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This Gluten Free Tuna Pasta Salad is a quick and easy gluten free lunch recipe for BBQ side dish. A healthy tuna pasta salad with pesto and olives which can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes.

A bowl of gluten free tuna pasta salad.
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If there’s one thing I always devoured in my school lunchboxes it was a super simple but delicious Gluten Free Tuna Pasta Salad.

There’s something about a tuna salad with pasta that is just pure comfort food. And a good gluten free pasta salad like this can be eaten cold or hot.

Not only is this tuna pasta salad really easy to make, it’s also an affordable lunch idea and great for making in bulk for meal prep.

Plus this cold tuna pasta salad doubles up as a killer BBQ side dish or something for a picnic when you want to bring your own dish.

I use simple storecupboard ingredients with a tasty pesto mayo dressing but you can easily mix this recipe up how you like.

And if you’re dairy or egg free too I’ve added some notes below on how you can make this gluten free recipe suitable for everyone.

So next time you’re lacking in lunch inspiration, bookmark this page and come back to it so you can make this gluten free tuna pasta salad over-and-over again.

A bowl of pasta salad with tuna, basil, spring onions and olives in a pesto mayonnaise dressing.

Ingredients

There’s a full printable recipe card below, but here’s a list of the main ingredients you’ll need for this tuna pasta salad.

I’ve also included ideas for any substitutions if you want to mix it up or have other dietary requirements to think of.

For this gluten free tuna pasta salad recipe you will need:

  • Gluten Free Pasta – I recommend picking a good brand of gluten free pasta (see FAQs below for the best gluten free pasta for pasta salad). I like to use fusilli (swirls) or penne (tubes) as it holds the pesto mayo dressing really well. But you could make anything from sourcing gluten free orzo to a tuna macaroni salad.
  • Tinned Tuna – Well, it wouldn’t be a tuna pasta salad without it, right!?
  • Tinned Sweetcorn – Because tuna and sweetcorn are just the dream team. You can also use frozen sweetcorn (defrosted) in this recipe if you prefer. Frozen peas (also defrosted) are a great alternative if you don’t like sweetcorn.
  • Kalamata Olives – Any form of olives will work but I just love the big, salty flavours they add to this dish. You could omit them if you don’t like olives or try switching them for chopped, sundried tomatoes instead.
  • Spring Onions – These just add a kick of flavour without being overpowering. I do love spring onions in any form of salad.
  • Mayonnaise – You can use a vegan mayo if you need the recipe to be egg/dairy free. I prefer a fuller-fat one as it makes the pasta salad much creamier.
  • Pesto – Just bulk standard, green pesto is a winner – even better if it’s a homemade pesto. If you want to mix it up try a red pesto or even a chilli one. And for dairy free/vegan, use a vegan pesto instead.

How to make Tuna Pasta Salad

If you want to know how to make tuna salad with pasta, I’ve got some step-by-step photos here, as well as a video showing you the basic steps.

To make my gluten free tuna pasta salad recipe:

(left) Cook the gluten free pasta and (right) mixing the pesto mayo.

1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and once boiling, add the pasta. Cook as per the pack instructions until al dente – usually this takes around 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse in a little cold water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, mix the mayonnaise and pesto in a bowl until combined and set to one side.

(Left) add the ingredients to the tuna pasta salad and (right) add the pesto mayonnaise.

3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (tuna, olives and sweetcorn) to the bowl.

4. Add in the pesto mayonnaise and mix everything together well. Add fresh torn basil leaves if you like, mixing them through, and enjoy hot or cold.

Watch my step-by-step video on how to make a tuna pasta salad here:

Variations

Want to make this tuna pasta salad recipe with a twist? Here are ideas for a few variatons:

  • Make it spicy: Add some dried chilli flakes to the recipe or switch the pesto for a chilli pesto instead.
  • Tuna Pasta Salad Without Mayo: Want to make this recipe without the mayonnaise? Simply omit it and use just pesto, or mix the pesto with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  • Greek Yoghurt: You can also make this tuna pasta salad without mayo by switching it for plain Greek yoghurt. This will make a lighter and tangier recipe.
  • Extra Veg: Up the veg content of this salad by adding some extra bits such as chopped cucumber, cherry tomato quarters or even peas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we get started, let me answer some of the questions you may have about this gluten free tuna pasta salad recipe.

Is tuna gluten free?

Tuna, like all fish, is gluten free. Regular tinned or canned tuna is gluten free – just be careful of any flavoured varieties as some of the flavourings may contain gluten. For help on how to read ingredients lists, check my gluten free FAQs and my guide to starting a gluten free diet.

Is this recipe dairy free?

For a gluten free dairy free tuna pasta salad, you simply need to use a vegan pesto in this recipe. Otherwise this recipe is completely gluten free and dairy free. To make it egg free too, use a vegan mayonnaise.

Does gluten free pasta work for pasta salad?

I definitely find this gluten free tuna pasta salad is best eaten once it has cooled a bit, but not been refrigerated all day.
The fact it has a mayonnaise sauce definitely helps to keep it softer but I’d definitely recommend you look at choosing a decent pasta brand.
The best way to eat this dish in my opinion is to make it an hour-or-so before eating, then let it cool on the worktop until it’s time to serve.
Especially if you’re having it as a side dish for a BBQ or salad spread – you can make it when the BBQ is warming up then it’s ready for when the meat is cooked.

Can gluten free pasta be eaten cold?

I’m going to level with you – gluten free pasta, much like all gluten free food, is best eaten when freshly cooked.
A lot of gluten free pasta goes quite hard in the fridge, so if you’re making a dish like a pasta salad I recommend investing in a good brand.
The absolute BEST gluten free pasta I’ve tried is the Napolina gluten free pasta.
Yes, it’s pricier. But it holds together so well, the texture is great and for a gluten free pasta salad like this, it’s perfect.
Juvela also does a gluten free pasta which holds together very well and you can buy it from their online shop (I recommend their bread rolls too!)
Brown rice pasta tends to also be a good alternative for a healthy tuna pasta salad as this holds up better than some corn varieties.

Can you freeze tuna pasta salad?

I wouldn’t recommend freezing this tuna pasta salad. Gluten free pasta tends to break up when frozen so you’re better off making this fresh.

How long can tuna pasta last in the fridge?

This tuna pasta salad can be eaten hot or cold and will last in the fridge for 2-3 days. It’s best eaten fresh, but you can make it ahead and store it in the fridge before serving too. I’d recommend picking a decent gluten free pasta for this as some of the cheaper ones can go hard when cold.

Close up of a bowl of tuna pasta salad with a pesto mayonnaise dressing.

This gluten free tuna pasta salad recipe is perfect for lunches and the ideal side dish for a summer salad or BBQ.

It’s also a great picnic staples and school lunchbox idea too – especially as it’s so easy to change up the flavours and fillings.

This recipe serves 2 as a main course or 4 people as a side dish. But you can easily size it up or down depending on your needs.

If you make this recipe and love it, please do let me know by tagging me on my Instagram or using #theglutenfreeblogger. You can also share your creations in my Facebook group! And please do leave a 5* review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ to let others know you loved it too! It would mean the world to me and really helps support my website.

gluten free tuna pasta salad
5 from 2 votes

Gluten Free Tuna Pasta Salad

I have so many fond memories of tuna pasta salad as a kid but it's so hard to find gluten free. This easy, healthy tuna pasta salad with pesto is great hot or cold and perfect for lunchboxes.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 

  • 200 g gluten free pasta
  • 100 g tinned tuna, drained
  • 130 g tinned sweetcorn, drained
  • 100 g kalamata olives
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp pesto

Instructions 

  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and once boiling, add the gluten free pasta. Cook as per the pack instructions until al dente – usually this takes around 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse in a little cold water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, mix the mayonnaise and pesto in a bowl until combined and set to one side.
  • Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and the pesto mayo, mix well and serve.
  • Add fresh torn basil leaves if you like and enjoy hot or cold.

Video

Notes

  • A lot of gluten free pasta can go hard or break up when eaten cold. For storage instructions and the best gluten free pasta for pasta salads, check out the blog post above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 501kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 478mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 3g
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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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