How To Make the Tuna Noodle Casserole of Your Childhood Dreams
Simple, comforting, and nostalgic.
Raise your hand if you grew up having good old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole for dinner at least a couple times a month. (Raises hand.) Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, says it's one of her favorite dishes from her childhood, and she's here to show you how to make the best version of it. Bonus: This from-scratch version doesn't use canned soup.
Get Nicole's kid-friendly casserole recipe and top tips to make the best tuna noodle casserole so you can get a taste of nostalgia and bake up memories for your family, too.
Get the recipe for Nicole's Best Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 1 (12 ounce) package egg noodles
- 4 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 small white onion, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups shredded white Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup frozen sweet peas (optional but traditional)
- 2 (6-ounce) cans tuna, drained
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add egg noodles and 3 teaspoons salt to the boiling water; cook until tender yet firm to the bite, about 6 minutes. Drain noodles. Return to pot and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook until mushrooms are softened and onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add remaining butter; stir constantly until melted. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in milk and stock and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
- Add sauce mixture to reserved noodles. Stir in 1 cup Cheddar cheese, peas, and tuna. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle remaining Cheddar cheese over the top.
- Stir together bread crumbs, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and paprika in a small bowl. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over the casserole.
- Bake in the preheated oven until golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Top Tips for Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Egg noodles are the traditional choice for this classic comfort food, but no matter what pasta you use, undercook it slightly because it will finish cooking as the casserole bakes.
- Nicole's tuna noodle casserole is held together with a homemade cream of mushroom sauce. Yes, you could use the canned stuff, but if you want to make the best version, it's worth it (and it's easy) to make your own.
- Chop the mushrooms into medium-small pieces; they'll shrink a little more as they cook.
- Nicole likes to use panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs for her topping because they're flakier and crunchier.
- It takes only about 20 to 30 minutes to bake the casserole because all the ingredients are still pretty warm. If you were to assemble the casserole the day before and stick it in the fridge, you'll want to give it a little more baking time to account for the cold start.
- A sprinkle of fresh parsley over the top before serving brightens flavors and gives the casserole more eye-appeal.
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More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole: