Seafood Pasta

Pasta with Tuna Tomato Sauce

March 29, 2020 (Last Updated: February 6, 2021)

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Total time to make this recipe: 30 minutes
overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce

A quick flavorful pasta main course made with just 4 pantry staple ingredients: canned tuna, canned tomato sauce, onions and pasta. It’s just as easy and delicious as it sounds! It will be ready in less than 30 minutes and it will be a family favorite!

How many times did you stare at your pantry, trying to find inspiration to cook something? It happens to me all the time. Especially during these hard days of quarantine and isolation.

My pantry is full and I could whip up many different recipes, but most of the time I go back doing comforting recipes which I know how to make by heart and are loved by my family. This pasta dish is one of them.

I always have onions, canned purèed tomatoes, and canned tuna in my pantry (of course I always have pasta too, that’s a given). So I always know that if I cannot find inspiration or motivation to cook something new, I can always go back to this comforting recipe.

This tuna tomato sauce is made by almost every Italian household, although it’s not a traditional Italian recipe per se. It’s one of those recipes you learn when you try to cook something as a teenager or college student and all you have is a can of tuna and tomato sauce. Then it gets better with the years until it becomes your favorite.

overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce
overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce

How to get the best from this recipe

Even though this recipe is very easy to make, there are a few things you can take into consideration to bring it to the next level and differentiate the college student meal from a well-cooked meal (no offense to college students).

  • Cook your pasta al dente. I know I say this every time but I don’t say because it’s a capital sin to overcook pasta in Italy, I say it because it makes a difference. This sauce has a very soft consistency so the pasta needs to have a bite (that’s what al dente means) to well balance the softness. If you overcook the pasta, you might as well blend it all and eat it as a soup.
  • Let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes. I know you might want to cut corners and make it quicker, but please fight this urge and let the sauce simmer! The more the sauce simmers, the more the flavors will blend together and the acidity of the tomatoes will be decreased leaving you with a very flavorful sauce.
  • Season well. I know this is a given, but apart from the salt which makes every ingredient tasty, also black pepper and chili pepper flakes are important. Black pepper will make the sauce more round and bring out the flavor of tuna. The spiciness of the chili pepper flakes (or powder) will make the sauce more interesting, but be careful to not add too much. You should feel just a tiny bit of spicy.

More quick pasta recipes you might like

overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce
overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce

The Recipe

overhead shot of a plateful of pasta with tuna tomato sauce

Pasta with Tuna Tomato Sauce

A super easy and quick sauce made from pantry staple ingredients and ready in just half hour. The best weekday dinner or lunch!
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jessica – Cooking my Dreams


  • 6.3 oz Pasta
  • 1 can Tuna in Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, minced
  • 1/2 can Purèed Tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili Pepper flakes
  • Olive Oil
  • Water


  • Drizzle some olive oil in a pot or pan, then add the minced onion and turn on the heat.
  • When the onion starts to sweat, add the tuna together with its oil and the tomatoes.
  • Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper and chili pepper flakes to taste.
    If the sauce becomes too thick, add a few tablespoons of water.
  • Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then toss the pasta when the sauce is halwfay through the cooking.
  • Drain the pasta al dente and add it to the sauce. You can also drain it 1-2 minutes before it's done and let it finish cooking in the sauce.


Calories: 541 kcal | Carbohydrates: 77 g | Protein: 37 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 28 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 8 g

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: italian food, italian recipe, pasta, tuna sauce
Have you tried this recipe?Snap a photo and tag @jess.cookingmydreams or use the hashtag #cookingmydreams!

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Thank you so much!

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