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Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas is an easy cold pasta salad made with elbow macaroni, tunafish, peas, red onion, and mayonnaise. It’s a simple summer salad that is perfect for picnics, barbecues, family reunions, and more.

Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas with hard boiled egg quarters decorating the top of the salad

We love to have this Macaroni Salad recipe as a side dish to our favorite Venison Burger, steaks, or Fireman’s Field Day Chicken Barbecue.

How Mom made macaroni salad

Mom had two ways of making Macaroni Salad. One would have celery, green and red pepper, onion, and eggs. The other one would have tuna and green peas. I always loved both salads, but my favorite one was always the Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas!

I really didn’t do much to deviate from my mom’s recipe. The only thing I do differently from her is I sprinkle a little bit of cayenne pepper into the salad to give it a little bit of a kick.

cooked elbow macaroni in a yellow bowl

The macaroni and pasta salad debate

I always considered any salad made with pasta was a pasta salad. However, when Grumpy and I first got together, I found out rather quickly that he had a way of discerning what was macaroni salad and what was pasta salad.

He informed me that Macaroni Salad was made with mayonnaise. Pasta Salad has a non-mayonnaise based dressing on it. I don’t know if that is the legit way of discerning, but it’s Grumpy’s way.

So, anytime I make any type of salad with pasta, I have to indicate macaroni or pasta so he knows what type of dressing I am making!

salad with elbow pastai, peas, tuna fish, red onion, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper mixed together in a yellow bowl

What you need to make this mac salad and ingredient tips

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Elbow Macaroni: I always use a small elbow macaroni for this particular salad. You could use a small shell pasta, but then the peas get stuck inside the shell and you don’t see them as easily.

Tuna Fish: When I use tuna in any recipe like this, I always choose canned solid white albacore tuna packed in water.

Green Peas: Frozen peas work best. I thaw them out by placing the peas in a colander and running hot water over them to thaw them out. Let them drain well before using.

Red Onion: I use this mostly because i like the color. Vidalia would be my next choice. The onion for this salad should be diced fine. Not everyone like to get a big chunk of onion on their fork.

Mayonnaise: I use full fat mayo and have a preferred brand.

Hard Boiled Eggs: Its up to you how you use these. I like to slice them in quarters and decorate the top of the salad. However, its also fine to chop them up and stir them into the salad.

Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas in a clear glass bowl and a blue cloth  napkin

Make this salad your way

  • Substitute small shells pasta for the elbow macaroni (just remember, the peas like to snuggle inside of the shell!)
  • Substitute cooked baby shrimp or canned chicken for the tuna fish.
  • Stir in some chopped garlic dill pickles or even better, some sweet hot pickles!
  • If you want to cut the heaviness of mayonnaise down, use half sour cream and half mayonnaise.
  • Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard or sweet hot mustard to the mayonnaise dressing.
Side view of macaroni salad

Where did the mayonnaise go

Macaroni, or pasta will soak up any type of dressing you add to it once it has sat for more than a few hours. The salad will look like it is too dry for this reason.

If this happens to you, I recommend adding a few tablespoons of mayonnaise at a time until the salad has the consistency of dressing that you prefer.

Other cold side salads recipes you may like

Broccoli Salad is a mayonnaise based cold salad with bacon, jalapeno and cheese.

Buffalo Chicken Salad has all the flavor of buffalo chicken in a pasta salad.

Chicken Noodle Salad Bowl is a combination of Asian dressing flavors, green salad and spaghetti noodles.

Keto Potato Salad is a low carb recipe using cauliflower instead of potatoes for the salad.

Marinated Tofu Salad is much like a Greek salad with Italian style dressing. The tofu in this salad tastes much like feta cheese.

Pasta Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing is a different yet delicious combination of spiral pasta, blanched asparagus, corn, enrobed in creamy parmesan dressing.

Potato Salad Recipe with Bacon, Jalapeno, and Dill is a fresh new look at potato salad with a ton of flavor.

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Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas
Yield: 8 servings

Macaroni Salad with Tuna and Peas

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Elbow macaroni, tuna fish, peas, and red onion tossed with a mayonnaise dressing and topped with hard boiled eggs and paprika.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni, cooked according to package and cooled
  • 4 oz can solid white tuna fish, drained and flaked.
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Paprika (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add the cooked elbow macaroni, tunafish, peas, and red onion to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
  2. Add the mayonnaise and cayenne pepper to the macaroni salad mixture and stir to coat.
  3. Arrange quarted hard boiled eggs over the top of the macaroni salad. Sprinkle with paprika (if using). Refrigerate until ready to consume.

Notes

  • Substitute small shells pasta for the elbow macaroni (just remember, the peas like to snuggle inside of the shell!)
  • Substitute cooked baby shrimp or canned chicken for the tuna fish.
  • Stir in some chopped garlic dill pickles or even better, some sweet hot pickles!
  • If you want to cut the heaviness of mayonnaise down, use half sour cream and half mayonnaise.
  • Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard or sweet hot mustard to the mayonnaise dressing.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 259mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.