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Lighter Tuna Casserole

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Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.comThis post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

I thought we’d take a little stroll down memory lane today to one of my favorite retro dishes from childhood — tuna casserole!!

Oh yeah.  You’d better believe this was one of the favorite dishes in our family when I was young, and you’d better believe we made it from the box. Even my little sister and I used to be able to make it from the box! Just add a little water, a few cups of milk, a pat of butter, a few cans of tuna, give it a stir and toss it in the oven, and — ba da bing, ba da boom — dinner was served. (With a generous side helping of processed ingredients of course, but hey, who cared about those back in the day?!)

Well, times have changed, and my mom and sister and I no longer have the boxed pasta meals hanging out in our pantries. But our love for this classic comfort food dish is still as strong as ever. So for a little throwback Thursday meal last week, I decided to try whipping up a lighter tuna casserole recipe that I could feel good about. Turns out, it only takes a little bit longer than the ol’ boxed version. And turns out, it tastes even better. :)

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients |

The key, of course, is to use lots of fresh ingredients. Fresh carrots? Check. Fresh mushrooms? Check. Fresh garlic? Check. Fresh peas? (Ok, frozen are much easier.)  Check.

Stir those in with a lighter cream sauce (made with an unsweetened almond milk base instead of cream), your favorite tuna (I prefer albacore tuna packed in water instead of oil), toss them with your favorite kind of pasta (I went with no-yolk “egg” noodles, although whole wheat pasta would be great), and then add in a handful of part-skim sharp cheddar for that retro cheesy casserole goodness.

If you want, you can just serve this as a stovetop pasta right then and there!

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients |

Or if you want to bake it up, add some Panko on top and toss it in the oven until the filling is nice and bubbly and the topping is golden and crispy. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients |

Then serve it up…
Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients |

…and enjoy every delicious, flavorful, tuna-y bite.

This recipe is decidedly lighter and less processed than the version I grew up with, but I promise that it’s just as satisfying and comforting. Just be sure to have a peppermint on hand for afterwards. Because, well, tuna will always be tuna. ;)

Enjoy, everyone!

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Lighter Tuna Casserole

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 8 -10 servings 1x


This lighter tuna casserole recipe is easy to make, full of great flavor, and lightened up with a few simple tweaks.


  • 8 ounces wide egg noodles (or no-yolk noodles)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened AlmondMilk)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces baby Bella or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 (5-ounce) cans tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook egg noodles al dente in a large pot of generously-salted water in a large stockpot according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, as the water for the noodles is cooking, melt butter (or olive oil) in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and carrots, and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until both are soft.  Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute until fragrant.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 more minute.  Whisk in the chicken stock until it is combined, then stir in the milk, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, mushrooms, peas and tuna.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens and the mushrooms are cooked, about 4-6 more minutes.
  4. Once the noodles are ready, add the sauce mixture to the (drained) noodles, and toss to combine.  Stir in the cheddar cheese until it is evenly combined.  Then you can either serve the pasta as-is at this point, or continue on to bake it.
  5. If you are baking the casserole, pour the noodles into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Sprinkle the Panko breadcrumbs evenly on top of the pasta, then mist with some cooking spray.  (Or I prefer to use olive oil in a Misto.)  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top of the pasta is slightly crispy and golden, and the filling is bubbly on the sides.
  6. Remove and serve warm.


I took a few tips for lightening this up from my friend Gina, so this recipe is adapted from SkinnyTaste.

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk. I am partnering with them to bring you some tasty and healthier recipes this year, and all almond-milk-loving opinions are my own as always. Thanks for continuing to support the brands who help make this site possible.Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients |

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78 comments on “Lighter Tuna Casserole”

  1. Yummy! Looks perfect for this summer (chilly, rainy and cloudy..) English days!

  2. You know what’s crayzay? I’ve actually NEVER had tuna casserole!
    I KNOW, I was deprived of childhood.  BUT, I love me some Almond  Breeze and tuna, so I will have to start my experience with this here casserole of noodley goodness! Pinned!

    • Don’t worry, I’ve never tried it either (though now I really really want to)! Let us know what you think! :)

  3. mm! looks delicious!  ❤

  4. Oh man this brings back so many childhood memories!! My mom makes the BEST tuna casserole. (Who doesn’t say that?) Anyway she adds plain yogurt and to this day I can’t make it without that tangy yogurt. Thanks for the stroll back!

  5. Tuna Casserole is by far my favorite childhood meal! I love the re-make. Pinning :)

  6. Mmmmm this is like the perfect summer comfort food! My hubby is from MN (thought you would appreciate that!) but we live in Northern California now – seafood is prevalent! So I could be all hoidy-toidy and say something like, “Oh I’m going to put fresh tuna in my casserole” but let’s face it, I have a 10 month old, life is crazy, and I have canned tuna in the pantry….

    I’m going to try this with either noodles or GF pasta and sub the flour with a GF flour blend. Looks yummy!!

    • Thanks Chrissa! We’re so envious of you guys living in Northern California – so freaking beautiful! We hope you and your family enjoy the recipe! :)

  7. I’ve been making Gina’s tuna casserole for a while, so I’ll have to check this one out, too.  Believe it or not, this is a dish I came to enjoy as an adult – it never made an appearance on my mother’s table, probably because my Hungarian father wanted Hungarian food, so that’s what she cooked.  

  8. I’ve seen a lot of Blue Diamond Almond recipes recently and this is such a creative use of them! Also – lightened up tuna casserole – yes – I will have seconds!

  9. I love this recipe makeover!

  10. Great idea! I’ve just uncovered a few tuna cans at the back of the cupboard that I wanted to use up…so this is perfect. Just needs a few potato chips crunched over top ;)

    • Thanks Sarah, we hope you love this! And YES to those potato chips on top!

  11. So… my brother in law said he KNEW he was in love with my sister when he not only ate a serving of her goopy, gloppy, mayonnaise-y, tuna casserole, but he asked for seconds! When he proposed, he said he’d marry her if she promised never to make that again! Ha! I’m thinking we need to try this one out on him! 

    • Oh my goodness, what a story! lol

    • Your poor sister! I think we’ve all made a dish or two that we grew up with, for our now significant others, that they felt was an absolute disaster but we adore the dish and have for years not seeing anything out of the ordinary about it. That’s a very funny story thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  12. I love canned tuna, but I’ve never had tuna casserole. My family has an ongoing joke about the dreadful tuna noodle casserole my mom used to make, but maybe I can bring it back with this recipe! Thanks!

    • Yes, hopefully you and your family will like this one! We think you should definitely give it a try (and report back)! :)

  13. This is total my kinda casserole, light and fit! What a creative use of almonds too!

  14. I’ve been wanting to make a tuna noodle casserole for quite a while now, but am always turned off by the heavy ingredients. This one looks like a keeper though! Can’t wait to try it out!

  15. I made this tonight and holy cow was it awesome! I used whatever veggies were in my freezer plus the recommended onions garlic and mushrooms. Thank you so much!! I was shocked at how simple and delicious this is! I’ll definitely be making it again. Winner!

    • Thanks Michele, we’re happy to hear that, and the onions, garlic and mushrooms sound awesome!

  16. I made this last night with the following change: I used celery in place of onion because we both hate onions with a passion. And, funnily, the almond milk I had on hand was vanilla unsweetened! But it didn’t impact the flavor thankfully! I did feel like the recipe needed a little umami boost after the first night, so I sprinkled some smoked paprika on the browned bread crumbs. But that’s just me – I love love love smoky flavor.  This is a great makeover and it is so worth the slightly bit more effort of chopping fresh veggies and making your own creamy sauce.  Making a fresh ingredient casserole is always far and away more comforting – Alton Brown’s homemade green bean casserole is like a new religion for Thanksgiving.  
    Thanks for the makeover – this house loved it!

    • We think celery is a great addition/sub for the onions! That is funny about the almond milk, but we’re glad the vanilla wasn’t noticeable, good to know! Also, we love that you added some smoked paprika (great call)! We’re happy you and your family enjoyed this!

  17. I was craving a comforting meal on the weekend and made this casserole and it was so delicious! All sorts of flavours mix together really well. Will share it on my blog for sure this week! Thanks for another great recipe!

  18. I absolutely HAVE to make this! My grandkids love this kind of casserole. Perfect. My tummys grumbling just by reading the ingredients list!

  19. Seriously, I cannot believe how delicious this was. I added a bit of extra cheese and my kids wolfed it down. MUCH better than the boxed version I also grew up on and loved.

  20. Just made this tonight and dang was it tasty! My boyfriend was on the verge of HANGRY, and he devoured this… three heaping plates of it. Tuna casserole was a favorite of mine as a kid, and while this was quite different than mom’s, it still had that hearty  comfort food feeling. It’s definitely healthier than the old  standby, and it’s got even more flavor. Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll be making this one again for sure!

    • Thanks Sara, we’re glad you and your boyfriend liked this! And wow, we’re impressed by his three servings of it, that’s always a good sign! :) Thanks for giving the recipe a try — have a great weekend!

  21. I just finish to make it and it was very tasty and easy and chip. Thank you

  22. I didn’t know I was craving this until I stumbled across this recipe. This is so delicious! Thank you for making this healthified version of a classic that I know feel better about adding into my regular meal rotaion!

  23. Great recipe! Made it tonight and it was super comforting and easy! Thanks for sharing! 

  24. This tuna casserole made from scratch was delicious, full of flavour and easy to prepare. I halved the recipe for my hubby and I but won’t the next time so we can have leftovers. It’s very chilly in Melbourne, Australia at the moment so this was certainly comfort food.

  25. Excellent! Will now be my family’s recipe for years to come!

  26. Just finished sitting down to this beautiful Tuna casserole, dished up 2 serves in sauce form, then tipped the  other half
    Into baking dish and baked with cheese and panko topping for another meal. Very yummy with lots of veg added.

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Jaki!

    • What a wonderful idea!! I used to make two dishes from one to save time on the week days for a quick easy meal. I love what you did with adding the cheese and Panko to make a second dish for later. I would take the second casserole dish and place it in the freezer so I could just take it out and pop it in the oven when I got home from work. This works well with spaghetti/baked spaghetti too. My children thought they didn’t like leftovers so this was a great way to incorporate a leftover dish without them knowing! ?

  27. This was super yummy!!! Loved it!

  28. I have been looking for a healthier tuna casserole version. Making this tonight and it smells delicious! Very easy to make..

  29. We have a number of family members that do not like tuna, so, keeping all the other ingredients as is, I cooked (2) chicken breast, sliced into 1/2 pieces, & prepared the casserole the same, it was fantastic, & all family members wanted the recipe, gave them “gimme some oven” web sight. Thanks again…TerryWynter

  30. Made exactly as written (with the 3 cans of tuna). While it is lighter, it tastes like a chicken noodle dish rather than tuna. It actually reminded me alot of a chicken pot pie flavor. Was tasty, but definitely not a tuna flavor.

  31. I’ve never grown up eating tuna casserole (my mom had a fear of hot tuna – ha) so I had no expectations going into this but this blew me and my husband away! Delicious, creamy and easy! I HIGHLY recommend this!! I don’t usually comment on recipes but with this one, I had to! Thanks for the great recipe!! WOW.

  32. Loved this recipe. I have made it a few times and wanted to make it for a friend who is about to have her first baby as a freezer meal she could heat up. Has anyone frozen it? What was the result? Do you still think it would taste OK? Thinking of the noodles especially …

  33. Yummmm!! I’ve made this casserole twice now. Second time I added extra mushrooms because I’m obsessed, and a good dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt for a bit of extra protein. My husband loves it, too, and he’s not usually a fan of tuna. Really yummy as a winter comfort dish.

  34. Delicious! I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I had to substitute or do without. The vegetables I used were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and squash. I didn’t have any noodles or panko and I only had cow’s milk. Last I made it for one and baked it. I had all the other ingredient on hand. I’ll use this recipe again.

  35. This was fantastic! I subbed Trader Joe’s vegan cream cheese for the cheddar to make it dairy free. It was perfect <3

  36. Made this great recipe a couple days ago. YUM! And husband had Seconds, which floored me as he has Always professed to dislike tuna casserole! He even took some to work for his lunch and we are having finishing it today for lunch! Thank you.

  37. I want to try this recipe but keep it dairy free. What would be you recommendation for using nutritional yeast instead of the cheese?

  38. Can I make this casserole a day ahead and bake the next evening for dinner?

  39. An incredible start to a tuna casserole recipe . . . But three essential suggestions: skip the egg noodles and use real pasta (we love fusilli); add lots of fresh veggies to the carrots and peas (we suggest green beans, sweet corn, and asparagus); and this recipe needs heat (we are lucky enough to have access to fresh New Mexican green chile, but diced jalapeño and red pepper flake would work). And do NOT skip the baking step— the crispy panko crush is perfect for this dish.

  40. Wow; this recipe is absolutely delicious! Tuna casserole is such a comfort food for me and this delivers on the comfort and the flavor but also feels lighter and healthier. Absolutely my new go-to Tuna Cassrole recipe!

  41. We subbed in zucchini for the mushrooms and it came out really well! I didn’t have time to bake it, since we were too hungry to wait, but we will do that next time. We are going to use half the amount of peas and onions next time due to our preferences.

  42. Delicious! Husband approved.

  43. Like recipes but need soduim do health problems.

  44. Great recipe! I never had tuna casserole, but I felt like making a healthy comfort food and this fit the bill. It was truly delicious and my husband loved it! Tip: next time I make thus dish, I’m going to microwave the carrots for a minute or two before cooking them with the onions, as the carrots take longer to cook than the onions.

  45. So good! Thank you. I baked it and it was the best.

  46. I’ve made this twice now. It’s so good and the perfect comfort dish or take over dish. To save time I use a bag of frozen peas with diced carrots. Another time saver is pre-chopped and cleaned mushrooms. I’ve baked this with panko crumbs and I’ve also just served it straight from the stovetop. It’s fine from the stovetop and just as yummy if you don’t have time to bake it.

  47. I had to substitute some ingredients — we ran out of almond milk ages ago — but still this worked well. Looked good too. When I devise a recipe myself, I always end up wishing I could buy a bottle of eye appeal to stir into it. So thanks.

  48. Did you list nutrition information somewhere?

  49. only because haven’t tried yet. sounds good. only have one drawback and that is my mother used to use cream of mushroom soup. don’t know if we will miss that

  50. Loved the flavor of this recipe! To cut down on stove use I converted it to a pressure cooker recipe. I layered the sauce on bottom, then dry noodles, followed by the tuna and then mushrooms. I cooked it on high pressure for 3 minutes for soft noodles, and let it naturally release. I then mixed in the cheese and peas before transferring it to a baking dish, added the panko bread crumbs, and broiled it for 4 minutes. Definitely saved me a lot of extra heat on this hot day, and I was so happy to eat such a wonderful dish!