Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole is a classic family favorite! This recipe makes a creamy, cheesy tuna casserole with a scrumptious, buttery Ritz cracker topping.
If you’re looking for the simplest tuna casserole recipe, you’ve found it. Now that more people are eating from their pantry, you might be wondering what the best way to use canned tuna is. You’ve guessed it, it’s this delicious pantry meal!
Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole
Tuna noodle casserole has been a classic American casserole recipe since the 1950s. I remember seeing a recipe for this family favorite in my Betty Crocker cookbook years ago. And, while my recipe is different from that classic, it has quickly become a family favorite.
This tuna casserole recipe uses canned tuna and condensed soup. Here, I use two cans of cream of mushroom soup. But, you can use cream of celery or whatever other types of cream soup you have on hand.
Or, if you’re out of cream soup, you can make homemade condensed cream of chicken soup or a basic white sauce and use that as the basis for this casserole.
A completely from scratch tuna noodle casserole would use a white sauce instead of the canned soup.
And, it might use buttered bread crumbs as a topping instead of the Ritz crackers. The great thing about this casserole recipe is that you can modify it to use up what you have in your pantry.
What can I substitute for peas in tuna noodle casserole?
I use frozen peas in my cheesy tuna casserole. But, you can use another type of frozen, or even canned, vegetable if you prefer.
Good substitutions are frozen broccoli or cauliflower, canned mushrooms, carrots, or a mixture of carrots and peas.
Pantry meals like this one are meant to be simple and really versatile, so use whatever you have on hand!
Do you cook the noodles before adding them to tuna casserole?
Yes, most recipes, including this one, require that you cook the noodles before you add them to the casserole.
But, when making this cheesy tuna noodle casserole, it’s important that you only cook them until they are al dente. They will continue to cook in the oven. So, if you overcook them, they will be too soft when the casserole is done baking.
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Substitute for Ritz Crackers
If you don’t have Ritz crackers on hand, you can easily substitute something else. I’ve used buttered breadcrumbs before. Or, you can use any of these:
- Crushed potato chips
- Chow Mein noodles
- Crushed pretzels
- French Fried Onions (this is what I use on my make ahead green bean casserole)
Take a look at what’s in your pantry right now and use up what you have. Anything that is crunchy will make a good topping.
Serving Suggestions for Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole
This tuna casserole is a full meal as-is because it contains a protein, starch, and a vegetable. But, if you want to serve a side dish, a steamed vegetable is a great choice!
My Green Beans with Garlic is a great side dish for almost any meal. Or, if you have fresh produce, a garden salad would also work well with this casserole.
Freezing and Reheating Instructions
If you want to make up a large batch on the weekend and then freeze it, you can certainly do that. Just bake the casserole as directed and allow it to cool. Then, you can freeze it, tightly covered, for five to six months. The key is to be sure that it is tightly covered.
When you want to serve it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator and bake it as directed. Or, you can bake it frozen and increase the cooking time by 30 minutes. Be sure you check it every 15 minutes to be sure it doesn’t overcook.
If you have leftover tuna noodle casserole, store the leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator. They should be eaten within 3 days.
To reheat, just put it back in the oven and heat until the center is hot. How long it takes to reheat will depend on how much casserole is left in the pan.
Or, you can reheat it in the microwave if you prefer.
It should take about two minutes per serving. However, it can vary depending on how much is on your plate and how powerful your microwave is.
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Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole + Video
- 12 ounces extra broad egg noodles
- 2 cups frozen peas, or canned (See Notes)
- 21.5 ounces condensed cream of mushroom soup, (two 10.75-ounce cans) See Notes
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 20 ounces canned tuna, drained
- 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Cook noodles 2 minutes less than package directions, to al dente. They should still have a bite to them, as they will continue cooking in the oven. Drain in a colander, but do not rinse.
- Meanwhile, to a large bowl, add condensed soup, milk, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Add warm pasta, canned peas, and tuna. Stir to combine. *See Notes if using frozen peas.
- Spread mixture evenly into a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.
- Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over top of the casserole.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the casserole is heated through.
- If using frozen peas, add during last 2 minutes of cook time. If using canned peas, drain them and add to the bowl at the same time as the pasta.
- Feel free to substitute any frozen veggie of your choice for the peas.
- If desired, you can substitute one can of condensed celery soup for condensed mushroom soup
- Be sure to only cook the noodles to al dente as they will continue cooking in the oven.
- You can use any pasta you like. Egg noodles are classic, but this recipe is great with elbows, shells, cavatappi, and penne too.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published April 2020.
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