This Cheesy Tuna Casserole is a standalone classic. Using flaky canned tuna (or salmon) you've got a one pot meal that's full of veggies, tuna, noodles in a from scratch creamy sauce and a crumb topping.
The beauty of making casseroles is they are easy, one-pot wonders and this tuna noodle casserole from scratch is no exception.
Tuna casserole is the ultimate comfort food yet so easy to prepare. Mix it all up and just pop it in the oven for a fast and fabulous weeknight dinner. It's way better than Tuna Helper but is almost as easy to make!
This was inspired by these cheesy tuna bombs, another recipe using canned tuna. Serve it up with a cold asparagus salad for a complete meal. If you're in looking for something cheesy check out our favorite Cheesy Fall Recipes.
Why You Will Love Tuna Pasta Bake
- It's simple and easy to make. Like all casseroles it goes together quickly and since everything cooks in one dish, cleanup is easy too!
- Perfect to make it in advance to make weeknight dinners less stressful.
- This tuna casserole recipe without soup works perfectly for potlucks and easily feeds a crowd.
Most ingredients in this recipe you'll find in the refrigerator and pantry. Anything you don't have you can grab on a short trip to the store.
The main ingredients are listed here but you'll find the complete list and the amounts in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Pasta: Use your favorite! Egg noodles, short pasta, or spaghetti! They all work great.
- Butter: Used for cooking the veggies and also to drizzle over the breadcrumbs.
- Veggies: Cooked onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and celery add color, flavor, and a boost of nutrition to this tuna pasta casserole.
- Crumbs for topping: You can use panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs, cornflakes, or Ritz crackers.
- Garlic: Use fresh rather than powdered for the best flavor.
- Canned tuna: Using canned tuna is a huge time saver for this recipe.
- Worcestershire sauce: Added for more flavor!
- Cheese: Use cheddar cheese for the best flavor and shred your own rather than buying pre-shredded.
- Heavy cream: Since we aren't using canned soup, the heavy cream will make your tuna casserole perfectly creamy.
Substitutions and Variations
- Crumbs: Use potato chips or crispy onions instead! Eliminate the melted butter over the top if you use one of these two options.
- Canned Tuna: Use canned salmon for a similar swap or you can also try this recipe with canned chicken.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Use a combination of cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan for extra flavor.
- Heavy cream: Use 1 ½ cups of milk and 1 cup of sour cream to replace the heavy cream.
- More Flavor: Add your favorite herbs and spices like oregano, thyme, paprika to the vegetables as they are sautéing.
- Add cooked bacon or diced ham when stirring in the cheese for more flavor.
- Spicy: Sprinkle in some hot pepper sauce along with the tuna mixture.
How to Make Cheesy Tuna Casserole
This cheesy tuna casserole takes little to no time. The aroma will have your family and friends licking their chops.
The highlights are below but you'll find the exact instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Cook the mushrooms, celery, and onions in half of the butter in a skillet.
- Add the peppers and garlic and cook a bit more.
- Add the flour to the skillet and cook until golden.
- Stir in the heavy cream and Worcestershire sauce to the pan.
- Add the cheese to the cream sauce.
- Add the drained canned tuna and pasta to the pan.
- Combine everything together.
- Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish and top with your crumb and butter mixture.
- Bake until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbly. Enjoy!
How to Store and Reheat
Refrigerator: Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Store in an air-tight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly.
- Cook the pasta al dente which means slightly firm to the bite. This keeps it from becoming too mushy when baked in the casserole.
- Don't skip the Worcestershire sauce. It adds depth to the rich cheesy sauce!
- Let your casserole cool slightly before serving to make sure all the flavors have blended together nicely
- Be sure to drain your canned tuna and pasta well so the sauce stays nice and thick.
- If you decide to use potato chips or crispy onions in place of the crumbs, skip the butter added over the top.
Any short pasta or egg noodles work well though sometimes I like to use long spaghetti noodles.
Absolutely. Prepare it without the topping for up to 2 days ahead of time. When you're ready to cook it, allow it to sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Then add the topping and bake it up.
Sure thing! It's more like a Tuna Helper recipe if you go that route. It's more of a skillet meal rather than a casserole. Just add all the ingredients per the directions and simmer before add the cooked pasta.
Cheesy Salmon Pasta Casserole Video
You can make this same recipe with canned salmon instead!
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
Do you like pasta? Here some recipes you may also like to try.
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
Easy Cheesy Tuna Casserole
- 1 ½ cups uncooked pasta of your choice
- ½ cup butter separated
- ¾ cup onion diced
- ½ cup bell peppers green, yellow, orange or red, cored, chopped
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup celery ribs chopped
- 2 cups crumbs (panko, bread, cornflakes, Ritz crackers) crushed or in pieces between ¼ and 1 inch.
- 1- 3 tablespoons garlic minced
- 3 cans tuna drained and flaked, or red sockeye salmon
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream (35%) or use 1 ½ cups of milk and 1 cup of sour cream
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Drain cans of tuna (or salmon) and remove any noticeable large bones and flake with a fork. Set aside.
- In a large skillet melt ¼ 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 cream and stir. Add Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens.
- Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Add salmon or tuna and pasta. Stir until combined.
- Using a spatula, dump mixture into your prepared pan.
- 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!
This post was originally published July 2020. It has been updated with new images and content.