Nothing beats a hot, bubbling tuna casserole topped with crispy potato chips straight from the oven for dinner. If I had to pick one dish that I equated with childhood comfort food at dinnertime, my Mom’s tuna casserole with noodles would be it.
Mom’s secret ingredients? Always add garlic powder and onion salt for flavor, and plain potato chips for the topping is a must for this retro recipe. Oh, and canned mushrooms, of course!
There are a ton of variations of tuna casserole, most use cream of mushroom soup, some use a homemade sauce, some have a panko crumb topping and others potato chips. I like the classic with canned mushroom soup and potato chips! If you love retro tuna, try my tuna melt sandwich, it’s a keeper!
Tuna Casserole Ingredients & Substitutions
While everyone is currently baking from their pantry and freezer and not going to the grocery stores, I thought I would add in some ways you can customize this to what you currently have at home.
- Egg noodles – you can use small, medium or broad egg noodles in this. While the texture won’t be the same as when you use broad, it still tastes good! You can also make this with other pastas, like rotini, elbow macaroni, really, as long as you cook it al dente, almost any pasta will work!
- Canned Tuna – it’s hard to replace the canned tuna in this recipe, but if you only have one can, cut this recipe right in half and it works great!
- Canned Soup – you can use one can of mushroom and one can of cream of chicken, cream of celery, or cheese. If you have to you can really play with the soups that you add to this.
- Vegetables – peas are almost essential to this, BUT you can add in chopped celery and even carrots if you want.
- Garlic & onion powder – if you want to use up fresh garlic, you can add this in while you are cooking the onions. You can skip the onion powder since you have onions, it just boosts the flavor.
- Potato Chips – I like plain but people have added salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion, whatever you like! If you don’t have chips, you can sprinkle buttery Panko crumbs on top as an alternative.
How to Make Tuna Casserole
The hardest part of making tuna casserole is opening all the cans haha! But actually, it’s super simple to make:
- Cook the pasta to al dente.
- Combine the sauce (here’s where you open all those cans)
- Mix in the other ingredients.
- Place in a casserole dish
- Bake until bubbling
Freezing Tuna Casserole
This casserole fits into a large 475 Pyrex casserole – this is no surprise as this casserole dish was THE casserole dish for decades that everyone used. You can see I’ve pulled out my trusted 1970’s Harvest casserole dish just for this. This is a 2.5 quart capacity. The magic of Pyrex is that you can freeze it then place it into the oven to cook, straight from the freezer. To freeze you :
- Prepare the casserole as directed and place into the casserole dish. Make sure it’s a freezer-to-oven safe dish. You can also use an aluminum pan just like store bought frozen casseroles come in.
- Wrap the casserole and freeze.
- To cook from frozen, preheat your oven to 350 °F. Cook the casserole from frozen until hot and bubbling. The center needs to reach 165 °F for food safety. Cooking from frozen takes longer than cooking from defrosted, BUT can be done right away. You need to cook it at a lower temperature for a longer time. (like all those frozen store bought lasagnas)
- To cook from defrosted, let the casserole defrost in your fridge overnight. This takes some pre-planning and taking the casserole out the night before! Then preheat your oven to 400 °F and cook until hot and bubbling. The center needs to reach 165 °F for food safety.
Tuna Casserole Tips and Tricks
- I prefer baking the tuna casserole in a round casserole dish as baking it in a 9×13 tends to dry out your casserole. This does take longer, but you end up with a creamy, decadent sauce instead of it drying out.
- If you are cooking this in a 9×13, you can add the crushed chips on top and cook for 20-25 minutes or until it bubbles.
- If you are cooking this in a round casserole, don’t put the chips on top until later as instructed so they don’t burn on top.
- Cook this covered to prevent it from drying out.
- You can cut this recipe in half as it IS a large recipe!
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Classic Tuna Casserole with Noodles
Nothing says comfort food like a hot, bubbling tuna casserole straight from the oven and my Mom's recipe is simply the best! This tuna casserole was one of my favorite dinners when growing up.
- Prep Time
- 25 minutes
- Cook Time
- 50 minutes
- Main Course
- Karlynn Johnston
- 5 cups broad egg noodles uncooked (equal to one 340 gram bag)
- 1 cup white onion diced
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 cup frozen peas defrosted
- two 5-6 ounces cans tuna drained
- one 10 ounce can sliced mushrooms drained
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- two 10.5 ounce cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- cracked black pepper
- salt if needed
Potato Chip Topping
- 1/2 cup crushed plain potato chips
- chopped fresh parsley to top optional
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Get out a 2.5 quart lidded casserole dish.
Cook the egg noodles to "al dente" according to the directions on the package.
Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking more. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Fry until they are tender, around 15-20 minutes. The onions do NOT cook further in this recipe as you only heat the casserole, so make sure they are done to your liking.
Place the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth and combined. Taste and add salt, pepper or more garlic powder to taste at this point.
Add in the noodles, onion, peas, tuna, mushrooms and cheese. Stir together.
Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish and place a lid on top.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid. Add on the potato chips and cook for another 20 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and hot in the middle.
Make sure you don't overcook the noodles or the casserole will be mush
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.