Tuna Noodle Casserole - Redux

January 27, 2011
10 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

For some reason last night I had the sudden realization that tuna noodle casserole - that classic piece of Americana and staple of Midwestern church basement potlucks - is technically a seafood pasta dish. This struck me as hilarious, and I felt I had to submit a recipe. I've updated it, swapping out the canned soup for a homemade sauce with some herbs and laced with sherry. And I recommend using oil packed tuna, which I've only recently discovered, and which has much better texture and flavor. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

This is not your mother's tuna noodle casserole from the sixties! With some simple steps, fiveandspice takes this homey classic into a whole new league. It is hard to imagine how good this really tastes until you just make it. The butter, fresh mushrooms, shallot, fresh herbs, lemon zest, and sherry contribute to this cast of characters to make stars out of tuna noodle. The garlic panko topping adds a dramatic finish. Brilliant. Bravo, fiveandspice! —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced portobello mushrooms
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (whole)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cans oil packed tuna, drained
  • 8 ounces egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 Tbs. of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off all of their liquid and cooked through (10 or so minutes). Season lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add another 1/2 a tablespoon of butter to the frying pan, then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped herbs and the sherry and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into this mixture, then set this aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened (another minute or two). Then add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Flake the tuna and combine the tuna, the white sauce, the mushroom-onion mixture, and the noodles all together. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and transfer the casserole mixture into it.
  5. In a small pan, melt the last tablespoon of butter. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve! (And if you are in a church basement, you might have to throw together a reduxed jello salad as well!)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Lisa Yeager
    Lisa Yeager
  • deanna1001
  • lorie brand
    lorie brand
  • Andrea K
    Andrea K

84 Reviews

Maryann S. March 3, 2024
I meant to leave 5 stars! Made as written, although with fewer pans, and I did add an extra 1/2 cup of broth as suggested.
We loved it. Great homemade version of a classic. Will make it again. I would plan on feeding 4 with this dish but I can imagine 3 could polish it off.
I recommend!
Rosa October 17, 2021
This is a great recipe! .... made it many times with different types of tuna and it is always delicious! ...... this is our favourite winter meal.
Thank you!
Lisa Y. March 8, 2020
I made several modifications to accommodate dietary restrictions - and this holds up nicely. I used olive oil instead of butter, cashew milk instead of dairy, rice macaroni instead of egg noodles. I used millet flour for the roux, and a full cup of broth to make the sauce sufficiently creamy. Very tasty.
margaret G. March 11, 2018
Please: tuna cans come in 5 oz and 12 oz sizes - how much tuna is needed for this recipe?
Dianne J. September 26, 2016
This is a good recipe, but somewhat involved. I was a bit more generous with most of the ingredients. The biggest danger is that it will be dry. I used an entire cup of chicken broth and A little reserved pasta water. Be sure to add the noodles immediately after draining. Also, I used an entire cup if panko.
enyaj October 28, 2015
I made this a second time now, and it is a great basic recipe to work with. Due to an uncharacteristically bare larder and getting home late from work, I left out the sherry, garlic and lemon zest and used all whole milk instead of milk/stock, and all Crimini mushrooms. I also used powdered rosemary and thyme and topped it with crumbled potato chips, and it still tasted like gourmet shit (sorry if my Pulp Fiction reference offends). Creamy, delectable, comforting, and with a heaping side of lemon butter Brussels sprouts, I felt it was a good calorie splurge. I'm working at home tomorrow so will re-heat leftovers and roast some broccoli to serve on the side. Fall weather is setting in where I live, and this is just what the doctor ordered. I understand these might be major changes, but when you just want to mindlessly whip up tuna casserole, let this be your starting point.
jane January 11, 2015
Unfortunately I did not enjoy this. I found the lemon and garlic breadcrumbs overpowered the dish. I told my husband it was tuna casserole and he asked where the tuna was. As well the pasta was quite dry.
Pegeen January 6, 2015
I forgot to say:

Boil your noodles just before you're ready to mix everything together (I think it's step 4), so that you drain and dump the noodles right away into the tuna and mushroom mixture. Don't make your noodles ahead and let them sit in a colander, because they'll just clump up and you'll have to tear them into pieces with your hands to separate them.
Kimberly W. May 13, 2016
If they clump, just run water over them. It washes the starch off and they fall apart in seconds.
Pegeen January 6, 2015
I recently made this and it was delicious. A few comments:
- I doubled the recipe and it fed 3 teenagers and 3 adults, along with a green salad (and bread for the teenagers! Talk about starch). So it took a lot of pots and pans to feed not that many people. It’s not a “fast” casserole.
- Regular Albacore tuna packed in water would have been fine. The expensive oil-packed tuna I used was too “fishy” for most of the group’s taste, but they devoured it just the same.
- I wound up using a lot more butter than mentioned in recipe, to keep things moist and looking right.
- I added more chicken broth in the mixing stage because it seemed too dry, and concerned that it would dry out further in the oven. It turned out to be a good call.
- It was delicious.
enyaj December 15, 2014
This was good! I had to sub dry white wine for sherry and otherwise made the recipe as indicated (except for increasing by about 1/3 to make a bigger pan. Really delicious! (Oh, and I forgot to put the breadcrumbs on, so when it was almost done, I evenly browned panko and some garlic powder in butter and layered that on top, and it did a fine job of adhering while the dish cooled enough to eat.)
Ralph February 26, 2014
Made this recipe. Great flavor better tuna noodle than I remember and great leftovers.
deanna1001 January 10, 2014
Yum! My tuna tins are 7 oz so I upped the rest a bit. 4 servings? We pigged and it served more like 3 1/2 even with slightly higher quantities. Thanks for getting me to do a childhood comfort food with such great results.
lorie B. November 17, 2013
I have made this twice in the past week, so that says it all. I did add anchovies to both batches. About 6 filets mixed in with the tuna. Aside from the pasta, I used one pan and just added things in and out. Also used the oil from the tuna to saute the mire pox and the panko. Sub'ed preserved lemon for the zest and got a much more intense favor, but I am a big citrus fan. Gave it a light sprinkle of porini finishing salt at the end too. Way yummy! Perfect comfort food to console us after the 5" of snow this am.
Andrea K. November 12, 2013
Fan-freakin-tastic. The man loved it too. Followed recipe except for using buttons because that's all I had and doubling the panko. We like panko. I just hope I wake up in the middle of the night to eat some more but it does also sound good for breakfast.
Mas J. October 27, 2013
The Food52 link from Facebook showed 6 photos with anchovies being added to the recipe, though I don't see it here???
fiveandspice October 27, 2013
I think maybe they were suggesting you offroad from the recipe adding in anchovies on your own, since they called it "your own secret ingredient." It's kind of a good idea and I might try it myself, though of course I like my recipe as is! :)
Charles P. October 27, 2013
Would love to try this and taste with some Oregon White Truffle sprinkled on top.
fiveandspice October 27, 2013
That sounds amazing.
mlsparks October 8, 2013
This looks absolutely fantastic, and I can't wait to try it this week! I shall report back! The only thing i'll be changing is the mushrooms, as my significant other is allergic to all but truffles and button mushrooms. So button mushrooms it is! Very excited for this!
fiveandspice October 10, 2013
Button mushrooms will be just fine, I'm sure. Enjoy!
Amyliz September 16, 2013
I had already overhauled my mom'd tuna noodle casserole by adding fresh veggies instead of canned and oil packed tuna. This took it to the next step. So much better than condensed soup. I substituted white wine for the sherry and made the white sauce in the same pan to get all of the mushroom-y goodness.
fiveandspice September 23, 2013
Glad you liked it!
Pat E. June 7, 2013
Just tripled this for my bookclub dinner. Very nice and well recieved. I made 2/3 with tuna and the other third with chopped artichoke bottoms for a quasi-veggie version...which everyone loved! You could easily use veg or mushroom broth to be fully veggie. Next time I will probably make the bechamel a little looser for a creamier finished product....but that's just a personal preference. Thanks for a great and versitle recipe.
fiveandspice June 7, 2013
That's great! Glad it went over well. I like the suggestions for the additional veggies.
Waterobin May 15, 2013
I'm in my 71st year and still hold a hate for my mother's tuna-noodle cassarole made with canned cream of mushroom soup and topped with crushed potato chips. However, this recipe may get me to loosen up, what with all the nice mushrooms, sherry and lemon. Who says "an old dog . . .?"
fiveandspice May 16, 2013
Here's to loosening up! ;-)