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BEST Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole (Classic Recipe)

This Best Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole is grandma’s tuna noodle casserole and it’s a classic recipe, known for decades. It’s the ultimate comfort food and a go-to for busy weeknights and ready in only 45 minutes from start to finish.

Love easy casserole recipes? Try my beef enchilada casserole, Mexican chicken casserole and this sloppy joe casserole next!


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I love vintage recipes and I can only imagine what it must’ve been like when this easy casserole came onto the scene many year ago. I really like that it freezes well and it is just so quick to throw together thanks to the egg noodles cooking up so quickly.

The creamy sauce is pure comfort and it’s an easy dinner that both of our boys love. They are both working part-time now and it is so nice to have this in the fridge to warm up in the microwave.

Why you will love this tuna noodle casserole

  • it’s the ultimate comfort food. Warm, hearty and satisfying, it’s the perfect meal for a busy weeknight when everyone is on-the-go.
  • old-school tuna noodle casserole doesnt require any fancy ingredients or complicated techniques. It takes a few minutes to assemble and 45 minutes from start to finish.
  • it’s the best tuna casserole receipe because it’s versatile and you can customize it to suit your tastes by adding different veggies, cheese and toppings.
  • an easy dinner that’s family-friendly. Our kids love it and it’s great for taking to family gatherings and potlucks. While there are many pre-made frozen versions available, we love our homemade tuna casserole best!

If you love casserole recipes, try these next!

Easy Chicken Tater Tot Hotdish

Philly Cheesesteak Casserole

John Wayne Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole with Ground Beef & Green Beans

Walking Taco Casserole

What is old fashioned tuna noodle casserole?

Tuna noodle casserole is a classic American dish made with egg noodles, canned tuna, and a creamy sauce made made from cream of mushroom soup. You likely have most of the ingredients in your pantry already!

Tuna fish casserole is oven-baked and topped with potato chips or a crunchy breadcrumb topping. We love ours with peas & cheddar cheese, while other common ingredients include onions and celery.

Tuna noodle casserole is a comforting and hearty dish that has been a popular staple in many households for decades. The one we’re making today is a classic tuna casserole with cheese.

You can serve it as a main dish or as a side dish, we associate it with quick and easy weeknight meals, perfect when everyone is on-the-go!

What is the origin of tuna casserole?

The origins of the dish are not entirely clear although, we know and love Campbells tuna noodle casserole that’s been around since the 1940’s!

What’s In Tuna Noodle Casserole? Ingredients & Substitutions

Labelled ingredients for old fashioned tuna noodle casserole on a marble board with text overlay.
  • Tuna – I like to use good quality tuna like solid white albacore tuna in water or you can use your favorite type and brand. You will need two cans of tuna.
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Milk – you can use 2% or whole milk in this recipe.
  • Pasta (egg noodles) – we love medium egg noodles because they are classic from the retro casserole and they cook up so quickly. You can also substitute any type of smaller pasta, such as
  • Peas – frozen peas can be added to the casserole with cooking first which saves time. You could also substitute green beans or an equal amount of mixed frozen vegetables.
  • Cheddar cheese – I like to use sharp but you can use your favorite cheddar!
  • Potato chips – one of our favorite toppings for my mom’s classic tuna noodle casserole.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Optional – top with a little freshly grated Parmesan when serving.

What kind of noodles to use for tuna casserole

Medium eggs noodles are best for classic tuna noodle casserole because they cook quickly and don’t absorb too much of the liquid . If you’re going to substitute, chose a noodle such as rotini, fusilli or penne.

Can I make old fashioned tuna noodle casserole without soup

Yes, you can make this old fashioned tuna noodle casserole without soup by making a creamy filling from scratch. You can also substitute cream of celery soup and even cream of chicken for the mushroom soup in a pinch.

Can I use different cheese in tuna noodle casserole?

Yes, you can use different types of cheese, such as Swiss or mozzarella, for different flavour instead of cheddar cheese.

Do I need a special dish to make old fashioned tuna noodle casserole?

You don’t necessarily need a special baking dish to make tuna noodle casserole, but it’s best to use a 8×12-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish, or a similarly sized casserole dish that is deep enough to hold all the ingredients.

A baking dish with high sides will prevent the casserole from bubbling over while baking, and a glass or ceramic dish will distribute the heat evenly and help the casserole cook more evenly.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole – Step by Step Instructions

You can find a full recipe card at the bottom of this page. I like to include photos with step-by-step instructions to show you how things will look visually as you’re making this recipe.

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1 and 1/2 quart casserole dish. This recipe makes 4 servings or you can double it for 8 servings. For the smaller 4-servings, I use an 8×12 casserole dish or a square 9×9. For the large 8-serving I use a 9×13-inch.

Step 2Cook the eggs noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. You want to undercook them just a little as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Step 3 – In a large bowl, combine condensed mushrom soup and milk until smooth.

Step 4 – Gently add the cooked egg noodles, drained and flaked tuna. Taste and season with pepper. I never need to add salt to it, but you can adjust the seasoning to suit your taste and add salt!

Step 5 – Gently stir in the frozen peas. There is no need to cook them in advance as they will cook in the sauce in the oven.

Step 6 – Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish.

Step 7 – Sprinkle shredded cheese on top, followed by the crushed potato chips.

Easy tuna casserole with potato chips is perfect for a family dinner!

Step 8 – Bake in 350°F oven, on the middle rack in the oven for 25 minutes. Edges will be bubbly and the chips will be light golden brown.

What topping to use for tuna casserole?

I used potato chips when I took the photographs for this casserole but often use other substitutes, depending what I have on hand. You can use a breadbcrumb topping or a Ritz cracker topping too. Goldfish crackers will welcome squeals of delight when added to the top as well!

How to make breadcrumbs topping on tuna casserole

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of breadcrumbs with 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle on top of casserole before cooking.

How to make Ritz cracker topping

In a small bowl, combine 2 to 3 Tablespoons of buter with 1 and 1/2 cups of coarsely crushed buttery Ritz crackers. Sprinkle all over casserole before baking.

What chips to use for topping on tuna casserole?

For old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole, you can use any type of potato chips that you like. The crunchy texture of the chips adds a nice contrast to the creamy casserole and adds a salty flavor.

Chip topping on tuna noodle casserole recipe.

What other topping variations can I use on tuna noodle casserole?

Top with 1 and 1/2 cups of French fried onions for delicious flavor.

What to serve with Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole?

Tuna casserole is delicious with a side salad or a side of vegetable such as kale salad, oven-roasted carrots, and green bean casserole.

You might want to serve it with the cheese-filled garlic bread – it’s a family favorite and it reheats well too. You can learn how to reheat garlic bread with just a few simple steps.

Can tuna noodle casserole be made ahead of time?

Yes, you can! This is the ideal make-ahead meal and will make it so easy on a busy weeknight.

Assemble the casserole, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to two days before baking it. When you’re ready, bring the casserole to room temperature by allowing it to sit on the counter for ast least 30 minutes, then cook as directed.

How long is tuna noodle casserole good for in the fridge?

Tuna casserole can be stored properly in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you need to store it longer than that, a great option is to freeze it.

Top Tips for making tuna noodle casserole

Cook the noodles al dente. Overcooked noodles can become mushy and dry out the casserole.

Drain the tuna well and flake it with a fork so that the chunks are not too large.

Make it your own by changing up the veggies and flavors. You can add mixed frozen vegetables, sauteed onions and celery, and different herbs for flavoring shuch as garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, oregano and paprika.

Close up image of tuna noodle casserole.

Why is my tuna casserole so dry?

There are a few reasons why the tuna casserole could be dry. Overcooking the noodles would be the common issue. The noodles will absorb too much of the liquid during baking. Cook the noodles for less than package suggests and they will continue to cook during baking in the oven.

Baking the casserole for too long. Keep an eye on the casserole at the 25 minute time. If the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbly, it’s ready. .

Storage and Freezing tuna noodle casserole

Storage Instructions: Allow casserole to cool to room tpermature before placing in an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Can you freeze tuna noodle casserole?

Yes, you can freeze cooked tuna noodle casserole! Cool caserole to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator overnight and reheat in microwave in individual servings.

Best way to thaw tuna noodle casserole

Best way to thaw is in fridge overnight for at least 8-10 hours. Thawing tuna noodle casserole helps it cook more evenly and for the proper amount of time.

Can you cook frozen tuna noodle casserole

Yes, you can cook frozen tuna casserole, but it will take longer to cook than if it is thawed.

It’s best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight before cooking it. This ensures that it cooks evenly and thoroughly.

To help prevent temperature shock of the dish (you dont’ want it to crack!) , you can transfer the casserole to a different casserole dish at room temperature.

To cook straight from frozen: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted the sauce is bubbly. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking time to allow the chip topping to become crispy.

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BEST Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole (Classic Recipe)


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

This Best Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole is grandma’s tuna noodle casserole and it’s a classic recipe, known for decades. It’s the ultimate comfort food and a go-to for busy weeknights and ready in only 45 minutes from start to finish.


Ingredients

Note: This recipe will make 4 generous servings. You can easily double this recipe to make 8 servings.

8 ounces (226g) ounces dried eggs noodles, cooked al dente (about 3 to 4 cups)

2 (5 ounce/each) cans solid white albacore tuna

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 cup frozen peas

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 & 1/2 cups coarsely crushed potato chips

Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1 and 1/2 quart casserole dish. This recipe makes 4 servings or you can double it for 8 servings. For the smaller 4-servings, I use an 8×12 casserole dish or a square 9×9. For the large 8-serving I use a 9×13-inch. 
  2.  Cook the eggs noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. You want to undercook them just a little as they will continue to cook in the oven. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine condensed mushrom soup and milk until smooth. 
  4. Gently add the cooked egg noodles, drained and flaked tuna. Taste and season with pepper. I never need to add salt to it, but you can adjust the seasoning to suit your taste and add salt! 
  5. Gently stir in the frozen peas. There is no need to cook them in advance as they will cook in the sauce in the oven.
  6. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish.
  7. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top, followed by the crushed potato chips. 
  8. Bake in 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Edges will be bubbly and the chips will brown just a little.  Serve & enjoy!

Notes

Storage and Freezing tuna noodle casserole

Storage Instructions: Allow casserole to cool to room tpermature before placing in an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. 

Can you freeze tuna noodle casserole?

Yes, you can freeze cooked tuna noodle casserole! Cool caserole to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator overnight and reheat in microwave in individual servings. 

Best way to thaw tuna noodle casserole

Best way to thaw is in fridge overnight for at least 8-10 hours. Thawing tuna noodle casserole helps it cook more evenly and for the proper amount of time.

Can you cook frozen tuna noodle casserole

Yes, you can cook frozen tuna casserole, but it will take longer to cook than if it is thawed.

It’s best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight before cooking it. This ensures that it cooks evenly and thoroughly.

To help prevent temperature shock of the dish (you dont’ want it to crack!) , you can transfer the casserole to a different casserole dish at room temperature. 

To cook straight from frozen: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted the sauce is bubbly. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking time to allow the chip topping to become crispy. 

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 helping
  • Calories: 344
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 1255.4 mg
  • Fat: 14.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39 g
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: 13.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 29.2 mg

One Comment

  1. We make tuna hamburger helper quite often and this tuna noodle casserole is quite the step from that that is so easy and delicious. The kids love the chips on top adding a fun salty crunchy topping is so good.






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