The Best Tuna Casserole is SO easy to make! Made with a simple from scratch sauce, egg noodles, tuna, peas and a crunchy Panko-Parmesan topping, this comfort food classic is sure to become a new family favorite! Serve with homemade dinner rolls and broccoli salad for a simply delicious dinner!
I’m a little concerned I’m going to be call the casserole queen for posting a second casserole recipe this week….buuuut, I knew my casserole-loving peeps were going to go crazy for this amazing Tuna Casserole.
Classic tuna casserole is something I think most, if not all, of us remember. It is classic comfort food much like mac and cheese, fried chicken, or lasagna. Now, whether you remember it with a slight grimace or fondness, don’t fear: this tuna casserole recipe that I’m sharing today will remind you of a classic tuna casserole but blow you away with it’s awesome flavor and freshness.
The Best Tuna Casserole From Scratch
The sauce is made from scratch – no canned, cream soups here. And it’s easy you guys. You know I love easy. I used canned tuna but the tuna from the pouches is also great. You just want to make sure you get the water-packed tuna and drain it really well. The oil packed will be a bit too greasy for this tuna casserole recipe.
What’s In Tuna Noodle Casserole
- wide egg noodles
- red bell pepper
- all purpose flour
- ground black pepper
- whole milk
- Dijon mustard
- water packed chunk tuna
- cheddar cheese
For the Topping
- panko bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- smoked paprika
Cheese or No Cheese?
There is nothing better than an old fashioned tuna casserole. Serious comfort food, amiright? I like a cheesy tuna casserole so I added some cheddar cheese to the recipe. If you don’t like it cheesy, omit it entirely with no substitutions needed. No problemo.
Tuna Casserole Topping
I also topped the casserole with a delicious crunchy topping made with Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, smoked paprika (<- quickly becoming my favorite pantry staple), fresh parsley, and, of course, a little butter for flavor and browning.
Tuna Casserole Be Made In Advance or Frozen
Good news! Like most casserole recipes, this Tuna Casserole can not only be made in advance, but it can be frozen as well.
Make In Advance
- Prepare the casserole as directed but stop just before adding the panko topping. Cover and refrigerate. Pull from the refrigerator before you preheat your oven so your casserole isn’t quite so cold. Sprinkle the topping on and bake. You’ll need to add 5 to 10 minutes to the total cooking time.
- Freezing after Cooking: Let the casserole cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil making sure it is sealed well. Let defrost fully and then warm up as desired.
- Freezing before Cooking: Assemble the casserole as directed. Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil making sure it is sealed well. Let defrost fully in the refrigerator overnight and then follow directions below to bake it. Pull from the refrigerator before you preheat your oven so your casserole isn’t quite so cold. Remember to add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to the cook time to compensate for it being cold.
More Must Make Casseroles
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- Overnight Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole
- Breakfast Casserole
- Tater Tot Casserole
How To Make Tuna Casserole
The BEST Tuna Casserole
- 3 cups wide egg noodles about 5 oz
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 12 oz water packed chunk tuna drained
- 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed
- 4 oz cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp butter melted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.
- Cook noodles according to package directions, removing when al dente. Drain, and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, bell pepper, and onion and cook until onion is translucent, stirring frequently.
- Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly add milk and cook, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Stir in Dijon mustard.
- Add tuna, peas, noodles, and cheddar cheese and fold into the sauce.
- Pour mixture into the prepared dish.
- Combine Panko, Parmesan cheese, smoked paprika parsley and melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top.
- Bake casserole for 25 to 30 minutes, uncovered, or until heated through and golden brown on top. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
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Everyone loved this recipe! The only substitution I made was using 2% milk because I didn’t have whole milk. Turned out wonderful.
Trish, I’ve been a tuna casserole junkie since I the beginning of time and this one tops them all. (sorry Mom…still love ya!) Followed 90% of it but instead of egg noodle pasta I used farfalle and instead of milk I used half and half. I will also try your recipe with shredded chicken and crab meat! Thanks again and this will be a go-to recipe for a while. Sorry Mom!
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
Hahaha! Thanks Artimus! I really appreciate it! (sorry Mom!)
Made this yesterday. I followed the recipe and it turned out great. My husband and I both loved it. Thought I was going to have to freeze some. Not!! It’s almost gone already. Thank you for a wonderful casserole. I have it copied and in my book! 🙂
Great recipe! Much better than the Cream of Mushroom soup and onion soup mix recipe my mother taught me and that I have been making for years. I used fresh English peas, which I can only get from Trader Joe’s, but otherwise everything was the same and it came out perfect! Thank You!!!
I’m a rebel..I added yellow pepper in the sautéed vegetables, sour cream to the soup, to the milk a bit of half and half, Italian seasoning and a bit of garlic powder. For the topping I used seasoned bread crumbs adding crushed Asiago salad crisps, a bit of smoked paprika. I used basil sun dried noodles because that’s what I had on hand. Yeah..I’m a rock star! 😜
Hazel H. says
Believe it or not, I’ve never made a casserole, and I’ve never had a tuna one! So, last night there was literally nothing else to eat & I found your wonderful recipe. I followed it but did make changes based on our dietary needs. First I skipped the red pepper, and then I subbed almond cooking milk for the milk, & low salt margarine for the butter. The almond cooking milk added so much creaminess to the dish, it was incredible. I didn’t have noodles so I used small shells, which were fine! I only had 2 cans of tuna so that’s what I used & it wasn’t a problem. I left out the cheese because we’re lactose intolerant. Yeah it sucks because we love cheese! But honestly it was so creamy and rich without it we didn’t miss it! I also cut down on the salt because Panko is plenty salty. Yes, a bunch of changes, but the basic recipe is excellent & I highly recommend it! We loved it.
I made this last night and it was a big hit. My husband stated that it was one of the best tuna casseroles that he’s ever had! That being said, one point of frustration was the stated prep time. In my experience the 15 minute allotment was woefully inadequate which put undue stress on meeting other time commitments. A more realistic expectation would be greatly appreciated.
Definitely not my Mom’s! Love this one and happy I made it in a 13×9 pan. Just doubled everything except for mustard & just used plain since I didn’t have Dijon and no salt due to diet. Oh I also skipped parsley since I didn’t have it either. It took me a bit longer to brown to topping, maybe 45 mins. Thanks for these yummy recipes!
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
Lol! Thanks so much Sam!
Ivan Cadtro says
Se la prepararé a mi hijo, se ve deliciosa
I made this and both my husband and I loved it!! I’m making it again today! I’m eating it right now for breakfast! Yum! I used high protein noodles made from chickpeas and it turned out great!
Susan Hepp says
I like EVERYTHING about the recipe, except next time I will put either 1/2 the amount of parmesan, or none. It was just too much. It ended up hiding the other flavors….Otherwise excellent!
Janie Blomker says
I cooked this for dinner tonight. I didn’t have parmesan cheese so I used mild cheddar. This was a big hit with my husband. Had great flavor and will cook it again.
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
So glad you enjoyed the recipe Janie!
Tried this today, Wonderful!
I made this the other night and found it to be very filling, I particularly loved the dijon aroma that wafted into the sitting room and ended up enjoying two huge helpings.
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
Awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the casserole Naima!
Carol Kudless says
My husband loved it! And it was really easy to make. Nice flavor.