Chef John's Spaghetti al Tonno


Spaghetti al tonno is one of my all-time favorite go-to pasta dishes. I love a classic meat sauce as much as the next half-Italian, but when I want something quick and easy for a weeknight meal, I reach for the tuna. What if you don't like fish? Then this is perfect. The taste and texture is really closer to a veal sauce than one made with fish.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 anchovy fillet

  • 2 tablespoons capers

  • 3 cloves minced garlic

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 3 cups crushed Italian (plum) tomatoes (such as San Marzano)

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 (7 ounce) can oil-packed tuna, drained

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 (12 ounce) package spaghetti

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, or to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir anchovy and capers in hot oil until anchovy crumbles, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  2. Pour white wine, oregano, and red pepper flakes into the skillet and increase heat to high; cook until mixture reduces and about 3 tablespoons of liquid remain, 2 to 4 minutes.

  3. Stir tomatoes into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Season tomato mixture with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

  4. Stir tuna and 1/4 cup parsley into tomato sauce, breaking up tuna with a wooden spoon while stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

  5. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until almost cooked through and still slightly firm to the bite, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain and transfer spaghetti back to the pot.

  6. Pour tomato sauce over spaghetti into the pot; stir to combine, cover the pot with a lid, and let sit until spaghetti is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Ladle spaghetti into bowls, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and parsley over the top.

    close up view of Spaghetti al Tonno, pasta with red sauce in a pan
    Ann Leroux

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

620 Calories
18g Fat
80g Carbs
31g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 620
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 707mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 80g 29%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 24mg 121%
Calcium 161mg 12%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 907mg 19%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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