One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

published Sep 19, 2023
One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

This one-pot wonder inspired by Tuna Helper has tuna, tender noodles, and peas cooked together in a creamy sauce.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

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Overhead view of casserole in a dark green pot with a wooden spoon resting in it.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Lauren Radel

I never really liked canned tuna and classic tuna sandwiches when I was a kid, but I did make one exception: boxed Tuna Helper. My family ate lots and lots of Hamburger Helper, but Tuna Helper made the cut occasionally. I loved the creamy sauce and the fact that even, at a fairly young age, I could prepare it myself using just one pan. 

Channeling that nostalgic dish, I took the flavors and ease of Tuna Helper and turned it into this one-pot creamy tuna noodle casserole. Cooked in a Dutch oven, it has lots of flaky tuna, sweet peas, and tender noodles in a creamy, cheesy sauce. Oh, and it’s ready in less than 30 minutes!

The Ingredients You’ll Need for One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make tuna noodle casserole.

  • Aromatics and seasonings: Yellow onion, garlic, dried thyme, and Dijon mustard add flavor.
  • Dairy: Sharp cheddar cheese, unsalted butter, milk, and sour cream contribute to the creamy texture.
  • Canned tuna: You can use water or oil-packed, but I much prefer oil-packed since I find it has better flavor. You don’t need anything expensive here.
  • Buttery crackers: While optional, crushed crackers sprinkled over the casserole give it a nice crunch and are often used in classic baked tuna noodle casseroles. If you don’t want to use buttery crackers as the topping, a few handfuls of crushed potato chips on top would also be salty, crunchy, and equally delicious. 

How to Make One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

  1. Sauté the aromatics. Cook onion, garlic, and dried thyme in butter until the onion is tender.
  2. Add the flour and liquids. Sprinkle in some flour, which will help thicken the sauce. Then, add in milk, water, and Dijon mustard, and bring it to a boil.
  3. Cook the noodles. Add dried wide egg noodles and cook until tender.
  4. Stir in the tuna, cheese, and peas. Stir in drained canned tuna, cheddar cheese, and frozen peas.
  5. Finish with sour cream. Turn off the heat and stir in sour cream to thicken the sauce slightly and give it a mild tang.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Lauren Radel

How to Serve One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Pair the casserole with one of these bright-tasting salads to complement the richness of the sauce:

One-Pot Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

This one-pot wonder inspired by Tuna Helper has tuna, tender noodles, and peas cooked together in a creamy sauce.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 4 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2

    (5-ounce) cans tuna, preferably oil-packed

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups


  • 2 cups

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 8 ounces

    dried wide egg noodles (4 to 5 1/3 cups)

  • 8

    buttery crackers, such as Ritz or Club (optional)

  • 1 cup

    frozen peas

  • 1/3 cup

    sour cream

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)


  1. Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Mince 2 garlic cloves. Grate 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup). Drain 2 (5-ounce) cans tuna, then flake the tuna into bite-sized pieces with a fork.

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute to cook the floury taste out. Add 2 cups water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add 2 cups whole or 2% milk, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.

  4. Add 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the noodles are tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Meanwhile, If using crackers, place 8 buttery crackers in a small plastic zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin into coarse crumbs.

  5. Add the tuna, cheese, and 1 cup frozen peas. Stir until the peas are warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Add 1/3 cup sour cream and stir until combined. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve sprinkled with the cracker crumbs and chopped fresh parsley if using.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.