Tuna noodle casserole is the epitome of comfort food with a creamy sauce, tender noodles, and flaky tuna. This classic and easy dinner recipe brings back nostalgic memories, offering a filling and satisfying meal that can be whipped up easily.
This classic tuna noodle casserole recipe is a perfect meal that has stood the test of time, delighting taste buds across generations. The dish combines simple yet flavorful ingredients, resulting in a satisfying meal perfect for family dinners, potlucks, and gatherings. Whether you’re an experienced cook or new to the kitchen, this casserole recipe is easy to follow and sure to become a favorite in your repertoire.
You might be surprised by the versatility of creamy tuna noodle casserole, as numerous variations on the classic recipe allow for personalization and to put your own spin on it. Some prefer canned soup as a convenient base, while others opt for a homemade creamy sauce that offers a lighter and fresher taste. The addition of tender egg noodles and vegetables, such as peas or mushrooms, can provide an extra burst of flavor and texture to the dish.
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Why You’ll Love This Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Comfort food at its finest: There’s something incredibly comforting about digging into a warm, creamy casserole, especially on a chilly day. This easy recipe, filled with soft egg noodles, flaky tuna fish, and a cream sauce, is the epitome of a feel-good meal.
- Budget-friendly: You cannot go wrong with a tuna casserole when making something delicious without breaking the bank. Canned tuna, egg noodles, and basic pantry staples keep your grocery list short and cost-effective.
- Customizable: One of the great things about this dish is that you can easily make it your own. You can add more veggies like bell peppers or swap out the peas for something else you love. Additionally, you can experiment with different types of cheese or herbs for an extra kick!
- Easy preparation: Only a few minutes of prep time, and the casserole bakes for about 48 to 60 minutes. It can also be prepared in advance and reheated.
- Short list of ingredients: You may already have everything you need to make it.
- Cream of mushroom soup: These cans provide a rich and creamy base for your casserole, giving it the classic comforting taste everyone loves.
- Heavy cream: Adding heavy cream to the casserole ensures a smooth and velvety texture that perfectly complements the other ingredients.
- Garlic and herb seasoning: This seasoning mix adds flavor to the dish, enhancing the taste of the tuna, peas, and noodles.
- Shredded medium cheddar cheese: Cheese adds a deliciously gooey and cheesy element to the casserole, which is hard to resist. You’ll use some of it in the mixture and some for the topping.
- Tuna: Tuna is the star of this dish, providing protein and its distinctive taste. Be sure to drain it well to avoid a soggy casserole. If needed, you can use 2 to 3 small cans of tuna instead of the large can.
- Frozen peas: Peas bring a pop of color, and some added nutrition to your casserole, making it a well-rounded meal. Canned peas can be used, but they will be softer and less bright than frozen peas.
- Wide egg noodles: Egg noodles are the foundation of this dish, creating a satisfying and filling base for the other ingredients.
- Italian-style bread crumbs: To finish your tuna casserole, add a layer of bread crumbs on top for a little extra crunch and flavor. Plain breadcrumbs can be used, but I recommend adding Italian seasoning for extra flavor.
How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Step One: Preheat your oven to 375℉. While your oven is heating up, cook the egg noodles according to the package instructions and set them aside.
- Step Two: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soups, heavy cream, and garlic and herb seasoning until combined and smooth.
- Step Three: Once the mixture is smooth, add 1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese, drained tuna, and frozen peas to ensure even distribution.
- Step Four: Pour the cooked egg noodles into a 9×13 inch casserole dish and scoop the cream of mushroom soup mixture evenly over the top. Gently mix the noodle and soup mixture until well combined in the pan. This will help the flavors meld together throughout the casserole.
- Step Five: Mix the remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar evenly on the casserole once everything is combined. To ensure even baking and avoid burning the cheese, lightly cover the dish with tented aluminum foil.
- Step Six: Bake your casserole for 35 to 45 minutes, or until it’s heated in the middle and the cheese on top completely melts. When it’s ready, remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the casserole’s top. This will add a final touch of texture and flavor.
- Step Seven: Return the casserole to the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes to brown the breadcrumbs. Once they’re golden brown, remove your tuna noodle casserole from the oven, and it’s ready to serve hot.
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What to Serve with Easy Tuna Casserole Recipe
- Homemade garlic bread: An all-time favorite for many, and it goes wonderfully with tuna noodle casserole. The crusty, garlicky texture of the bread is perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce in your casserole.
- Simple side salad: Add freshness and a bit of crunch to the meal. A simple green salad with a light dressing works well, or venture into more interesting territory with a spinach and artichoke salad to mirror the flavors in your main dish.
- Green beans: A delightful and healthy accompaniment to your tuna noodle casserole source. You can also try roasted or steamed asparagus or broccoli.
- Cheesy scalloped potatoes: A scrumptious side dish that complements the creaminess of the tuna noodle casserole and adds an extra element of comfort to a great meal.
Variations and Substitutions
- Noodle swaps: While the traditional choice is egg noodles, experiment with various pasta types like fusilli, farfalle, or gluten-free noodles for dietary needs.
- Protein alternatives: If you’re not a fan of tuna or want to change things up, try substituting cooked chicken breast. You can also use turkey, salmon, or plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh.
- Cheese variations: Swapping different cheeses can enhance the casserole’s creaminess and cheesy goodness. A blend of sharp cheddar and Gruyère can elevate the flavor profile. Other delicious options include Monterey Jack, Swiss, or even a mix of your favorites.
- Add-ins and veggies: Boost the nutrition and taste by incorporating more vegetables or switching them up. You can include broccoli, green beans, corn, and bell pepper. Not a fan of green peas? Don’t include them.
- Soup swap: Switch out the cream of mushroom soup for another variety. You can try cream of chicken soup, cream of celery soup, or cream of bacon soup. Any cream of soup will work!
- Topping tweaks: For a delightful crunch, experiment with various toppings. You can try Ritz crackers, buttered bread crumbs, potato chips, or French-fried onions instead of the bread crumb mixture.
- Heavy cream swap: Substitute half and half or whole milk for the heavy cream. I recommend starting with 1 cup and gradually adding the rest until you get your desired consistency, as both are thinner than heavy cream.
Storage and Reheating
When storing your tuna noodle casserole, you can keep it in the fridge for up to three days. Make sure to place it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness. Allowing it to cool down completely before sealing the container is recommended.
If you want to extend the shelf life of your tuna noodle casserole, you can freeze it for up to three months. Before freezing, let the casserole cool down completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Remember to thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 to 32 hours and then let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before reheating.
There are main ways to reheat your tuna casserole for best results:
- Stovetop: Place the casserole in a saucepan and cook it over low heat, stirring occasionally until warm.
- Traditional Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and reheat the casserole for 20-30 minutes, depending on the portion size.
- Microwave: Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until heated through.
Can I Make Ahead?
Yes, you can make your tuna noodle casserole ahead of time. Prepare it according to your recipe, but instead of baking it, cover the baking dish tightly with foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, remove the cover and bake as directed. As mentioned in the freezing section, you can also make and freeze the casserole.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Cook your pasta just until al dente. This means tender but still firm to the bite. As the noodles will continue cooking in the oven, it’s crucial not to overcook them during boiling.
- Use solid white albacore tuna in water instead of chunk light or other varieties. Make sure to drain the tuna well before adding it to the mix. This will prevent your casserole from becoming too soggy.
- Make ahead the night before. You can store it in the fridge and pop it into the oven the next day for dinner.
- Potato Chips: A popular choice, crushed potato chips add a salty crunch to your casserole. You can use regular chips or kettle-cooked, flavored, or ridged chips for variety.
- Buttered Breadcrumbs: A classic topping, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter, and sprinkle over the top of your casserole. Try tossing the breadcrumbs with garlic powder or your favorite herbs for added flavor.
- French Fried Onions: This crispy, flavorful onions are an excellent way to add some crunch and savory flavor. Simply scatter them over the top of your casserole before baking.
- Grated Cheese: Who doesn’t love a cheesy topping? Choose your favorite cheese, like cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan, and generously sprinkle it over the casserole. Feel free to mix different types of cheese for a unique blend.
- Cracker Crumbs: Another crunchy option, cracker crumbs, can be used as a topping for your tuna noodle casserole. You can use classic saltines, Ritz, or even flavored crackers to add an extra layer of taste.
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Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soups, heavy cream, and garlic and herb seasoning until combined and smooth.
- Add in 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, drained tuna and frozen peas and mix well.
- Pour the cooked egg noodles into a 9×13 inch casserole dish and scoop the cream of mushroom soup mixture evenly over the top.
- Gently mix the noodle and cream of mushroom mixture together until well combined in the pan.
- Spread the remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar evenly on top of the casserole and then lightly cover with a tented piece of aluminum foil.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until heated through in the middle and the cheese on top is completely melted.
- Remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly all over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes to brown the breadcrumbs and then remove from the oven and serve hot.