Simple Tuna Salad Shells

Tuna by any other name

It’s amazing how many different ways we had to eat tuna growing up: tuna sandwiches, tuna-and-tomatoes, tuna patties, and one of my favorites, “Big Shells.” I’m not sure why we named these tuna-salad-stuffed jumbo pasta shells such a vague name, but I’ve renamed them and brought them to your attention. This is one of those meals that I always have the ingredients on hand for, another simple-ingredients, simple-steps recipe that comes together in 20 minutes or less.

Tuna is relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and makes a filling lunch or dinner. I love to order tuna sandwiches, and I know that is something I would miss if I needed to give up bread. I’ll even reveal my greatest tuna faux pas – I occasionally bring tuna sandwiches on airplanes and buses. That’s how much I love tuna sandwiches!

Level 7: Easy to Chew

Level 7: Easy to Chew is appropriate for individuals who are safe to bite-off and chew pieces of food of any size, as long as pieces are soft and tender. This texture may be a stepping stone to Level 7: Regular, or it may be a final destination for many. Check out the rest of our Level 7: Easy to Chew recipes here.

While bread is allowed on Level 7: Easy to Chew, it is still up to your clinician to approve you for bread and sandwiches specifically. The texture of bread can end up gummy in the mouth and stick to the sides of the throat. I’ve noticed that many of my patients with dysphagia talk about missing sandwiches, and it’s just not the same to eat the inside of a sandwich by itself.

Simple Tuna Salad Shells - a delicious alternative!

In comes a delicious alternative to my beloved tuna sandwiches: Simple Tuna Salad Shells! Although my Simple Tuna Salad Shells still include a wheat-based pasta, because the ratio of insides to pasta is so large, I find that the pasta goes down smoother than a sandwich, or even a bowl of spaghetti!

Pasta is allowed on Level 6: Soft and Bite-Sized, however I found that the shells did not hold up to the tuna salad when cooked soft enough for Level 6. I’ve kept this recipe at a Level 7: Easy to Chew, as the pasta can remain al dente and the shells remain intact. Remember to always test your recipe before serving, you can find the IDDSI testing methods here.

We hope you love Simple Tuna Salad Shells and that they can help you return to your sandwich-loving past!  They are great for picnics and packed lunches and travel just about anywhere you want to go.

You could try this technique with other smooth sandwich spreads as well. Try it out with egg or ham salad, maybe crab salad – yum!

Let us know if you made Simple Tuna Salad Shells! Post pictures and comments below!

Simple Tuna Salad Shells

These jumbo pasta shells stuffed with tuna salad are an easy cold lunch or dinner, and they taste great the next day too!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy to chew
Servings: 3


  • 12 jumbo shells about half a box
  • 2 cans tuna drained
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
  • Relish
  • Shredded cheese optional


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain in colander.
  • Combine tuna, mayonnaise, seasonings, relish, and cheese in bowl.
  • Stuff shells with tuna salad, serve.

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