Easy Tuna Casserole

Who needs Tuna Helper?  Although, for the record, I used to really like Tuna Helper and would buy it anytime I had coupons to purchase it at a great deal.  I used to also really like Hamburger Helper – which is why I came up with this Cheeseburger Macaroni recipe to make myself feel like I was eating Hamburger Helper.  Shock upon shock, my fix for Tuna Helper uses the same basic Creamy Mac and Cheese recipe, only instead of adding seasoned hamburger meat, I add tuna.  See how fancy I am?  (snore)

If you haven’t tried my trick for making Creamy Mac and Cheese – cooking the pasta in the milk – you really need to give it a try.  We love this, and it really has made for some great recipe combos!  (Cheeseburger Macaroni, Three Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta, Baked Three Cheese Chicken Pasta, and yes, the very exciting Tuna Casserole.)

Easy Tuna Casserole

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta (or brown rice pasta)
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cans (6 ounces each) tuna, drained
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Mix pasta, milk and salt in a large sauce pan.  Cook over medium-high heat STIRRING ALMOST CONSTANTLY until the pasta is tender (10-15 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Add tuna and cheese, and stir until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

I’m not sure why, but I absolutely love tuna casserole served with frozen peas.  Well, I cook the peas – I don’t serve them frozen.  You knew that, right?  Okay, just checking.

Are you a fan of tuna?  Do you like tuna casserole?  Don’t you just love frozen peas? (The cooked kind, of course.)

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Comments

  1. brook says

    I helped my 7 year old make tuna casserole Monday night. She loves it! With cooked frozen peas, but I have to say my mom and sister eat frozen frozen peas, so I was momentarily confused! :) I don’t like any peas, I’m wondering when my kids will catch onto that!

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  2. Amber Rogers says

    Looks good. This meal was a staple when I was growing up. Only, our tuna casserole always had the frozen (cooked) peas mixed right in. Delicious!

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  3. megan says

    i can’t eat peas plain, but they are the best in a tuna casserole. i think the casserole tastes a bit plain without them. and of course the frozen (cooked) kind. the smell of canned peas makes me gag!

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  4. says

    I LOVE tuna noodle casserole. I like it with the peas stirred in.
    Applesauce on the side. :)

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    Sheila Reply:

    I also must mix the peas in!

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    EmilyS Reply:

    Me too- peas must be in! :)

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  5. sharon says

    Laura,

    What kind of tuna do you buy? I was scared off tuna because I was informed it was loaded with mercury. I’ve been buying Bear & Wolf canned wild Alaskan pink salmon from Costco and although it is salmon, it tastes just like tuna.
    ~Sharon

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    Laura Reply:

    The research I’ve done tells me that yellowfin tuna has the lowest levels of mercury. I hope that’s acurate!

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    Mayira Reply:

    The salmon sold at the Costco here has red food coloring added to it. I can’t remember the brand because I haven’t bought it in years. Check the label.

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    Mayira Reply:

    Sorry. Meant to respond to Sharon.

    Jamie Reply:

    I miss tuna too :(
    I’ve read that pregnant women should not consume more than one can of
    tuna per month, so I just cut it from the budget. I grew up eating
    canned tuna at least 1x/week it’s comfort food! Maybe once I’m not
    pregnant or nursing for once I’ll get some of Laura’s brand!

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  6. Kim Saf says

    Another High 5 recipe! Great!
    We love tuna here, but I’m having a hard time finding an economical tuna option that is soy-free (most are packed in vegetable broth that includes soy) :(

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    Megan Reply:

    Have you looked at the ingredients for tuna packed in water? That may solve the problem.

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    Megan Reply:

    Never mind. I just checked my tuna. That’s a surprise to me.

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  7. Sabrina says

    When I was growing up, my mom never made tuna helper. But I have a cousin who loved it, and she would always fix it. That’s when I discovered that I did love it! Thanks for this easy tuna “helper.”

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  8. Rhoda says

    Don’t care for the peas (frozen or cooked), but my gold fish love them (cooked)! Haven’t eaten tuna in years–we practically lived on it growing up. Probably should try it again sometime.

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  9. Kimberly S. says

    There must be something about tuna casserole and peas as my mom always made those together. Although I don’t like peas all that much. But this looks delish and so easy, I think I might make some this weekend.

    And Rhoda, I laughed when I read that your goldfish likes peas, that’s funny!

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  10. Karen W. says

    My goldfish like peas, too! You have to thaw them if frozen, and then sort-of squish them between your finger and thumb to break the outer skin so they can get their little fish lips around them.

    But I digress. Thank you, Heavenly Homemaker, for your post awhile back about boiling the pasta in milk — my kids worship you! I never was able to make a homemade mac & cheese they liked until we found your recipe (so we were, uh, “blue box” eaters for more years than I want to admit). I LOVE tuna casserole but my kids won’t eat tuna, so I will be subbing with cooked chicken instead. Thanks for planning dinner for me tonight! BTW, I also add chopped up carrots — the perfect one-dish meal!

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  11. Leah says

    Thanks for the recipe! My husband has been asking for tuna casserole lately, so I will try this one next week.

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  12. Laurie Swanson says

    Even my “picky” eater likes tuna casserole–go figure! We recently dug out the Tight Wad Gazette–a recipe for tuna chowder–I thought “weird” but it is delicious! I add a few things of course……:)

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  13. edith says

    we also love your pasta cooked in milk (mac & cheese), and have told everyone we know how easy and delicious it is. am not crazy about hot tuna, but enjoy it cold during the summer in a pasta salad – tuna, cooked cold pasta, chopped onions, frozen peas (thawed but not cooked), miracle whip (may i use a brand name???), and salt & papper. we’ve recently added hot pepper mix (chopped red & green hot peppers, garlic, and oil) to spice it up a bit. the only way i like hot tuna is as a tuna melt – tuna, chopped onions & pickles & hard-boiled eggs, miracle whip, salt & pepper, placed on a bun, topped with a slice of cheese, and warmed in the oven until the cheese melts. yummmm. and, yeah, what it is about tuna and peas??? we always had tuna and peas together. hmmmmmmmm

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  14. Stacy W says

    I make my tuna casserole a little different. Saute chopped onion and celery until tender, melt 4 tbsp butter into it, stir in 4 tbsp flour, add 2 cups milk and 2 cups chicken broth. When simmering, add cheese (I just use the cheddar slices), then add pasta, couple cans of tuna, frozen peas. I top it with crushed crackers and shredded 4 cheese blend, and bake in the oven until bubbly. Your recipe sounds a lot easier and I’m going to try it for lunch.

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  15. Lissa says

    I am going to have to try this one with a couple of modifications. I cannot have gluten or dairy so I will use brown rice pasta and either soy milk or I have found a dairy free portabella mushroon soup that is pretty tasty. Hubby and the kids get theirs garnished with cheese. :) I just get a little extra helping.

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  16. Courtney says

    Just chiming in to say that our goldfish are crazy for peas, too! They gobble them up like they are the most delicious things in the world.

    Tuna casserole is my kids’ favorite meal so I will definitely give your recipe a try – thanks!

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  17. Erin says

    Tuna casserole and peas just go together in my book. just like chocolate and peanut butter, or pb&j or socks and shoes

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  18. kim says

    We always put our peas in our tuna casserole, this version seems to be a bite healthier then mine, even though I use whole wheat pasta. thanks

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  19. says

    Your post made me laugh today because I would never think of serving tuna noodle casserole without peas (cooked of course) as the side. :)

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  20. Ann Marie says

    Can’t wait to try this! I love mushrooms in my tuna noodle casserole, so I think I might saute a handful of chopped fresh mushrooms and add them to the mix at the end. Thankfully, our local grocer puts organic fresh mushrooms on sale fairly frequently, because I love cooking with them!

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  21. Kristin says

    Yes, tuna noodle casserole was a lenten staple in my house growing us. With crushed potato chips on top of course :) Though I myself picked all the peas out. I would have loved it if Mom had put the peas on the side. My 5 year old loves her peas frozen as well! Alas, my husband doesn’t do casseroles, or canned tuna for that matter (only ahi), so I haven’t had tuna casserole in nearly 9 years, sigh. My girls and I do LOVE your mac and cheese recipe. Very Velveeta like in consistency, but with REAL cheese of course! Sadly, my husband complained it was TOO creamy :( So I guess I’m back to my bechamel version, unless I am willing to start making him his own pasta with butter, parmesan and herbs.

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    Kimberly S. Reply:

    You poor dear, haha. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my mac and cheese as creamy as possible. I fmy husband told me he didn’t like it creamy, I don’t know what I’d do. Although my husband does not care for it much at all, so when we have it, that means more for me (and more for my waist). :)

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  22. Jessica says

    I like to throw a can of tuna into the macaroni and cheese as well. My kids eat peas frozen — they’re very sweet.

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  23. Anonymous says

    Sorry to be different, but we absolutely HATE tuna casserole here. My husband and I were so relieved to discover when we got married that neither would have to put up with it for the other (or even smell it for that matter!) Too many tears and years sitting at the dinner table not being allowed to leave until we forced it down, I suppose. GAG! Salmon, on the other hand, it wonderful, and peas are o.k. nice and fresh. Just don’t cook them in anything. They turn olive green and mushy, and the flavor deteriorates! Love your recipes, Laura, but when I saw today’s it brought back lots of memories … trying to hide the stuff in a napkin without being seen, etc. (-:

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    Danielle B Reply:

    I don’t like the smell of tuna, or taste. I’ve tasted it macaroni salad.,

    I think it was because that’s all my mom ate when she was pregnant w/me lol.

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  24. Darcy says

    We use canned salmon instead of tuna here as well because it’s about the same price (at least for some good tuna). We’re actually having a salmon and rice casserole tonight, but I will have to keep your recipe on hand for next week (I try to have salmon once a week). I’m wondering how it would work with fresh, homemade noodles as that is what I am planning on using.

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  25. Dione says

    This is one of our weekly lunches, I make it pretty much the same way except the peas are mixed in. We also like it with chicken. My youngest loves it with broccoli instead of peas as well:)

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  26. says

    I’ve been using your recipe for a while now and have used it as the inspiration for several dishes my family truly enjoys (including, just last week, tuna casserole). I’ve found that substituting 1 c. water for one of the cups of milk works well — no one could tell — and makes it a little more frugal since good, quality milk is spendy these days. Thanks for all the recipe inspiration, Laura. :)

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  27. Alicia says

    I used to eat frozen peas as a snack. I would pour them in a bowl and eat them like popcorn. Yummy!

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  28. Meg says

    Ha ha – actually my 3-year-old eats bowls of frozen peas in their frozen state. One of the main green veggies he will eat lately!

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  29. Rachelle says

    Hey there, I am just trying to figure out what I might have done wrong. I tried your Tuna Helper tonight and had a hard time getting the noodles to be even a little bit soft. I am not the best cook and honestly have had many recipes over the years that say to cook the noodles in …. and i never get good soft delicious noodles unless I boil them in water and then drain and add to whatever else I am making. Did I miss-interpret the recipe? Did I use the wrong milk? (we only had 2% reduced fat) Did I use the wrong noodles? (Again all I had was Barilla Penne Noodles)The flavor was great! I Loved the simple aspects of this recipe and will use again. Just thought I would ask for some cooking tips. Thanks!

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    Laura Reply:

    Hmm, not sure what may have gone wrong. It could be that your heat needed to be turned up to get the milk and pasta really hot – although that can be tricky because you don’t want the milk to scorch or for it all to boil over! Or it could be that it just needed more cooking time, which could mean that you may have needed to add a little extra milk if it all evaporated before the noodles were cooked. Hope it works better next time!

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    Teri Reply:

    Rachelle, I’m not sure this would make any difference but Penne noodles
    take longer to cook (at least for me) so you may want to try a different
    type of pasta. Also, you could add more milk or some water. I also think
    that the “curly” pasta absorbs less liquid than Penne. I always have
    better luck cooking my pasta first and then adding it to the sauce. Also,
    different kinds of pasta “measure” differently so you may have had more
    pasta and would have needed additional liquid. Hope this helps. :) Teri

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  30. says

    We add the peas straight to the boiling pasta water (liquid) and like them mixed in. My husband only takes about two bites of a side vegetable the way I prepare it before he mixes it in with whatever the main dish is – always! It used to bug me, so I just started saving myself dirty dishes and began cooking up the veggies right into whatever we were making. He doesn’t have to mix and I don’t have to wash an extra veggie pan. :O) I just had my own version of Tuna noodle casserole complete with frozen (cooked) peas tonight! ;o)

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  31. Tonya Dean says

    I had the same problem as Rachelle. The noodles were still a bit hard but I figured it was just because they were whole wheat. Then, just as I was getting ready to serve it someone knocked on the door. By the time we did get ready to eat, it had cooled and was kinda like glue. We still ate it but made some funny faces and drank a lot of milk. :) Thanks for the great recipes!

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    Laura Reply:

    Eh, that doesn’t sound like the best meal ever, sorry about that! Since the noodles were still hard, it sounds to me like more milk may have needed to be added and a little more cooking time may have helped. It could also have been the noodle, as not all whole wheat noodles are created equally. I prefer the Bionaturae brand and have good success with those. :)

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  32. Erin C says

    One of my 3 kids’ favorite snack is frozen peas! They eat them frozen. I think it’s the greatest thing ever! :)

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  33. Marie says

    When you cook the pasta in milk, do you use the same amount of milk as water? And when you drain the noodles what do you do with the extra milk?

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    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t cooked pasta in water for a while, so I’m really not sure. In this recipe, you cook the 2 1/2 cups of pasta in 3 cups of milk, and all of the milk is absorbed, making the pasta creamy. No need to drain off any extra. If anything, I sometimes need to add a little extra milk if it appears that the milk has all been absorbed before the pasta is fully cooked. :)

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  34. Angela says

    We like a little celery salt in ours. My daughter loves frozen peas – she will pour herself a bowl and eat them if I am serving fresh veggies. I have not had very good luck cooking pasta in milk – I think it may be the high elevation (6,800 feet). I just use a little cream and cheese – yum!

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  35. says

    Dear Laura,
    Oh my goodness, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your tuna casserole. Even though Iv’e only eaten it once, I simply adore it. Thank you so much for making this blog and sharing recipes. My mom loves this website. Thank you!
    Joanna

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