Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe // Video
Warm, comforting, fast and easy, this is the Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe around. Carrots, peas and tuna are blended with a homemade creamy sauce then cooked with noodles before being topped with a buttery, crispy crust. Classic Comfort food is right here.
Originally published September 2016 and updated in October 2019.
I cook all day. All day long. I love it but by the time dinner rolls around I’m pooped. Like seriously, it takes every ounce of willpower to make myself cook something for dinner.
A lot of the time, I make dinner for a post…take the pictures and attempt to wrap it up for later. But every once in awhile, the family is hovering like vultures and it ends up being lunch. So, then they’re asking me what’s for dinner when they, literally, just ate my dinner plans.
I hate those days. This Old Fashioned Tuna Casserole…this was one of those days.
My day starts with cleaning the kitchen….I clean the kitchen before I can start working. I feel like if there’s a crumb on the floor or a dish in the sink…it throws off my creative juices.
And since I’m so tired the night before after cooking all day, then made dinner, THEN had to clean up…sometimes….I just wipe the crumbs on the floor. Sometimes, I jam the giant pots into the dishwasher because I’m too lazy to hand wash them.
Sometimes….just sometimes….I’ll toss ALL the leftovers into the trash because all the storage containers are in the fridge with leftovers from 3 weeks or 6 months ago. That’s real life. So, the next day…I get to clean it all up if my lazy self left a mess for my morning self. Good thing I’m a morning person.
So, one day…I had a plan set for the day and laziness carried over from the previous day in the form of crumbs, dirty dishes and a heaping trash bag that needed to go out.
Everything I planned to make that day was going to require a lot of effort…no amount of coffee was going to get my rear in gear to get everything I needed done within a reasonable time. And then there’s the matter of dinner. I decided to whip up something I’ve been meaning to make for years…..Tuna Noodle Casserole.
It was never a favorite of mine growing up. In fact, as a child I visited a friend and was invited for dinner….I nearly gagged at the table when dinner was served. Tuna Noodle Casserole…emphasis on the tuna….lots of tuna….lots of very odorous tuna. I was scarred. Until now.
EASY TUNA CASSEROLE
If you’ve never had a classic Tuna Casserole before, it’s basically a casserole made up of noodles, tuna, peas and other vegetables baked in a creamy sauce then topped with a crunchy breadcrumb or cracker topping.
The tuna casserole sauce is usually made of a canned cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup but for this recipe we made our homemade tuna noodle casserole from scratch! It’s just as easy as using a can of soup and has so much less sodium. It’s a healthy tuna casserole that you won’t feel badly feeding to your family every week.
HOW TO MAKE TUNA CASSEROLE
You can make this easy tuna casserole recipe in less than 45 minutes including prep time making it a fantastic weeknight dinner.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions to the pan and cook until softened, approximately 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the carrots and celery. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Sprinkle the cornstarch over the vegetables and toss to coat thoroughly.
Slowly stir in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
Turn the heat to low and stir in the half and half, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, peas, noodles and tuna.
Allow the casserole to simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes until the noodles begin to soften.
Stir in the cheese.
In a small bowl, toss the butter with the panko and then sprinkle the mixture over the casserole.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
I am now a convert…as I usually am when I tackle an off-putting recipe from my past. This is THE Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole you’ll ever make. The prep is very similar to this skillet pot pie but instead off using a pie crust to cover your casserole, I used a buttery blend of….well, butter…and panko bread crumbs. Everything cooks in just one skillet so clean up is a breeze…even the noodles, like I did with this taco pasta.
HOW TO FREEZE TUNA CASSEROLE
This easy Tuna Noodle Casserole is a great make ahead dinner recipe. You can prep it ahead and stash it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.
OR you can cover it tightly with plastic wrap and freeze it in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. If you store it in a freezer safe and oven proof dish, you can even bake it from frozen for 1 hour or until completely cooked through.
HOW LONG IS TUNA CASSEROLE GOOD FOR
Leftover Tuna Casserole can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply heat in the microwave or transfer to an oven safe dish and bake until warmed through.
TIPS FOR MAKING TUNA CASSEROLE
- Drain your tuna thoroughly so you don’t have the tuna juices floating around in the sauce. It’s not a good thing….make sure you drain the heck out of it before adding to your casserole.
- Use tuna packed in water, not oil. It’s lighter and easier to blend into the recipe.
- Break up the tuna very well with a fork so there are no large chunks left. This will allow it to blend into the creamy, cheesy sauce.
MORE EASY CASSEROLE RECIPES
- Super EASY Chicken and Dumplings Casserole
- Cheesy Dorito Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole has been on repeat for 365 days.
- Easy dump and go Chicken Teriyaki Casserole…better than take out.
- Classic Chicken Divan is a hit with the kids.
Get the Recipe: The Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 6 ounces wide egg noodles
- 1 5 ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook until softened, approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots and celery. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch over the vegetables and toss to coat thoroughly.
- Slowly stir in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
- Turn the heat to low and stir in the half and half, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, peas, noodles and tuna.
- Allow the casserole to simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes until the noodles begin to soften.
- Stir in the cheese.
- In a small bowl, toss the butter with the panko and then sprinkle the mixture over the casserole.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Serve immediately.