Treat yourself to classic comfort food with this creamy casserole recipe, elevated with a crispy potato chip topping for that perfect blend of flavors.
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If you use the jump to recipe button be sure to scroll back up for the variations, tips, and side dish suggestions.
🗝️ Key takeaways
- Easy tuna casserole recipe is a classic family dinner that is made with simple pantry ingredients.
- It's quick and easy to make plus you can make it ahead or freeze for later. That makes it perfect for those busy weeknights!
- If you've had trouble with dry casseroles in the past make it extra creamy by using an extra can of cream of mushroom soup and/or baking it in a smaller but deeper casserole dish.
Old fashioned tuna noodle casserole is classic comfort food that's stood the test of time. The truth is that if you leave the cheese out you can have the ingredients for this nutritious meal stored in the pantry all the time!
Canned evaporated milk, dried milk powder, or non-dairy milk can stand in for fresh milk.
I love these vintage recipes - they're as delicious as they are practical!
And, let's be honest - any casserole with potato chips on top is going to be a winner!
This simple casserole is a great option for those busy weekdays!
Keep these pantry staples on hand so you can whip up this easy tuna noodle casserole recipe any time! It's one of our favorite recipes!
There are a lot of ways to vary this recipe and substitute for ingredients you don't have or may not want to use.
- Ritz crackers, saltine cracker crumbs, or breadcrumbs in place of the potato chips (I like Panko bread crumbs)
- I love these crispy french fried onions on top
- leave out the cheese
- egg noodles are traditional but you can use any small pasta you like; elbow macaroni, farfalle, etc.
- use Pepper Jack (yum!)
- add ½ cup frozen peas
- for extra creaminess stir ½ cup of sour cream to the soup before adding it to the noodles
- use medium egg noodles
- saute some diced onion and add
- saute some diced bell pepper and add
- add some pimentos
- slice about ¼ cup celery, saute, and add
- cream of celery soup, or any other cream soup you prefer can be used in place of the cream of mushroom soup
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the green recipe card below.
- Cook noodles in boiling, salted water. Add the cooked egg noodles, tuna, soup, 1 cup of cheese and milk to a large bowl. (Add in the optional ingredients if using). Mix gently.
- Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Gently spoon tuna mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese then sprinkle with potato chips.
- Bake this classic tuna noodle casserole recipe for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove the finished casserole from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. This helps everything settle a bit and firm up so it's easier to serve.
- casserole dish
- large pot
- large bowl
Casserole times and temps
Sometimes you need to bake two things at once - here's how to adjust the time and/or temperatures of your casserole! These times are only an estimate.
Be sure to check your casserole often. It's done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165F when stuck in the middle of the casserole.
|Time From Frozen
|1 hour 10 minutes
This recipe is very forgiving!
Assemble ahead of time
You can assemble this old-fashioned tuna casserole ahead of time (but leave off the potato chips), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a day or two until you are ready to bake.
Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap or put leftover tuna casserole in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to reheat tuna casserole:
I usually add a little milk to the casserole to make sure it's not dry. Cover with foil and reheat in a 350F oven. You can also heat individual servings in the microwave in 1-minute increments.
To freeze unbaked: You can freeze unbaked tuna noodle casserole with egg noodles as long as you leave the potato chip topping off of it.
Prepare it through step 7 then let come to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. When you're ready to eat just thaw overnight in the refrigerator, remove the aluminum foil and plastic wrap, add the cheese and potato chips, and bake as directed!
To freeze baked: Cover as above and freeze for up to 3 months. This is the least preferable way to store. Thaw then reheat as above.
Expert Tip: Bake creamy casseroles in a slightly smaller, deeper casserole dish if you've had trouble with them drying out in the oven in the past. Add 10 - 15 minutes to baking time.
- Canned tuna packed in oil has more flavor than tuna packed in water. I use albacore tuna.
- Use evaporated milk in this. It makes it creamier.
- Use any kind of milk you like - even non-dairy.
- Cook the noodles al dente because they're going to cook a bit more in the oven. This is especially true if you'll be assembling ahead of time or freezing.
- Use the condensed cream of mushroom soup straight from the can - don't dilute it!
- No need to thaw frozen peas before using them in tuna noodle casserole.
- Use 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup if you like a creamier sauce. I do it this way and it's the best tuna casserole recipe ever! One can is traditional.
Canned chunk light tuna or canned solid-pack albacore tuna are my go-to products for this classic recipe. I prefer it packed in oil when possible.
This is a 1950s dish! It was a pantry meal that went together fast and let Mom get back to watching the Jack Benny show.
Either you're over-baking it or you're not adding enough liquid. Try adding an extra ¼ cup of milk next time, or double the cream of mushroom soup.
Always heat your casseroles to 165F in the center. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it's a safe temperature all the way through.
📚 Related recipes
There are plenty of other vintage casserole recipes here on the blog, although the tuna casserole is one of my very favorites!
- Make this homemade white sauce if you prefer not to use cream of mushroom soup.
- We love this easy, old-fashioned chicken and noodles.
- Old-fashioned baked macaroni and cheese is a longtime favorite that's easy to make and always family-friendly.
🍽️ Serve with...
This tangy, no bake lemon pie is the perfect, sweet ending!
Need more ideas for what to serve with classic tuna casserole?
📞 The last word
Tuna noodle casserole always brings back a lot of memories for me.
My mom didn't put cheese in it but I find that the cheese kind of kills any "fishy" flavor that might come through so I often will add at least a little bit.
Try this liver and onions in gravy recipe. It's another budget friendly "Blue Plate Special"
This chicken casserole with Stovetop Stuffing is another old-fashioned recipe we love.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need.
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle CasserolePrint Pin Recipe Save Recipe
- 8 ounces egg noodles, depending on how much you like 6-12 ounces is fine.
- 12 ounces albacore tuna, drained
- 21 ounces cream of mushroom soup, or cream of celery
- 1 cup evaporated milk, any type of milk may be used - even non-dairy
- 1 ½ cups Cheddar cheese, grated from a block
- 1 cup potato chips, crushed
- ½ cup peas
- ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup celery, finely diced
- 4 ounces pimento
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- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with no-stick spray.
- Cook the egg noodles in boiling salted water until just done.
- Add the egg noodles, tuna, soup, ½ cup of cheese and milk to a large bowl. (Add in the optional ingredients if using)
- Mix gently.
- Gently spoon mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Top with remaining cheese then sprinkle with potato chips.
- Bake 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Let stand for about 5 minutes and then serve warm.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
First published October 5, 2021. Last updated November 2, 2023, for editorial improvements and more helpful tips plus the casserole chart.