Tuna Noodle Casserole

As I pointed out in my recipe for the B.E.L.T., canned tuna has long had a negative stigma connected to it.  This was not the case growing up in my family where I was routinely fed tuna melts, tuna salad and one of my all-time childhood favorites, tuna noodle casserole.

This recipe comes from my family’s most cherished cookbooks, San Francisco à la Carte, compiled by the Junior League of San Francisco.  Not only does it contain the recipe for my family’s go-to celebration dessert, Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, but also this unique Bay Area twist on the classic, tuna noodle casserole.

Creamy and comforting, this dish has a surprisingly sophisticated flavor that comes from the addition of a toasted almond topping in place of the customary bread crumbs.  With cold weather around the corner, keep this easy-to-make casserole in mind when you’re looking for something to fill you up and warm your belly.


Adapted from San Francisco à la Carte

Putting together this recipe is about as easy as it gets.  In fact, the only real room for error is overcooking the pasta.  To avoid this, fill a large pot with an abundant amount of water and bring to a rolling boil before adding the egg noodles.  Make sure to season the water well — it should taste salty.  Cook until the noodles are almost done as they will continue to cook a bit more in the oven.  Also, using good quality canned tuna and some excellent sharp cheddar cheese will make a world of difference in the flavor of the dish.


  • 6 ounces egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 10 1/2-ounce can of cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 7-ounce cans tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions with some green tops
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole and combine the cooked noodles with the salt and minced thyme.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix together the milk and canned soup over medium heat until smooth, stirring constantly.  Gently fold in the tuna, celery, red bell pepper, scallions, mayonnaise and all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheddar.  Stir until the cheese is melted.
  4. Add the cheese sauce to the casserole and mix thoroughly with the noodles.   Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and the chopped almonds.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.  Garnish with parsley before serving.

Serves 6

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    • Gary
    • September 30th, 2009

    A Fantastic recipe from a great cookbook full of wonderful recipies. Everyone should have it in their library.

  1. I love how you topped this dish with almonds instead of the old breadcrumbs. I might have to switch to cream of mushroom soup (can’t stand celery!) but everything else sounds perfect! Growing up we always had canned tuna in the house and there’s nothing wrong with that. Tuna melts are one of my favorite sandwiches!

  2. Cream of mushroom would be fine in the place of cream of celery soup. Peas would also make a great, classic addition.

  3. This looks really delicious! I’ve been looking for a casserole recipe to try!

    • Fladabosco
    • November 7th, 2009

    I too loved this dish as a kid. I’ll have to try this, but I’ll make a celery flavored bechamel instead of mayo and canned soup. Or maybe a mushroom flavored bechamel…

  4. Fladabosco – Great idea! Like the Thanksgiving favorite, green bean casserole, I’m sure this recipe would be fantastic with a homemade bechamel instead of canned soup. Let me know how it turns out.

  5. Thank you for the awesome recipe! I used to hate Tuna Casserole growing up, but this version was super tasty. I wrote about it here:

    • Diane
    • April 14th, 2010

    Hi~I just spent the past hour drooling over the pictures of the food on your wonderful blog! I have decided to make about 7 of the recipes on here based on the beautiful pictures and simple ingredients and directions 🙂
    Your blog has been added to my favorites!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Have a wonderful day!

  6. Diane – Thanks for the kind words. I hope that all the recipes you end up trying will turn out wonderfully. Thanks for reading.

  1. April 10th, 2011