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This old-time classic tuna noodle casserole will bring you right back to childhood. It is budget-friendly and easy to double for a crowd!
Step-by-step photos and instructions are below!
Tuna Noodle Casserole
A weeknight winner, this tuna casserole recipe is easy to whip up, has an amazing creamy sauce, topped with a crunchy mixture (made of bread crumbs and cheese.
Making this is mostly hands-off, but you could easily make this ahead on a Sunday night, and pop in the oven when you get home from work on Monday!
I really love sitting down to dinner together with my family. A casserole just screams family, comfort, and deliciousness. And squabbling over the last spoonful of food just goes with the territory I suppose.
Most people I know grew up on this as a staple in their homes, so this is serious comfort food for you! Mom would whip it up and the whole family would grab a plate, and sit down to dinner together.
I love the kind of dinner that you can either make ahead, or start cooking, and then use the time it’s in the oven to clean up and do other tasks.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Simple ingredients, although I urge you to try this Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup vs using store-bought!
- Budget friendly. No breaking the bank here! Check out my notes for easy substitutions if you don’t happen to have an ingredient this recipe calls for.
- Easy to adjust. You can double, or triple this recipe for a crowd. Make ahead, or even freeze! You can even make extra as part of meal prepping and eat it for lunch all week long.
- Family friendly. With a creamy sauce and crunchy topping, everyone loves this.
I have included step-by-step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the mixture seems dry (it should be “sauce-y” before baking) add a little more milk.
This is very much a 1950s American recipe!
Yes! Cook the noodles until JUST cooked (aka al dente). They’ll cook some more in the sauce when baking, too.
You can make this casserole and still eat it 2-3 days later.
Bake and then let it cool completely. Cover with foil, then plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipe Ingredients and Possible Substitutes
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Pasta. Any pasta will work. I like wide egg noodles, but have made this with rotini, and penne with great success.
- Breadcrumbs. These can be fresh (throw some bread in the food processor or you can use the store-bought kind. Ritz crackers or potato chips also make an excellent topping!
- Butter. I use salted butter, this goes in the breadcrumb topping and makes it all buttery and delicious.
- Cheese. I use sharp cheddar. Shred your own or grab a bag from the store. Some will go in the sauce, and some in the breadcrumb topping.
- Milk. You can do whatever you want here. 2%, whole milk, even half n half if you so desire.
- Cream Of Chicken Soup. You can of course use canned soup, but why not try my Homemade Cream of Chicken soup?
- Bell Peppers and Celery. Diced the same size. You can change these out for whatever you have on hand. Carrots, green beans, peas, corn. Anything goes.
- Tuna. I use the solid albacore tuna in water, but whatever you have works!
How to make this recipe
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large saucepan, cook the noodles in salted water until al dente.
Drain the noodles and set aside.
Add the breadcrumbs to a small bowl and add the melted butter. Mix until well combined, then add half the cheese.
Make the Sauce
Pour the soup and milk into a large saucepan and mix well, stirring constantly.
Add the vegetables, the other half of the cheese and the tuna.
Heat over medium heat until JUST beginning to bubble around the edges.
Stir in the parsley if using, then remove from the heat.
Add the pasta to the tuna mixture and mix until well blended.
Pour into an 8 x 8 baking dish, and top with the bread crumb topping.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5-10 minutes.
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat until it is piping hot!
Play around with the vegetables – frozen corn, green beans, frozen peas, carrots – are all good choices in this.
Fresh breadcrumbs are awesome, but either fresh or store-bought works great. I’ve also used ritz crackers mixed with parmesan cheese, crushed potato chips or those yummy french fried onions – it really is up to you!
Can I use a different flavor soup? Yes, absolutely. Sub any kind of condensed creamed soup you like – cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery, cheddar cheese – you choose!
This recipe can also be frozen after baking. Cover tightly with foil and wrap with plastic wrap. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
Try these other weeknight recipes:
- Chicken Piccata Recipe. An old time classic, that is quick and easy to make and full of flavor. Butter, lemon juice and capers make the delicious sauce!
- Pork Schnitzel Recipe. A fresh take on an old favorite, this Pork Schnitzel uses a secret ingredient guaranteed to make your family drool!
- Pesto Stuffed Chicken (with Cream Cheese). Super easy to make, finishes in the oven for some hands-off cooking! Creamy and delicious, everyone will love this dinner!
- 4 Ingredient Meatball Casserole. A super easy family dinner you can feel good about, coming right up!
Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 8 oz pasta of your choice (I recommend egg noodles)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or storebought)
- 2 Tbs butter (melted)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (divided)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 14 oz cream of chicken soup ((click to make your own))
- ½ cup red bell pepper (diced)
- ½ cup green bell pepper (diced)
- ½ cup celery (diced)
- 8 oz solid tuna (2 cans)
- 1/4 cup Fresh parsley (minced)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- In a large saucepan, cook the pasta in salted water for slightly less than it recommends on the package (around 2 mins less).
- Drain pasta, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the breadcrumbs to a small bowl, and add the melted butter. Mix until well combined, then add half the cheese.
- Pour the milk and soup into a large saucepan, and mix well.
- Add the vegetables, the other half of the cheese and the tuna.
- Heat over a medium heat until JUST beginning to bubble around the edges.
- Stir in the parsley if using, then remove from the heat.
- Add the pasta to the tuna mixture, and mix until well blended.
- Pour into a 8 x 8 casserole dish, and top with the breadcrumbs/cheese mixture.
- Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5-10 minutes.
- You can sub any kind of condensed creamed soup you like – mushroom, celery, cheese – you choose!
- Fresh breadcrumbs are awesome, but either fresh or store bought works great
- Add more cheese if you like it cheesier!
- Play around with the vegetables – frozen corn, green beans, peas, carrots – are all good choices in this.
- If the mixture seems dry (it should be “sauce-y” before baking) add a little more milk
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This recipe was originally published in January of 2018. It was republished with updated process shots in November of 2021.