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Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe is a family favorite from my childhood. Filled with cheesy goodness and creamy flavors, it will take you back to your mom’s house in the 90s!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Growing up, we loved loved loved Tuna Noodle Casserole. It’s still one of my favorite recipes!

It was probably the most requested dish of my mother — and it was one of the first recipes I learned to cook by heart.

I remember when there were sales on green bell peppers Mother Mary would buy them up, dice them and add to little ziptop baggies; ready to go for Tuna Noodle Casserole.

This classic American dish is one of those easy recipes that use pantry staples that the entire family will love!

Who doesn’t love creamy casseroles that are smothered with a cheese sauce or mushroom sauce?!

If it’s your first time making this easy tuna noodle casserole recipe you are in for a treat!

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

It’s the comfort food we all crave in the winter, and it’s a great option to take to someone who needs a meal! One of the classic dishes I hope your mom made you growing up!

Sharing is caring, y’all. It also feeds a lot of people! And if you end up with leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container and reheat the next day!

Here’s how to make a Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe:

Gather your ingredients of:

  1. Green Bell Pepper
  2. Onion
  3. Canned (or packaged!) Chunk Light Tuna
  4. Cream of Celery Soup or Cream of Mushroom Soup
  5. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  6. Pimentos (I’m ashamed to say I didn’t have them for the second photo snaps of this recipe….!!)
  7. Macaroni Noodles
  8. Half and Half

Other classic recipes call for topping your casserole dish with potato chips, ritz crackers, or panko bread crumbs. I’ve never had it that way, but it sounds delightful!

A few tips next time you’re shopping for these ingredients.

  • Use tuna that is WATER packed! Not in olive oil. That will change the flavor of this dish. Solid white albacore tuna is a great choice if your store is out of chunk light tuna.
  • Gift yourself another casserole by doubling this recipe, and freezing one in an aluminum foil pan. In the recipe card below you can find the reheating instructions!

The *real* step one is adding macaroni to boiling water so it cooks while you do the other steps. But, I didn’t snap a picture of water in a pot… So, just know you need to boil your pasta before step four! And, if you don’t have macaroni, use corkscrews, egg noodles, cavatappi, or whatever noodle you have on hand! 

You want your cooked noodles to be al dente! Get a large pot of salted water and crank up the stove to high heat. Bring to a boil then drop your noodles in. No need to add olive oil. Just give the noodles a good stir after you plop them in.

Green Peppers and Onions cooking in a skillet

Step One: Saute your Peppers and Onions.

Sauteing your peppers and onions isn’t in the recipe – the one my mom used growing up was literally a dump it all in and bake it up kind of ordeal.

She had three kids who all had various activities and places to be, and I get it. It was added cook time she didn’t have time for!

But! This one step was where I learned that the process of cooking the peppers and onions first completely changes the taste and texture of this casserole.

I didn’t *love* peppers and onions, but I do when they are sauteed in melted butter until soft and golden!

If you have time, don’t skip this step.

Lovingly add a tablespoon of butter to a skillet and toss your diced-up peppers and onions. Over medium heat, allow the vegetables to saute until soft and begin to get a little color on them.

That’s the sweet spot of sauteing vegetables — that moment there is a little brown and most softness going on. This is a great way of converting picky kids! If your kids don’t love onions, try using green onions. These are much more mild, and don’t have the same texture at all.

Yum, y’all!

Tuna and Cream of Celery Soup in Mixing Bowl

Step Two: Add Tuna and Cream of Celery Soup to a Mixing Bowl

This picture above looks absolutely disgusting — but, it’s part of making easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole! They really aren’t the most beautiful things, are they?!

But, man oh man! Casseroles are King here in the south!

Mix up the tuna and cream of celery soup. This will help break up the tuna, so every bite has a little bit of it. This tuna mixture can be stirred together in a large bowl, where you’ll dump everything else!

Don’t worry — this cheesy tuna casserole doesn’t taste at all how the tinned fish smells.

It tastes like comfort in a baking dish – creamy, cheesy goodness all covering macaroni pasta.

Oh yeah, baby!

Step Three: Add Cheese & Sauteed Peppers and Onions.

Dump all that goodness in your mixing bowl.

Give this a bit of a swirl around with your spatula.

We’re going to plop the macaroni from the pot to the bowl, and then really mix it up, so it’s not crucial that everything is mixed super well.

Elbow Macaroni

Step Four: Plop Noodles into Mixing Bowl

Your noodles should be ready once you’re ‘business’ is all combined.

Using a Spider, a mesh strainer good for everything, pull some pasta out of the water and let it slightly drain.

Macaroni in Tuna Noodle Casserole

Plop it over into the mixing bowl.

It’s totally okay if the pasta water comes along with the noodles.

Pasta water is liquid gold. Did you know that?!

It will help loosen and tighten your sauces all at the same time.

Mixing the ingredients for Tuna Noodle Casserole

Once you’ve got all your pasta plopped over into the mixing bowl, give it a good turn with your spatula.

So every piece of pasta is coated in the cheesy, creamy sauce. Yummmm!

Tuna Noodle Casserole in a Pyrex Dish

Step Five: Smooth out into a Baking Dish

Pour all your tuna business out into a greased Pyrex dish. This recipe fits in a 9×13, the usual casserole vessel, but could fit into any 3-quart baking dish.

Smooth out the top with your spatula – or spatchler if you’re from the south.

Bake at 350˚ for about half an hour. You want the top golden brown and bubbly.

((Side Note: I literally spent 15 minutes down a rabbit hole Googling ‘gold and bubbly,’ golden bubbly, ‘ golden brown and bubbly’ – in case you wanted to know, they’re all said and they’re all correct..!))

Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

This is my childhood in a baking dish!

Sweet, fond memories of mom pulling this out with all three kids saying “Yes! Tuna Noodle Casserole!”

  • There are lots of great additions you could add to your cheesy tuna noodle casserole recipe!
  • Try wide egg noodles instead of elbow macaroni! And, if you’re wanting to feel a little bit better about the entire classic tuna casserole, try using whole wheat noodles!
  • If you’ve never used White Cheddar in this casserole, it adds a whole new depth of flavor that is *worth* it!
  • You could use shredded rotisserie chicken in the place of tuna. Especially if you’re just totally grossed out with tuna fish, the smell, taste, etc. Using shredded chicken is just fine!
  • Now, I love using canned soups. I’ve got no problem with them! But, if you wanted to make your own, heat up some heavy cream, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper. Then add some sauteed mushrooms or celery and create your own cream sauce to use!

Serving Tuna Noodle Casserole

Serve your easy tuna casserole recipe with a side salad and you’ve got dinner tonight!

Tell me what childhood favorites did your family eat?? Leave them in the comments below! I’m going to share many more family favorites this year – so get excited!

Save this to your favorite Classic Comfort Foods Board on Pinterest!

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe from Sweetpea Lifestyle

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8+ 1x
  • Category: casserole
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: american

Description

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe is a family favorite from my childhood. Filled with cheesy goodness and creamy flavors, it will take you back to your mom’s house in the 90s!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3, 4 ounce Cans (or 11 ounce package!) Tuna
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half
  • 1 can Cream of Celery Soup
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese
  • 4 ounce jar Diced Pimentos
  • 16 ounces Macaroni Noodles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ & fill a large pot with water to begin boiling.
  2. While the water comes up to a boil, chop your pepper and onion into a dice.
  3. Drop macaroni pasta into a large pot with salted boiling water and boil until al dente.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat melt one tablespoon of butter and saute pepper and onions intil soft.
  5. In a large bowl, add in tuna, half and half, cream of celery soup, shredded cheese, and pimentos. Stir until well combined.
  6. Once the green peppers & onions are softened, add them to the tuna + soup mixture in the big bowl.
  7. Scoop the al denta pasta from the boiling water to the big bowl and mix everything up really well.
  8. Pour all of this out into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish.
  9. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly!

Notes

If you are wanting to freeze this casserole, do not bake it. Cover and freeze with instructions! I prefer to use an aluminum foil pan and cover it in aluminum foil. I’ll use a sharpie to write this phrase on top:

Bake at 350* — placing thawed casserole in a COLD oven — bake for 45 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered.

Keywords: classic tuna noodle casserole, cheesy tuna noodle casserole recipe

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12 Comments

  1. This recipe was great. Everyone in my family loved it. We were all fighting over the left overs the next day. Awesome recipe thank you

    1. It’s such a great comfort food! Trying it with cauliflower soon, to see if I could get away with a new low carb fave!

  2. Oh man, this takes me right back to my childhood! My granny made a casserole like this! Putting it on the menu for next week! Thanks for sharing!

  3. My family never made casseroles like this when I was a kid and I have to say, I loved going over to my friends’ houses for dinner when they’d have a turkey or tuna casserole! This recipe is awesome. Yummy comfort food!

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