Classic Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole without soup, from scratch, uses canned tuna or salmon, noodles, sour cream, crackers or potato chips and more.
Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Noodle Casserole
The beauty of making casseroles is they are easy, one-pot wonders and this Cheesy Salmon or Tuna Noodle Casserole is no exception.
This cheesy tuna or salmon pasta casserole is a definite classic and a long-time family favorite.
My son, Patrick, has always been a fisherman and a lover of fish, just like his father.
Especially tuna and salmon, as far back as I can remember.
When it was time to make this cheesy tuna or salmon noodle casserole, with can opener in hand, he was always eager to help me make it.
At first, he was too young to use a can opener, but that didn’t deter him one bit.
He would pick out noticeable bones from the fish and when ready to assemble, was delighted to pour the mixture in the pan and top with flour and cheese.
When Patrick was old enough to use a can opener, one time he opened the cans of tuna or salmon and left the counter for a few seconds.
I was busy sauteing, when my dog, Biggie, who was a puppy at the time, seized the opportunity and ate the fish so quick, it was gone in a flash!
I caught him out of the corner of my eye, but it was too late.
Patrick and I both scolded him as he hid under the table with his head down.
There was no fish in the house, so we we had to make a quick trip to the grocery store. We weren’t happy campers.
It wasn’t funny at the time, but we laugh about it now.
The ultimate comfort food, this salmon or tuna noodle casserole is cheesy and so easy to prepare. Just pop it in the oven for a fast and fabulous weeknight dinner.
I make this old fashioned tuna or salmon noodle casserole regularly and so these pantry staples and fridge ingredients are always on hand.
When in a hurry, this is one of my go-to, last minute, all-encompassing dinner recipes.
Cheesy tuna or salmon noodle casserole is an old reliable and one never tires of it. It’s that good.
If Biggie could have eaten this canned salmon pasta recipe, he would gladly done it in a heartbeat.
Knowing it’s not good for dogs, I would never allow it. It didn’t stop him from looking longingly at us and never gave up hope.
Regardless, whether I use canned tuna or salmon, everyone enjoys this tuna or salmon pasta bake so much, there are never any leftovers.
So, Biggie would have never gotten the chance to eat some of anyways.
Now that I think of it, if we turned our backs for a moment he definitely would have eaten it at the time!
Salmon Noodle Casserole
This Salmon Noodle Casserole can be served in slices or scoops. The only difference is the presentation and sometimes that’s important; especially if you’ve got guests.
More often than not, my goal is to ensure everyone enjoys their dinner, no matter what it looks like. That’s what really counts!
How you serve this Salmon Casserole recipe is ultimately your choice. It is so pleasant, most people won’t notice or care how it’s served.
I remember years ago my son using an ice cream scoop to serve this incredible dinner time tuna or salmon noodle casserole.
Neither my husband or I cared and it was worth it seeing the smile on my sons face while he was plating dinner for each of us.
He always made sure I had extra cucumber because I loved it.
One tomato or one slice, because everyone had to eat one of everything, like it or not, for his father and extra onions. My husband isn’t fond of tomatoes at all.
You get the idea.
We tried to make dinner time as fun as possible when time allowed.
Now back to this terrific tuna or salmon pasta bake!
Tuna Noodle Casserole from Scratch
This salmon or tuna noodle casserole from scratch is an old family favorite and there is nothing like it.
Simple and creamy, this tuna or salmon pasta bake is such a satisfying and comforting dinner.
I know I keep going on about how wonderful this casserole is but I really can’t help myself. You’ll understand if you try it.
The trick to making this fabulous salmon or tuna noodle casserole from scratch is the creamy cheese sauce out of the roux.
Cook the flour in melted butter and vegetables until it browns and smells delightfully nutty.
This creates a savory, rich base for the best cheese sauce you’ll ever make!
Rich in cheddar cheese, this gourmet tuna casserole dish is like wrapping yourself in a warm, cozy blanket on a very cold winter day! Each bite is so hearty and cheery.
There are two ways of preparing this old fashioned salmon or tuna casserole and both taste out of this world.
One method uses milk and sour cream, and the other heavy whipping cream.
Usually, I make this salmon or tuna noodle casserole from scratch using the heavy cream as it’s one item I never run out of. I can’t say the same for sour cream.
However, there is no difference between the two. Both methods taste outstanding in our opinion.
Tell me what method works best for you in the comments section below. I can’t wait to hear it!
Tuna Casserole with Ritz Crackers
Instead of potato chips, try making tuna or salmon casserole with Ritz crackers. They have a little more flavor and volume.
My elderly, physically-challenged neighbor, Renata (and personal food critic), was never a fan of tuna. She tried many tuna casseroles and said they tasted bland and boring.
Unlike potato chips, Ritz Crackers are buttery and more flavorful. By adding extra butter, crackers and cheese, I urged her to try my Tuna Casserole with Ritz crackers and to my utter amazement, she loved it!
One thing about Renata is that she’s honest about my recipes and I appreciate that. It makes me a better cook. She says what she means and means what she says.
Her reaction to this salmon casserole recipe with crackers was very gratifying.
Renata said the next time I planned to make tuna casserole with Ritz crackers, or any other crackers, she would be happy to taste-test again! I had to laugh but I always save her some.
Whether it’s Ritz crackers or potato chips, both work very well in this tuna or salmon casserole recipe.
Depending on your taste, it can be difficult to choose.
My husband and son like both toppings. When asked if they had a preference, they loved both ways and couldn’t choose.
That didn’t come as a surprise because I felt the same way.
Crush the Ritz crackers into crumbs or leave them in 1/4 to 1 inch pieces.
It’s all about options, so you decide how best to finish off this classic tuna or salmon noodle casserole from scratch, without soup.
You really can’t go wrong.
Tuna Noodle Casserole with Potato Chips or Crisps
Back in the day, this salmon or tuna noodle casserole with potato chips or crisps was one of those classic dishes that was on everyone’s dinner table.
When I was younger I used to say, “back in the day”. Now, it’s, “way back in the day”! 😉
As a child, I requested this cheesy tuna or salmon noodle casserole (with condensed soup) regularly. But when my mother introduced this dish without the soup, I drove her nuts asking for it all the time!
This classic salmon or tuna noodle casserole recipe can be finished off with a few different things.
Potato chips or crisps on top of your casserole is beyond delicious (with or without cheese).
Speaking of cheese, I can’t imagine a world without it. So, for what it’s worth, I always add extra and I can’t help it. I love cheesy everything so why not this cheesy tuna noodle casserole.
Frankly, any excuse to use cheese especially in a canned tuna or salmon casserole recipe just like this!
Back to the potato chips or crisps, any type will do to make this salmon or tuna noodle casserole from scratch. Use plain ruffles or chips with ridges just to mix things up.
Think salt and vinegar chips, sour cream and onion, barbecue, all dressed or cheese. My son insists on a popular, spicy-flavored corn chip. Delightful!
No need to totally crush your chips up. Break them up into pieces that are between 1/4 and one entire inch.
Sprinkle the remaining potato chips or crisps from the bottom of a big bag over top the classic salmon or tuna noodle casserole from scratch.
Mix together a variety of flavored chips for a one-of-a-kind topping.
So, have fun making your own canned tuna or salmon casserole recipe. You are only limited by your imagination. The list and possibilities are endless.
Cheesy Tuna Casserole without Soup
This cheesy tuna casserole without soup is a tasty. There’s no doubt about that.
My close friend Julie made her own old fashioned tuna casserole using soup for years. I’m not saying her recipe was awful.
Truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. This tuna or salmon pasta bake recipe is simply better.
Soup does not need to be added to this recipe. It stands alone just fine without soup.
Yes you have an extra step to do but the extra step is so worth it.
One day I lied to Julie and told her I had an extra food and she didn’t need to make dinner. That part was true and this kind of thing happened regularly.
I was trying to help my friend who was struggling with kids after she split up from her husband. Regardless.
I’m getting to the lie.
I made two of these classic tuna casseroles without soup on purpose one afternoon, getting ready for dinner. One was for her.
She stopped by after work to pick it up. She didn’t even ask what it was. She was tired, gave me a hug and went on her way.
Within about 90 minutes I got the phone call. She and her family loved it.
She never made her classic tuna noodle casserole with soup again!
The cheese sauce is the reason and is terrific if I say so myself!
This cheesy tuna or salmon pasta casserole has everything you need for a meal, so no need to worry about serving it with anything in particular.
Although you can serve it with a salad or sop it up with some bread from your plate or bowl if desired.
My close friend, Julie, now enjoys this cheesy tuna or salmon noodle casserole from scratch with broccoli.
She just steams the broccoli or sautes it with the other vegetables. Then, she combines it with the fish mixture to make this creamy, cheesy tuna or salmon bake.
Cheese sauce and broccoli are an ideal match and the results are perfect every time and her kids LOVE it.
It’s a WIN WIN.
Salmon Casserole with Noodles
This is not your average “hamburger helper” or boring cafeteria-style, generic tuna or salmon casserole with noodles.
There’s no doubt it’s a casserole. That’s a fact; but the similarities end there!
No more dull, mediocre, tired or flat canned salmon or tuna noodle casserole and that’s what we all want.
This cheesy tuna or salmon pasta casserole is so scrumptious, bland and boring definitely doesn’t live here.
If the memories of eating a flavorless, salmon or tuna casserole while growing up were not good, this recipe will definitely change your mind!
My son adds some sriracha, hot sauce or cayenne pepper to this tuna or salmon pasta bake. He adds it to everything and his stomach can handle it!
Ours cannot but feel free to adjust the seasonings as you desire. You can only make this old fashioned salmon or tuna casserole better than it already is.
Salmon Casserole with Sour Cream
In this wonderfully creamy salmon bake we include sour cream. Actually in this casserole there are two options when preparing and one of them requires sour cream.
The first is to make this canned tuna or salmon casserole recipe with heavy, 35% whipping cream. This is the most common way I make this easy weeknight dinner.
I always seem to have heavy cream in the house otherwise I would be making this tuna or salmon casserole recipe with milk and some sour cream.
I use sour cream for so many things and I always am going through a lot of it. Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t when making this dish.
My problem is I know no matter what I have heavy whipping cream so I don’t bother to look before hand.
I just start to make this recipe and off I go!
Whether you make this tuna or salmon casserole with sour cream or whipping cream, you will not be disappointed.
Old Fashioned Tuna Casserole
Choose your favorite pasta and canned salmon or tuna to make this old fashioned salmon or tuna casserole.
Use elbow macaroni or a noodle-like rotini or penne. Any pasta shape will do.
Even egg noodles will work for a tasty change.
Amazingly quick and easy to put together, this old fashioned tuna or salmon casserole with sour cream makes a great busy weeknight dinner that will satisfy everyone.
This cheesy tuna or salmon pasta casserole is such a great reminder of the way mom and grandma used to make it, way, way back in the day.
Thinking back when I was growing up, certain dishes stand out in my mind. Some I loved and some I hated.
Although my childhood wasn’t ideal, focusing on the good times is what matters to me.
It was a simpler time and being a kid there were no worries, responsibilities or bills to pay.
I remember the fun and laughter around food and the kitchen table.
These memories inspire me every day to make many of their recipes and this canned tuna or salmon pasta recipe is a reminder of those good times.
My son makes some of these recipes thinking they are mine. He doesn’t realize they are from another time and place.
Recipes from childhood are really special and this old fashioned tuna or salmon casserole with sour cream is just one lovely example!
Tuna Casserole without Soup
So many old fashioned tuna and salmon casserole recipes from my childhood were made with condensed cream soup.
There was a time when condensed soups were all the rage.
Mom made a ton of different recipes with condensed soups and my grandmother went through a condensed soup phase herself. She had an entire cookbook full of condensed soup recipes and made nearly all of them!
Condensed soups were so convenient in many recipes and that was okay.
Eventually, my mother updated her recipe and made a salmon or tuna casserole without soup that was exceptional! I think my grandmother had something to do with that too but I will never know for sure.
She created a gourmet tuna casserole that was superior to all the others and I breathed a sigh of relief when she finally kissed the condensed soup phase goodbye!
If you have a childhood casserole story, feel free to share it. I’m all ears!
Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole
This classic cheesy salmon or tuna pasta casserole is creamy, luxurious and provides a decent amount of nutrition. Some nutrition is better than none!
Although this classic tuna noodle casserole can’t be eaten everyday, in stressful times, it’s such a soul satisfying meal. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered! 😉
Sitting down with family and sharing an enjoyable meal together is what it’s all about! Don’t we all want that?.
This classic tuna noodle casserole recipe, even made with canned tuna or salmon, is such a crowd-pleaser.
You can bet they will ask for second helpings!
Economical, perfect and cheerful, this gourmet tuna casserole recipe is beyond satisfaction!
Vegetable Options Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole
This easy Stir Fry Vegetable Timing Chart will come in handy when you want to switch up the vegetables in making this Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole.
Feel free to add any vegetables you desire.
The timing chart is a wonderful guide to sauteing vegetables at the right time before adding them to your creamy salmon or tuna bake.
Prepare, wash, and peel your vegetables as needed. Chopping everything into bite-sized pieces is highly recommended.
If using frozen vegetables, simply allow them to defrost in a bowl while you’re getting everything else ready.
Canned vegetables can be used as well. Just drain and set aside until needed.
For fresh carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower, chop them up and decide if you want to steam or boil them. Do this while sauteing the other vegetables.
Boil or steam the vegetables until tender crisp, but do not overcook them. They need to be bright, al dente or still somewhat firm. Otherwise, you end up with mushy vegetables after being cooked in the casserole.
No matter what vegetables you choose, place them in your skillet before adding to the mixture.
Give everything a good stir before dumping it into your casserole dish to bake.
If you don’t, you could end up with the tuna on one side and the vegetables on the other. I made that mistake once and was so embarrassed.
I figure how gourmet can my gourmet tuna casserole be if everything isn’t evenly distributed?
Since then, I make sure everything is blended together and distributed as evenly as possible.
Ingredients for Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Noodle Casserole
- pasta of your choice
- sweet peppers
- crumbs: panko, bread, cornflakes, potato chips, Ritz crackers
- canned salmon or tuna
- worcestershire sauce
- shredded cheese
- cooking spray
- heavy cream (35%)
- sour cream
How to make Cheesy Salmon Pasta Casserole
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Prepare a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Drain cans of tuna or, if using salmon, remove any big bones (if any) and flake with a fork. Set aside.
- In a large skillet melt 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat.
- Add mushrooms, celery and onions.
- Sauté until tender, stirring regularly; about 5 minutes.
- Add peppers and garlic.
- Stir for another minute.
- Sprinkle flour on top of vegetables and stir until flour is golden; about 3-4 minutes.
- Gradually add milk or cream and stir.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens.
- Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. If using milk, add sour cream.
- If using cream, do not add sour cream.
- Add salmon or tuna and pasta. Stir until combined.
- Using a spatula, dump mixture into pan.
- Melt remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add breadcrumbs.
- Remove saucepan from heat and using a fork, coat breadcrumbs, cereal, panko or Ritz crackers with butter. If using potato chips, don’t use butter. Add extra shredded cheese, if anything at all.
- Sprinkle crumbs over top of the casserole.
- Bake until the top is golden and casserole is bubbling up; about 30 minutes.
- Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.
How to Store and Reheat
Store your salmon or tuna noodle casserole in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to four days.
To reheat, top with and crushed crackers, potato chips or crumbs, and cheese.
Bake it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or it’s until hot and bubbly.
Fancy Salmon Recipe
Despite being a salmon lover, there are only a few salmon recipes on this blog. Unbelievable! I thought there were more, so I’m going to have to change that!
Salmon is on my to do list!
Until there are more salmon posts, consider trying these Simple Salmon Cakes. Made with fresh salmon fillets, they are definitely worth a try!
They are first class as every bite taste amazing!
More Delicious Pasta Dishes to Try
Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole Video
Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole
Classic Cheesy Tuna or Salmon Pasta Casserole without soup, from scratch, uses canned tuna or salmon, noodles, sour cream, crackers or potato chips and more.
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta of your choice
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 cup peppers, green, yellow, orange or red, cored, chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms, fresh, sliced
- 1/2 cup celery ribs, chopped
- 2 cups crumbs, panko, bread, cornflakes, potato chips, Ritz crackers, crushed or in pieces between 1/4 and 1 inch You do not need butter if using potato chips to top your casserole, I usually throw on some extra shredded cheese.
- 1- 3 tblsp garlic, minced
- 3 cans red sockeye salmon, or tuna, drained, flaked
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream (35%)
- 11/2 cups milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Prepare a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Drain cans of tuna or salmon, remove any noticeable large bones and flake with a fork. Set aside.
In a large skillet melt 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat.
Add mushrooms, celery and onions.
Sauté until tender, stirring regularly; about 5 minutes.
Add peppers and garlic.
Stir for another minute.
Sprinkle flour on top of vegetables and stir until flour is golden; between 3-4 minutes.
Gradually add milk or cream and stir.
Add Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens.
Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
If using milk, add sour cream. If using heavy cream, do not add sour cream.
Add salmon or tuna and pasta. Stir until combined.
Using a spatula, dump mixture into your prepared pan.
If using potato chips, no need to melt butter. Sprinkle crushed and broken chips on top of your casserole and add another cup of cheese (if desired). In my opinion, the potato chips taste better with a little more cheese sprinkled in .
Melt remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add crumbs, cereal or crackers.
Remove saucepan from heat and using a fork to coat crumbs or crackers with butter.
Sprinkle crumb mixture over top of the casserole.
Bake until top is golden and casserole is bubby; about 30 minutes.
Let stand approximately 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!