Cleaned-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

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A cleaned up casserole with no canned soup, this Tuna Noodle Casserole From Scratch is one of my daughter’s favorite meals, with tender egg noodles and tuna, crunchy, buttery Ritz cracker-cheese topping and a perfectly seasoned cream sauce

This easy tuna noodle casserole is made from-scratch with no canned soups, for a cleaned-up version of this family classic. Perfectly seasoned, creamy sauce coats buttery egg noodles, tender veggies and juicy tuna before being topped with cheese and toasted Ritz Cracker crumbs. Comfort food at it's finest!

Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

I love a good comfort food meal, but even when I want a big plate of casserole, I want my meal to have real flavor and real ingredients.

This easy tuna noodle casserole is a cleaned up version of this family classic comfort food. It skips the canned soup in favor of a super simple from-scratch bechamel sauce (a fancy name for a pretty standard white creamy sauce) that I usually hit up with garlic and dill, but you can also spice things up with cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, etc.

To that decadent, lick-the-spoon sauce we add buttery egg noodles, tender veggies (a mix of onions, celery, corn and garlic) and juicy tuna before topping with a bit of white cheddar cheese and toasted Ritz cracker crumbs. 

This simple tuna noodle casserole from scratch recipe redeems tuna noodle casserole from it’s reputation for being bland, stodgy, over-salted and sometimes mushy. It’s the perfect first seafood meal for kids and you can use this recipe to make a variety of seafood casseroles – crab, lobster, salmon, sole, etc.

The amazing flavor and combination of textures makes this tuna noodle casserole a standard in our household – I get begged to make it at least once a month, and it’s simple enough for me to happily oblige. 

(Oh, and the leftovers reheat wonderfully.)

Can I freeze tuna casserole? Personally, I am not a fan of freezing anything with pasta or noodles in it as they can become mushy after thawing, but you can freeze this casserole if desired. For best results, undercook the noodles a bit and then prepare the recipe completely up until the point of topping with the additional cheese and Ritz crackers, and then cover and freeze for up to three months. (This set of freezer containers is a crazy bargain.)

Allow the casserole to thaw completely before proceeding with the topping and baking, as directed. Baking before it is fully thawed can result in parts of your casserole being overcooked while others are undercooked.

How do you keep tuna noodle casserole from drying out? Drying out shouldn’t be a problem with this recipe because we are using a homemade sauce instead of canned and we’re cooking the tuna noodle casserole at a lower baking temperature. The casserole risks drying out with higher baking temperatures.

Also, even though the casserole may at first appear to have too much sauce (see the in-process pictures below), the sauce will thicken and be absorbed with baking, so don’t reduce the amount of sauce.

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe Variations:

  • swap out the corn for whichever vegetables you’d prefer – a lot of people like peas in their tuna noodle casserole, but you can add broccoli, chopped green beans, carrots, mushrooms, etc.
  • swap out the tuna for shredded cooked chicken
  • use regular pasta noodles instead of egg noodles
  • swap out the Ritz cracker topping for breadcrumbs, cornflakes – or even potato chips
  • the original version uses cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup for the base instead of the from-scratch sauce we prepared, so if you want to skip a few steps, you can swap that in instead

What can I serve with Tuna Noodle Casserole?

Tuna Noodle Casserole Ingredients

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tip: feel free to add your favorite seasoning blends to make this recipe your own. I’ve enjoyed adding cajun seasoning, my homemade Old Bay seasoning and even just a hit of smoked paprika to this recipe.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

  • Stockpot
  • Saucepan
  • Sharp Kitchen Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Cheese Grater
  • 9″ x 13″ Casserole Dish <– I love these Pyrex dishes with fitted lids for easy transportation to parties or leftover storage
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula <– I like these spatulas because they are one solid piece and don’t have removable heads for bacteria to get trapped underneath. Plus they are heat-resistant and have a lifetime warranty.
  • Whisk
  • Cast Iron Skillet <– I love the versatility of a good cast-iron pan – you can make everything from eggs to dessert in them and they transition easily from the stove to the oven. This one is pre-seasoned and great for even heating

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole without Soup

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cook the egg noodles according to package directions.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.

Add the onion and celery to the butter and cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute until fragrant.

Remove vegetables to a small dish.

Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan and melt. Stir in the all-purpose flour until you form a brown roux.

Whisk the milk into the roux, and then add the broth and spices. Increase heat to medium-high until boiling.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for two minutes, then remove from heat.

In a small frying pan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the crushed Ritz crackers and cook for two minutes.

Place the cooked egg noodles in a casserole dish, then stir in the vegetables (including the corn), tuna and dill sauce (will still be quite thin).

Top with shredded cheese and Ritz crackers.

Bake for 35-30 minutes, until the sauce is set and the cheese is completely melted.

 

Pin this Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole From Scratch for a delicious and satisfying family dinner:

How to make an easy tuna noodle casserole without canned soup. This tuna noodle casserole features a creamy, from-scratch bechamel sauce that is lightly seasoned with garlic and dill combined with buttery egg noodles, tender veggies and juicy tuna then topped with cheesy and toasted Ritz cracker crumbs. This is family comfort food, done right.

Grab your free printable recipe card for our easy tuna noodle casserole recipe:

Yield: 8 servings

Cleaned-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Cleaned-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

How to make an easy tuna noodle casserole without canned soup. This tuna noodle casserole features a creamy, from-scratch bechamel sauce that is lightly seasoned with garlic and dill combined with buttery egg noodles, tender veggies and juicy tuna then topped with cheesy and toasted Ritz cracker crumbs. This is family comfort food, done right.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1lb egg noodles
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1-5oz can tuna
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and celery to the butter and cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute until fragrant.
  5. Remove vegetables to a small dish.
  6. Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan and melt. Stir in the all-purpose flour until you form a brown roux.
  7. Whisk the milk into the roux, and then add the broth and spices. Increase heat to medium-high until boiling.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for two minutes, then remove from heat.
  9. In a small frying pan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the crushed Ritz crackers and cook for two minutes.
  10. Place the cooked egg noodles in a casserole dish, then stir in the vegetables (including the corn), tuna and dill sauce (will still be quite thin).
  11. Top with shredded cheese and Ritz crackers.
  12. Bake for 35-30 minutes, until the sauce is set and the cheese is completely melted.

Notes

Tip: feel free to add your favorite seasoning blends to make this recipe your own. I've enjoyed adding cajun seasoning, my homemade Old Bay seasoning and even just a hit of smoked paprika to this recipe.

You can also use this casserole to make crab casserole, lobster, salmon, etc.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 15g

Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.

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I hope your family loves this from-scratch tuna noodle casserole recipe as much as mine does!

For more scrumptious seafood ideas, check out our full seafood recipe collection here:

For more perfect pastas, check out our full pasta recipe collection here:

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