Curried Tuna Pasta Salad

8 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Refrigerate 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes

Curried Tuna Pasta Salad is a flavorful take on a classic side packed with raisins, celery, and green apples, all topped off with a creamy curry dressing.

Using curry powder is an easy way to change up the flavor of a Classic Deli Salad recipe to keep things interesting! If you love our Curried Egg Salad and Curry Chicken Salad, now you can add Curried Tuna Salad to your Side Dish or lunch routine. 

Sabrina’s Curried Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

If you can’t decide between Creamy Pasta Salad and Classic Tuna Salad, then this Curried Tuna Pasta Salad is the perfect solution! It has the tender pasta and filling hearty tuna, plus a warm flavorful spiced dressing. Not only does it have lots of flavor from the curry dressing, but it’s also full of delicious ingredients and textures. There’s celery, raisins, chopped apples, and sliced almonds for crunchy, chewy, and sweet bursts of goodness. The fruit brings a nice tart and sweet taste while the nuts and celery give it lots of crunch.


  • Dressing: The creamy dressing for this pasta salad recipe is a simple mixture of 2 cups mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. The mayo makes it rich and creamy while the lemon juice lightens it up and thins it out a bit.
  • Curry Powder: The 2 teaspoons of curry powder adds lots of bold, warm aromatic flavor. While there is such thing as a curry plant, curry powder is actually a blend of spices like turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, coriander and cinnamon. Different blends can be spicier or earthier than others. Madras-style curry powder is mild with strong curry flavor plus it has that gorgeous yellow color from the turmeric.
  • Pasta: You’ll need 1 pound of cooked pasta cooked to al dente. You want to cook the pasta fully because it isn’t going to finish cooking in the sauce like other pasta recipes. Also unlike hot pasta dishes, you want to rinse the pasta and let it drain completely.
  • Tuna: The other part of this Tuna Pasta Salad is the tuna. 12 ounces of tuna is 2 standard size cans. Make sure to use the tuna packed in water, because the oil packed tuna will be way too rich with the mayo dressing.
  • Apples and Celery: The chopped celery and apples add a crisp burst of freshness in the heavier mayo dressing and a slight sweetness. The tartness of the green apple and the tanginess of lemon adds a brightness to the dish.
  • Dried Fruit and Nuts: A ¼ cup of golden raisins add a sweet, chewy texture to balance out the crunchy apples and celery, creamy dressing, and tender pasta and tuna. You could also use regular Californian raisins too. Finally the sliced almonds add a final bit of texture and nutty crunch to bring it all together.

How to Make

Time needed: 2 hours and 10 minutes.

  1. Prep Work

    Start by cooking the pasta until tender. Drain and rinse, then let it cool down to room temperature. While the pasta is cooking you can cut up the apples and celery.

  2. Mix the Dressing

    To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and curry powder in a large bowl until it is smooth and well combined.Curried Tuna Pasta Salad collage

  3. Dress the Salad

    Add the cooked pasta, celery, apples, and raisins into the bowl with the dressing. Toss until well coated in the curry dressing. Next, add the tuna and carefully mix until the tuna is entirely coated and evenly distributed.Curried Tuna Pasta Salad in serving bowl

  4. Chill and Serve

    Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours so the flavors deepen and come together. Sprinkle almonds over the top before serving. Keep it refrigerated when you are not serving it.Curried Tuna Pasta Salad in serving bowl

Can this be made ahead of time?

This simple Tuna Salad is also easy to make ahead of time, so you can mix together a big batch, then enjoy it as your lunch for a few days. Just cover the bowl in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge. It will be good for up to 5 days. It also works well in packed lunches, just make sure to keep it in a cooler so it doesn’t get too warm.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Curried Tuna Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 680 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Fat 45g69%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 26g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 39mg13%
Sodium 760mg33%
Potassium 360mg10%
Carbohydrates 51g17%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 168IU3%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 48mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tips for Making Tuna Pasta Salad

  • Prevent Watery Tuna Pasta Salad

The key for making Tuna Pasta Salad that isn’t watery is to drain the pasta and the tuna very well. If you have the space, after you initially drain the cooked macaroni, spread it out on some paper towels to cool and dry out a bit. This also keeps your pasta from clumping while it cools.

  • Keep it Chilled

Since the dressing is made with mayonnaise, it’s important that you keep the Curry Tuna Pasta Salad chilled when you aren’t serving it. If it sits out, it will start to separate. If you are serving it for a party, place the serving bowl in a larger bowl or baking dish filled with ice. The ice should ideally reach up around halfway up the sides. Stir the pasta occasionally to prevent dried out spots on top or the dressing separating.

How to Store

Store: It’s best not to leave it at room temperature for more than a couple of hours since there is mayonnaise in the dressing. Kept tightly covered or in an airtight container, this dish will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freeze: Unfortunately, ingredients like celery and apples, along with the seasoned mayonnaise, won’t freeze and thaw well. If you haven’t finished cold pasta salads like this one after 5 days it’s better just to make a fresh batch.

Ideas to Serve Curried Tuna Pasta Salad

Curried Tuna Pasta Salad is perfect to serve for a cookout, family get-together, brunch side, or just to enjoy for lunch. You could even skip the pasta and serve the Curried Tuna Salad with chips, on flatbread, or in a sandwich, however you will want to reduce the dressing drastically.

Garnishes: For a little extra flavor boost, garnish your salad with fresh herbs like dill weed, cilantro, or parsley. A squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice would add a bit more freshness to the salad too. 

Lunch: Serve the salad on a bed of lettuce for a quick lunch during the week. You could also add healthy crunchy veggies like bell peppers and onions to bulk up the salad so it’s more filling without changing the flavor too much.  

Frequent Questions

Why is my tuna salad watery?

If you don’t drain the tuna properly or use oil-packed tuna, it will make the dressing watery or runny. Also, if you add too much lemon juice, it could get watery. Finally, the apples and celery will naturally break down over time so after a couple days, the salad will start getting watery.

What can I use instead of mayo in tuna salad?

If you’d prefer a lighter Tuna and Pasta Salad try using plain Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise in the recipe. While it will change the taste slightly, the Greek yogurt will give a similar overall texture because it is thicker than regular yogurt. 

What can I mix with tuna to make it taste better? 

Tuna actually goes with lots of different ingredients, especially bold flavors. It really is like the chicken of the sea, tasting just as yummy with lemon pepper seasoning as it does with Thai chili garlic sauce and this creamy Curry Dressing.

Recipe Card

Curried Tuna Pasta Salad

Curried Tuna Pasta Salad is a flavorful take on a classic packed with raisins, celery, and apples, topped off with a creamy curry dressing!
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni , cooked and drained
  • 4 stalks celery , chopped
  • 1 green apple , cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 12 ounces canned chunk tuna , drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds , for garnish


  • Mix mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and curry powder.
  • Toss with pasta, celery, apples, and raisins.
  • Carefully mix in tuna until coated with dressing.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Garnish with sliced almonds before serving.


Calories: 680kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 26g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 760mg | Potassium: 360mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Curried Tuna Pasta Salad

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Add-ins: Customize your Curried Tuna Pasta Salad with different kinds of add-ins. Grapes, chopped red onion, or finely chopped cilantro would all add some delicious flavor. You could also change up the nut garnish by using chopped pistachios, cashews, or walnuts instead of almonds.

Spice: Another way to experiment with your Curried Salad is with different kinds of spices. Try adding in a dash of cumin, paprika, turmeric, or coriander. Any of these spices will play wonderfully off the cumin flavor already in the salad.

More Delicious Twists on Pasta Salad!

Curried Tuna Pasta Salad finished in large bowl with recipe name across top in white banner

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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