When you think about classic comfort food recipes I would guess that Tuna Noodle Casserole may come to your mind. This iconic dish has recently made a resurgence thanks to a classic comfort food cookbook that recently was published.
However, for those who weren’t lucky enough to have this popular casserole as a child or make it as an adult, let me explain. Canned tuna is mixed in a cream sauce and tossed with cooked egg noodles and frozen peas.
Then the contents are poured in a casserole dish and topped with buttered cracker crumbs and baked until hot and bubbly. It was one of the original dump and go recipes that was meant to feed a family.
Although this recipe became hugely popular in the 1950’s in middle America, it actually originated in the Pacific Northwest region. The first recipe was titled “Noodles and Tuna Fish en Casserole” and included the famous cream of mushroom soup that Campbell’s released in 1934.
Then after World War II, the casserole became a household staple. It was an easy and economical way to feed a family in a short amount of time.
A Classic Hotdish Recipe
This recipe is a classic hotdish recipe that contains a protein, a starch, frozen or canned vegetables, and canned creamed soup. Just like the famous Tater Tot Hotdish, this recipe is served baked in the oven and served warm.
Although the ingredients listed below are traditionally used, the recipe can easily be adapted to satisfy your taste. Don’t like peas? Use corn instead.
No egg noodles on hand? No problem! Use penne or spiral pasta in place of the wide ribbon egg noodles.
If you don’t have any crackers on hand, use Panko breadcrumbs or even crushed potato chips for the crusty topping. Or skip the topping all together and add shredded Monterey Jack cheese instead.
Want to make the casserole more visually appealing? Add fresh diced red and green peppers or a few canned pimentos.
If you want to add more greens to your diet, add some sautéed baby spinach or broccoli florets to the mixture. As you can see, the choices are endless!
Use the recipe below as your basic guideline and make it even delicious by adding your own variations of ingredients.
Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.
- Egg noodles, uncooked
- Chunk Light Tuna in Water, drained if using cans
- Frozen peas
- Cream of mushroom soup
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ritz crackers, crushed
- Butter unsalted
The first step in making Tuna Noodle Casserole is to preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set the dish aside while you prepare the noodles.
Cook the noodles according to package instructions minus 2 minutes for al’dente consistency. Because the noodles will finish cooking in the oven, you don’t want to cook the noodles all the way through because they will turn mushy.
While the noodles are cooking, add the frozen peas to the hot water during the last 2 minutes. Drain both the noodles and peas in a colander.
In a large bowl, mix together the condensed cream of mushroom soup, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked and drained noodles, peas, and tuna to the bowl and mix to combine. If you are using canned tuna, be sure to drain the water before adding the tuna to the mixture.
Transfer the tuna noodle casserole to the prepared casserole dish. Use a spatula to even out the mixture.
In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed butter crackers with the melted butter. Then sprinkle the moist crumbs evenly on top of the casserole.
Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. The casserole should be hot and bubbly around the sides.
Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow the liquid time to cool down and firm up before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What other vegetables can I use in this recipe?
As mentioned above, this recipe is extremely versatile. You can use whatever frozen vegetables that you prefer. My favorite substitution or addition to the peas is a mixed vegetable blend of carrots, corn, green beans and peas.
2. Can I use canned vegetables instead of frozen?
You can certainly use canned vegetables instead of frozen vegetables in this tuna noodle casserole recipe. However, be sure that canned vegetables are well drained before adding them to the mixture.
3. What can I serve with Tuna Noodle Casserole?
Although this casserole is considered a complete meal, there are some other items that compliment the dish very well. For starters, serve a salad as part of your dinner.
Then add another vegetable, such as Garlic Green Beans, as a side dish. And no hot casserole would be complete without a Sweet Dinner Roll to sop up the creamy remnants on your plate.
4. How do I store leftovers?
If you have any leftovers store them in a covered container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It makes for a quick and easy lunch or dinner when you are short on time.
5. How do I reheat the leftovers?
Although you can reheat the leftovers in an oven set at 350°F, you risk the chance of the noodles becoming mushy. Instead, place a portion in a skillet over medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Heat until warmed through.
Although the aroma of tuna is more mild than other types of fish, I strongly advise against reheating the tuna noodle casserole in a public microwave. Your coworkers most likely won’t be happy with the aroma when they go to reheat their food.
So now that you know how to make this classic dish come to life with your own variations, how about making it this week for dinner! It makes for a great meal any day of the week but also when you don’t know what to make for dinner on Fridays during the Lent season.
Mary and Jim
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Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
Classic tuna noodle casserole made with a mixture of tuna, egg noodles, and seasoned cream of mushroom soup and topped with a crunchy butter cracker topping.
- 2 1/2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
- 2 (2.6 oz.) Pouches or 2 (5 oz.) cans Chunk Light Tuna in Water, drained if using cans
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 1 can (10.75 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3⁄4 cup butter (Ritz) crackers, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon butter, unsalted
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
- Cook noodles according to package instructions minus 2 minutes for al'dente consistency, adding peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain in colander.
- In a large bowl, mix together condensed cream of mushroom soup, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Add the noodles, peas, and tuna to the bowl and mix to combine.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Mix together the crushed crackers with the melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the casserole. and place in the preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 955mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 24g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.