Tuna Noodle Casserole (From Scratch!)

If you’re looking for the best tuna noodle casserole recipe, this is it. It’s made totally from scratch – no condensed soup! We’re talking a cheesy sauce, loaded with veggies, AND it has a potato chip crumb topping to boot. Just like mom used to make, but better! 

A baking dish of tuna noodle casserole, with a serving scooped onto a plate.

Did you grow up in a casserole house?

I feel like most people fall into two categories – those that grew up eating casseroles on the regular, and those that didn’t. I fell into the “did not” category; my mom may have made a couple here or there, but I don’t really remember ever eating them. BUT! When I moved out on my own after college, I fell hard for casseroles. They were so easy! Just some rice or pasta, a little chicken, a can or two of condensed soup, and maybe a bag of frozen vegetables. Dinner, done!

However, once I started really getting into cooking, I began shying away from the canned soup and prepackaged mixes. I discovered that turkey tetrazzini is one of my absolute favorite meals, and that old holiday favorites like green bean casserole and broccoli casserole can be infinitely improved with fresh ingredients.

MY OTHER RECIPES

I honestly am not sure that I’ve ever had tuna noodle casserole before making it myself for the first time. Crazy, right?! I’ve always been a fan of tuna, sometimes eating a can of it for lunch during college, so I was excited to finally make this iconic casserole, and from scratch!

Tuna draining in a fine mesh sieve.

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole

Because we’re making this completely homemade, there are a few steps involved, but it is 1000000% worth it when you taste this beauty of a casserole! Let’s get to it…

  • Prep the Topping – Throw some shredded cheese, crushed potato chips, salt, pepper, torn bread slices, and butter into a food processor and give it a few quick pulses. Done!
  • Marinate the Tuna The tuna is drained, patted dry, then combined with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and left to sit while the rest of the casserole is prepared. It keeps the tuna nice and moist and infuses great flavor.
  • Cook the Noodles Throw some egg noodles in a pot of boiling water, drain, rinse, and done!
  • Sauté the Vegetables – The mushrooms, onion, and red pepper are sautéed in butter until soft and tender.
  • Make the Sauce – Start with a roux of butter and flour, then slowly whisk in half and half and chicken broth, and simmer until the sauce is starting to thicken. Add the shredded cheese to make a wonderfully creamy, cheesy sauce!
  • Assemble and Bake the Casserole – Add the tuna and veggies, noodles, and peas to the sauce and toss to combined. Then transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with the topping and bake until golden brown. DELISH!

Topping for tuna noodle casserole in a food processor.

Recipe Tips and Notes

  • If you do not have a food processor for the topping, you can do a couple of quick pulses in a blender, or use a pastry blender to combine the bread, butter, salt, pepper and cheeses, then crush the potato chips with your hands and stir in.
  • If you do not have a microwave, you can warm the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat until warmed through, then combine with the tuna.
  • If you cannot find half and half where you live, simply substitute heavy cream and whole milk in equal parts.
  • To make this a vegetarian meal, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
  • Feel free to substitute other cheeses if you’d like, although I LOVE the combo of Monterey Jack and cheddar!
  • The casserole can be made ahead. To do so, refrigerate without topping, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Increase the baking time to 25 minutes, adding the topping halfway through baking.
  • This casserole can also be frozen. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Move from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 to 36 hours before you plan on serving, then follow the baking directions above for a make-ahead preparation.

Tuna noodle casserole prepared before placing in baking dish.

I feel like my life is complete now that I’ve made and eaten tuna noodle casserole.

Since discovering homemade casseroles using fresh ingredients, I just might turn our house into a casserole house!

If You Like This Tuna Noodle Casserole, Try These Recipes:

A head-on view of a pan of tuna noodle casserole with a serving scooped out.

One year ago: Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
Two years ago: Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs
Three years ago: Mango Berry Macarons
Six years ago: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

If you’re looking for the best tuna noodle casserole recipe, this is it. It’s made totally from scratch – no condensed soup! We’re talking a cheesy sauce, loaded with veggies, AND it has a potato chip crumb topping to boot. Just like mom used to make, but better!

Ingredients:

For the Topping

  • ½ ounce Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • ½ ounce sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups (60 grams) potato chips, crushed
  • 2 slices (50 grams) white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper

For the Casserole

  • 3 (5-ounce) cans solid white albacore tuna packed in water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon + 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3½ cups (840 ml) half-and-half
  • 1½ cups (360 ml) chicken broth
  • 3½ ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 3½ ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1½ cups (165 grams) frozen peas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses in a bowl. Pulse the potato chips, bread, ¼ cup cheese mixture, 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in food processor until coarsely ground, about 8 pulses; set aside.
  2. Place the tuna in a fine-mesh strainer and press dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large bowl and flake into coarse pieces with a fork. Microwave the oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl for about 30 seconds. Stir the oil mixture into the tuna and set aside.
  3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water until cool, about 2 minutes. Drain again and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in now-empty pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with tuna mixture. Add 1 tablespoon butter, the onion, and bell pepper to now-empty pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with tuna-mushroom mixture; set aside.
  4. In now-empty pot, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in half-and-half and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Off heat, whisk in shredded cheese until smooth. Stir in pasta, tuna-vegetable mixture, peas, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let casserole cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • If you do not have a food processor for the topping, you can do a couple of quick pulses in a blender, or use a pastry blender to combine the bread, butter, salt, pepper and cheeses, then crush the potato chips with your hands and stir in.
  • If you do not have a microwave, you can warm the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat until warmed through, then combine with the tuna.
  • If you cannot find half and half where you live, simply substitute heavy cream and whole milk in equal parts.
  • To make this a vegetarian meal, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
  • Feel free to substitute other cheeses if you’d like, although I LOVE the combo of Monterey Jack and cheddar!
  • The casserole can be made ahead. To do so, refrigerate without topping, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Increase the baking time to 25 minutes, adding the topping halfway through baking.
  • This casserole can also be frozen. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Move from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 to 36 hours before you plan on serving, then follow the baking directions above for a make-ahead preparation.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in April 2014. Updated in October 2018 with new photos and more recipe tips.

[photos by The Almond Eater]