Healthy Low Calorie Tuna Pasta Salad is higher in protein and made lower fat without mayonnaise. Perfect for lunch, dinner, a side dish or snack! Gluten Free + Low Calorie
You can never have enough pasta salad recipes! They're great for meal prep as you can make them ahead of time. They're also wonderful for summer eating, BBQ's, parties. gatherings and more. They're so versatile!
This low calorie tuna pasta salad recipe is higher in protein and made lower in fat without mayonnaise. Compared to traditional tuna pasta salads, this recipe is lower in calories and better balanced in nutrition!
It's a balanced meal with protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates. You can serve it alongside grilled veggies or protein at a cookout or picnic. It's so easy and delicious - I know you'll love it!
What Makes This Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe Better For You?
There's a lot to love about this low calorie tuna pasta salad recipe. It's one of my favorite summer recipes. Here's a few reasons why!
- Easy - Cook the pasta, blend together the dressing, toss together and chill. That's it!
- Perfect for Meal Prep - This recipe lasts 4 day in the fridge, so make it once and has a tasty meal for days!
- Versatile - There's many ways you can serve or use this recipe for healthy meals and healthy eating.
- Simple Ingredients - Most of the ingredients are pantry staples so you'll only need to add a few things to your grocery list.
- Lower Calories - Some of you will still think this recipe is too many calories and I encourage you to get out of that restrictive dieters mindset around that. Calories matter, but the macronutrient balance matters more because without that you will be over consuming snacks from being hungry the rest of the day. This recipe is both more calorie conscious and has a better balance of macronutrients than traditional tuna pasta salad recipes.
- Gluten Free - All ingredients are gluten free.
- Healthy Fat - The fat in this recipe is mostly coming from the tuna and avocado. The saturated fat (less ideal fat) is only 2 grams. The remainder is from healthy fat your body loves and keeps you full with.
- Higher Protein - Each serving is 37 grams of protein which most tuna pasta salad recipes are deficient in. This means you will be fuller longer and that you can use this recipe as a meal.
- High Fiber - Each serving is 9 grams of fiber! That's a lot of fiber!!! Again, more fiber means you will feel more satisfied and be less prone to overeating later on.
Ingredients For Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad
Here's what you need to make the BEST healthy tuna pasta salad. You will also need a large mixing bowl and a food processor. See the substitutions section below in the blog post for ingredient swaps you can make with this recipe.
- Chickpea Penne
- Red Onion
- Red Pepper
- Canned Tuna
- Greek Yogurt
- Lemon Juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Chili Flakes
How To Make Tuna Pasta Salad Low Calorie
Making this tuna pasta salad is quick and easy. The only ingredient cooked is the pasta. The rest is blending together the dressing and mixing it with the ingredients in a bowl!
Step One: Cook the chickpea pasta according to the package instructions then drain and set aside to cool.
Step Three: Place the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl then pour the dressing over the top. Toss to combine and enjoy!
Can You Make Tuna Pasta Ahead Of Time?
This low calorie tuna and pasta salad is a great dish to meal prep ahead of time or make ahead of time for an event. It tastes best after chilling in the refrigerator 30-60 minutes. This allows the dressing and ingredients to really marinade!
Because the avocado is mixed with Greek yogurt and lemon juice, the recipe will keep well for up to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. If you are concerned about the dressing, you can alternatively use the dressing from this low calorie pasta salad recipe.
What Pasta Is Best To Use?
I always recommend my weight loss clients use plant-based pastas like chickpea pasta which I used for this recipe. Plant-based pastas are higher protein and higher fiber compared to white and whole wheat pastas. The higher protein and fiber will keep you fuller longer than traditional pastas.
That said, you can use whatever pasta you like. Any variation can be easily substituted in this recipe. Just understand it will impact the nutritional values you see in the recipe card below and it might impact your hunger and cravings!
Do You Need To Rinse The Pasta In Cold Water After Cooking?
You do not need to rinse the pasta in cold water. I do recommend letting the pasta cool before mixing it with the other ingredients. While the pasta is cooling, you can make the dressing and chop up the vegetables.
Here's the substitutions I recommend for the recipe. Remember when you make substitutions that it does alter the nutritional values (calories, protein, fat and carbs) from what you see in the recipe card below.
- Chickpea Pasta - As I mentioned above, you can use any pasta you like. I always recommend plant-based ones though as they are higher in protein and fiber.
- Tuna - I recommend albacore tuna for this recipe. It has a milder flavor and firmer texture. I like the brand Wild Planet. You can also substitute the tuna for canned or instant pot shredded chicken or canned salmon or another protein you like.
- Avocado - You can omit the avocado dressing and use the dressing for low calorie pasta salad recipe. You could use 1/2 the avocado to reduce the calories slightly. Or a pesto could be used instead in which case I would simply use the pesto as the dressing and omit the remaining dressing ingredients.
- Greek Yogurt - Any plain yogurt will work. I used nonfat to keep the macronutrients balanced as we already have plenty of healthy fat from the avocado and tuna. You can use low fat, full fat or even dairy free yogurt instead.
- Fresh Dill - The dill really brightens this recipe! If you need to substitute with a neutral flavor, parsley would be what I recommend. You can also use thyme, fennel or tarragon.
- Veggies - Any of the vegetables may be substituted or omitted to your liking.
- Paleo - Use a Paleo pasta in place of the chickpea pasta and this will easily be Paleo friendly!
- Lower Calorie - If you want to make the recipe slightly lower in calorie, you can use 1/2 an avocado instead of a full one.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Here's more pasta salad and salad side dish recipes to enjoy!
- Low Calorie Pasta Salad
- Low Calorie Potato Salad
- Low Calorie Macaroni Salad
- Tabbouleh Quinoa Salad
- Low Calorie Coleslaw
- Zucchini Pasta Salad
- Low Calorie Potato Salad
Low Calorie Tuna Pasta Salad
For the Salad
- 8 oz Chickpea Penne
- 1 cup Celery diced
- 1/2 cup Red Onion diced
- 1/2 cup Red Pepper diced
- 1/2 cup Peas frozen
- 16 oz Tuna canned and flaked
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool.
- Place all sauce/dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth and well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Place the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl then pour the dressing over the top. Toss to combine and enjoy!
- The pasta salad keeps in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Serve cold.