Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole
Published Nov 28, 2022, Updated Dec 07, 2022
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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!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- Tuna, Broccoli and Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Sweet Potato Tuna Salad (No Mayo)
- Tuna Salad with Egg
- Tuna Salad
- Spaghetti Squash Tuna Noodle Casserole Boats
- Tuna Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Nicoise Mason Jar Salad
More Pasta Recipes to Try
- One Pot Pasta
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese
- Spaghetti Squash Baked Feta Pasta
Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add flour to veggies and mix to coat.
- 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.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
- Mix in noodles, peas and drained tuna and pour into prepared baking dish.
- Top with parmesan cheese and almond meal or 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.