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Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna noodle casserole has been a beloved comfort food staple for years! This recipe may be simple, but it’s so incredibly delicious.

Tender egg noodles get smothered in a rich, creamy cheese sauce loaded with chunks of flaky tuna and sweet pops of green peas.

This dish is a true crowd-pleaser with a crispy, golden-brown Panko topping infused with lemon zest and Parmesan.

Trust me, even the pickiest eaters will go back for seconds (and maybe even thirds)!

Creamy homemade tuna noodle casserole topped with chopped chives and breadcrumbs.
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Why You’ll Love This Tuna Noodle Casserole

Comfort Food Classic: This casserole brings back nostalgic memories of home-cooked meals, making it perfect for family dinners.

Quick and Easy: This recipe requires under an hour of prep and cooking time, making it ideal for busy weeknights.

Creamy Texture: It features a luscious, creamy sauce made from scratch! The rich half-and-half and sharp cheddar create an indulgent, velvety base.

Crowd-Pleaser: The creamy, cheesy texture combined with the crunchy Panko topping is always a hit with the family.

A serving of creamy tuna noodle casserole topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

Ingredients

  • Wide Egg Noodles: The perfect pasta shape to hold the creamy, cheesy sauce and tender tuna.
  • Unsalted Butter: It provides richness and helps create a luscious, smooth sauce.
  • Garlic and Shallots: Aromatics add depth of flavor and a subtle sweetness when sautéed.
  • All-Purpose Flour: It thickens the sauce, creating a velvety texture that clings to the noodles.
  • Half and Half: It adds creaminess and body to the sauce without being too heavy.
  • Dijon Mustard: It lends a tangy, sharp note that balances the richness of the dish.
  • Sharp White Cheddar Cheese: It melts beautifully into the sauce, providing a bold, cheesy flavor.
  • Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water: This high-quality tuna holds its texture in the casserole.
  • Frozen Peas: They give pops of color and sweetness to complement the savory flavors.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: These essential seasonings enhance the flavors in the casserole.
  • Chopped Fresh Chives: They add a mild onion flavor and a fresh, vibrant garnish.
  • Panko Topping: Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and olive oil create a crispy, golden brown crust with a zesty kick.
A baking dish filled with creamy tuna noodle casserole fresh out of the oven.

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole

This casserole is so easy to put together! It’s a breeze any night of the week. 

1. Prep the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. Cook the noodles. Cook the egg noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain well.

3. Sauté the aromatics. In a large Dutch oven or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4. Make the sauce. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the half and half and Dijon mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.

5. Combine the ingredients. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Fold in the cooked noodles, tuna, peas, salt, and pepper.

6. Transfer to a dish. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.

7. Prepare the topping. In a small bowl, mix together the Panko, Parmesan, lemon zest, and olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over the casserole.

8. Bake the casserole. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

9. Garnish and serve. Garnish with chives and serve hot. Enjoy!

A bowl of rich and creamy tuna and noodles with green peas.

Tips for the Best Tuna Noodle Casserole

Here are some trusty tips for the very best tuna noodle casserole.

  • Fresh is best. Shred your own cheddar cheese instead of using pre-packaged shredded cheese to avoid graininess and ensure better melting.
  • Swap out the noodles. Egg noodles are classic, but you can also use rotini, fusilli, shells, macaroni, or any short pasta shape.
  • Try a tuna twist. If you prefer a different type of tuna, use chunk light tuna, yellowfin tuna in olive oil, or even leftover rotisserie chicken for a different flavor profile.
  • Toss in more veggies. Add vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, celery, or spinach to the casserole.
  • Go dairy-free. Substitute the half and half with full-fat canned coconut milk or cashew cream for a dairy-free version.
  • Serve it in style. Pair the casserole with a light salad, roasted vegetables, or garlic bread to balance the richness of the dish.
  • Get a step ahead. The casserole can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance before baking. Let it come to room temp before putting it in the oven.
A homemade tuna noodle casserole with peas and bread crumbs.

How to Store

These tips will keep your casserole fresh for days.

To Store: Refrigerate leftover tuna noodle casserole in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. Avoid moisture exposure, which can make the casserole soggy.

To Freeze: Prepare and underbake the casserole, then allow to cool completely before freezing in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking as directed until hot in the center.

To Reheat: Reheat portions in the microwave, covered, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. For the full casserole, cover with foil and bake at 350°F until hot in the center, around 20-30 minutes.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Course: Main CourseCuisine: American
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

510

kcal

This tuna noodle casserole is a classic dish full of nostalgia! The combo of flaky tuna, noodles, peas, and a cheesy sauce never goes out of style.

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 large shallots, diced

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 1/2 cups half and half

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 8 ounces shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

  • 3 (5 ounce) cans solid white albacore tuna in water, drained

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • For the Panko Topping:
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Cook the egg noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain well.
  • In a large Dutch oven or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the half and half and Dijon mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Fold in the cooked noodles, tuna, peas, salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the Panko, Parmesan, lemon zest and olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over the casserole.
  • Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chives and serve hot. Enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

2 thoughts on “Tuna Noodle Casserole”

  1. Just a question. I’m not a big fan of lemon. If I leave it out of the topping will I hate myself? What might I use instead? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Robyn!
      You can just leave the lemon zest out of the topping. It’ll still be tasty.
      If you want to replace it, try minced fresh herbs, such as parsley or even a teaspoon of onion powder instead.
      They’ll give it an extra oomph 🙂

      Reply

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