The easiest 15-minute canned tuna pesto pasta recipe made with store-bought or homemade basil pesto. It’s healthy, gluten-free, and loaded with fresh cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. Serve it warm or cold as a salad!
Best tuna pesto pasta recipe
I love how easy this tuna pesto pasta recipe is to make. It’s warm, fresh, and packed with protein. The pesto is not only nut free, but it’s bright, garlicky, and only calls for six healthy ingredients. This pasta is so delicious in combination with the pasta, feta cheese, and fresh tomatoes.
Pesto tuna pasta is the perfect 15-minute dinner, meal prep lunch, or side dish. It’s easy to make but extra flavorful. I love making a large batch on a Sunday and saving it for lunches throughout the week.
You can enjoy this tuna pesto pasta warm or cold as a salad. I left instructions for both below!
I also love how customizable this recipe is. You can swap the feta for parmesan to make it Italian. You can even add artichoke hearts, blanched asparagus, olives, capers, or sun-dried tomatoes to spice things up. The sky is the limit!
Why you’ll love this healthy recipe:
- Easy 15-minute recipe.
- Use store-bought or homemade pesto. I love this nut-free basil pesto!
- Made with canned tuna.
- Use gluten-free, whole wheat, regular, or chickpea pasta.
- Serve it warm or cold as a pasta salad.
- Over 25 grams of protein per serving.
- No mayo or heavy cream.
- Light and healthy recipe.
- Try this super easy and delicious tuna salad without mayo next!
Ingredients and substitutions
This cozy tuna pesto pasta is seriously the perfect meal prep lunch, dinner, or side dish! You’ll need seven simple ingredients like pasta, feta cheese, canned tuna, tomatoes, and pesto. Don’t worry, you don’t need mayo or heavy cream for this healthy recipe. Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared:
- Canned Tuna: I use canned tuna stored in water. However, any variety will work.
- Pasta: Grab your favorite type of pasta – I love fusilli, farfalle bowtie, rotini, or penne. You can use whole wheat, regular, chickpea, gluten-free, or quinoa pasta.
- Pesto: The star of the show to flavor this tuna pasta. I love using this nut-free basil pesto made without pine nuts, but you can also use your favorite store-bought pesto.
- Sweet Cherry Tomatoes: This adds the best freshness to this pesto tuna pasta.
- Crumbled Feta: For a creamy, cheesy, salty flavor. I love crumbled feta so much!
- Black Pepper: Just a little for seasoning.
- Lemon: I love finishing off this tuna pesto pasta with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It adds brightness and a little acidity.
Kitchen tools required
Here is a list of kitchen utensils you will need to make this easy tuna pesto pasta.
- Large Pot
- Cutting Board
- Kitchen Knife
- Small Bowl
- Mixing Spoon
- Measuring Tools: 1/2 teaspoon, 1/4 cup, and 1/3 cup.
How to make tuna pesto pasta
This is the best-ever healthy tuna pesto pasta. It’s so easy to make in under 15 minutes, and you can serve it warm or cold as a salad. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so any level cook can make them. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, if you’re making homemade pesto, follow the instructions here.
Then, boil a large pot of salted water and add pasta. Cook according to the package until pasta is al dente. When done, strain the pasta (remember to reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water).
Meanwhile, drain the tuna, add it to a small bowl, and use a fork to break it up. Set it to the side when done.
After that, return the pot back to the stove with the cooked pasta in it. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add in the pesto and reserved pasta water. Stir until combined.
Gently stir in the tuna, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and black pepper. Taste and adjust any seasoning to your liking. Season with salt & pepper if desired (remember that tuna and feta are already salty).
You can serve this tuna pesto pasta warm or cold – I love both.
If serving warm: ensure the pasta is heated and serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
If serving cold: place the pasta in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to cool, then toss it with the arugula or baby spinach to make it a “salad.” Squeeze half a lemon on top before serving. Enjoy!
Can I use homemade pesto?
Yes, I love using homemade pesto for this tuna pesto pasta recipe because it lightens it up and makes it healthier. This is the best basil pesto recipe made without pine nuts. It’s easy to make, and you can save extras for other recipes or meal prep. Plus, my recipe is nut-free and healthier.
Recipe tips and variations
- Use parmesan cheese. Swap the feta for parmesan to make this a more Italian-inspired tuna pesto pasta.
- Make homemade pesto. I love using this nut-free basil pesto recipe. It makes this recipe lighter, healthier, and simpler.
- Double or triple the recipe for meal prep. I love that this healthy tuna salad is the best meal prep recipe. You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days for quick lunches.
- My favorite tuna is albacore tuna stored in water. This Wild Planet brand is the best!
- Add Mix-Ins: The sky is the limit with tuna pesto pasta recipe variations! Add sliced artichoke hearts, chickpeas, blanched asparagus, olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, or wilted spinach.
- Make it higher in protein. Swap the regular pasta for chickpea pasta (I love this one) to increase the protein and also make this recipe 100% gluten-free.
- Serve it cold. You can also enjoy this pesto tuna pasta cold and turn it into a pasta salad. Just let it cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and then toss it with arugula or baby spinach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I eat it warm and cold?
You can enjoy this tuna pesto pasta warm or cold. Both are delicious! If you decide the serve it cold, let the pesto tuna pasta cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before tossing it with arugula or baby spinach to turn it into a salad.
Can I use chickpea pasta?
Absolutely! You can use any pasta you want. Chickpea pasta increases the protein in this recipe and makes it gluten-free.
Can I use canned tuna stored in oil, not water?
You can certainly use oil-based tuna.
How long does tuna pesto pasta last?
Tuna pesto pasta lasts up to 5 days if stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
What’s the best gluten-free pasta?
Can I make it dairy-free?
To make this pesto tuna pasta dairy free, use a dairy-free pesto and remove the feta cheese. You can swap the feta for a dairy-free alternative.
What to serve with pesto tuna pasta?
Tuna pesto pasta goes well with so many things! I love serving it as a main dish and a side dish. If serving as a side, pair it with this Balsamic Feta Stuffed Chicken, Greek Yogurt Chicken, Grilled BBQ Shrimp, or these Juicy Grilled Turkey Burgers.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Store leftover tuna pesto pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Tuna Salad Without Mayo
- Orzo Pesto Salad
- Balsamic Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Healthy Greek Pasta Salad
- Goat Cheese & Pesto Crusted Chicken
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Tuna Pesto Pasta
- 8 ounces pasta (fusilli, farfalle bowtie, rotini, or penne) , whole wheat, chickpea, regular or gluten-free
- ¾ cup of pesto, my basil pesto recipe or store-bought
- ¼ cup leftover pasta water
- 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna stored in water, drained
- 2 cups sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Salt to taste, (tuna is already salty, so taste the pasta in step 5 and add salt if you want)
- 1 lemon for serving
- If serving COLD: 3 – 4 handfuls of arugula or baby spinach
- If making homemade pesto, follow the instructions here.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook according to the package until pasta is al dente. When done, strain the pasta (remember to reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water).
- Meanwhile, drain the tuna, add it to a small bowl, and use a fork to break it up. Set it to the side when done.
- Return the pot back to the stove with the cooked pasta in it. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add in the pesto and reserved pasta water. Stir until combined.
- Gently stir in the tuna, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and black pepper. Taste and adjust any seasoning to your liking. Season with salt & pepper if desired (remember that tuna and feta are already salty).
- You can serve this pasta warm or cold. I love both.
- If serving warm: make sure the pasta is heated and serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- If serving cold: place the pasta in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to cool, then toss it with the arugula or baby spinach to make is a “salad.” Squeeze half a lemon on top before serving. Enjoy!
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