Tuna Noodle Casserole is a classic, comforting casserole you might remember from your childhood dinner table! This version combines buttery egg noodles and tuna smothered in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with toasted Parmesan bread crumbs. It’s an easy and economical, family-friendly weeknight meal you’ll enjoy again and again!
If you’re a working parent still trying to keep your family fed on a budget, this meal checks all the boxes: it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s pretty cheap. You can make it ahead of time AND even make your own homemade 3 Ingredient Egg Noodles to use in it!. Add your favorite mix-ins to this classic casserole to customize it to your tastes, and you’ll remember the allure of this menu staple.
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When was Tuna Noodle Casserole created?
This popular tuna casserole was popular in the 1950s after its creation by Campbell’s Soup company. The availability of canned tuna made this a popular choice for many households, church dinners, and potlucks.
What ingredients are in this pasta dish?
This casserole is full of pantry staples. Here are the things you need to make it:
- 3 cups of wide egg noodles
- 3 tablespoons of butter, divided
- ½ cup of minced onion
- 2 large stalks of celery, diced
- 1 5-ounce can of solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
- 1 10 ¾ ounce can of condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
Can I use Chunk Light Tuna instead?
Yes, chunk light and solid white tuna are very similar nutritionally though they come from different species, so you can use either. Solid white albacore tuna is packed with larger pieces, while chunk light tuna has a stronger “fishy” flavor and smaller pieces. Either can be packed in oil or water, which will change the amount of fat and calories in the recipe.
How to make Tuna Noodle Casserole
This casserole comes together in just a few easy steps:
First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Boil the noodles according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add onions and celery to the melted butter and sauté until tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Empty the cheddar cheese soup into a medium bowl. Add milk to the soup and whisk together until smooth. Set it aside.
Add tuna to the sauteed vegetables in the skillet, breaking it apart with a fork. Add the soup/milk mixture to the skillet, stir to combine, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir until heated throughout, about 3 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked egg noodles, and shredded cheddar cheese to the tuna and creamy sauce. Mix until everything is thoroughly combined, then transfer the mixture into an 8×8-inch baking dish. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Add the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and mix well. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
Mix-ins and other variations:
This nostalgic recipe has lots of variations. Your family probably has its own version passed down over the years! Here are some things you can do to customize this recipe:
- Use elbow macaroni instead of egg noodles
- Use cream of mushroom soup and shredded cheddar cheese instead of the condensed cheddar soup
- Add canned peas or green beans to the casserole before baking.
- Top with crushed potato chips, corn flakes or crushed Ritz cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs.
How do I make Tuna Noodle Casserole ahead of time?
This dish can easily be made a day ahead or in the morning. Follow the recipe as directed to the point where the casserole is placed in the baking dish. Wait to make the bread topping until you are ready to bake, then cover and store the casserole in the refrigerator.
When it’s time to finish cooking, preheat the oven, make the bread crumb topping, and bake as directed.
Can you make and freeze tuna casserole?
Yes! Tuna noodle casserole freezes beautifully! It can be made ahead of time and frozen in one of two ways:
Freeze the mixture without cooked noodles, then cook them on the day of serving and add them to the mixture before baking. This has the best taste and texture, in my opinion.
OR, cook the noodles to “al dente” before adding them to the other ingredients and placing the mixture in the freezer.
Either way, store the casserole mixture in a freezer bag. Remove the excess air, seal, and lay flat to freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and bake as directed.
How to store leftover Tuna Noodle Casserole
Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, stir, and then heat until warm throughout.
Or you can freeze baked casserole by transferring leftovers to a freezer bag or other airtight container. It will keep up to 1 month in the freezer.
More delicious casserole recipes:
Casseroles are a great way to feed your family a hearty meal and are perfect for potlucks. Here are some of my favorite casseroles:
- Chicken Noodle Casserole
- Taco Casserole
- 20-Minute Chili Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole
- Mexican Breakfast Casserole
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Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 3 cups wide egg noodles
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- ½ cup onion minced
- 2 large celery stalks diced
- 5 ounces solid white tuna in water drained
- 10.75 ounces condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Boil noodles according to directions, drain and set aside.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet. Add onions and celery and sauté til tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Empty condensed soup into a medium bowl. Add milk and whisk together. Set aside.
- Add tuna to skillet, breaking apart with a fork. Add soup/milk mixture and bring to boil.
- Stir until heated throughout, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add noodles and the cup of shredded cheese. Mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Spoon into an 8×8-inch baking dish.
- In a medium microwaveable bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and mix well. Sprinkle evenly over top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.
This post was originally published March 11, 2011. It has been updated in format and with pictures on September 27, 2023.