Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta

4.93 from 69 votes

Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta is a 10-minute meal loaded with Mediterranean flavor. You can make it with basic pantry ingredients - a meal the family will love!

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If you’re a fan of quick 10 minute dinners, this Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta has you covered. It’s full of flavor but you really only need a handful of ingredients to make it. I love how tasty it is, practical for weeknights and overall pretty cheap meal to feed the family when you don’t have many fresh ingredients.

top down shot of garlic lemon tuna pasta

This tuna pasta is one of those meals that actually looks more fancy than it is. You’d be surprised how little effort goes into making the recipe. Feel free to adjust the garlic and lemon juice to your taste. Either way, you’re going to love this recipe, and you’ll never look at canned tuna the same way ever again!

If you are looking for more fish recipes, be sure to check out my Lemon Parsley Baked Cod.

How to make lemon garlic tuna pasta

Heat some olive oil in a large pan, then sauté the garlic until it’s fragrant, making sure not to brown it so it doesn’t get bitter. Next, add the tuna, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook those together for a couple minutes just to warm up the tuna and mix in the flavors.

And then you’re ready to add the spaghetti, chopped parsley and capers, which are totally optional. Add some reserved pasta water as well at this point to stop the spaghetti from drying out.

process shots of how to assemble garlic lemon tuna pasta in a bowl

Give the tuna and pasta a stir and serve it immediately. I would definitely recommend adding some parmesan cheese when you serve it. It just brings the flavors together wonderfully!

Tips for making tuna pasta

  1. Check out my How to cut garlic post for tips on the easiest way to cut garlic for this recipe.
  2. Use tuna in extra virgin olive oil for best flavor. If using tuna in water, make sure to drain all the water out for best flavor so it doesn’t dilute the pasta. I use the StarKist E.V.O.O.™ Wild-Caught Yellowfin Tuna.
  3. Have all the ingredients prepped next to the stove top. The recipe moves pretty fast and you want to make sure that you’re not burning the garlic or overcooking the tuna. So make sure the pasta is ready along with all the ingredients before heating the oil.
  4. Cook pasta al dente. Since you’ll be adding the pasta to the tuna and mixing it all together under low heat, it’s best not to fully cook it. It will get slightly softer as it warms up again with the other ingredients.
  5. Make it more creamy by swapping pasta water with milk or cream. I love how light and fresh this tuna pasta is with the Mediterranean flavor. The pasta water mixed with the olive oil and lemon juice creates a fresh sauce for the recipe. But you can easily make it more creamy if you’d like.
  6. Make it more hearty by building on to the base tuna pasta recipe. You can add some drained white beans to bulk it up or a handful of spinach or kale that will wilt down with the warm sauce.
overhead shot of garlic lemon tuna pasta with parmesan

Frequently asked questions

Can you freeze tuna pasta?

You can freeze any leftovers but if you’re doing so, make sure the pasta is cooked al dente because if it’s too soft, it will get even softer when frozen. Toss the pasta with some olive oil before freezing to make sure they don’t clump together. This is one of those dishes though that you can easily double or halve, to accommodate any servings, without worrying about leftovers.

What type of tuna should I use?

I would opt for Yellowfin Tuna or Albacore tuna that comes in the larger thick-cut chunks that’s sustainable and packed in olive oil. It’s higher quality and will lend itself to a better tasting dish overall. For this tuna pasta recipe, I use the packaged tuna that comes in extra virgin olive oil.

For more pasta recipes:

Now when you’re in a pinch at dinner time, just turn to your pantry, grab a box of pasta and can of tuna and get cooking. I love the bursting Mediterranean flavor in this tuna pasta recipe, but also that you can customize it to add beans, greens and even tomatoes. Hope you try it soon for your family!

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feelgood Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta

Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta is a 10-minute meal loaded with Mediterranean flavor. You can make it with basic pantry ingredients – a meal the family will love!
4.9 from 69 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Dinner, Entree
Calories 348
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 9 mins
Total Time 10 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces spaghetti or other pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 pouches 2.6 ounces tuna in olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus zest
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped divided
  • Grated parmesan for serving

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return to the pot to keep warm.
  • In the wide pan, heat the olive oil at medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tuna, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, and heat through for 1 minute.
  • Add the pasta, capers and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and continue to stir until the spaghetti is well coated. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.
  • Garnish with remaining parsley and serve warm.

Video

Notes

Recipe: Inspired by Bon Appetit
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • Instead of pasta water, you can use any milk or cream.
  • Instead of olive oil, you can use butter
  • To make it gluten-free, you can also make this with gluten-free pasta.
  • Leave out the capers if you don’t like them.
Nutritional Data: The information below is an automated estimate and could vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used. It’s estimated for 2 ounces of pasta per person.

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 241mg, Potassium: 220mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 196IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg

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Tuna pasta with garlic and lemon

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Comments

  1. I tried this for the first time for my husband he loved it. Will make it again.
    Simple and easy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I tried this for the.firat time for my husband he loved it. Will make it again.
    Simple and easy. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good meal for a quick pantry dinner. I added artichoke hearts because I had them. I also used lentil pasta to up the protein since my husband eats a ton of protein daily. My tuna was in water so I had to drain it and up the olive oil a bit. Husband said he really liked it, but he says that everytime I cook (which is nearly everyday) so I’m not sure I can trust him.

  4. I just made this dish for my sister and I and it was absolutely amazing!! I already had all the ingredients in my pantry it’s so easy and turned out delicious, I will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

  5. Excellent pantry dish that can be whipped up without going to the store. Adding the parmesan made it a little creamier without needing to add cream. For kicks, I grabbed some oven mitts and tried the basically tip of putting a heatproof bowl of the tuna “sauce” over the boiling pasta water and it worked pretty beautifully.

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