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20-Minute Tuna Casserole

I first learned how to make tuna casserole in 7th-grade cooking class. I still have — and use — that recipe, although I’ve modified it, many times. This recipe is just another variation, and it makes a great option for a Friday meal during Lent.

20 Minute Tuna Casserole

B.D.’s world, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

20 Minute Tuna Casserole

20 Minute Tuna Casserole

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword casserole, hotdish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4


  • 8 ounces of rotini pasta
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 ounces of white albacore tuna in water
  • 3 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Prepare pasta according to the box directions.
  • While the pasta boiling, mix together in a medium bowl the soup, tuna, and 2 cups of cheese.
  • Drain pasta and pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Add the tuna mixture and blend with the pasta.
  • Cover with the rest of the cheese and top with the breadcrumbs.
  • Slide into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.


Image Source: B.D.'s world, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Tip for Great Tuna Casserole

When you go to the tuna aisle in your locale grocery store, there will be lots of options. If want your tuna casserole to turn out tasty, you only have one option: Albacore packed in water. Tuna packed in oil just doesn’t taste right, no matter what kind of tuna it is. And anything but Albacore just doesn’t taste as good. In addition, when you get the solid pack, you get a more meaty tuna, which works better for a casserole. At least that’s my humble opinion. (And I’m sticking to it.)

Creative Cooking Tips Banner

If there ever was a recipe that begged for creativity, it was tuna casserole. There are so many ways you can change up the flavor, the texture, even the oo-la-la factor of this humble hot-dish. Here are some ideas:

Pasta: There are so many varieties of pasta and noodles you can use for tuna casserole and each one lends a different texture, and sometimes even flavor to the dish. This recipe called for rotini, but I’ve also used egg noodles, egg-less noodles, Farfalle (bow-tie), ditalini, elbow, penne, radiator, rotelle, and small shells. You want pasta that can hold its own after being cooked twice (boiled then baked), and won’t overpower the other flavors in the dish.

Cream of Whatever Soup: When I first learned this dish, my teacher used Cream of Celery. Then someone told me if you used Cream of Chicken (which you can’t use during lent), the casserole tastes less fishy (which worked!). Cream of Mushroom is a classic standby. But there are other Cream soups that you can try, as well, such as:

  • Cream of Broccoli
  • Cream of Asparagus
  • Cream of Potato
  • Cream of Tomoto

Tuna: Of course, you don’t have to use tune in this dish, either. You can substitute in any other shredded meat, such as chicken, pork, or beef.

Cheese: Like strong cheese? Experiment with sharp cheddar. Prefer mild cheese? Use Monterey Jack. Or you can go more exotic and try out Havarti, Gouda, or any other cheese or cheese mix you find in your local grocery deli.

Bread crumbs: You’re not stuck with bread crumbs either. Try out panko. Or use French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions! Smash your favorite crackers and use those crumbs.

As you can see, ingredient swapping is the heart of Kitchen Creativity!

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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