30-minute tuna casserole is a classic dump-and-bake comfort food, combining pantry-friendly tuna, egg noodles, peas, mushroom soup, cheese, and breadcrumbs for a crowd-pleasing family dinner!
Yes, that’s right, I’m back again with another childhood-classic simple casserole recipe. I’ve already shared options for beef-based hamburger casserole and million-dollar chicken casserole. Now we’re turning pescatarian for this delicious, creamy tuna casserole.
With just a short list of pantry-friendly ingredients, this recipe for tuna casserole is very affordable and so quick and easy to throw together. Just cook the noodles until al dente, then mix everything, top with the breadcrumb mixture, and bake until bubbling. It’s creamy, cheesy, studded with flaky tuna and peas, and truly delicious.
Best of all, along with being customizable (i.e., adding extra veggies, changing the crunchy topping, etc.), you can also make this classic tuna noodle casserole ahead of time, store it for several days, and even freeze it for later. So it’s perfect for fuss-free family dinners and potlucks! Enjoy it warm or chilled, and check out my tuna pasta salad, too, for a lighter, summery, chilled tuna dish.
Tuna Casserole Ingredients
Make this easy tuna casserole recipe with cream of mushroom soup and several other pantry staples for an inexpensive, simple family dinner.
- Pasta: Wide or medium egg noodles work best, though any small pasta shape (regular/whole wheat) will work. i.e., tuna macaroni casserole, bow ties, fusilli, etc.
- Tuna: There are several types of canned tuna to choose from, so select the best one you can for your budget and preference. i.e., white, light, or albacore tuna (I try to use the latter when possible as it has a lighter, more delicate flavor).
- Peas: I love making tuna casserole with peas (frozen), though frozen corn also works.
- Cream of mushroom soup: You can use store-bought or homemade soup for this old-fashioned casserole. Cream of celery soup or cream of chicken soup will also work, but change the flavor profile.
- Milk: To bring the sauce to the correct consistency.
- Cheddar cheese: Use a block of sharp cheddar rather than pre-shredded. Alternatively, use Colby Jack, Gruyere, Gouda, parmesan, or even a Mexican blend.
- Parsley: For color and fresh, herby flavor. Dill or chives may also work.
- Breadcrumb topping: Combining breadcrumbs (regular, Italian, or panko) and butter makes for a wonderfully golden, crispy topping. However, Ritz crackers (with butter) or lightly salted crushed potato chips (minus butter) will also work.
How to Make Tuna Casserole
Make the best tuna noodle casserole in just a few simple, fuss-free steps.
First, preheat the oven to 425°F/220ºC.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions, minus 1-2 minutes, so it’s al dente.
Once cooked, immediately drain and rinse the pasta to halt the cooking process.
Then, in a small bowl, combine the melted butter and breadcrumbs and set it aside.
Next, combine the mushroom soup, milk, cheese, tuna, peas, and parsley in a large bowl first or directly in an 8×8-inch casserole dish (or 9.5×6.5-inch). Mix the creamy sauce well, then stir in the noodles.
Optionally reserve some of the cheese to sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Sprinkle over the bread crumb mixture and then transfer the dish to the oven to bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling, and the crumb topping is golden brown.
For a darker crust, broil the tuna pasta casserole for 1-2 minutes at the end.
Finally, allow the baked tuna casserole to rest for a few minutes, then optionally garnish with more parsley, and serve.
Can You Freeze Tuna Casserole?
Absolutely. You can freeze tuna noodle casserole before or after it’s cooked (without the breadcrumbs is best, though, as they’ll become soggy).
You can optionally line the casserole dish with foil, so after a brief flash-freeze, you can remove it from the dish (so the dish isn’t stuck in your freezer for months). Either way, ensure it’s tightly wrapped in at least two layers of foil and, optionally, a further layer of plastic wrap.
When properly wrapped, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight (it can take up to 24 hours to fully thaw). Then bake/reheat it.
You can assemble this easy tuna noodle casserole recipe in advance (minus the breadcrumbs) and store it for 1-2 days. When ready to bake, let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes, add the topping, and bake.
Once baked, allow it to cool, and then store it in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic wrap (or in an airtight container) for 3-5 days.
I prefer to reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes in a covered bowl.
For larger amounts, cover the casserole with foil and bake at 350ºF/175ºC until piping hot (20-30 minutes). For a crispier topping, remove the foil in the last 5-10 minutes and/or broil it at the end.
Like any noodle-based casserole, it’s important to ensure enough sauce in the dish since the noodles soak up the sauce as it sits. If it’s dry, try stirring in a little extra milk or vegetable/chicken broth.
This casserole is filling enough to enjoy alone (warm or chilled) but will also pair well with:
· A side salad – whether leafy green, tomato salad, or easy beet and carrot salad,
· Garlic bread, focaccia, or a buttered dinner roll,
· Vegetables – like corn on the cob, asparagus, green beans, broccoli & cauliflower.
More Casserole Recipes
- The Best Pineapple Casserole Recipe
- Easy Taco Casserole Recipe
- Fabulous Cheesy Potatoes
- French’s Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
If you try this easy tuna noodle casserole recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
The Best Tuna Casserole (With Noodles)
- 5.3 oz dry egg noodles 3 cups (cook to al dente); regular or whole-wheat
- 7.5 oz tuna fish 2 cans
- 5 oz frozen peas 1 cup and/or frozen corn
- 13 oz cream of mushroom soup 1 can/1.5 cups; OR cream of celery/cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded; OR Colby Jack, Gruyere, Monterrey Jack, Gouda, parmesan, or even a Mexican blend
- 1/4 cup milk any fat %
- 0.25 oz parsley 2 tablespoon chopped
- Casserole dish 8×8 inch (or 9.5×6.5 inch)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F/220ºC.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles in salted water according to the package instructions, minus 1-2 minutes, so it's al dente.
- Once cooked, immediately drain and rinse the pasta to halt the cooking process.
- In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and breadcrumbs and set it aside.
- Combine the mushroom soup, milk, cheese*, tuna, peas, and parsley in a large mixing bowl first or directly in an 8×8-inch casserole dish (or 9.5×6.5-inch). Mix well, then stir in the noodles.*Optionally reserve some of the cheese to sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
- Sprinkle over the breadcrumb mixture and then transfer the dish to the oven to bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling, and the crumb topping is golden brown.For a darker crust, broil the tuna pasta casserole for 1-2 minutes at the end.
- Finally, allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes, then optionally garnish with more parsley, and serve.
- Cook the pasta al dente: This ensures it doesn’t become mushy when baking and sitting in the sauce.
- Use freshly grated cheese: Pre-grated cheese won’t melt as easily.
- For flavorful pasta: Cook it in liberally salted water or vegetable stock.
- Experiment with veggies: You can basically chuck in any pre-cooked veggies and several others from raw or frozen, so experiment with what you have (see suggestions below).
- Swap the tuna: Yupp, you read that right. This creamy casserole works just as well with canned/shredded chicken.
- Cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce: To add a little spice.
- Cream cheese: A little for an extra rich, creamy texture.
- Other vegetables: There are several you could use, adding 1-2 cups.
- Corn (frozen or canned),
- Carrots (pre-cooked/sauteed),
- Onion (or shallots, pre-sauteed),
- Celery (pre-sauteed),
- Spinach (fresh not frozen),
- Zucchini (raw or cooked),
- Broccoli (pre-cooked),
- Cauliflower (pre-cooked),
- Green beans (canned or pre-cooked),
- Sliced mushrooms (sauteed).
- Olives: Kalamata olives/regular black olives to add briny, salty flavor.
- Fried onions: As a topping instead of breadcrumbs.