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This Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe is made from scratch with homemade sauce (No canned soup here)! Made with plenty of tinned tuna, peas, and a mixture of egg noodles and cheese tortellini, this casserole is a big hit every time I serve it. Top this classic casserole with cheese with a crisp, buttery panko topping and shredded sharp cheddar- and you’re in for a real treat!

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A comforting, family friendly classic casserole

There are few dishes as comforting after a bad day then a big plate of noodle casserole, and this one really hits the spot. There’s just something about baked, cheesy noodles that warms your soul.

Classic tuna noodle casserole with cheese

Making the Old fashioned tuna noodle casserole recipe

This Homemade tuna casserole with Cheese Tortellini and Egg Noodles stay relatively true to the classic, with a few adjustments.

  1. NO canned Soup! For this recipe you’ll start with a roux, and build your own velvety smooth sauce for the base.
  2. TWO kinds of noodles. We’re using traditional egg noodles here, but we are adding in cheese tortellini! You could skip this and go all egg noodles if you want. But why?

Looking for more great dinner ideas?

Why not try my 5 Cheese Sausage and Spinach LasagnaSunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and SausageOne Pot Sausage Artichoke Pasta Bake or Cheese Tortellini with Roasted Tomato and Sausage Cream Sauce!

Easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole

A fun twist on classic tuna casserole- with tortellini!

For my version of this very retro meal, I wanted to do a from-scratch cream sauce, and add a bit of texture and flavor in the form of cheese tortellini and buttery panko breadcrumbs.

Don’t worry- the egg noodles are alive, well and in abundance in this recipe as well. But the tortellini add a little something special to each bite.

Classic tuna noodle casserole with cheese

What goes into the tuna noodle casserole?

  • Butter, for the sauce and crispy breadcrumb topping.
  • A rib of celery,
  • Some flour, to thicken the roux for the sauce.
  • Half and half and milk.
  • Dry thyme, celery seed, onion powder, garlic powder, fresh grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
  • A couple can of chunk light tuna, drained. You can use water or oil packed tuna, or even albacore if that’s your preference.
  • A combo of frozen or shelf stable cheese tortellini and classic dry egg noodles. I love the extra cheesiness and pillowy soft texture the tortellini bring to the table. But feel free to use all egg noodles if you like!
  • Frozen peas. You’ll throw these in at the very end of the sauce, right before the cooked noodles.
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard (I like Grey Poupon Country Dijon).
  • Shredded cheddar cheese. I like sharp or extra sharp cheddar.
  • Grated parmesan cheese.
  • Plain panko breadcrumbs. I ilke the extra crisp texture of these. You could also use crushed potato chips or crushed crackers. I would stay away from plain breadcrumbs, which would have a mealy texture in this dish.
 Easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole

Making the creamy base for the casserole

To make tis Easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole, we’ll start by boiling and draining the egg noodles and some frozen tortellini.

We’ll then sauté some celery, make a quick and easy roux, then a cream sauce. To that easy cream sauce, we will add a few spices, and some drained canned tuna. Next up, some frozen peas, some cheeses and a bit of my secret weapon- country dijon mustard.

 Easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole

Easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole ready in under an hour!

Once all that yummy sauce is ready, just toss the oodles of noodles in the velvety goodness. Next, top it with MORE CHEESE and toasty breadcrumbs and pop that bad boy in the oven. In just 30 short minutes, you’ll be in easy cheesy tuna noodle casserole heaven!

Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole

If you make my Classic tuna casserole, please be sure to leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you, and value your feedback! Lastly, if you make the recipe and love it, please tag me on Instagram! I love to see your photos!

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baked casserole
Print Recipe
4 from 3 votes

Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dinner
Keyword: canned tuna, cheddar, panko, tortellini, tuna, tuna casserole
Servings: 6


  • 4 tbsp butter (reserve half for panko topping)
  • 1 rib of celery with leaves, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dry thyme
  • 3/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 5 oz cans chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 cup frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3 cups dry egg noodles
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard (I like Grey Poupon Country Dijon)*
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs


  • 1. Cook tortellini and egg noodles according to package directions until al dente, drain, and set aside.

 I prefer to add both to the same pot, and adjust when I add the tortellini to the pot based on the cooking times of each pasta.
    2. Grease a 9”x12” glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

    3. In a large, deep sauté pan, melt 2 tbsp butter (reserve other 2 tbsp for panko topping) over medium-low heat, and cook celery until soft and slightly translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. gradually stir flour into celery/butter until well combined. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.

    5. Using a wooden spoon or whisk, carefully and gradually stir half and half and milk into flour mixture, and continue to stir until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and the spices. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken. Once thickened, add the frozen peas, dijon mustard, half the cheddar (reserve the rest for topping casserole), grated parmesan, and the drained tuna, and stir to combine.
6. Remove sauce from heat, and add cooked noodles and tortellini directly to the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine until all noodles are well coated.

    7. Melt remaining 1 tbsp butter in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add panko and toast, stirring occasionally, until panko is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

    8. Transfer noodle/sauce mixture to your greased baking dish, and sprinkle toasted panko over the top, followed by remaining shredded cheddar. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Transfer the baking dish to the oven.
    9. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.


While Grey Poupon Country Dijon is my fav for this, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, or any dijon would work here as well.

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