Let’s talk about the ultimate comfort food: tuna casserole. This dish is like a cozy blanket on a chilly night, with its creamy, dreamy sauce, tender noodles, and that oh-so-satisfying crunch on top. It’s the kind of meal that makes everyone at the table happy, from the pickiest little eaters to the grown-ups looking for a taste of nostalgia. Plus, it’s a cinch to whip up with ingredients you’ve probably got in your pantry right now, making it a total weeknight dinner win. So, let’s dive into making a dish that’ll have your family asking for seconds before they’re even done with their firsts. Trust me, it’s going to be a hit!

I love nothing more than a really good casserole. If you love tuna casserole, you need to try my creamy chicken casserole and chicken and rice casserole.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Calls for pantry staples and a straightforward preparation process.
  • A hit with children and adults alike, ensuring clean plates all around.
  • Great for preparing ahead of time for a stress-free dinner.
A fork holding up a bite of tuna casserole over their plate.

Tuna Casserole Recipe

Tuna casserole is a harmonious blend of creamy textures, savory flavors, and tender chunks of tuna, intertwined with perfectly cooked pasta. Its top layer boasts a golden crust, delivering a satisfying crunch, which complements its soft interior.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Overhead view of a kitchen countertop with a bowl of noodles, cheese, peas, tuna, breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, flour, cream, chicken broth, butter, and an onion.
  • Egg Noodles: Serve as the base; substitute with any pasta you have in your pantry.
  • Butter: For sautéing and creating a rich flavor base. Olive oil can be used as a substitute.
  • White Onion and Garlic: Add depth and aromatics to the dish. Shallots can be used as an alternative.
  • Flour: Thickens the sauce. A gluten-free flour blend can be substituted for a GF option.
  • Chicken Broth and Milk: Create the creamy sauce. Vegetable broth and any non-dairy milk can substitute respectively.
  • Frozen Peas: Add color and a sweet, mild flavor. Substitute with any frozen vegetable you prefer.
  • Solid White Albacore Tuna: The star protein; swap with canned salmon or chicken for a different twist.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Adds creamy, melty goodness. Any melting cheese can be a substitute.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs and Parmesan Cheese: For the crispy topping. Use regular breadcrumbs or crushed crackers if needed.
A collage of four images showing the process of how to make the casserole gravy.
A collage of six images showing the process of how to make tuna casserole from start to finish.

Can I use a can of cream of chicken soup?

Certainly! Using a 10.5 ounce can of cream of chicken soup in tuna casserole is a time-saving hack that simplifies the preparation process. If you’re looking to replace the homemade gravy with cream of chicken soup, here’s how to do it seamlessly:

  1. Skip the Roux: Since the cream of chicken soup acts as a thickening agent and flavor base, you can omit the steps for making a roux, which includes cooking flour and fat (like butter) together. This means you won’t need to use the butter, flour, chicken broth, and milk listed for making the homemade sauce.
  2. Prepare the Soup: Open your 10.5 ounce can of cream of chicken soup. If it’s condensed, you’ll want to dilute it with milk to achieve a smoother, more sauce-like consistency. A good starting point is to add one can (use the empty soup can as a measure) of milk, but you might want to adjust this based on your preference for the thickness of the sauce. Stir well to combine.
  3. Mix with Other Ingredients: In a mixing bowl or directly in the pan you’ll be using to bake the casserole, combine the prepared cream of chicken soup with the cooked and drained egg noodles, drained tuna, frozen peas (no need to thaw), and half of the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the soup mixture.
  4. All that’s remaining is to top with your preferred topping and bake!

Canned Tuna Options

  • Solid white tuna: Solid white tuna is made from the largest and most mature skipjack tuna. It has a firm and flaky texture, and a mild and slightly sweet flavor. It is a versatile type of canned tuna that can be used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
  • Solid light tuna: Solid light tuna is made from smaller and younger skipjack tuna. It has a lighter and more delicate flavor and texture than solid white tuna. It is a good choice for dishes that require a more subtle tuna flavor, such as tuna salad or tuna melt.
  • Chunk light tuna: Chunk light tuna is made from smaller and younger skipjack tuna that is packed in oil or water. It has a chunkier and more varied texture than solid light tuna, and a slightly stronger flavor. It is a good choice for dishes that require larger pieces of tuna, such as tuna casserole or tuna salad.
  • Albacore tuna: Albacore tuna is made from a different species of tuna than skipjack tuna. It is larger and more flavorful than skipjack tuna, and has a firmer and meatier texture. It is a good choice for dishes that require a stronger tuna flavor, such as tuna salad or tuna patties.

The type of canned tuna that you choose will depend on your personal preferences and your budget. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find which one you like best.

Did You Know?

Tuna casserole traces its roots back to the United States in the early 20th century. It quickly gained popularity as an economical and filling meal during challenging times. With the introduction of canned tuna and condensed soup, this dish became a household staple, beloved for its convenience and heartwarming taste.

Tuna Casserole Toppings

The topping on a tuna casserole is a golden opportunity to add texture and flavor, transforming the dish from good to fantastic! While our classic recipe calls for a crispy blend of panko bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan and a bit of oil for that perfect crunch, there are plenty of other options to explore based on your pantry inventory or flavor preferences. Here are some delicious alternatives to try:

  • Crushed Potato Chips: For a salty, crunchy kick, sprinkle crushed potato chips over your casserole before baking. They add an irresistible texture and are a great way to use up the bottom-of-the-bag crumbs.
  • Cornflakes: Crushed cornflakes provide a sweet, crispy topping that bakes up beautifully golden. Their mild flavor complements the tuna and creamy sauce without overpowering the dish.
  • Ritz Crackers: Crushed Ritz crackers mixed with melted butter offer a buttery, crunchy topping that pairs wonderfully with the creamy casserole ingredients. This topping adds a bit of richness and depth to the final dish.
  • Parmesan Crust: Mix grated Parmesan cheese with your breadcrumbs or alone for a cheesy, crispy top layer. The Parmesan adds a nutty, salty flavor that browns beautifully in the oven.
  • Herbed Breadcrumbs: If sticking with breadcrumbs, consider mixing in some dried herbs like Italian seasoning, thyme, or oregano for an added flavor boost. This option is great for those who appreciate a more aromatic topping.

Each of these alternatives brings its unique texture and taste, allowing you to customize your casserole to suit your family’s preferences or simply to experiment with what you have on hand.


  • Casserole too dry? Add a bit more milk or broth before baking to keep it moist.
  • Not browning on top? Increase the oven temperature or use the broiler for a few minutes at the end of baking.
  • Sauce too thin? Cook the roux a bit longer before adding liquids to ensure it’s properly thickened.

Tips From the Chef

  • Cook pasta al dente: It will continue to cook in the oven, so to avoid mushy pasta, undercook it slightly.
  • Drain tuna well: Removing excess moisture ensures the casserole isn’t watery.
  • Double the sauce ingredients if you prefer a really saucy tuna casserole.
  • Let it rest: Allow the casserole to sit for a few minutes after baking for easier serving.
Overhead view of a tuna casserole in a white baking dish.

When is Tuna Casserole ready?

  • Golden and Crispy Topping: The breadcrumbs should be golden brown.
  • Bubbling Edges: The sauce will bubble slightly at the edges when fully cooked.
  • Firm to the Touch: The center should feel set when lightly touched.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer: Freeze in a covered dish for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheating: Warm in the oven at 350°F until heated through, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, microwave individual servings in 30-second increments until warmed through, with a small pat of butter on top to keep it from drying out.

More Favorite Casseroles

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.