Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe – a twist on the classic!

Tuna noodle casserole – you may know it as a cafeteria staple. But this is no ordinary tuna noodle casserole recipe. This one is packed with flavor and has an unexpected crunch!

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe - with an unexpected crunch. This is my husband's favorite casserole! Get the recipe on RachelCooks.com!

Yes, I’m posting a tuna noodle casserole recipe on my site the week of Valentine’s day. A sexy meal, right?

Okay, no…not at all sexy.

BUT it is one my husband’s absolute favorite meals (I know…but he likes what he likes!). I frequently make him this for special occasions such as his birthday and even Valentine’s Day. Again — I KNOW. Not the most romantic dish you could dream up but the guy loves it.

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe - with an unexpected crunch. This is my husband's favorite casserole! Get the recipe on RachelCooks.com!

One time we were having friends over. One of his good friends — a friend that knew his way around the kitchen well. Ben starts in with this story about my cooking (proud husband and so sweet!).

He says, “Rach makes this really gourmet dish…it’s one of my favorites…with tuna….what’s it called, Rach?”

I, hanging my head in shame, mutter under my breath, “Tuna noodle casserole?”

Clearly not indicative of my best work in the kitchen, but again…it’s the man’s favorite! And let’s be real. This is no ordinary cafeteria tuna noodle casserole.

What makes this tuna noodle casserole the best?

I typically use white albacore tuna (packed in water). We like the taste better, it is less fishy tasting. I also usually use whole wheat noodles and extra sharp cheddar. I do use canned cream of chicken soup. Quick, easy and gets the job done. My tuna noodle casserole has a secret ingredient — something I learned from my mom. Ready for it?

It might sound strange and out of place at first, but I include chopped water chestnuts in this recipe. They add terrific crunch and make it a little less heavy and blahhhhh. Some people opt for crushed potato chips on top of classic tuna noodle casserole, but I’m telling you, the water chestnuts are THE way to go. Try it and you’ll see for yourself.

You’ll become a believer and your loved ones will soon be calling tuna noodle casserole “gourmet.” Oh and course, you can’t forget the peas! Color, and vegetables. Win. Win.

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe - with an unexpected crunch. This is my husband's favorite casserole! Get the recipe on RachelCooks.com!

Enjoy — I’m still embarrassed, but this really is one of our go-to meals — I make it over and over. It’s so easy to make!

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

Yield: serves 4-6 as a main dish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Tuna noodle casserole – a cafeteria staple. But this is no ordinary tuna noodle casserole recipe. This one is packed with flavor and has an unexpected crunch!


  • 12 ounces whole wheat wide noodles (similar to egg noodles in shape)
  • 2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 (5 ounce) cans of solid white tuna, drained
  • 1 (5 ounce) can of sliced water chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to directions on package. When finished cooking, drain.
  3. In a very large bowl, mix together cooked pasta, cream of chicken soup, tuna, water chestnuts, peas, and 1 cup of the cheese. Mix until everything is combined.
  4. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread casserole mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. If noodles are getting too crispy for your liking, cover with foil.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 482 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 106mg Sodium: 0mg Carbohydrates: 58g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 5g Protein: 24g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Verdict: Quite honestly, if it weren’t for Ben, I might not make tuna noodle casserole. I’d rather have mac and cheese but that’s only because tuna (and all seafood) isn’t my favorite. But as far as tuna noodle casseroles go, this one is great.
Husband’s take: It’s his fave!
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: So easy!


Looking for more easy casseroles like this tuna noodle casserole recipe? Try: Baked Macaroni and CheeseChicken and Kale CasseroleBarley, Bulgar, and Vegetable Vegan Casserole, Bubble Up Pizza Casserole from Emily Bites, or Layered BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole from Ambitious Kitchen.


Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe - with an unexpected crunch. This is my husband's favorite casserole! Get the recipe on RachelCooks.com!
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  1. This recipe tweak comes from totally forgetting to buy the cheese called for! I ended up using some softened cream cheese and shredded Parmesan (deli style) for the cheese, and it was delicious! My other tweak is because my son doesn’t like the water chestnut texture (I do, too bad!). I just topped it with some panko mixed with the same Parmesan, after baking for about 20 minutes. A delicious dish and thank you!

  2. I put almost a cup of milk in the mixture thank goodness because it would have It would have been dry if I hadn’t otherwise tasty

  3. Rachel, this looks sooooo good! love the water chestnuts!!!

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  6. Love Tuna Noodle Casserole. Something about all that gooey cheese, tuna deliciousness, and chewy pasta. Yours looks delectable. :-)

  7. Tuna casserole is such a comfort food for me. I don’t have it often, but it always reminds me of growing up :)

  8. too funny! my husband would say the same thing. i love the idea of water chesnuts in this casserole…my husband would love it! me? i’d try it but ever since childhood i have avoided hot tuna. but this would be a great dish to make him when i am gone at dinnertime. :)

  9. I secretly love tuna noodle casserole too. My mom always topped hers with crushed potato chips. To me it’s the ultimate comfort food. I will have to try it with water chestnuts. I love the crunch they bring to other dishes!

  10. I’ve never made a tuna noodle casserole, but I just made a tuna carbonara and now I want all things tuna and pasta!! This looks so yummy :)

  11. I need to make tuna casserole more often! This just made me really hungry!

  12. Although I’m totally with you on using water chestnuts in random recipes, I’m not a seafood person, so a tuna casserole isn’t in my wheelhouse, but it does give me flashbacks to 7th grade home ec class. :) I failed a class because of a tuna casserole, but it wasn’t my fault, and I’m still bitter lol. We were split into groups of four and each had to follow the recipe to make the casserole. I couldn’t for the life of me convince the other three in my group that you had to cook the pasta, because it didn’t specifically say that on the recipe. I pleaded with the teacher, but she refused to take mercy and correct them, so my group pretty much presented a rock that tasted like fish. I still have a hard time believing that happened – I can see maybe ONE person thinking that way, but all three?!? :(

  13. Will give this a try!! Wonder if the hubby will enjoy it as much as Ben!

  14. my husband absolutely loves tuna noodle casserole, my kids think he’s crazy, but I could make this every other night and he’d be a very happy man

  15. sounds yummy. I’ve stopped using most of my recipes which called for soup in casseroles and make my own white sauce instead. But, some recipes just call for using the soup and taste best that way.

  16. Don’t be embarrassed! My husbands favorite meal is cereal. If I pour a bowl for him on Valentine’s Day, he will be the happiest man alive!
    Totally diggin’ the water chestnuts in here! Love that crunch – pinned!

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