The Best Tuna Casserole

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Everyone loves a good casserole, right?   Well, this recipe forgoes the canned soup version and ramps up the flavors with sauteed mushrooms, fresh peas, egg noodles, and a crunchy sourdough breadcrumb topping.

There is something about this classic dish that feels nostalgic, yet extra special. You can easily substitute rotisserie chicken from the supermarket if you prefer. All the flavors come together to make a deeply satisfying and comforting dish. And it’s not difficult to prepare at all!

A white bowl holding a large serving of Gourmet Tuna Casserole next to a yellow casserole dish full of the same casserole.

How To Make Tuna Casserole

So, as mentioned, this casserole is not hard to prepare and comes together in stages.

There are many varieties of tuna available at the market, but for this dish, you can certainly use a good-quality canned variety.

 

How to Make Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

One of the things that makes this tuna noodle casserole extra special is making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch.

It’s not difficult, and the difference in taste vs. the canned version is night and day.

EXPERT TIP: We start off with 8 oz. of white button mushroom that we slice into about ¼-inch slices. Sauté them in butter, along with the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and fresh thyme until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid, about 5 minutes. The addition of white wine is optional but deepens the flavor profile wonderfully.

A hand pouring white wine from a small carafe into a cast-iron skillet filled with sautéd sliced mushrooms.

Now, it’s time to make a blonde roux that will be the basis for a light and creamy filling.

Start with a little butter and then add the flour. The consistency should be close to very wet sand and should be a light blonde color.  If the mixture is very, very dry, add a little more butter. 

EXPERT TIP: We love using our 12-inch cast-iron skillet for making this tuna casserole recipe. After sautéing the mushrooms, we transfer them to a bowl and make the roux and sauce in the same skillet. If you don’t have a large cast-iron skillet, no problem! You can do your sautéing and sauce making in a couple of large skillets, mix everything up in a large bowl, and then transfer to a 9″x13″ baking dish.

A wooden spoon stirring a blonde roux in a large black cast-iron skillet.

The Best Tuna

You really can’t go wrong when selecting tuna for the casserole, however, we prefer going with light chunk tuna for our recipe.

Add the tuna to the cream of mushroom sauce and use a fork to flake it into the mixture.

EXPERT TIP: We go with two (2) cans of light chunk tuna. We like this because the mercury levels are considerably lower than canned white (albacore) tuna.

A person's hand using a fork to flake canned tuna into a cast-iron skillet filled with homemade cream of mushroom soup.

Choosing the Right Pasta

We love using extra-wide egg noodles for this delicious casserole. They can be found in the dried pasta section of most supermarkets.

Get some wonderful sweet peas to mix into the fun. We use frozen petite peas and let them thaw under cool running water.

EXPERT TIP: The noodles can be prepared a couple of hours in advance. After cooking them according to package instructions, simply drain them, and then transfer them to a large bowl. Toss the noodles with about 1 tbsp of olive oil and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. This will keep the noodles from drying out and sticking to each other.

Cooked extra-wide egg noodles being transferred into a large cast-iron skillet filled with cream of mushroom soup, peas, and shredded cheese.

Every great casserole needs a delicious crunchy topping.

We love grabbing a fresh sourdough loaf from the market, removing the crusts with a serrated knife, and then pulverizing them into crumbs in our food processor.

Toss in 2 tbsp of melted butter and a pinch of salt with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the layer of cheese on top of the casserole.

A hand sprinkling homemade bread crumbs over the top of a tuna casserole in large cast-iron skillet.

Now, all you need to do is bake the casserole in your oven preheated to 375°F.

You may need to turn the casserole around 90° halfway during the baking to ensure even browning.

Let the casserole rest for about 5 minutes before serving. It will be bubbly and lightly browned on top. Delicious!

A large wooden spoon lifting a helping of cooked tuna casserole out of a black cast-iron skillet.

When to Serve The Best Tuna Casserole

This dish is amazing for a weeknight dinner, but it’s also perfect for special occasions such as a baby or bridal shower, birthday party, or church potluck!

Leftovers also reheat wonderfully in the microwave or in the oven

EXPERT TIP: This recipe, as written, feeds a hungry family of 4 to 6. The recipe can easily be cut in half for a smaller version. Follow the recipe exactly as written, just cut the measurements in half.

A large black cast-iron skillet filled with tuna casserole with a serving missing from the pan and a wooden spoon inserted in the side of the pan.

Looking for another amazing tuna dish? Try our incredible Best-Ever Tuna Salad or Amazing Tuna Melt!

But, in the meantime, you’ve got to make this Best Tuna Salad.

Comfort food at its very best!

An individual plate with a helping of tuna casserole on it with a fork placed on the edge of the dish.

Ready to make the best tuna casserole in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and hashtag #howtofeedaloon!

A large black cast-iron skillet filled with tuna casserole with a serving missing from the pan and a wooden spoon inserted in the side of the pan.

The Best Tuna Casserole

The Best Tuna Casserole is not hard to make, and so much better using an authentic sauce made with a nice blonde roux. The sautéed mushrooms, peas, egg noodles, cheese, and sourdough crumb topping make this dish divine. So good!
4.92 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Casserole, easy tuna casserole, tuna fish casserole recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 657kcal

Equipment

  • 12" cast-iron skillet, or 9"x13" baking dish

Ingredients

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tbsp thyme fresh, chopped
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • cups whole milk
  • cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or juice of half of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 12 oz. cans tuna in water, drained
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, divided
  • 8 oz peas frozen, thawed
  • 12 oz egg noodles dried
  • 2 cups bread crumbs fresh sourdough, coarsely chopped from 3 to 4 slices (a food processor works well, remove crusts first)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, and add mushrooms, thyme, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook until mushrooms begin to release some liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil and cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
  • In the same skillet (or a separate saucepan), melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat, and then whisk in flour, stirring and cooking the roux until light blonde, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Whisk in the milk and then the chicken broth. Stir constantly until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. The texture should be thicker than broth, but not as thick a cream gravy.
  • Stir in the mushroom mixture, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp of pepper. Using a fork, flake tuna into the sauce, and gently combine.
  • Meanwhile, cook the noodles in salted boiling water until al dente, about 7 - 8 minutes. Drain.
  • Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, all of the peas, and the cooked noodles. Stir gently until fully combined. If using a baking dish, transfer the mixture to the dish.
  • In a medium bowl, toss together the breadcrumbs with 2 tbsp of melted butter and a pinch of salt.
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top of the casserole, and then top the cheese with the bread crumbs.
  • Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

We use good ole white button mushrooms, but you can use whatever your favorite 'shroom is, or a combination of them.
You can make this a one-pot dish, as we do, if using a large (12-inch) oven-safe dish, such as cast iron, or Dutch oven.  You'll need to transfer the sautéd mushrooms from the pan, and then make the sauce.  Then mix all the components together before baking.  OR...you can 1 or 2 skillets to make the sauce and then mix everything together in a large bowl, and then transfer to a 9"x13" dish. 
When making the sauce, the consistency should be not too thin, but not a thick a cream-style gravy.  The noodles will absorb some of the sauce as the casserole bakes.
Leftovers can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If can be frozen, but the noodles will breakdown somewhat and the texture won't be as desirable.
The casserole can be prepared all the way up to topping with bread crumbs and baking up to 12 hours in advance.   Once ready to bake, add the bread crumbs and then bake. 

Nutrition

Calories: 657kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 761mg | Potassium: 671mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1264IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 454mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in February 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe, with new tips and photography, and a fabulous new video in January 2021!

33 Comments

  • 5 stars
    This was a bit of work, but the results were absolutely delicious and it’s no comparison to Campbell’s bland version. I did not have any plain breadcrumbs or cheddar cheese so I crushed potato chips and sprinkled them on top with shredded parmesan cheese. The 40-minute bake time sounded a bit long to me so I baked it for 400 degrees until it got browned and bubbly which took about 25 minutes. Next time I’ll try it with the shredded cheddar cheese added to the mixture and sprinkled on top.

    • Hi Pam!! Yay!! There is a little effort that goes into this dish, but we agree, the payoff is worth it!! Sounds like you prepared it perfectly!! Thank you so so much for sharing and for the wonderful review! That means so much to us!! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Hey guys, another hit! At first, I questioned/wondered about the soy sauce and Worcestershire, but what a difference that made in the entire flavor. It was so subtle, but really added to this normally simple, kind of blah dish. Being able to create your own, from scratch, mushroom sauce beats anything out of a can. The homemade bread crumb topping (though simple) was the biggest hit at home. Keep the goodness flowing! All the best.

  • I can’t believe you guys didn’t put in a few slices of American cheese or mozzarella or even vegetarian cheese cuz my wife is on a low cholesterol kick. You’re really missing out on that extra dimension of gooeyness. I do a much simpler version with seashell pasta, cut up onions and celery cream of chicken or mushroom depending on what I have. And skipjack tuna because that’s the lowest Mercury level tuna according to my sources. No I don’t make my own r o u x, I make the pasta in the microwave about 14 minutes then I drain it, then I mix in the cut up onions and celery and tuna with some cheese slices and put it back in the microwave for another 2 minutes I have virtually no clean up except one plastic container that’s microwavable and we eat it for two or three days. Thanks for a great idea however for adding peas and mushrooms that’s certainly will be a little different

    • Hi Karen!! We’ve been watching all the snow you guys have been getting! Makes us miss our days up in the NE (sort of! LOL!). And we are so so happy you enjoyed the tuna casserole. It’s pretty comforting, that’s for sure! Good luck with the dig out!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

    • 5 stars
      I was looking for a different tuna casserole ( something different than the same ol thing you see on the net) so I typed in my browser “Gourmet Tuna Casserole” and you popped up.

      In all the yrs I have cooked this amazing dish it never occurred to me that I could make my own cream of mushroom instead of buying from the can. WOW…you opened a new door to this recipe THANK YOU

      Like they say the key ingredient to any dish is the sauce and now I am looking forward to making this dish again,

      P.S. I would recommend if you have a seafood market in your area to buy fresh tuna steaks instead buying it from the can, it makes a world of difference, thx again

  • 5 stars
    Delicious. This was my favorite comfort food as a child and I haven’t had it in years. I am so glad I found this recipe. This is a “keeper”. I put crunchy onions on top because I forgot to get bread for topping.

    • Hi Sasha! It is so nostalgic and just pure comfort, right? Crunch onions on top sounds divine!! Thanks so much for letting us know and for the wonderful review. We just can’t say enough how much that means to us!! Please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    OMG OMG this tuna casserole was fantastic! My husband had 3 servings! Delicious!
    I have never had tuna casserole before but now I’m a fan of this recipe! Thank you I will definitely cook more of your recipes

    • Marie!! First of all…so sorry for the delayed response. But second of all…WOO HOO!!!! We are SO THRILLED you tried the tuna casserole and that you had such great success with it and that you loved it! Thanks so much for letting us know and for the AWESOME review! That means the world to us! Please stay in touch! All the very best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Excellent tuna cass! Didn’t change a thing and it came out fantastic! I have lots of canned salmon in my pantry and running low on the tuna. Do you think using canned salmon in lieu of tuna (that’s drained well, with the oil absorbed) would work too?

    • Hi Lonnie!! That is absolutely wonderful to hear! We are thrilled you love the tuna casserole! Canned salmon would be delicious! We’ve used tuna that was packed in oil and also tuna that was packed in water. Just drain well, and either (oil or water) will be great. Salmon would be delicios! Let us know if you try it and how it turns out! And thank you SO MUCH for the great review!! We appreciate that so so much!

  • 5 stars
    made it tonight…soooo good! I’ve never made a tuna casserole for my husband of 41 years because he swore off hot tuna. Guess who ate 3 helpings!

    • Hi Dee!! AWESOME!!! Your hubby didn’t know what he was missing!! (we got a good chuckle at ‘hot tuna!’). So so so glad YOU loved the tuna casserole and thank you so very much for letting us know and for the wonderful review!! Means so much to us!!! Thanks again!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • We love this tuna casserole. I’ve made it probably 7 times now and we never get tired of it. This casserole gets 5 stars from me. These guys really know how to make tasty dishes!

    • Hi Ginny!! You have made our day!! So so thrilled to hear that you love our tuna casserole recipe! It’s one of our favorites, too! And thank you so much for letting us know. We truly appreciate that! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • I wanted to know if I could use 2 cups of packaged dry bread crumbs in place of the sour dough bread crumbs?

    • Thank you, Ruth! We are so very happy that you enjoyed our tuna casserole. We love it a lot, too!! And thank you for letting us know!! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I don’t like fish and this is a great way to get the nutriets I need.
    I subbed 1/8 tsp Nutmeg for Thyme and instead of peas I used Broccoli Rape sautéed in garlic, red Chile flakes, olive oil and anchovy paste until most of the liquid was gone (about 1-2 cups). Incredible!!

  • 4 stars
    This is a great recipe and I can imagine that it would be good with chicken too. I used double. The amount of tuna though as the recipe makes a large amount. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Angela

    • Hi Angela!! Thank you so much, and we are so very happy that you liked the recipe! We love it so much, too!! Actually, we’ve made it with chicken, and it’s delicious! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Tremendous issues here. I am very happy to see your post. Thank you so much and I’m taking a look forward
    to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  • OMG YUMMY! I loved the flavors you came up with! Mine came out a bit dry…so I whipped up half a batch of the sauce(with another splosh of wine too) and poured over it….perfection….its the perils of living high altitude(7000′) I think…I always have to add more liquid to everything. My neighbor lady and I scarfed it down!!! Thanks for an amazing recipe!! Happy day to ya!

  • 5 stars
    Thank you very much for sharing this recipe. I searched the internet to try to find a good tuna casserole recipe and have stumbled on this. A huge hit with the family! Very tasty

    • Thank, Joanne! I love a good tuna salad, too, and played around with a flavors until we got it just right (or at least we thought so). I love big chunks of quality tuna in my tuna salad. So glad you and your family enjoyed it. And thank you so much for letting us know. Stay in touch! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Lordy! This is a fantastic recipe! My hubby and 15 yo son swoon over TNC– and I mean the kind with the CANNED, PROCESSED cream of mushroom soup. I’ve tried other “scratch” recipes for TNC, but the boys have not been impressed. Until. This. Recipe.

    I skipped the bread topping because my son won’t go for any crunchy casserole topping. Nonetheless, I think he ate half the pan– and wanted the leftovers for breakfast. Thank you! No more canned soup.

    • Thank you, Maria! That is so fantastic to hear! I agree, the canned soup version is fine, but, well, pretty blah. I played around with this until we thought it was just right and full of flavor. So very, very happy to hear that you and your awesome family liked it! Please stay tuned and stay in touch. Much, much more to come! Kris

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