30-Minute Dinner/ Dinner/ fish and seafood/ pasta

Tuna Pasta

1 June 2023 By Aleksandra

This delicious tuna pasta will be ready in no time and is made with pantry staples. The sauce is made with canned tomatoes and olives and it’s so good! Give this easy pasta dish a try and I’m sure you‘ll add it to your regular recipe rotation!

Tuna pasta with olives and tomatoes in a white plate on a blue background.


Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Here´s what you need to make this easy recipe:

Labeled ingredients for tuna pasta.
  • Tuna – the main ingredient of this dish. I used canned tuna in olive oil – it tastes best. Alternatively, just use tuna in oil or tuna in its own juice (it will be less tasty but also less calorie-rich).
  • Pasta – I like fusilli with this recipe. It catches the chunky sauce very nicely. Alternatively, you can use orecchiette, farfalle, penne, or any pasta that you have in your pantry. It’s best to use a type of pasta that ‘catches’ the sauce. You can also use gluten-free pasta.
  • Fat for cooking the onion and garlic – I used a mixture of olive oil and butter for cooking onion and garlic with herbs because they both taste great and add a different taste to the dish. I really like to use clarified butter, it doesn‘t burn as quickly as regular butter, and its taste is just as delicious. If you don’t have clarified butter use regular butter. You can also use just butter or just olive oil. Mixing them both is my personal preference in this recipe.
  • Canned tomatoes – Instead of canned crushed tomatoes, you can use tomato passata (not tomato sauce) or fresh, chopped tomatoes when they’re in season.
  • Broth – You can add vegetable or chicken broth to the dish. I’m sometimes using water with crushed organic stock cubes instead of broth if I don’t have it on hand. You can make your own chicken stock by following this recipe: roasted chicken stock.
  • Olives – I used green olives, but black or kalamata lives would be a good substitute. You can use the leftover olives to make pasta alla Puttanesca (tomato, olive, capers, anchovies, and tomato pasta).

Why this recipe works

  • It’s made from pantry staples.
  • It’s very quick and easy to make. It’s my go-to recipe for weeknight dinner when I don’t have time to do the shopping and to cook.
  • It’s budget-friendly.
  • Kids love this tuna pasta!
  • The sauce is very flavorful. This is really the best sauce that you can make with such a small amount of ingredients. It’s pure comfort food.

How to make tuna pasta step by step:

These are complete cooking instructions. Scroll down for the printable recipe card.

Prepare your ingredients: Start with cooking 7 ounces (200 g) of fusilli pasta until al dente (the pasta should have a bite to it). Dice the onion, chop finely garlic cloves, drain the tuna, and roughly chop the olives.

Sauteed onions and garlic in a pan.

STEP 1: Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of clarified butter/butter in a big frying pan, add 1 medium chopped onion and 1 ts of Italian seasoning. Cook until translucent.

STEP 2: Add 3 finely chopped cloves garlic, cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant.

left picture: tuna, tomatoes, broth, olives, onions in a pan, right picture: tuna tomato sauce in a pan

STEP 3: Add all the other ingredients: 1 (14-oz / 400 ml) can crushed tomatoes, drained 1 (5 oz / 140 g) can tuna, 1/2 cup of vegetable/chicken broth, and 14 roughly chopped green olives.

STEP 4: Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss with cooked pasta, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and grated parmesan cheese.


Storing and Freezing tips

Can this tuna pasta be stored for later? Theoretically, yes, but I think it tastes best freshly prepared. After some time the pasta will soak up the sauce and become mushy, and the sauce will thicken. You can heat it up and add some water to dilute it, but it just won’t be as delicious as freshly made.

How to make it ahead: You can easily make just the sauce and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Cook the pasta just before serving the dish or for up to 2 days. Store the pasta separately from the sauce.

How to freeze it: The sauce can be frozen! Defrost the sauce and cook the pasta just before serving.

Tuna pasta with tomatoes and olives in a large frying pan on a blue background.

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it and give it a star rating in the comments below! You can also add a photo of your creation!

Tuna Pasta

This delicious tuna pasta will be ready in no time and is made with pantry staples. The sauce is made with canned tomatoes and olives and it's so good! Give this easy pasta dish a try and I'm sure you‘ll add it to your regular recipe rotation!
Tuna pasta with tomatoes and olives in a large frying pan.
Print Recipe


(click on the stars)

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 708kcal
Author Aleksandra



  • 7 ounces (200g) fusilli pasta (spirals) or penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or clarified butter
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 (14-oz. / 400ml) can crushed tomatoes or the same amount of tomato passata
  • ½ cup chicken broth or vegetable broth / water
  • 1 (5 oz /140g) can tuna preferably tuna in olive oil
  • 14 green olives or black / calamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

to serve:

  • grated parmesan cheese
  • chopped parsley


  • Cook the pasta al dente (it should have a bite to it).
  • Dice the onion, chop the garlic very finely.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan.
  • Add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning, cook, stirring, for one more minute.
  • Drain the tuna using a sieve, cut the olives in half or into 3 parts.
  • Add canned tomatoes, broth, tuna and olives to the pan. Cook, stirring from time to time, over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, optionally with a bit of lemon juice.
  • Toss with cooked pasta, serve with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy!


  • This pasta dish reheats very well. Can also be frozen.
  • Instead of green olives, you can use kalamata or black olives, but green olives work best for me in this recipe.
  • Instead of canned crushed tomatoes, you can use tomato passata or fresh tomatoes when they’re in season.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
  • Calories = 1 serving (½ recipe), this is only an estimate!
Course dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Tried this Recipe? Rate the Recipe and tell us what you think in the Comments!

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  • Reply
    5 November 2019 at 08:59

    5 stars
    My daughter (13) was cooking this for dinner and we were double happy: pasta tasted so good and she was extremely proud of herself 🙂 Thanks, Alexandra!!!

    • Reply
      5 November 2019 at 14:56

      Thank you, Maria. Please congratulate your daughter from me. I couldn’t cook pasta when I was 13!

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