Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomatoes (Spaghetti al Tonno)

A simple pasta made with pantry staples that packs a flavor punch! This recipe could not be easier to make and the best part, you might already have all of the ingredients in your pantry!

Pasta al Tonno is an Italian pasta dish made with a tuna tomato sauce. With just a few ingredients, this dish comes together very easily making it the perfect weeknight meal!

Tuna pasta ingredients.

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Key Ingredients

Shallot and garlic: Starting the sauce with shallots and garlic sets you up for great flavor!

Tomatoes: Grab a can of crushed tomatoes for this recipe! I love this brand and this brand.

Canned or jarred tuna: It’s important to use tuna packed in oil as opposed to tuna packed in water for this recipe. Not only is the flavor better, but it’ll meld into the pasta much better. If you’re feeling fancy, this tuna is incredible!

Capers: Capers add a brininess and acidity that brightens up the dish.

Red pepper flakes: A touch of red pepper flakes gives this pasta a bit of a kick.

Butter: It’s not exactly traditional in Italian cooking, but adding unsalted butter to pasta dishes at the end helps create a silky sauce.

Fresh parsley: I love using fresh herbs to finish pasta dishes for a pop of color and delicious, bright flavor. Make sure to use Italian flat leaf parsley instead of curly.

Close up shot of Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomatoes in a pan.

How to make Spaghetti al Tonno

Making this pasta could not be easier! You’ll start by cooking the shallot and garlic in olive oil. Then add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Let the sauce cook for 10-15 minutes and season with salt to taste. Add the tuna to the sauce at the end to make sure it doesn’t break apart too much.

Meanwhile, start your pasta cooking. Since the sauce cooks very fast, make sure you already have your pasta water boiling! Just shy of al dente (check the package for cooking times), you’ll pull the pasta from the water and transfer it straight to the sauce pan. Final additions of butter and pasta water help bring everything together and create a silky sauce! Garnish with parsley and that’s it! Super easy and so, so tasty.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomatoes served in a bowl.

Recipe FAQ

What type of tuna works best?

Tuna packed in oil is the best choice for this recipe!

Is this pasta spicy?

This pasta has a nice little kick from the red pepper flakes, but it’s not considerably spicy. Feel free to adjust the spice level to your preference!

Can I use other herbs?

You can use fresh basil instead of parsley, if that’s your preference. Parsley is great with seafood though!

Can I use other pasta shapes?

Yes! This sauce is great with short and long pasta shapes. I prefer spaghetti, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand!

spaghetti with tuna and tomatoes served in bowls.

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Close up shot of Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomatoes in a pan.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomatoes

A simple pasta made with pantry staples that packs a flavor punch! With just a few ingredients, this dish comes together very easily making it the perfect weeknight meal.

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Course Main Course

Cuisine Italian

Ingredients  

1x2x3x

  • Pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Shallot minced
  • 2 Cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) Can crushed tomatoes
  • Teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Cans tuna packed in olive oil drained
  • 1 Tablespoon capers drained
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Cup Fresh parsley roughly chopped, to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and lower the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Season with kosher salt to taste.

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente and drain, reserving cup of pasta water.

  • Gently stir the tuna and capers into the sauce, making sure not to break the tuna apart too much. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the butter and a splash of pasta water, tossing to combine. Cook for 1 minute more, until the pasta is coated in the sauce and the tuna is warmed through. Add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve right away. Enjoy!

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