This tuna noodle casserole is the best… it’s my mom and grandma’s recipe! A creamy, cheesy sauce coats egg noodles, dotted with green peas and flake tuna, topped with melty cheesy and buttery breadcrumbs. This classic recipe is rich and creamy, made from scratch but so quick and easy to throw together. No canned soups here! A true budget meal but indulgent at the same time.
Why This Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe Is The Best
- Growing up, we ate my mom’s tuna noodle casserole recipe all the time, and it’s still one of my favorites. Mom’s been making it for over 40 years, and her mom made it for her when she was a kid. As Catholics, they had it every Friday (It was that or fish sticks, ha!).
- Even now, whenever I need a quick and cheap comfort food meal from the pantry and freezer, this one comes to mind. I admit, it’s not totally the casserole from my childhood. I upgraded it to be super creamy and saucy, with some veggies.
- This recipe doesn’t use any canned soups like most tuna noodle casserole recipes. No cream of mushroom – just real roux, milk, and cheese!
Key Ingredients for Tuna Noodle Casserole
Tuna – You can use tuna in water or oil, whichever you prefer. Water-packed tuna will be a little lighter when it comes to calories and fat. If you want to double up on the amount of tuna used in this recipe, you absolutely can!
Noodles – Egg noodles are the classic noodle-of-choice when it comes to tuna noodle casserole, but you can use any type of noodle you like best. If you’re looking for a noodle-less option, check out our recipe for Whole30 Tuna Zoodle Casserole (Paleo, Dairy Free)!
- For a gluten free version, substitute the egg noodles with an equal weight of gluten free noodles. Use the same amount of gluten free flour.
- You can use gluten free breadcrumbs if you can find them, but if not, it’s super easy to make some out of gluten free bread. Or just leave them out! They are totally optional.
- If you don’t have peas or just don’t like them, you can leave them out. You can also sub basically any other veggie you like in their place. Chopped broccoli? Asparagus? Spinach? Corn? All great options.
- Since the noodles get cooked twice (once on the stove, again in the oven) you want to make sure they’re just barely cooked when you take them off the stovetop. This will keep them from overcooking in the oven.
More Delicious Dinner Recipes
- Dreamy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Baked Feta Pasta
- Crockpot Chicken and Rice
- Poppy Seed Chicken
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
- Whole30 Casserole with Chicken, Broccoli, Rice, and Mushrooms (Paleo, GF)
- Vegetarian Enchiladas with Goat Cheese
- Healthy Authentic Seafood Gumbo (Gluten Free, Whole30, Paleo, Low Carb)
- Cranberry Rosemary One Pan Chicken (Paleo, Whole30 Option)
- Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole
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Mom’s Best Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 2.5-quart Baking Dish
- medium saucepan
- 1 5-ounce can chunk light tuna drained and flaked
- 8 ounces egg noodles see Notes for gluten free
- 6 tablespoons butter divided
- 5 tablespoons flour See Notes for gluten free
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon salt plus extra to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley optional
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs see Notes for gluten free
- fresh parsley chopped, for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
For the Noodles
- Cook according to package directions in heavily salted water, for shortest amount of time recommended.
- Drain and transfer to baking dish. Set aside.
For the Sauce
- Melt 5 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour. Stir until smooth.
- Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles and turns golden. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly.
- Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup shredded cheese, stirring until melted
For the Casserole
- Pour sauce over drained noodles in baking dish. Add tuna and green peas and stir to combine. Bake in oven 15 minutes.
- While casserole is baking, melt remaining tablespoon butter in small bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs and large pinch of salt.
- After casserole bakes 15 minutes, sprinkle remaining ½ cup shredded cheese on top, then sprinkle buttery breadcrumbs over cheese.
- Return to oven and bake 5 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
- Make it Gluten Free: Substitute egg noodles with equal weight gluten free noodles. Use equal parts gluten free flour instead of regular flour. Use gluten free bread crumbs, make some out of gluten free bread, or omit.
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.