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Cheesy Tuna Casserole

This cozy homemade dish is made entirely from scratch! You and your family will love this cheesy tuna casserole with a crunchy breadcrumb topping.

cheesy tuna casserole

From the looks of social media, we’re all reaching for comfort food these days! Casseroles, soups, bread, all the good stuff. My list of recipes to try from what my fellow bloggers have been posting just keeps getting longer!

Our winter weather has actually been very mild for the most part, a fact that I’m extremely grateful for. It was even warm enough for us to have a little propane fire on the deck last night and roast some s’mores after dinner! I can’t say I’ve ever done that before in all my years here in Alberta! But it is still winter, and I am still craving comfort food!!

When I think of comfort food I often think of some of the dishes I grew up with. This cheesy tuna casserole is a bit of a riff on something my Mom used to make quite often. Chances are pretty good you may have had it too – I think it was pretty popular! 

My Mom’s version has something a little extra than other versions too – read on!

cheesy tuna casserole

What do you need to make cheesy tuna casserole?

This is a really easy recipe!! The ingredient list seems long but it’s all mostly basic things that you’ll most likely have in your pantry or fridge:

  • egg noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
  • flaked white tuna
  • butter
  • milk 
  • cheddar cheese
  • flour
  • garlic
  • onion
  • sour cream
  • frozen peas
  • paprika
  • ground mustard
  • salt and pepper

Aaaand are you ready for the secret ingredient? Green olives! Ok – if you’re sticking out your tongue right now – the olives are TOTALLY optional. But if you’re an olive lover they’re so good in this casserole! They add a great little salty bite! I loved them as a kid, my Mom would put in extra for me!

How do you make this classic tuna casserole?

This casserole will take you about 30 minutes from start to finish!

Start by boiling the noodles, while preparing the white sauce. In a large saucepan or stockpot, melt the butter and then begin sautéing the onion until translucent, followed by the garlic. Add in the paprika, ground mustard, salt and pepper and flour. Stir until thickened. Add the milk slowly, stirring until a thick white sauce is formed.  Stir in the sour cream, then remove it from heat.

Add the cooked and drained noodles, the frozen peas, the tuna, cheese, and olives. Stir everything together and then empty it into a buttered casserole dish. 

What do you top this cheesy tuna casserole with?

There are sooo many ways you can top this casserole. It’s delicious topped with plain, crushed chips or even fried onions. I went with a simple Panko breadcrumb topping for this recipe.

Melt a bit of butter and then stir in the Panko crumbs before spreading it on top of the casserole.

cheesy tuna casserole

Bake everything up until golden and brown on top! It will need about 20-25 minutes in the oven.

I love putting this casserole under the broiler for a few minutes at the end to get that crunchy, golden topping.

Can you freeze tuna casserole for later?

Yes! This is a great make-ahead recipe. If you’re big on meal prep, could always double this recipe and then freeze one half in a large disposable pan. Leftovers can also be frozen, in an airtight container, for up to 2 months, or kept in the fridge for 3-4 days!

Can you add more vegetables to the casserole?

If you’re looking to pump up your veggie intake, you could add up to 1 cup of additional diced vegetables such as carrots, celery or even little bits of broccoli or cauliflower.

Whether this dish makes you nostalgic or not, you’re bound to love it!

cheesy tuna casserole

cheesy tuna casserole

Some other 30 minute meal ideas from the blog:

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cheesy tuna casserole

Cheesy Tuna Casserole


  • Author: Katherine | Love In My Oven
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x

Description

This cozy homemade dish is made entirely from scratch! You and your family will love this cheesy tuna casserole with a crunchy breadcrumb topping.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 cups (6 oz) egg noodles*
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk**
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) light tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • optional: 1/4 cup diced green olives

Topping

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (3 quarts). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes, or as per package directions. Drain the noodles and then rinse with cool water. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan on the stove. Once melted, add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the flour, paprika, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Stir for 2 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously, until thick and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Add in the sour cream, and stir to combine. Remove the pan from heat.  Add the peas, tuna, cheddar cheese and diced olives, if using. Stir to combine. Remove the pan from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine together the Panko crumbs with the melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle extra cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole, followed by the Panko crumbs, covering the top completely. Bake the casserole in the oven, uncovered, until bubbly, about 25 minutes. During the last few minutes of baking, switch the oven to the broiling setting and broil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

Leftover casserole can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Whole, unbaked casseroles can be stored in the freezer for up 2 months. Bake from frozen for 45 minutes, covering the top with aluminum foil during the last half.

Notes

*If you’re not a fan of egg noodles you can substitute for rotini or other noodles you prefer!

** I use whole milk to ensure a rich and delicious casserole. You can substitute for light milk. I have not experimented with a dairy-free version but I would be careful that you don’t add a vanilla or coconut flavor!

  • Category: dinner
  • Method: oven bake
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: cheesy tuna casserole // classic tuna casserole // old fashioned tuna casserole // tuna casserole without soup

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Cheesy Tuna CasseroleCheesy Tuna Casserole

6 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, tuna casserole takes me back! This was always on the menu in our house when we first got married. We haven’t made it in ages. Thanks for the delicious reminder. I also love that you added green olives. That’s definitely not optional. I need to try that next time we make tuna casserole! p.s. it’s also incredibly mild here for January?! Barely any snow and mild temps!

    • Yay that makes me so happy. It’s such a classic, but I only recently re-discovered it as well! Everyone always loves it. You definitely must try it with the olives! Here’s hoping our mild weather sticks around. Thanks Leanne!

  2. Ooh, I do love a good tuna casserole! And I think the additon of olives is absolutely brilliant! Kudos to your mom for adding such awesome flavor!

  3. I haven’t had tuna casserole in ages, this looks just wonderful! So comforting and delicious! 😀

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