Tuna Noodle Casserole: An Updated Classic

This delicious Tuna Noodle Casserole is a made from scratch pasta classic with a delicious white sauce. A pantry staple favorite recipe made with pasta, peas, tuna, and celery. It’s a comfort food classic that still endures!

Closeup view of Tuna Noodle Casserole on a white plate

Do you remember tuna noodle casserole? It’s was like a rite of “growing up” passage.

This tuna casserole recipe isn’t that one. While still incredibly simple to make — it’s so, so much tastier.

Plus, convenient to bake at a moment’s notice with pantry ingredients.

A creamy white sauce replaces condensed soup in the old-fashioned recipe. The casserole is made in one skillet, then transferred to a dish to bake for a few minutes.

Ingredients for Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this comfort food classic. Specific measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Pasta (shells, egg noodles, or other shaped pasta)
  • Butter
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • All-purpose flour
  • Chicken broth
  • Milk (or half and half)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Canned tuna
  • Frozen peas or fresh peas
  • salt and pepper

Ingredient Notes:

Pasta: I used medium shell pasta in this recipe but you can substitute egg noodles or any other short or shaped pasta you desire.

Tuna: I generally use light, water-packed tuna. A higher-quality tuna will yield a more delicious tuna noodle casserole!

Topping for Tuna Noodle Casserole

I can’t imagine this casserole without a topping. Most likely, you have a traditional topping you prefer, but in case you’re looking for a few ideas:

  • Crushed crackers (saltines, Ritz, etc.)
  • Potato Chips, crushed
  • Buttered breadcrumbs
  • Crushed cornflakes
  • Panko
Top view of baked Tuna Noodle Casserole

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole

Cook the noodles just until al dente, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9-by-13 or 3-quart baking dish.

Step 1: Saute the Vegetables

In a Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add celery and onion; saute for a few minutes until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Step 2: Make the Sauce

Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry streaks of flour remain; about 1 minute. Slow whisk in the chicken broth, milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly until smooth. Bring mixture to a low simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently; about 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 3: Bake the Casserole

Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, flaked tuna, and peas. Toss with cooked pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and crushed topping.

Side view of Baked Tuna Noodle Casserole with Bite Missing

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole Ahead

I like to make a meal kit with this simple dinner and have it ready in the refrgerator. Cook the noodles ahead, sauté the vegetables and make the sauce. Store the components separately. When ready, stir the ingredients together and bake.

Freezing a Tuna Noodle Casserole

Make the recipe as directed, skipping the topping, and let cool completely. Transfer the casserole into a freezer-safe container (like a disposable aluminum pan), and wrap tightly with foil to seal. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Scatter the topping over the casserole and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

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Plate of Tuna Noodle Casserole with peas
Closeup view of Tuna Noodle Casserole on a white plate

Tuna Noodle Casserole: An Updated Classic

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This delicious Tuna Noodle Casserole is a made from scratch pasta classic with a delicious white sauce. A pantry staple favorite recipe made with pasta, peas, tuna, and celery. It's a comfort food classic that still endures!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces pasta (shells, egg noodles, shaped pasta)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, miced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (or half and half)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 (5 to 6-ounce) cans tuna, drained and flaked with a fork
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles just until al dente, according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-by-13 or 3-quart baking dish; set aside.
  3. In a Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add celery and onion; saute for a few minutes until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry streaks of flour remain; about 1 minute. Slow whisk in the chicken broth, milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly until smooth. Bring mixture to a low simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently; about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, flaked tuna, and peas. Toss with cooked pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and crushed topping.
  6. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: Precook the noodles, sauté the vegetables, and make the sauce. Store everything separately in the refrigerator. Before baking, stir the ingredients together, transfer them to a dish, and bake.

To Freeze: Make the recipe as directed, skipping the topping, and let cool completely. Transfer the casserole into a freezer-safe container (like a disposable aluminum pan), and wrap tightly with foil to seal. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Scatter the topping over the casserole and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 589mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g

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