Social Media

Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

Looking for a healthy, easy-to-make salad that doesn't use mayo? This Tuna Macaroni Salad is the perfect choice. It's packed with nutritious ingredients like albacore tuna, arugula, and capers. Tossed with tangy red wine vinegar and olive oil, it's a salad that's bursting with flavor.

Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

Photos of Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

Most of the ingredients for this recipe are pantry staples; however, capers and arugula might not be. Capers, a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, are small flower buds that have been pickled. They're available in most supermarkets, usually found alongside olives and pickles. Arugula, also known as rocket, is a peppery, leafy green often used in salads. It can be found in the fresh produce section.

Ingredients for a Flavorful Tuna Macaroni Salad

Albacore tuna: Albacore is a specific type of tuna known for its firm texture and mild flavor.

Capers: These are a tangy and salty addition that gives a Mediterranean flare.

Olive oil: Used for its smooth, fruity flavor that complements the other ingredients.

Red wine vinegar: Adds a tangy burst of flavor.

Arugula: A green leaf with a peppery bite, adds freshness to the salad.

Pasta: The base of this salad, pasta adds a satisfying, carb-filled bite.

Black pepper: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Parmesan: A hard, salty cheese that's freshly grated on top of the salad for added depth of flavor.

One reader, Adrianne Aceves says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This tuna macaroni salad without mayo is a game-changer! The combination of tuna, capers, and arugula with a zesty olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing is simply divine. It's a refreshing and light alternative to traditional mayo-based salads, perfect for a healthy and satisfying meal. Highly recommended!

Adrianne Aceves

Techniques Required for Making Tuna Macaroni Salad Without Mayo

How to prepare the tuna: Drain the canned albacore tuna and flake it into a bowl using a fork.

How to toss the ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the flaked tuna, capers, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, arugula, and cooked pasta. Toss gently to combine all the ingredients evenly.

How to serve: Divide the tuna macaroni salad onto two plates and top each serving with freshly shaved parmesan.

How to season: Finish the dish with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

How To Make Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad

Recreate your macaroni salad without mayo for a healthier version. Tossed canned tuna, arugula, capers, and pasta, this is made perfect for light lunch!

Preparation: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes



  • 5ozcanned albacore tuna,drained
  • 1tbspcapers,drained
  • 1tbspextra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbspred wine vinegar
  • 2cupsarugula
  • 1cuppasta,cooked, or GF pasta
  • Fresh black pepper
  • ½ozfresh parmesan,shaved


  1. In a large bowl, toss tuna with capers, oil, vinegar, arugula, pasta, and pepper.

  2. Divide on two plates and top with shaved parmesan.


  • Calories: 422.73kcal
  • Fat: 15.29g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.18g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 7.88g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.24g
  • Carbohydrates: 40.71g
  • Fiber: 2.27g
  • Sugar: 1.89g
  • Protein: 28.86g
  • Cholesterol: 26.79mg
  • Sodium: 488.53mg
  • Calcium: 134.25mg
  • Potassium: 444.83mg
  • Iron: 1.69mg
  • Vitamin A: 42.45µg
  • Vitamin C: 3.22mg

Expert Tip for Perfecting Your Tuna Macaroni Salad

When preparing this tuna macaroni salad, it's important to cook the pasta until it's al dente. This means it should be cooked so that it is still firm when bitten. This not only enhances the texture of the salad but also prevents the pasta from becoming mushy when mixed with the other ingredients. Also, when adding the olive oil and red wine vinegar, make sure to drizzle it evenly over the salad to ensure every bite is flavorful.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Salad

Prepare the ingredients: Gather all the necessary ingredients and equipment before starting to cook. This will save time and make the cooking process more efficient.

Multi-task: Look for opportunities to multi-task, such as chopping vegetables while the water is boiling or marinating the protein while prepping other ingredients.

Prep in advance: Preparing certain ingredients in advance, such as washing and chopping vegetables or marinating meat, can save valuable time when it comes to cooking the recipe.

One-pot meals: Consider making one-pot meals that require less cleanup and cooking time, such as soups, stews, or stir-fries.

Use kitchen tools: Utilize kitchen tools like food processors, blenders, and slow cookers to streamline the cooking process and save time.

Follow the recipe: Stick to the recipe to avoid mistakes that could lead to time-consuming adjustments or fixes during the cooking process.

Substitute Ingredients For Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

  • canned albacore tuna - Substitute with canned salmon: Canned salmon can be used as a substitute for tuna in this recipe, providing a similar texture and flavor profile.

  • capers - Substitute with chopped green olives: Chopped green olives can add a briny and tangy flavor similar to capers in the salad.

  • extra virgin olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil can be used as a substitute for extra virgin olive oil, providing a mild and slightly buttery flavor.

  • red wine vinegar - Substitute with apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for red wine vinegar, offering a slightly fruity and tangy flavor.

  • arugula - Substitute with baby spinach: Baby spinach can be used as a substitute for arugula, providing a mild and slightly earthy flavor.

  • pasta - Substitute with whole wheat pasta: Whole wheat pasta can be used as a substitute for regular pasta, offering a nuttier flavor and higher nutritional value.

  • fresh black pepper - Substitute with crushed red pepper flakes: Crushed red pepper flakes can add a spicy kick similar to black pepper in the salad.

  • fresh parmesan - Substitute with pecorino romano: Pecorino Romano cheese can be used as a substitute for Parmesan, providing a similar salty and tangy flavor.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Tuna Macaroni Salad

  • Cutting board: A flat surface used for cutting, slicing, and chopping ingredients.

  • Chef's knife: A versatile knife used for various kitchen tasks such as chopping, slicing, and dicing.

  • Mixing bowl: Used for combining ingredients and mixing salads or dressings.

  • Whisk: A kitchen tool used for blending, whipping, and beating ingredients.

  • Can opener: Used for opening canned ingredients such as tuna.

  • Grater: Used to grate the fresh parmesan for the salad.

  • Colander: Used for draining and rinsing the cooked pasta.

  • Measuring spoons: For accurately measuring small amounts of ingredients like capers and olive oil.

  • Large bowl: Used for tossing and mixing the salad ingredients.

  • Plates: For serving the prepared tuna macaroni salad.

Storage and Freezing Instructions for Tuna Macaroni Salad

  • This tuna macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The arugula may wilt slightly, but the flavors will meld together beautifully.
  • If you want to make this salad ahead of time, prepare the pasta, tuna, and dressing separately. Store them in separate containers in the refrigerator, and then combine them with the arugula just before serving.
  • Unfortunately, this salad does not freeze well due to the delicate nature of the arugula and the pasta. The texture of the salad would be compromised once thawed.
  • If you have leftover canned tuna, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Use it in other salads, sandwiches, or pasta dishes.
  • The parmesan cheese is best freshly shaved onto the salad just before serving. If you have any leftover parmesan, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

How To Reheat Leftover Tuna Macaroni Salad

  • To reheat leftover tuna macaroni salad without mayo, start by placing the desired portion in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to prevent the salad from drying out during the reheating process.
  • Microwave the tuna macaroni salad on high power for 30-second intervals, stirring gently between each interval. This method ensures even heating and prevents the salad from becoming overcooked or mushy.
  • If you prefer a cold tuna macaroni salad, simply remove the salad from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the salad to soften slightly.
  • For a crisp and refreshing twist, consider adding a handful of fresh arugula or baby spinach to the reheated tuna macaroni salad. The greens will wilt slightly from the heat, adding a delightful texture and flavor to the dish.
  • To enhance the flavor of the reheated tuna macaroni salad, drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar over the top before serving. This will brighten up the flavors and add a tangy kick to the salad.
  • If you find that the reheated tuna macaroni salad is a bit dry, try stirring in a tablespoon or two of warm water to help loosen the pasta and create a more appealing texture.
  • For a gourmet touch, garnish the reheated tuna macaroni salad with freshly shaved parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper. The salty, nutty notes of the parmesan will complement the rich flavor of the tuna, while the black pepper adds a subtle heat and depth to the dish.

Interesting Trivia About Tuna Macaroni Salad

Tuna macaroni salad is a great source of protein and healthy fats. It's a perfect dish for those looking for a mayo-free alternative. This recipe is a delicious and nutritious option for a light lunch or dinner. The combination of tuna, capers, and arugula provides a burst of flavors that will satisfy your taste buds. Additionally, the use of olive oil and red wine vinegar adds a tangy and refreshing element to the dish. This salad is a versatile option that can be enjoyed on its own or as a side dish. It's a great way to incorporate more seafood into your diet.

Is Making Tuna Macaroni Salad at Home Cost-Effective?

This tuna macaroni salad recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The use of affordable ingredients like canned tuna, pasta, and arugula makes it budget-friendly. The absence of expensive items like mayonnaise or specialty ingredients keeps the cost down. The recipe's simplicity and minimal use of ingredients contribute to its affordability. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $10-$12. Overall Verdict: 8/10

Is This Tuna Macaroni Salad Healthy?

The tuna macaroni salad recipe without mayo is a relatively healthy dish, offering a balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Here's a breakdown of the nutritional benefits:

  • Albacore tuna provides lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart and brain health
  • Arugula is a nutrient-dense leafy green, rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants
  • Olive oil and red wine vinegar provide healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants
  • Capers add flavor and contain beneficial compounds like quercetin and rutin
  • Whole grain pasta contributes complex carbohydrates and fiber for sustained energy and digestive health
  • Parmesan cheese adds a savory umami flavor and provides calcium for bone health

However, there are a few areas where the recipe could be improved to boost its nutritional value even further.

To make this recipe even healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Opt for whole wheat or legume-based pasta to increase the fiber content and provide additional nutrients
  • Add more colorful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, or shredded carrots to boost the vitamin and mineral content
  • Include a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, for added crunch and healthy fats
  • Experiment with different leafy greens like spinach, kale, or mixed spring greens for variety and a wider range of nutrients
  • Use a light hand when adding the parmesan cheese to keep the saturated fat content in check, or opt for a lower-fat alternative like nutritional yeast

Editor's Opinion on This Mayo-Free Tuna Macaroni Salad

This tuna macaroni salad without mayo is a refreshing and flavorful twist on the classic. The combination of albacore tuna, capers, arugula, and parmesan creates a delightful medley of textures and flavors. The use of olive oil and red wine vinegar provides a light and tangy dressing that complements the dish perfectly. It's a great option for those looking for a lighter, mayo-free alternative. The simplicity of this recipe allows the natural flavors to shine through, making it a delightful choice for a quick and satisfying meal.

Enhance Your Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Roasted Asparagus: Toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then roast until tender and slightly crispy.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sauté carrots in a honey glaze until they are caramelized and tender, then sprinkle with fresh herbs for a pop of flavor.
Grilled Pineapple Spears: Brush pineapple spears with a mixture of honey and lime juice, then grill until they are caramelized and juicy.
Creamy Mushroom Risotto: Sauté mushrooms with shallots and garlic, then stir in arborio rice and slowly add broth until the mixture is creamy and tender.
Berry Spinach Salad: Toss fresh berries and spinach with a balsamic vinaigrette, then sprinkle with toasted nuts for added crunch.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love Tuna Macaroni Salad

Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Marinate the vegetables in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and your favorite herbs. Skewer them and grill until tender and slightly charred.
Mango Chicken Salad: Combine grilled chicken, diced mango, red onion, and cilantro. Toss with a dressing made of lime juice, honey, and a touch of chili powder.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: Sauté onions and garlic, then add canned tomatoes and vegetable broth. Simmer until the flavors meld, then blend until smooth. Stir in heavy cream and fresh basil for a creamy finish.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Tuna Macaroni Salad

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing large mushrooms with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. Bake until golden and serve hot for a crowd-pleasing starter.
Bruschetta: Elevate the classic bruschetta by topping toasted baguette slices with a flavorful combination of diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic glaze. This refreshing and vibrant appetizer is perfect for any occasion.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, warm chocolate lava cake oozing with rich, molten chocolate in the center. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of sweetness and creaminess.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Savor a creamy and luscious strawberry cheesecake topped with fresh, juicy strawberries. The smooth texture of the cheesecake combined with the sweet and tangy flavor of the strawberries creates a delightful dessert experience.

Why trust this Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful twist on the classic tuna macaroni salad, featuring capers for a burst of briny flavor, arugula for a peppery kick, and parmesan for a rich, nutty finish. The use of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar provides a light and refreshing dressing, while the albacore tuna adds a protein-packed element. With a harmonious blend of textures and flavors, this dish is a must-try for those seeking a mayo-free alternative that doesn't compromise on taste or satisfaction.

Share your thoughts on this Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know how it turned out for you!
Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can definitely use a different type of pasta for this recipe. Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape or whatever you have on hand.
Can I substitute the arugula with a different type of greens?
Absolutely! You can substitute the arugula with spinach, kale, or any other leafy greens that you prefer.
Is there a specific type of tuna that works best for this recipe?
I recommend using canned albacore tuna for its mild flavor and firm texture, but you can use any type of canned tuna that you enjoy.
Can I add other vegetables to this salad?
Of course! You can customize this salad by adding cherry tomatoes, diced bell peppers, or any other vegetables you like.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can make this salad ahead of time. It's a great make-ahead dish for picnics, potlucks, or meal prep. Just store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to enjoy it.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!