When the weather gets colder, I am a big fan of casseroles or hot dishes. Kind of anything that’s really hearty and filling and warm. Lately I have been making a lot of tuna noodle casserole. And don't worry, I won't bore you with terrible food photos in this post.
Yes, I know that harkens back to like the 1950s when that was super popular and that tuna isn't a super sexy food. (If you're really interested in the history of tuna noodle casserole, here's a great article from Taste.) I personally think tuna noodle casserole is delicious! Plus, it’s so easy to make. How can you go wrong with that? If you’ve never made tuna noodle casserole before it basically requires four ingredients.
Tuna Noodle Casserole Ingredients:
3- 5oz cans of tuna
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
You could also throw in some steamed veggies in there if you wanted. Peas or green beans have been veggies that I've used. But it’s not necessary unless you want to make it more of a hot dish.
Last year I learned that there’s a difference between hot dishes and casseroles! Did you know that? Hot dishes serve as a main dish and include a protein, veggie, and a starch- basically one of everything from the food groups that you need for a hearty meal. A casserole on the other hand, can be a main dish, side dish, or even dessert. It doesn't need to be the complete packaged meal the hot dish is. It wasn't until I was talking about casseroles over a Zoom workshop that I learned they were two different things. I had always thought hot dish and casserole were interchangeable. The more you know!
How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole:
To make tuna noodle casserole is literally like a dump and go recipe.
Make your noodles like usual. I like to use cavatappi pasta which is the bigger, curly noodles, but you can pretty much use any kind of noodle you want. I also make up the whole package because it makes it easier to dump it all and then I'll have plenty leftovers. Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and put them in a large bowl or serving dish.
Open two cans of cream of mushroom soup and add the soup to the noodles. I get the regular cream of mushroom from Campbell's. There are some other options now with added seasonings or roasted mushrooms, so if you want to experiment, go for it!
Next open three cans of tuna and add it to the noodles and soup. I get the tuna that’s in the water just because I think it’s a little healthier but again any tuna you want and have will do.
Then I add sharp cheddar cheese. Like when I bake cookies, we cheese things like you would add vanilla- until your heart says it's enough. We buy the Costco bag of sharp shredded cheddar cheese and I usually add three large handfuls.
Finally, I add a little bit of salt and pepper then mix everything together.
Additionally, you could add veggies, a crunchy topping and bake your casserole, but that's extra work I don't usually put in. If you choose to add veggies, peas and green beans are good options. For crunchy toppings, you could use French onions or Ritz crackers.
As I mentioned, I don't bake my casserole. I like to go with a pretty easy and basic route. Because of that you have a delicious and hearty meal with lots of leftovers (I ate this for an entire week) in under 20 minutes.
I hope you enjoy tuna noodle casserole or give it a try if you haven’t had it in a while. Please tell me what your favorite casseroles are! I’m always looking for a good new recipe that’s pretty easy and hearty for the colder weather.
Side note, my two dogs, Henley and Landen, are now tuna, addicts. They might look like snuggly angels here, but anytime I open a can of tuna or reheat my tuna noodle casserole, they're begging to have some. I made the mistake of giving them each a tiny piece of tuna when I was cooking this up and now I will never live it down.