This delicious Tuna Noodle Casserole is made from scratch with a delicious creamy white sauce, pasta, peas, tuna, celery, and crushed crackers on top. It’s always a hit at our dinner table!

Tuna Noodle Casserole served in a white casserole dish with a wooden spoon.

This tuna noodle casserole is leaps and bounds tastier than memories you have of old-fashioned tuna casserole.

Rather than using canned “cream of soup” it’s made with a simple white sauce from scratch using flour, butter, chicken broth and milk. Peas, celery and onion are sautéed to give a boost of flavor. I used medium shell pasta for the noodles because I like the size and how each shell can fill with creamy sauce. You could substitute egg noodles or another type of bite-size pasta.

Be sure to use high-quality tuna as it will really makes a flavor difference. Choose good quality solid white albacore tuna; it may cost a dollar more than the cheaper brands, but trust me, your tastebuds will thank you!

How to make Tuna Noodle Casserole:

  • Cook the noodles.
  • Sauté the veggies.  Sauté celery, onion, peas and garlic in melted butter.
  • Make the sauce.  Melt butter, add flour and stir.  Whisk in the chicken broth and milk.  Stir constantly until it thickens and is bubble.  Add salt, dill, lemon juice, parsley, and parmesan cheese.
Process photos for making tuna noodle casserole including a skillet with peas, onion and celery sautéing in it and another photo of a white cream sauce in the skillet with a wooden spoon.
  • Combine. Add pasta, vegetables, and tuna to the sauce and stir to combine.
Overhead photo of a skillet with cooked medium shells noodles, tuna, a creamy white sauce and peas to make tuna noodle casserole.
  • Pour the mixture into a baking dish.
  • Top with cheese and crushed crackers.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Two overhead photos of a white casserole dish with tuna noodle casserole in it, one without the cracker topping and the other of the casserole after it's been baked.

Topping Variations:

  • Ritz crackers or your favorite butter or saltine crackers
  • Potato chips
  • Cornflakes
  • Breadcrumbs
Close up photo of a bowl of tuna casserole with shell noodles and a spoon.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Cook the noodles, sauté the vegetables, and make the sauce. Store everything separately until ready to assemble, and bake.

To Freeze: Undercook the noodles slightly. Assemble the dish in a freezer-safe container (I like to use a disposable aluminum pan) but don’t top with crushed crackers. Allow to cool completely then cover tightly with and freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Top with crushed crackers and cheese before baking. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with:

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Recipe

Tuna noodle casserole with peas and a cracker crumb topping, served in a white bowl with a hand towel next to it.
Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces medium-size shell pasta*
  • 4 Tablespoons butter , divided
  • 1 rib celery , diced
  • 1/4 cup onion , diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic , miced
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 14.5 ounce can low-sodium chicken broth (just under 2 cups), warmed
  • 1 cup milk , warmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice , more if desired
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves , minced
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese , divided
  • 5 ounces canned albacore white tuna, packed in water , more if desired

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup Ritz crackers* , crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon butter , melted

Instructions
 

  • Cook the noodles just until al dente, according to package instructions.
  • Sauté the veggies: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet.  Add celery, onion, peas and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.
  • Make Sauce: Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the pan. Once melted and the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, stirring constantly until smooth.  Bring mixture to a low simmer.
  • Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add salt, dill, lemon juice, parsley, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.  Taste sauce and season with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice, to taste.
  • Combine: Remove from heat and stir in the pasta, vegetables and tuna.  Pour mixture into a 9x13’’ or similar size baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of parmesan cheese.
  • Add topping: Crush ritz crackers and add melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over the casserole.
  • Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

Tuna: Choose good quality canned solid white albacore tuna. It's may be a little more expensive but will make all the difference in taste.
Pasta: I like the medium shell pasta because I like the size and how each shell can fill with creamy sauce. You could substitute egg noodles or another type of bite-size pasta.
Cracker Topping: you could also use crushed potato chips, breadcrumbs, cornflakes or your favorite crackers.
Make Ahead Instructions: Cook the noodles, sauté the vegetables, and make the sauce. Store everything separately until ready to assemble, and bake.
Freezing Instructions: Undercook the noodles slightly. Assemble the dish in a freezer-safe container (I like to use a disposable aluminum pan) but don't top with crushed crackers. Allow to cool completely then cover tightly with and freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Top with crushed crackers and cheese before baking. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with:

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 21gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 616mgPotassium: 358mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 785IUVitamin C: 10.6mgCalcium: 264mgIron: 1.8mg

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Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites.

I originally shared this recipe October 2018. Updated April 2021.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My whole family loved it! That never happens. I used whole wheat pasta and green beans instead of peas because that’s what I had. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Have made this many, many times! Always RAVE reviews. Great base bones recipe, add your own spin on it & it is FAB. Not my Mother’s Tuna Casserole, that’s for sure. High end. LOVE IT! Thank yo so much!

  3. 5 stars
    This took a lot of steps (by my standard) but was well worth it! I used sherry instead of lemon, and diced mushrooms instead of tuna- so so delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! I forgot the lemon juice and made the topping with crumbled toast and butter because we don’t have crackers in the house. They get snacked on before I can add them to any dish!
    Next time, I’ll try adding a red bell pepper and corn instead of the celery and peas.

  5. 5 stars
    I wish I snapped a picture to share before digging into this tasty dish. It was such an easy from-scratch dish. I made a 1 1/2 portion because I didn’t want to save the extra shells and boy am I happy I did it. The flavor was spot on. I had to make a couple of adjustments due to lack of ingredients but it was still delicious. First, I didn’t have fresh lemons but I had lemon essential oil, just a touch did it. Also, I didn’t have celery but I did have celery essential oil, again, a hit! I used mixed frozen veggies which tasted just as good. Will DEFINITELY make this again!!!

  6. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I used gluten free pasta shells, cornstarch in place of the flour in the sauce, and topped with crushed potatoes chips to make it gluten free for my husband. We both loved it.

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious Recipe! Way better than adding cream of chicken soup. I added 2 cans of tuna instead of one and I subbed veggie broth for chicken. I also did not remove peas from pot when I mixed up white sauce. I did not top with crackers since I did not have any and we are watching our carbs. I used red lentil based pasta along with egg noodles so I could have enough. Topped with 5 cheeses when served. Family LOVED it, even my picky eaters.

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