This tuna carbonara is a delicious and light take on a tuna noodle casserole. Its creamy texture and tuna flavor is complemented by tasty undertones of garlic and parmesan. It’s an American take on Italian carbonara di mare (which means carbonara of the sea) and is a perfect pasta recipe for dinner.

This carbonara with tuna recipe goes well with a side of roasted cauliflower or baked zucchini fries. And if you are also a tuna lover, you’ll love my tuna macaroni salad!

A white plate full of Tuna Carbonara topped with fresh parsley, on a lavender napkin.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Lighter take on tuna noodle casserole. This tuna carbonara recipe is a lighter take on a classic tuna noodle casserole for those who don’t want the added weight that cream of mushroom soup and sour cream can add to the dish. This carbonara recipe brings the tuna flavor without the added fat, making it a deliciously light — yet still creamy — pasta recipe.
  • Uses simple ingredients. I love having go-to recipes that include ingredients that I have on hand. It’s the perfect way to make dinner in a pinch when you haven’t meal planned or grocery shopped recently. This recipe uses simple ingredients yet yields a simply tasty dish!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients used to make Tuna Carbonara on a white background.
  • Eggs: Carbonara pastas are distinguished by the use of eggs to make a creamy sauce. Don’t worry, it won’t be like scrambled eggs and pasta. The egg mixture stirred into the pasta (with some added pasta water) creates a delicious and creamy sauce for the noodles.
  • Pasta: Traditionally carbonara recipes use spaghetti noodles, but you can use whatever pasta you prefer or that you have on hand.
  • Parmesan: Be sure to use the fresh parmesan and not the kind of parmesan you get in those shakers. The parmesan is an important part of the egg mixture sauce because it helps bind the sauce together as it’s cooked and it adds a nice flavor to the sauce.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Drain, making sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. 
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper. 
  1. While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil, garlic, and tuna to a skillet set over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta.
  1. Add the egg mixture, making sure to stir constantly. 
  1. Add a splash of the pasta water to loosen the sauce and make it creamier if needed. Serve immediately, topped with more parmesan and fresh parsley.
A skillet full of Tuna Carbonara.

Recipe Tips

It’s important you stir constantly as you are mixing in the sauce with the pasta or else your egg mixture can scramble.

Variations

This pasta dish is a perfect canvas for making the recipe your own. Feel free to add additional ingredients such as

  • Peas (add after the sauce and cook until the peas are cooked)
  • Chopped sautéed zucchini (pre-cook the zucchini and add last)
  • Spinach (add after the sauce and cook until the spinach wilts)
  • Sliced sautéed red peppers (pre-cook the red peppers and add last)
  • Sliced sautéed mushrooms (pre-cook the red peppers and add last)

Want to make it healthier and low carb? Use spaghetti squash as noodles or zucchini noodles!

FAQs

What is carbonara sauce made of?

Carbonara sauce is made of eggs and cheese at the basis. Additional ingredients can include salt, garlic, herbs, etc.

Why do you put eggs in carbonara?

Bot the eggs whites and the egg yolks have different roles in this dish. The egg whites and the starch from the pasta water make the right consistency we want for the sauce. The egg yolks not only add color and flavor but they bind the sauce together to help create a smooth texture.

What type of pasta is used in carbonara?

Traditionally spaghetti noodles are used in carbonara recipes. However, you can use any long noodle pasta.

Why is there no cream in carbonara?

Adding cream to a carbonara dish isn’t typically done because the integrity of the dish changes. For a traditional carbonara, the creaminess of the sauce is supposed to come from the eggs alone.

Tuna Carbonara on a white plate with a garnish of fresh parsley.

Other Italian Pasta Recipes

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Tuna Carbonara on a plate that's resting on a mauve napkin.
Print Review
5 from 2 votes

Tuna Carbonara

This Tuna Carbonara is a simple meal that comes together in 15 minutes!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 3 teaspoons virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves - minced
  • 2 5 oz cans tuna in water - drained
  • 8 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan - grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley - for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Drain, making sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. 
  • In a small bowl whisk the eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. 
  • While pasta is cooking add olive oil, garlic, and tuna to a skillet set over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce heat to low and stir in the pasta. Add the egg mixture, making sure to stir constantly.
  • Add a splash of pasta water to loosen the sauce and make it creamier if needed. Serve immediately, topped with more Parmesan and fresh parsley. 

Notes

You can use spaghetti, bucatini, fettuccine or any other long noodle variety.
It’s important you stir constantly as you are mixing in the sauce with the pasta or else your egg mixture can scramble.
Want to make it healthier and low carb? Use spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles!
Use freshly grated parmesan cheese rather than pre-grated parmesan. 

Nutrition

Calories: 479kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 44g (15%)Protein: 47g (94%)Fat: 12g (18%)Saturated Fat: 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 205mg (68%)Sodium: 937mg (39%)Potassium: 484mg (14%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 390IU (8%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 213mg (21%)Iron: 4mg (22%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
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