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Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole

This Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole is an update on an old classic. It’s made using a flavorful homemade sauce that elevates it taking this potluck star to another level.

Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole

Easy Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

Tuna Noodle Casserole isn’t a new dish, it’s a beloved vintage casserole we’ve eaten for generations. The most common version utilizes canned soups for the sauce making it a super easy dish to prepare. While I use canned soups from time to time in casserole recipes such as Crockpot Chicken and Dressing and Au Gratin Ranch Potatoes, this tuna casserole is made with a homemade sauce that uses pantry staples to kick it up a few notches. Ingredients you’ll need to make Southern Tuna Noodle Casserole with no soups:

  • Pasta – Wide egg noodles cooked al dente.
  • Tuna – Canned white Albacore Tuna, well drained.
  • Creamy Sauce – Salted or unsalted melted butter, onion, celery and all purpose flour.
  • Seasonings – Salt, lemon pepper or black pepper, seafood seasoning i.e. Old Bay or your favorite, granulated garlic or garlic powder and onion powder.
  • Milk – Whole milk or half and half.
  • Cheese – Shredded sharp white or regular cheddar cheese, Swiss or Gruyere cheese.
  • Mix-ins – Frozen petite peas.
  • Topping – French fried onions.
  • Garnish – Chopped chives or flat leaf parsley.
Step-by-step preparation images and ingredients for tuna casserole

How to Make the BEST Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: Large saucepan, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, sharp knife and cutting board, pasta cooker, cheese grater and 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.
  • If you use a large pot to make the sauce it can double as a mixing bowl.
  • I use wide, not extra wide noodles or medium egg noodles in this dish. The sauce is designed to work with this and not a larger pasta.
  • You can use white cheddar cheese, regular cheddar cheese, Gruyere cheese or Swiss cheese in this dish. In a pinch, monterey jack makes a deliciously mild cheese sauce. Adapt the cheese using your preference or what you have on hand.
  • After pouring the noodle mixture into the casserole dish I recommend topping this with crushed french fried onions. However, you can also use buttered breadcrumbs, Ritz crackers, panko bread crumbs or simply use Parmesan cheese. I’ve even topped this with crushed potato chips from time to time.
  • Depending on your family’s taste one cup of peas may be ample. If they love peas, you may use up to two cups.
  • Adding seafood seasoning gives this dish a little something extra in flavor. I use Old Bay and Seafood Magic, but there are a plethora of seafood seasoning combinations available. Use a blend that you enjoy and you’ll be good to go.
  • This casserole can stand alone and be a one dish meal, if you’re in a hurry. That being said, a Wedge Salad and some warm Garlic Bread goes a long way alongside this filling pasta dish.
  • Store baked Homemade Southern Tuna Noodle Casserole in an airtight container chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in single serving portions in the microwave.
Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole

More Easy Casserole Recipes to Make

Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole

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Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Stand time5 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: easy-tuna-noodle-casserole, tuna casserole, tuna-noodle-casserole
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 651kcal


  • 12 oz wide egg noodles cooked al dente
  • 6 Tbsp salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper or black pepper
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning i.e. Old Bay or your favorite
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 4 cups whole milk or half and half
  • 3 cups shredded sharp white or regular cheddar cheese, Swiss or Gruyere divided
  • 3 6 oz cans white albacore tuna drained
  • 1-2 cups frozen petite peas adjust amount to your taste
  • 1 cup french fried onions crushed
  • fresh chopped chives or parsley for garnishing `optional


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook noodles per the package in salted water until al dente. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile in a deep large saucepan, cook together butter, celery and onion for 2 minutes over medium until softened. Add flour, stirring until absorbed to make a roux. Simmer 1 minute.
  • To the roux add salt, lemon pepper, seafood seasoning, garlic and onion powders. Mix well.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and gradually mix in milk. Stir until fully combined, bring to a boil. Immediately lower heat and allow to gently bubble for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in 2 cups cheese until melted.
  • To the pot add noodles, tuna and peas. Mix well, and pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and fried onions.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately garnished with fresh chives or parsley, if desired.


  • 2-3 cloves of minced fresh garlic may be simmered with the onion and celery in place of granulated garlic, if desired.
  • If you don’t have lemon pepper, you may use the same amount of black pepper and add a splash of fresh lemon juice.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 689mg | Potassium: 394mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1125IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 670mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


    1. I haven’t tested that swap specifically, but you likely could adapt using whole wheat flour as a thickener in place of the all purpose flour. If you try it, let us know how it goes.

  1. Can this be made and frozen unbaked and then before baking, top with the french fried onions? I would love to make this for my Mom but put in 2 pans so one could be eaten and the other one froze. Some casserole freeze well and some do not. Thank you.

    1. Hi Candice, you sure can. When freezing pasta, try not to overcook it initially, and it should be fine. Yes, top with french onions just before baking.

  2. Hi Melissa, my family are not tuna fish eaters. Could I use can chicken instead? What seasoning would you suggest I use, instead of the old bay?
    I love your recipes!


    1. Hi Sandy, you can indeed use chicken in this recipe in place of tuna. Rotisserie chicken seasoning or maybe Herbes de Provence, the sky’s the limit with seasoning blends.

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