Is there anything more comforting than a Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole? This dish is the perfect comfort food for chilly winter nights. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make and can be done in under 45 minutes. Made with mostly fresh ingredients, this mild casserole recipe contains no premade soups or mixes.
I don’t know about you, but back in the early ’90s our family always enjoyed meals made with tuna fish. Why? Well for one, canned tuna was and still is relatively cheap, and versatile. Plus, it was one of those pantry staples that lasted a while.
When it came to tuna, my Mom always had something tasty up her sleeve to make including this Tuna Noodle Casserole. Honestly, I was never a huge fan of fish growing up, but this casserole was more flavorful and milder than a lot of other fish dishes she’d make. In fact, even my picky kids enjoy this dish because the tuna flavor is not overpowering in the slightest.
How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole
Before starting any recipe, always be sure to prepare your work area and ingredients. Chop all your veggies, and drain your tuna fish for this recipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the egg noodles. Cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.
Add the olive oil, onion, and peppers to a large skillet and cook until fragrant and tender (about 5 minutes). Once cooked, remove veggies from the pan and set aside.
Oven medium-low heat, in the same pan, add butter and flour. Stir until butter is melted into the flour to form a paste. Slowly add the milk and stir to combine.
Add in the cream cheese, and continue to whisk it into the mixture until it is melted, and no longer lumpy. The mixture will be thick and velvety.
Once creamy, add in the noodles, drained tuna, peas, and precooked veggies. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mixture into the greased casserole dish.
Top with shredded cheese, and fried onion strings.
Bake uncovered for 375°F. for 20 minutes. Serve warm! Enjoy
Recipe Tips for Success
Like every good dish, there are some recipe tips, and swaps to make this the BEST meal ever for your family.
Tuna – While I prefer canned albacore tuna in water, you could use it in oil, or a different variety like chunk light. Chunk light tuna will taste a bit fishier though. Fresh, cooked tuna can also be used.
Noodles – You can use elbow macaroni if you prefer although I really love how the egg noodles are lighter in flavor and texture.
Cheese – I used sharp white cheddar, but you could use Swiss, gruyere, or even yellow cheddar. Shredding chunk-style cheese yourself is more beneficial because it doesn’t contain the binding agents that the bagged cheeses have.
How to Store this Casserole
This casserole tastes best the same day it is made since the onions do get soggy if they sit around. However, if you have extras, you can store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend adding fresh fried onion topping for a nice crunch after warming up any leftovers.
To reheat, place leftovers in a microwave-safe container and heat until warmed. You can also warm this in a 350°F heated oven for 15 minutes.
Freezing Tuna Noodle Casserole
You can also freeze this casserole without the layer of fried onions. Simply add the fully cooled casserole mixture to an aluminum pan, top with shredded cheese, and cover with multiple layers of plastic wrap and foil (to prevent freezer burn). This will store well for up to 3 months when covered properly.
To enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator the night before. To enjoy, preheat the oven to 400°F and top the casserole with fried onions. Bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered.
More Canned Tuna Recipes to Try
The Best Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (No Canned Soup)
- 9 x 13 casserole dish
- 5-quart stockpot
- oven & stove top
- can opener
- cutting board & knife
- 12 ounces egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 cup bell pepper chopped, any color
- 1 large onion diced
- ¼ cup butter salted
- ¼ all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 12 ounces tuna chunk albacore in water, drained
- 10 ounces peas frozen, steamed, strained.
- salt & pepper to taste
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese white, grated in food processor
- 1 cup French fried onions
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the egg noodles. Cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.12 ounces egg noodles
- Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and peppers to a large skillet and cook until fragrant and tender (about 5 minutes). Once cooked, remove veggies from the pan and set them aside.1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup bell pepper, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic
- Oven medium-low heat, in the same pan, add butter and flour. Stir until butter is melted into the flour to form a paste. Slowly add the milk and stir to combine.¼ cup butter, ¼ all-purpose flour, 2½ cups whole milk
- Add in the cream cheese, and continue to whisk it into the mixture until it is melted, and no longer lumpy. The mixture will be thick and velvety.8 ounces cream cheese
- Once creamy, add in the noodles, drained tuna, peas, and precooked veggies. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.12 ounces tuna, 10 ounces peas, salt & pepper
- Transfer mixture into the greased casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese, and fried onion strings.8 ounces cheddar cheese, 1 cup French fried onions
- Bake uncovered for 375°F. for 20 minutes. Serve warm! Enjoy
Frances Gibbs says
My family cannot eat dairy (milk, cream cheese, cheese) can I used almond milk instead?
Amy Desrosiers says
Hello you can use almond milk!
Richard Johnson says
Sounds really good but I also like to add some frozen corn & roasted red pepper just for some extra color & more vegis.
Amy Desrosiers says
Hi, that would make it super tasty!