tuna noodle casserole recipe
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Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe (Can Freeze Ahead!)

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A comfort food for many, this easy tuna noodle casserole recipe can be made and frozen ahead of time. Don’t like tuna? Simply substitute the tuna for chicken or even make it vegetarian…

Comfort food and camping go hand in hand, which is why we love this easy tuna noodle casserole. You can freeze it in advance or easily make it on the go. We’ll tell you how!

As an added plus, leftover tuna casserole reheats well, making your camping menu that much easier to plan. You can plan to make it for dinner and eat the leftover casserole for lunch the next day.

We’re going to explain how to freeze it 3 different ways. Since we know many people don’t like tuna, we will also provide an alternative and explain how to make it vegetarian.

Then, we’ll go straight to the step-by-step recipe so you can get cooking.

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Can I Freeze Tuna Noodle Casserole?

food in freezer

Yes, tuna casserole freezes very well! In fact, you can freeze it 3 different ways, including before and after it’s cooked.

We’ll outline the best way, the great way, and the good way… 

​The Best Way to Freeze Tuna Casserole

For best results, freeze the casserole mix without the pasta. Sauté the mushrooms, and combine with the peas, tuna, soup, milk, and half the cheese. Then place the mix in a reusable freezer bag or airtight container and put it in your freezer for up to three months. 

When you’re ready to eat it, defrost the mix, cook the pasta al dente, mix it all together, and top with the other half of the cheese. Then bake as instructed in the recipe.

The Great Way

The second best way is to prepare the recipe up to the point of baking. Instead of putting it in the oven, seal the casserole in an airtight container and put it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Technically, the CDC states you can freeze food indefinitely, but the quality tends to decline after 3 months.

When you’re ready to eat it, defrost the casserole and bake it as instructed in the recipe. Just be sure it is completely defrosted so you don’t end up with a cold center. The texture of the dish won’t be quite as good as freezing it “the best way,” but it’ll still be very good.

The Good Way

Lastly, you can freeze cooked tuna casserole if you cannot eat it within 3-4 days. Whether it’s fresh out of the oven or leftovers, you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. If straight from the oven, allow it to cool completely before sealing it so it doesn’t continue to cook.

When you’re ready to eat it, defrost it completely before reheating. You can reheat it in the oven low and slow (at about 250°F until it bubbles). Or reheat individual portions in the microwave.

Either way, you may need to add some moisture back into the cooked casserole. Here are some options on how to do that:

  • Mix in some milk
  • Mix in some sour cream
  • Mix in some cream of mushroom soup
  • Mix in some chicken broth
  • Mix in some fresh grated cheese
  • Place a microwave-safe glass of water in the microwave as you reheat it

How much you add depends on how dry it is, but it usually doesn’t take much. You can always add a bit more as you reheat.

Don’t Like Tuna? No Problem!

woman scrunching her nose

A lot of people scrunch up their noses when tuna fish is mentioned, especially if it’s in an oven-baked tuna casserole. But I will say many of those people have never tried the casserole. It certainly tastes better than it sounds if all you hear is ‘fish casserole.’

So, we always suggest you give this easy recipe a try before you decide not to like it.

Yes, we know we sound like a mother lecturing her children at the dining table. “You won’t know if you like it until you try it!” but Mom’s got a point!

That being said, if you’re not a fan of tuna, don’t worry. You can swap out the tuna for canned chicken or nearly-cooked chicken. Canned chicken is, of course, the easiest substitution.

If you cook chicken to add to the recipe, only cook it about 2/3 of the way. It’ll finish off in the oven.

Make It Vegetarian

You can also easily make this dish vegetarian. Simply omit the tuna! But more than that, you can add different vegetables to make the perfect casserole for your tastes. 

Our recipe includes mushrooms and peas, but most vegetables work great. So, you can always add more or swap out veggies depending on what you like or have on hand.

​Some favorite veggie additions or alternatives:

  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • celery
  • onion
  • red pepper

If you add or substitute any of these veggies, sauté them as the recipe explains for the mushrooms. Then mix them into the casserole and bake as suggested. If any of the vegetables are particularly moist, you may wish to pat them dry with a paper towel before mixing them in.

Serve It as a Side Dish

Another option is not to add any meat but instead serve the cooked tuna casserole as a side dish. You can, for instance, serve it with rotisserie chicken you pick up from the grocery store or anything you’ve cooked up on the grill. 

Don’t Have Cream of Mushroom Soup?

tuna casserole in a bowl

As you may have noticed, homemade tuna noodle casserole is very forgiving. You can tweak this recipe several different ways and get great results every time. So, if you don’t have cream of mushroom soup on hand, you don’t need to run to the grocery store.

You can do a direct swap with the following:

  • cream of chicken soup
  • cream of celery soup
  • any creamy condensed soup, really (we’ve even seen someone make it with condensed clam chowder)
  • a homemade creamy sauce

Our Easy Tuna Casserole Recipe

In truth, the best tuna noodle casserole recipe is the recipe that you make your own. Our classic tuna casserole recipe below serves as a great basis to enjoy as-is or tweak to suit your taste buds and diet.

That’s why it’s a classic comfort food… because it’s hard to mess up!

You’ll see that we added an optional crunchy topping to the recipe. As the recipe shows, you can cover the top with crushed potato chips or French fried onions. Or, you can also try crushed Ritz crackers or bread crumbs. As we said, this family favorite is very forgiving!

By the way, if you like casseroles, you should check out our Squash Casserole Recipe with Cream of Chicken Soup and Leftover Hamburger Patties Casserole!

Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole (That You Can Freeze!)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Camping Food Recipes Course: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


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Cooking time


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Comfort food and camping go hand in hand, which is why we love this easy tuna noodle casserole. You can freeze it in advance or easily make it on the go. It reheats well, so you can incorporate leftovers into your camping menu.

*See notes if you wish to make-ahead and freeze.


  • 8 oz 8 uncooked rotini noodles (or egg noodles)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 butter

  • 8 oz 8 sliced white mushrooms

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 frozen peas, defrosted (3.5 oz)

  • 2 2 5-oz cans of tuna in water, drained and flaked

  • 10-1/2 oz 10-1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 milk

  • 1-1/2 cups 1-1/2 shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half

  • Potato chips or French fried onions (optional topping)


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Boil noodles al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to help release moisture and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until mushrooms have softened. Drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine noodles, mushrooms, peas, tuna, soup, milk, and half the cheese. Mix well.
  • Spread into a 2 qt baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. If desired, top with crushed potato chips or French fried onions.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until bubbly.



  • See the full article for all 3 freezing options. For the best make-ahead option, make the mixture without the pasta and freeze it in an airtight baggie or container. Then cook and add the pasta and toppings to the defrosted mix when you’re ready to bake the casserole.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it’s a bit dried out, mix your portion with a splash of milk before reheating or place a microwave-safe glass of water in the microwave while reheating.

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One Comment

  1. This casserole was quick and easy but more importantly, very good. My family asked for seconds and thirds!!

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