Tuna Pesto Pasta

bowl of spaghetti with canned tuna and pesto

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5 from 7 reviews

Tuna pesto pasta is an easy and surprisingly delicious dinner made from pesto, pasta, garlic and canned tuna in olive oil. This is a really fast, delicious dinner (and it's also good cold the next day).


Units Scale
  • 12 ounces spaghetti, linguine or your favorite pasta shape
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil (2 cans)
  • 1 to 2 cups pesto (depending on how much you like pesto)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Parmesan, grated on top of the pasta


  1. Use store-bought pesto, or make a batch of pesto (try my Almond Basil Pesto)
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until al dente, according to package instructions. 
  3. Before draining the pasta, scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  4. Drain the pasta in a colander (don’t rinse).
  5. While the pasta boils, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide skillet or saucepan.
  6. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. 
  7. Add the entire cans of tuna, including oil (careful, it will splatter). Break up the tuna & saute it just until it’s heated, then turn off the heat. 
  8. In a large serving bowl, combine the pesto and pasta. Toss with tongs as you drizzle in the starchy pasta water, which will help thin out the pesto and coat the noodles. You probably won't need to use the entire 1 cup of reserved pasta water. 
  9. Add the tuna. Toss well. 
  10. Add salt to taste before serving. Top with grated parmesan if desired. 


This tuna pasta is delicious served hot, or at room temperature, or cold. I really like leftovers cold for lunch the next day. 

Although it depends on the saltiness of the pesto, expect that you'll need to add salt and maybe a squeeze of lemon to make the finished pasta more flavorful.