Let’s make a cheesy tuna noodle casserole just like I remember from years ago. But let’s make this with our own bechamel sauce with mushrooms and onion. No need for canned soup concentrates.
Everyone has probably had a tuna noodle casserole some time in their life and it was probably made with cream of mushroom soup. That’s the way my mom used to make it.
Well, this recipe will create a classic tuna noodle casserole with fresh ingredients. And it is really easy to make a creamy bechamel sauce and make a delicious cheesy tuna casserole without canned concentrates.
Here is a list of what you will need to make this cheesy tuna noodle casserole recipe:
- Egg Noodles – wide egg noodles or narrow noodles it doesn’t matter.
- Canned Tuna Fish – Albacore is my favorite for this.
- Fresh Mushrooms
- Frozen Peas
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Chicken Broth
- Whole Milk
- Potato chips – Or you could use plain bread crumbs, crumbled Ritz crackers, or Panko.
- Salt and Pepper
What Canned Tuna is Best
As mentioned above, albacore tuna is my go-to kind of canned tuna. It has a firm texture and a slightly milder taste than light chunk tuna. And these are totally different varieties of tuna.
Chunk light tuna can be a combination of different fishes. Yellowfin and skipjack are the main varieties.
And I prefer tuna packed in water or natural juices and not in oil. I always remove as much of the liquid I can from the tuna before using it.
Making the Tuna Casserole
First of all, cook the egg noodles to al dente in boiling, slightly salted water. Noodles cook pretty fast so 5 or 6 minutes should do it, but go by the package instructions. Drain the water off by using a strainer then put the noodles back into the pot and cover with a lid until used.
Next, you will need to use a large pot. One that holds at least 5 quarts. A good-sized Dutch oven is perfect for this. Turn on your stove burner to medium heat and melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Then add the sliced mushrooms.
I like to give mushrooms some time to cook before adding anything else so they release the water they contain and it starts to evaporate. This will take 3 or 4 minutes.
Then add in the onion along with the salt and pepper. Stir this occasionally and cook until the onion becomes translucent. This will take about 5 minutes.
If you would like to add in some thinly sliced celery, you could add it along with the onion.
Add in the flour and stir. It will pretty much adhere itself to the mushrooms and become pasty. That’s okay. Just keep stirring it around to cook off the raw flour taste.
Add the milk slowly while quickly stirring to dissolve the flour and prevent any lumps. I find that when adding the flour to sauteed vegetables, there are hardly any lumps and you don’t even need to use a whisk. Just quick stirring is all that is needed.
Mix in the chicken broth next and bring the liquid to a boil and allow it to thicken.
Turn down the heat on your stove to low and add the tuna, frozen peas, and the cooked noodles. The noodles will probably be kind of stuck together so stir them well to get them coated with the bechamel. If you have a pasta server spoon, it works great to stir the noodles.
Then start adding the shredded cheddar cheese a little at a time and stir it to melt. By adding it in a little at a time you will prevent it from clumping and not melting well.
Once the cheese is all melted you should taste the tuna mixture and add salt or pepper if needed. Then pour the tuna mixture into a greased 9 by 13 casserole dish.
Top the casserole with the crumbled potato chips if you are using them. If you use bread crumbs or panko, it is best to melt a tablespoon of butter and mix the crumbs in a separate small bowl to get a coating of oil. This will allow them to brown nicely in the oven.
Place the casserole dish in the preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is slightly browned and there is bubbling around the edges of the dish. Remove the dish from the oven and you can serve it right away. No resting time is needed for this.
What to do With Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, add a little more milk or broth and microwave or heat in a saucepan on the stove.
You may also freeze leftovers in a vacuum packed food saver bag or any air tight container for up to 3 months.
In our house, the leftovers get gobbled up the next day for lunch.
This cheesy tuna noodle casserole recipe is classic comfort food. It only takes about 50 minutes to make so you could be having this for dinner tonight.
Give it a try and maybe this classic American dish will become one of your family favorites.
AND HERE ARE SOME MORE TASTY RECIPES TO TRY:
- Cold Tuna Salad for Hot Summer Nights
- Cheesy Hot Tuna Sandwiches
- Lunchtime Healthy Tuna Salad
- Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake
- Stir Fried Pork with Rice Noodles
Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
- 12 oz. canned tuna
- 12 oz. egg noodles
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped (small yellow onion)
- 8 oz. mushrooms, thin sliced
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 12 oz. frozen peas
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup crushed potato chips
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, (optional)
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions, then drain and return them to the pot and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Using a 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter on medium heat then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir them occasionally and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes for the onion to become translucent.
- Add the all-purpose flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring to cook off the raw flour taste. Then slowly add the milk while constantly stirring to prevent lumping of the flour. Then stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes for the liquid to thicken.
- Set your burner to low and add the peas, tuna, and noodles. Toss the noodles to fully coat them with the béchamel. A pasta server spoon works well to mix everything together. Next, add the shredded cheese in small amounts at a time and stir it in to melt and prevent clumping. Remove the pot from the heat and taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Coat a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray then pour in the tuna and noodles. Level the casserole with a spoon then apply the potato chips in an even layer. Place the casserole in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it browns slightly and bubbles around the edges. Serve hot.
- The tuna that I used was Starkist solid albacore packed in water. 3 cans equaled 12 ounces. Albacore tuna is tightly packed, so I like to use a fork to break it into smaller pieces. This will also prevent the casserole from having "dry" spots that are not very appealing.
- You can substitute macaroni pasta for the egg noodles.
- Canned salmon or chicken can be used rather than tuna.
- Store leftovers refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove, adding a bit more milk or broth to loosen it up. Freeze for up to 3 months in an air tight container.
- If you would like to add some thinly sliced celery, add it in when you add the onion.
- Bread crumbs, crumbled Ritz crackers, or Panko bread crumbs can be used rather than potato chips for the topping. Just place them into a small bowl and pour in about a tablespoon of melted butter. Stir the crumbs around to coat with the butter.