A Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe the whole family will love – even those picky little eaters! Made from scratch with simple pantry ingredients, learn how easy it is to make this creamy, noodly, irresistible tuna casserole and rediscover your love for this humble family recipe all over again.
The Best Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
My child has never fought for leftovers of any of my recipes. A lover of all things frozen, sugary, and processed (I still have no idea how this happened), I always hope for the best when it comes to feeding my child my food and always expect the worst.
But this recipe? Well, that veggie-hating child of mine ate seconds, then demanded the leftovers the next day…and the day after. He ate everything in this tuna casserole from the tuna and noodles to the onions, carrots, celery, peas, AND mushrooms. Nothing went to waste and not one complaint was heard.
Everything you see in this recipe is made from scratch – well, mostly. Obviously we’re not making homemade noodles and we’re using canned tuna, BUT we are making our very own sauce. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to do and tastes a million times more delicious than any of the jiggly stuff from a can.
Not a fan of tuna? No worries. Make it with chicken! Or, keep it vegetarian and add a can of chickpeas instead.
What’s in this Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
Simply, everyday ingredients. Nothing fancy. For many of us, we’ll already have most of these ingredients in our pantry and refrigerator.
- Extra-Wide Egg Noodles
- Frozen Peas
- Crimini or White Mushrooms
- Italian Seasoning
- All-Purpose Flour
- Milk (I used 2%)
- Chicken Broth
- Lemon Juice
- Canned Tuna
- Parmesan Cheese (optional)
- Butter Crackers
For the full list and amounts of ingredients, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
What are some simple ingredient alternatives?
- Swap the canned tuna for canned salmon, canned chicken, cooked chickpeas, or leftover chopped chicken.
- Egg noodles are my favorite, but any type of pasta will work. Looking for a gluten-free option? Try adding 3-4 cups of cooked white or brown rice.
- Swap the butter crackers (like Ritz) for Panko breadcrumbs or a light sprinkling of shredded cheese.
How to Make Tuna Casserole
1. Preheat you to 400 degrees F and spray a large casserole or baking dish with non-stick spray. (Note you don’t have to bake your casserole. Topping with crushed crackers and baking is mostly about presentation and storage and helpful if you plan to free extra.)
2. Cook your noodles until al dente, or approximately 1-2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. Do not overcook your noodles here- they will become mushy and fall apart.
3. Cook the veggies (aka mirepoix) in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pan with a little olive oil. Start with the onions, celery, and carrots. After approximately 8-10 minutes, stir in the garlic. Next, add the frozen peas and chopped mushrooms plus seasoning.
- Can you slice the mushrooms rather than chop? Yes
- Can you skip the mushrooms altogether? Yes, however, your sauce will lack the classic mushroom flavor we’re used to in cream of mushroom soup. If this doesn’t bother you, leave them out.
4. Prepare the sauce by adding some butter and sprinkling with flour. Make sure the flour is completely mixed into the veggies. Next, add the milk – very very slowly. Whisk continuously to prevent clumping. Add the chicken broth, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. Allow the sauce to become thick and bubbly.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the tuna, egg noodles, and shredded parmesan cheese. Season with extra salt and add some freshly cracked pepper.
6. SERVE or BAKE. At this point, you may either serve as is – after all, everything is cooked and ready to go. Or, transfer everything to your prepared baking dish and top with crumbled buttery crackers. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until hot, golden, and bubbly.
The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it is a stand-alone meal. There is no need- unless you want to – to add anything more. Sometimes, however, I’ll serve a simple green salad, roasted asparagus, or even roasted green beans for an extra punch of veggies.
Can You Freeze Tuna Casserole?
Yes. In fact, I highly recommend doubling this recipe (make sure you have a big pot, you guys!) Enjoy one now, and freeze one for later.
- Don’t forget to slightly undercooked your noodles.
- Transfer your prepared casserole into a freezer-safe baking pan (those disposable tinfoil pans work great if you don’t have any pyrex ones laying around).
- Allow your tuna casserole to cool completely and skip the buttery cracker topping until you’re ready to bake and serve.
- Cover with tin foil and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat, you’ll want to thaw your casserole in the refrigerator overnight. Just before baking top with the crushed buttery crackers and bake according to instructions provided (plus 5-10 minutes since you’ll be starting with a cold casserole versus a warm one).
More Casserole Recipes,
If you try making this Delicious Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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The BEST Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion (minced)
- 2 large carrots (finely chopped)
- 1 rib celery (finely chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 12 oz wide egg noodles
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 6 ounces white or crimini mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp butter (divided)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cups milk
- 1¾ cups chicken broth ((14.5 ounce can))
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (minced)
- 1/2 lemon (juiced)
- 4 (5-ounce) cans tuna in water (drained and roughly chopped)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1/2 cup butter crackers (crushed (such as Ritz))
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large casserole or baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the noodles and cook until al dente, or approximately 1-2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. Immediately drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to a large pan (with high sides) over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften (approximately 8-10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring continuously.
- Once the onion, carrots, and celery are starting to soften, add the frozen peas, chopped mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and salt. Mix thoroughly to combine. Continue to cook until the mushrooms drop their water
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter, and allow it to melt. Mix thoroughly with the vegetables. Sprinkle with all-purpose flour and mix until flour is incorporated and no dry parts remain.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. Once all the milk has been added, add the chicken broth and slowly whisk until incorporated. Mix in the fresh parsley and fresh lemon juice. Allow mixture to come to a low boil before reducing heat to low to keep warm.
- Remove from heat and mix in the canned, drained tuna, cooked egg noodles, and shredded parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. At this point, you may serve your pasta as is, or bake it in a large casserole dish.
- To bake, transfer the noodles to your prepared casserole dish. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small microwave-safe dish and use your fingers to incorporate it with the crushed butter crackers. Sprinkle the casserole with your prepared buttery cracker breadcrumbs.
- Bake at 400 ° F for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling on the sides.
- Enjoy leftovers for up to 4 days when stored in the refrigerator.
- You may also make this recipe using chicken in place of tuna, if preferred.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)