.

    Any good macaroni salad needs some crunchy vegetables inside. Fresh and crisp celery, shallot, and red bell peppers round out the veggies in this salad, which are super important for texture. Add any fresh vegetables that you like to this salad, as it is a very forgiving recipe.

    Much like using good-quality mayonnaise as the main ingredient, you also want to find high-quality tuna. Usually, imported tuna or tuna packed in oil have the best quality. Try and find a flaky, firm, and unscented can of imported tuna packed in oil. If you open up your can of tuna and do not like the smell coming from it, try another brand.

    Once the pasta is cooked and all ingredients are tossed together, it’s time to dress the salad. Pasta tends to absorb a lot of sauces when cooked, which is why some pasta salads may seem dry. When adding the dressing, only add ½ of the total mixture and then toss. Add a little more until it seems saucy enough, but always save a small amount of dressing. This way, you will have more dressing to toss the salad with before serving, ensuring a delightfully creamy texture.

    Food prep this salad so that you have a healthy lunch option all week long that takes zero effort. This salad is also awesome for picnics and BBQ parties as a side dish. Easy Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad is the perfect way to combine two of the best classic American salads.

    Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 60 minutes
    Serving Size: ¾ cup
    Calories: 380 Calories


    4 cups rotini whole grain-cooked (2 cups dry)

    1 Tbsp diced, washed fresh parsley

    6 washed and sliced cherry tomatoes

    ½ cup aioli flavored mayonnaise with Truvia ® Cane Sugar Blend


    Cook rotini following directions on package.

    In a large bowl, combine cooked rotini, celery, onion, parsley, tuna and tomatoes. Mix well.

    In a small bowl, whisk together aioli-flavored mayonnaise, mustard, Truvia ® Cane Sugar Blend aioli, sour cream, salt and pepper.