Classic Tuna Casserole Recipe

This Classic Tuna Casserole Recipe is not only nostalgic, but practical. It’s less then 8 ingredients and perfect for those busy weeknights. It’s been in our family for years and has earned a spot in our collection of Easy Casserole Recipes!

This dish has proved it’s existence throughout the decades by having a place at dinner tables and potlucks everywhere around the world. It may just become your next family favorite!

A serving of a Classic Tuna Casserole Recipe on top of a white plate.

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This casserole recipe is the perfect blend of both creamy and savory flavors. It’s creamy, cheesy goodness combined with palatable ingredients make it a fantastic comfort food option for any occasion.

Why You Should Make This Casserole

  • The recipe itself is filled with nostalgic memories of decades past
  • It contains less then 8 ingredients which means it’s a great money saver
  • Baking and assembly take minimal effort
  • It’s 100% kid approved

Ingredients and Tips for Classic Tuna Casserole

Wondering what you need to make this meal? I got you covered below!

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  • Canned Tuna: Filled with protein, this is the main ingredient. We enjoy using albacore tuna such as this one from Bumble Bee.
  • Cream of Celery Soup: When combined with milk, this soup adds flavor to the recipe. You can also use Cream of Mushroom Soup if you aren’t a fan of celery.
  • Medium Shell Pasta: This is a very important ingredient. Do not skip it. The shell shape of this pasta helps keep the casserole creamy. We enjoy using Barilla’s Medium Shells.
  • Onions: Vegetables are always encouraged to be added and onions are no exception.
  • Cheddar Cheese: This acts like a binder while baking.
A vertical picture of Tuna Casserole in a white casserole dish with melted cheese on top.

Do I Need Cooked Pasta Shells in this Tuna Casserole?

Yes, the pasta shells need to be cooked before adding the rest of the ingredients. This will ensure the most creamiest and flavorful outcome.

Can I Freeze this Tuna Casserole Recipe?

Yes you can! After baking, allow to sit and come to room temperature (no longer then 2 hours). Transfer to an airtight container and freeze, making sure to label with the date and contents. The casserole can freeze up to 2 to 3 months.

Why is My Tuna Casserole Dry?

There are many reasons why your casserole turned out dry. One of the main reasons may be not adding enough liquid. The pasta will continue to absorb liquid after baking. Before baking, try adding 1/4 cup more of the milk.

What Size Dish Do I Use to Cook this Classic Tuna Casserole?

It is recommended to use a standard 9×13 inch size dish when you create this recipe. We love using these Emile Henry casserole dishes to make ours. They come in different colors and are made with Burgundy clay for best baking/cooking results.

We also enjoy these Pyrex 9×13 casserole dishes. These are wonderful to use due to their glass exterior. Each set also comes with lids which makes it convenient for transport.

What to Serve With this Tuna Casserole?

A fresh salad would be a wonderful side to this dish, however, any type of stand alone vegetable can be used. Try our Lemon and Olive Oil Green Beans recipe as a start and round out the meal with our Strawberry and Lemon Cream Cheese Dessert.

More of Our Favorite Casseroles

If you are looking for more casserole recipes such as this one, then check out a few of our favorite ones on the site and from our friends:

A serving of tuna casserole on a white plate topped with melted cheese and ground pepper.

Helpful Kitchen Tools

The following items are what I use daily and/or weekly in my kitchen. They are affiliate links and will not change the sale price.

Classic Tuna Casserole in a white casserole dish topped with melted cheddar cheese.

Classic Tuna Casserole Recipe

This recipe for Classic Tuna Casserole is only 8 ingredients and uses common pantry items. It's great to make on your busy weeknights!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: casserole, tuna
Serves: 8 servings
Calories Per Serving: 457


  • 3 cups medium dry shell pasta
  • 10.5 ounce Cream of Celery Soup (undiluted)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus a bit more for topping)
  • 3-4 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 10 ounce canned tuna (drained)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with non stick cooking spray.
  • Fill a medium sized pot with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Place the 3 cups of pasta shells inside the pot and boil until shells are aldente, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the shells and place them in a large mixing bowl.
  • To the mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients making sure to reserve a bit of the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined.
  • Place the ingredients inside the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbly.

Libby’s Notes

Recipe Prep:
*Chop the onion and celery the night before. Store in the fridge until ready to assemble.
*Boil the shell pasta the night before. Store in the fridge until ready to assemble. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 481mg | Potassium: 399mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 272IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cooknwithlibby or tag #cookwlib!

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