Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

GF

A healthier version of the comfort food classic, this tuna noodle casserole combines protein-packed chickpea rotini, albacore tuna, veggies and a creamy sauce. It comes together quickly and makes for a great comforting fall/winter dinner.

Tuna noodle casserole is a classic comfort food dish that brings me all the way back to my childhood. I used to love eating it growing up, but for some reason I never make it as an adult. I do have this spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole recipe on the blog, but I figured it was time to make a real-deal tuna noodle casserole recipe (that’s EBF-approved of course!).

For this recipe I made a few healthier swaps, but you won’t even be able to tell – promise! This healthy tuna noodle casserole recipe is still creamy, cheesy and oh, so comforting. I can’t wait for you to try it!

A serving of healthy tuna noodle casserole on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s a comfort food classic made healthier!
  • Perfect for meal prep.
  • Can easily be made gluten-free + dairy-free.
  • Packed with nutrients from the veggies and protein from the tuna.
A baking dish containing healthy tuna noodle casserole.

What is Tuna Noodle Casserole?

Tuna noodle casserole is a delicious, comforting dish that’s typically made with tuna, egg noodles, vegetables and a creamy mushroom sauce all topped with a generous amount of cheese and breadcrumbs. The tuna and vegetables are cooked in the sauce until tender, and the noodles are added just before serving.

In true EBF fashion I took the classic recipe and made a few swaps to make it a bit healthier. I swapped the cream and milk for unsweetened almond milk, butter for olive oil, egg noodles for protein-packed chickpea noodles and reduced the amount of cheese. This version is still super rich and creamy, you won’t even be able to tell it’s made healthier.

If you’re looking for a low-carb version of tuna noodle casserole try my spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole boats instead.

Ingredients measured out to make Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole: parmesan, onion, salt, pepper, cheddar, flour, baby bella mushrooms, almond milk, rotini pasta, olive oil, vegetable broth, almond meal or breadcrumbs, canned tuna, frozen peas and garlic.

Ingredients Needed

  • rotini pasta – I used the Banza gluten-free rotini for some added protein and to keep this dish gluten-free, but feel free to use regular rotini pasta if you prefer. Rotini is the perfect pasta for this casserole because it holds its shape well with the sauce.
  • olive oil – to sauté the veggies.
  • yellow onion & garlic – adds a ton of flavor to the sauce.
  • mushrooms – baby bella mushrooms work for in this casserole.
  • flour – helps to thicken up the sauce. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Flour, but regular all-purpose flour will work if you don’t need this dish to be gluten-free.
  • almond milk – I used unsweetened almond milk. You can use store-bought or make your own almond milk at home.
  • vegetable broth – adds extra flavor to the sauce. Chicken broth or bone broth are good substitutes if you don’t have veggie broth on hand.
  • shredded cheddar cheese – to help make the sauce extra creamy! I recommend grating fresh cheddar cheese versus using pre-shredded cheese.
  • tuna – I typically buy Albacore canned tuna because you get bigger chunks of meat that aren’t mushy. I really like the Wild Planet brand!
  • frozen peas – a staple in tuna noodle casserole! Peas are a good source of vitamins, fiber, protein and minerals. They also add a touch of sweetness to this dish.
  • shredded parmesan – adds some saltiness and great savory flavor to this dish. Again, I recommend grating fresh parmesan cheese versus using pre-shredded cheese.
  • almond meal – to help achieve a crispy topping while keeping this dish gluten-free. Breadcrumbs will work as well.
  • sea salt & ground pepper – to bring all the flavors together.
A serving of healthy tuna noodle casserole on a plate with a fork.

Substitutions & Notes

  • Noodles: I’ve tested both gluten-free pasta and regular pasta and both work well for this dish! If you don’t have rotini pasta on hand any pasta shape should work. Other great options include macaroni, fusilli, rigatoni or penne.
  • Milk: Swap the almond milk for regular dairy milk or your favorite non-dairy milk. I just wouldn’t use flavored or sweetened milk as that will change the flavor of the sauce.
  • Flour: Either gluten-free flour or regular all-purpose flour work just fine. If you don’t have either on hand, cornstarch or arrowroot flour are good substitutes.
  • Tuna: Tuna casserole wouldn’t be the same without tuna, but it can easily be swapped if you want to switch things up! Try using canned salmon, shredded chicken or tofu for a vegan version.
  • Dairy-free: I tested a dairy-free version of this casserole and it turned out great! I just swapped the cheeses for dairy-free options.
9 photos showing to steps to make Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole: making the mushroom sauce and tossing with cheese, pasta, peas and then baking.

How to Make

Cook pasta: Begin by cooking the noodles according to the package instructions.

Sauté veggies: Preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray. Then, heat a large skillet over medium heat with oil. Sauté the onions and mushrooms with salt and pepper for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Make sauce: Mix in the flour with the veggies and stir until veggies are coated. Slowly begin to pour in the almond milk along with the vegetable broth. Whisk to combine. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer while mixing often, or until the sauce thickens about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted.

Bake: Stir in the cooked noodles, peas and drained tuna. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and almond meal or bread crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Broil for the last 1-2 minutes to brown the top.

A baking dish containing healthy tuna noodle casserole next to a block of parmesan cheese.

How to Store Leftovers

In the fridge: Store any leftovers in an airtight sealed container for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat any leftovers in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or over medium-high heat on the stove.

In the freezer: This tuna casserole should freeze nicely if you want to make this dish in advance. Just let the casserole cool completely, cover securely with a lid or tin foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, let the casserole thaw in the fridge overnight, then heat in the microwave or in the oven, until warmed throughout.

More Tuna Recipes to Try

More Pasta Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the tuna recipes and the full collection of dinner recipes on EBF!

Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

5 from 5 votes
A healthier version of the comfort food classic, this tuna noodle casserole combines protein-packed chickpea rotini, albacore tuna, veggies and a creamy sauce. It comes together quickly and makes for a great comforting fall/winter dinner.
A serving of healthy tuna noodle casserole on a plate.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Banza rotini pasta, or regular pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 5 oz canned Albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan
  • ¼ cup almond meal or breadcrumbs

Instructions
 

  • Cook noodles according to package until al dente (I cooked the Banza noodles for 6 minutes), drain and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF and spray a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
    An 8x8 baking dish prepped with oil.
  • While pasta is cooking heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion and mushrooms with ground pepper and salt until onion is translucent and fragrant and mushrooms have cooked down, about 5-7 minutes.
    Onion and mushrooms with ground pepper and salt sautéing in a pot.
  • Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
    Garlic added to the pot.
  • Add flour to veggies and mix to coat.
    Flour mixed to coat vegetables in pot.
  • Slowly add almond milk and veggie broth. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce to a simmer, mixing often until sauce thickens, about 10-12 minutes.
    Almond milk and vegetable broth added to pot.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
    Cheese added to pot.
  • Mix in noodles, peas and drained tuna and pour into prepared baking dish.
    Tuna, peas and pasta noodles mixed in to the vegetables in the pot.
  • Top with parmesan cheese and almond meal or breadcrumbs.
    Pasta mixture in the prepped 8x8 baking dish topped with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Broil for a 1-2 minutes to brown the top. Banza took 20 min and regular pasta took closer to 25 min.
    Healthy tuna noodle casserole in a baking dish.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 recipe Calories: 552kcal Carbohydrates: 53g Protein: 43g Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 4g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 31mg Sodium: 1027mg Potassium: 421mg Fiber: 12g Sugar: 11g
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy tuna noodle casserole

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    12 comments
    1. Helen
      January 2, 2023 AT 10:39 am

      I have been looking for a healthy recipe for tuna casserole that doesn’t use condensed soup. I would really like to make this one but I don’t like mushrooms. Can you recommend a substitution for them?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 2, 2023 AT 12:42 pm

        Hi Helen – You could just omit the mushrooms and maybe add some additional peas. If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!

    2. Mie’
      December 14, 2022 AT 5:24 pm

      5 stars
      Excellent and easy meal that can be made quickly!!! Delicious and great portion size!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 15, 2022 AT 2:31 pm

        Yay! I am excited to hear that you are loving this recipe! Thank you so much for sharing your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

    3. Robin
      December 7, 2022 AT 12:42 pm

      5 stars
      This was SOOOO amazing. It seems my family is hopping on board with these recipes as well. Everything so far has been so full of flavour. Thank you for taking the time to create and share Brittany.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 9, 2022 AT 10:37 am

        WOO! I am so pumped to hear that this recipe is a hit for you and your family, Robin. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your review + star rating, it means the world to me.

    4. Lou
      December 3, 2022 AT 9:31 pm

      5 stars
      This is delicious and the serving size is huge.
      Thanks so much.
      I love many of your recipes.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 5, 2022 AT 3:40 pm

        Ah yay! I am so glad that you are loving this recipe, Lou. Thanks so much for sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it.

    5. Sarah Harper
      December 2, 2022 AT 10:10 pm

      5 stars
      Amazing! I can’t believe how creamy this was! Comparable to my mothers recipe!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 5, 2022 AT 4:58 pm

        Wow, this means so much. I am so glad you are loving this recipe, Sarah. Thank you for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

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