A quick, easy, creamy, cheesy and economical tuna noodle casserole for two, made without soup and without the need to make a white sauce! Just mix, bake and enjoy.
Why you’ll love this tuna casserole recipe
I think Tuna Noodle Casserole is such classic comfort food. It may be a bit retro, but it still satisfies! This recipe is my adaptation of an older Best of Bridge recipe. I’ve added and taken away a few things over the years :)
You’ll love this quick and easy this classic tuna noodle casserole recipe is made from scratch, without the need for a can of soup or without having to cook a white sauce. Simply mix together and bake.
I love that this recipe is perfectly sized for two, but you can scale it up to serve more, as needed.
This homemade tuna casserole is also perfectly creamy and never dry, because nobody wants a dry tuna casserole. The creamy sauce comes from an easy combination of mayonnaise and sour cream and an unusual, but highly effective ingredient that keeps the casserole moist, as it bakes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Noodles – I love to make this tuna casserole with egg noodles, but you can use any small pasta, such as macaroni or small shells, if you prefer.
Tuna – I like to use solid white Albacore Tuna for tuna casserole, but you can use whatever canned tuna you have or enjoy.
Mayonnaise and Sour Cream – these two make the creamy part of this casserole. I always use full-fat versions of both. I haven’t tested this recipe with lower fat versions, so I don’t know how they hold up. I actually like to use Miracle Whip™ here, as I like the tangier flavour, but use what you have or prefer.
Cheese – it’s hard to beat cheddar cheese to top this casserole, in my opinion, but if you are looking for options, mozzarella would work (or you can use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella). Gruyere would also be nice and nutty. I think mixing a little Parmesan with the panko would be nice, as well.
- Add all the casserole ingredients except noodles, pasta water and topping to a bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Add the cooked noodles and pasta cooking water to the bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Add to casserole (or individual dishes).
- Top with cheese and breadcrumb topping and bake.
- Be sure to chop the celery VERY finely. As the casserole is only in the oven for a short time, if the celery is larger, it may not soften sufficiently.
- Be sure to generously season as you prepare this casserole, from salting the pasta boiling water, to seasoning the sauce and finishing with a bit more seasoning on top of the casserole before baking. This will bring out all the great flavours.
- Don’t forget to grab the pasta cooking water if you plan to drain your pasta in the sink! If you forget, just use an equal amount of hot water.
- Don’t over-cook! The casserole doesn’t need to cook in the oven, it just needs to warm. As soon as the sauce is bubbling around the edges, it’s done. Over-cooking will only dry it out.
Making Ahead, Storage and Freezing
To make ahead, you can assemble the casserole, cover and refrigerate, then bake later in the day.
Left-over tuna casserole will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days or can be frozen about 3 months, for best results.
To re-warm after freezing, pop frozen into a 350F oven, covered with foil until warmed though. Remove the foil for a few minutes at the end of warming. Re-warming from frozen will take 45-60 minutes or more, depending on the size of the casserole.
Get the Recipe: Easy Tuna Casserole for Two
- 3 oz egg noodles, about 1 cup dry or small pasta
- 6 oz canned tuna, solid or chunk, Albacore recommended, drained
- 1/4 cup celery, VERY finely chopped *see Note 1 below
- 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped, green part only
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or miracle whip
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Pinch dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, *see Note 2 below
- Salt and pepper, for topping
- 1/4 cup cup dried bread crumbs or panko, or dried bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F (regular setting/not fan-assisted)
- Start a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook to al dente per the package instructions. **Do not drain pasta before removing some of the cooking water to use in the casserole later!
- Meanwhile, drain tuna and add to a large bowl. Add celery, green onion and frozen peas and use a fork to combine and break the tuna apart into large chunks, as needed.
- Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, dry mustard, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine.
- Remove pasta from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add to the tuna mixture. Measure out the required amount of pasta cooking water and add to the bowl with the tuna mixture. Stir to combine well. **If making the casseroles in individual dishes, add a bit more of the pasta water (1-2 Tbsp), as the individual dishes cook off liquid more quickly and it is better to start with a bit more.
- Transfer mixture to a baking dish or dishes. Top with a bit more salt and pepper.
- Add the bread crumbs to a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Add the shredded cheese and mix to combine. Scatter over the casserole (or casseroles).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Do not over-bake, or it will dry out the casserole.
- Be sure to chop the celery super finely, as the casserole is only in the oven a short time and larger chunks of celery won’t soften at all.
- Remove water from the pot used to cook the pasta at the end of cooking the pasta or just before draining. Adding pasta cooking water to the casserole adds extra moisture so the casserole won’t dry during baking and helps create a lovely, creamy sauce. If making individual casseroles, add a bit more of the pasta cooking water, as the smaller dishes cook off the liquid more quickly.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!