This Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe is easy to make from scratch for the perfect weeknight meal! For a slight twist on classic tuna noodle casserole, it has Old Bay Seasoning and a buttered toast topping.
It’s just a fact of life: anyone growing up in the late ‘80s and/or early ‘90s most likely had to endure some variation of tuna casserole. Frequently, in my case.
Specifically, I remember my mom making three different kinds of tuna casserole.
Different Types of Tuna Casserole
The first type of tuna casserole my mom made growing up was our family favorite. It’s a vintage recipe straight from the Depression era that also happened to be a favorite of my great-grandfather. It was a creamy tuna mix topped with brown sugar-sweetened potato chips. Its legacy deserves to live on, and I definitely need to share this heirloom recipe with you at some point.
She also made a layered toast and tuna casserole with cream of mushroom soup and peas. Even though I didn’t outright hate it, this was my least favorite tuna casserole growing up.
Of course we couldn’t claim to be a family familiar with tuna casserole if there wasn’t also a cheesy tuna noodle variation in our dinner rotation! There was, and we were in fact familiar with it.
The good thing about eating a lot of tuna casserole is that we all loved tuna, lol.
Cheesy Tuna Casserole From Scratch
Until recently, it had been years since I even thought of tuna casserole. And then out of nowhere, I was suddenly craving it something fierce!
I saw an opportunity to take a classic childhood comfort food and up the ante a little. I wanted to make it entirely from scratch and give it a fresh spin and a slightly more grown-up flavor profile.
Living in the DC area, we have access to some fabulous seafood and Old Bay Spice is pretty common. I thought it would be a fun flavor twist on tuna casserole.
The cheese sauce starts off pretty basic here, but is turned into something special with a little Dijon and Worcestershire in addition to Old Bay.
This casserole is super cheesy; most of the sharp cheddar gets melted into the sauce, but some gets cubed and stirred in with the noodles so you end up with gooey areas of melted cheese.
And the buttered toast topping adds crunch and depth of flavor; it’s similar to breadcrumbs, but just a little different.
In the end, this dish is a wink and a nod to my mom’s tuna and toast casserole, as well as her cheesy tuna noodle casserole. It’s gooey, cheesy, savory, nostalgic comfort food that deserves to be brought back.
How to Make Tuna Casserole From Scratch
It’s easy to make a cheesy tuna casserole! The method is very similar to making homemade macaroni and cheese. Here are the basic steps:
- Make the cheese sauce.
- Cook the pasta.
- Mix everything together!
- And some recipes have you bake it with a breadcrumb or cheesy topping.
Can You Freeze Tuna Noodle Casserole?
Yes! To freeze tuna noodle casserole, wrap it well, label it with the contents and the date, and put it in the freezer. It should keep for about 3 months in the freezer.
To reheat it, thaw it to room temperature first. Then reheat it in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave, or in an oven-safe dish in a 375F oven topped with foil until warm throughout.
More Recipes with Pasta and Canned Tuna:
- Low-Carb Broccoli Tuna Casserole Bake from Grassfed Mama – This one has all the comfort of tuna casserole using broccoli and cauliflower instead of pasta!
- Mediterranean Tuna Pasta from Sarah’s Cucina Bella – One of the classiest tuna/pasta combos I’ve come across!
- Tuna, Celery, and Egg Inspiralized Pasta Salad (No Mayo) from Inspiralized – I love that cucumber and zucchini take the place of pasta here and that Greek yogurt is used instead of mayo.
- Tuna Noodle Casserole from Rachel Cooks – Great weeknight meal and wonderful use of water chestnuts here!
- Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower, Tuna, and Egyptian Roumy Cheese – This is a grown-up twist on a classic favorite, with cauliflower added to bump up the nutrition.
Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below because I love hearing from you! You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media. To stay up-to-date FOLLOW ME on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Xoxo, Faith
Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
- 6 ounces wide egg noodles
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese divided (6 oz shredded, 2 oz cubed)
- 12 ounces canned tuna in water drained well
- 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas thawed and drained well
- 2 slices bread toasted
- 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch casserole dish and set aside.
- Cook the noodles to al dente according to the package directions; drain well and set aside.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook until softened, but not browned, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bay leaf, Old Bay Spice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Stirring frequently, bring up to a boil. Turn off the heat and whisk in the shredded cheddar. Remove and discard the bay leaf and stir in the noodles, tuna, peas, and cubed cheddar. Pour the tuna noodle mixture into the prepared dish.
- For the topping, pule the bread in a food processor until crumbled. While processing, pulse in the Old Bay Spice, and then gradually the butter. Sprinkle the topping on the casserole.
- Bake until the casserole is warm throughout and golden on top, about 15 minutes.
- To freeze tuna noodle casserole, wrap it well, label it with the contents and the date, and put it in the freezer. It should keep for about 3 months in the freezer.
- To reheat this casserole, thaw it to room temperature first. Then reheat it in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave, or in an oven-safe dish in a 375F oven topped with foil until warm throughout.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on April 13, 2015. I updated it with more information on March 24, 2020.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items. Thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!
Would this double easily? Would I have to use less than twice the spices?
Polly, Yes, this recipe should be very easy to double! I would use double the amounts of everything except the Old Bay Spice – I’d use just 2 teaspoons of that so it doesn’t get overpowering. I hope you enjoy this if you give it a try!
You’ve reminded me of the cheesy tuna casserole I used to eat in the mid-’80s. It was made with a mix and noodles from a box. I loved that stuff although there’s no telling what kind of chemical stew I was eating. This recipe looks great and has me craving tuna casserole for the first time in decades!
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
I definitely grew up eating (and loving!) tuna casserole – but I love this twist of adding Old Bay Seasoning!! Yum!
Joanie @ ZagLeft says
I grew up on tuna casserole and have not made it in years and now, I’m completely craving it. I’m sure the Old Bay Spice gives it such a great boost of flavor. Bookmarking this recipe to try later.
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
Now I have a tuna casserole craving! This sounds amazing! Love the addition of the Old Bay to this dish. Can’t wait to see the recipe for the version w/ potato chips — sounds great, too!
Laura @MotherWouldKnow says
What a coincidence – I was just thinking about the fact that I never had tuna noodle casserole growing up, but learned to love variations on it as a college student, when up popped your post. A friend gave me her sisters pasta with canned tuna, garlic and parsley recipe, but it has no sauce – sophisticated perhaps and definitely wonderful, but not the comfort food that you’ve created. Love your use of Old Bay (a favorite around DC/MD) combined with Dijon and Worcestershire.
Sloan @ Life Food and Beer says
Tuna Casserole is one of my favorite comfort foods and I love your addition of old bay and cheese!
I haven’t had a tuna casserole in years. I love the way you have updated it. This is absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal.