Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without Canned Cream Soup) | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without Canned Cream Soup)

I like a tuna casserole now and again, especially this time of year.  I've always made them with the standard "Cream of Something" condensed soup, but discovered the other day that I had no "cream of anything" in the pantry.

Renee's Kitchen Adventures: Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without canned cream soup)  #tuna #casserole

I thought about how I could make the sauce from scratch, and my recipe for baked mac and cheese came to mind.  It's really just a white sauce with cheese added to it, so I decided I would try my hand at totally from scratch Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole.

It honestly was not much more work than breaking open a can of soup and adding milk to it. Really!

Renee's Kitchen Adventures: Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without canned cream soup)  #tuna #casserole

I did go heavy on the veg with peas, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms for bulks sake, as well as using 1% milk and reduced fat cheese to help keep the calorie counts respectable.  For the topping, I just used some crushed up buttery crackers.

I am sort of picky about the brand of tuna I use.  I like to buy the Wild Planet Sustainably Caught Albacore Tuna packed in no liquid from Costco.  It's a little on the pricey side, but well worth it, I think.  There are environmental reasons to buy this tuna, but quite frankly, I just like how it tastes.

But if you can't find this tuna or don't want to use it, it's fine to substitute any brand of tuna packed in water or no liquid.

My high school son ate three helpings of this casserole...if that gives you any indication of how it tastes!  If you are a fan of Tuna Casseroles, give this recipe a try and tell me what you think!

Renee's Kitchen Adventures: Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without canned cream soup)  #tuna #casserole

I was on the fence as to whether or not I was going to post about this recipe, but in the end, I decided after some gentle persuading, to share.  I served this with a green salad for our dinner.

I've got some really good things coming up on the blog next week.  First off, a fantastic product review and be sure to look for it on Monday!  Second, I am really excited to share with you this month's Secret Recipe Club pick.  I made the recipe today and oh my goodness...YUMMMMMY!!

We FINALLY had a nice warmish spring day yesterday.  I did a lot around the house and outside, of course.  I cannot tell you what a difference even one day of nice weather makes for my soul!

Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without Canned Cream Soup)

Renee's Kitchen Adventures
Published 04/02/2014
Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without Canned Cream Soup)


  • 12 oz. dry pasta, shape of your choice (I used large macaroni) 
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 med carrots, peeled and diced ( or one cup frozen cut carrots)
  • 2 cups sliced, raw button mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS all purpose flour
  • 4 cups skim or 1% milk
  • 1 cup low sodium, nonfat chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt ( or more or less to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup of shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2-5 oz. cans of albacore tuna packed in no liquid or in water, drained, and flaked apart
  • 15 buttery-type crackers, crushed


  1. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions but one or two minutes less than the package calls for. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Soften up the vegetables: While pasta is cooking, in a large nonstick skillet sprayed with misto olive oil or cooking spray, over medium-high heat, saute the onion, celery, and carrots (if using raw) for about 5 minutes to soften them. Add in the garlic. Continue to cook for about a minute or two, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook vegetables until they are all soft. Add in frozen peas and thyme. ( add in frozen carrots now if using frozen) Take off heat and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, melt the butter on med-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk. Cook for one minute while whisking. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk. Add in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir until it begins to thicken. Cook one more minute. Take off heat. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, cheese, and tuna.
  4. Assemble the casserole: Spray a 13" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray. Add the reserved cooked pasta and the reserved softened vegetables to the sauce. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed crackers.
  5. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 1- 13"x 9" pan with 10 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.
Tags: casserole, tuna, cheese

Servings - 10   Serving Size - 1/10th of casserole   Points Plus per serving - 9P+
Calories - 343,   Total Fat - 13.4g,   Carb. - 42.6g,   Protein - 18.7g,   Fiber - 5g

Printable Recipe


  1. Looks delicious, Renee, even though I'm not usually a fan of tuna noodle casserole. Don sure is though! He would love this!! stumbled and pinned!

    1. thanks for stopping my Marion! I was thinking subbing chicken would work good too! :)

  2. Ok, I will try it. ;) I'm not a tuna fan, but Grumpy is (he grew up on things like Tuna Helper - see me making yuck face here!). Your recipe sounds good. I'll use Tuna for Grumpy's sake. lol Otherwise, I might add chicken!

    1. LOL...those "helpers" are not allowed to enter this house! haha So much healthier (and not that much extra work) to make them from If he likes tuna casserole, I bet he'd like this recipe too! :)

  3. Wow! Great job. I don't like Tuna at all, but Josh loves it! I think Kaylin does too. I might need to make this for them!!

    1. Tuna is a hit or miss with people. I think it'd be great with chicken too!

  4. G'day! So reminds me of childhood Renee! YUM!
    Cheers! Joanne

    1. thanks for stopping by Joanne! Awe...comfort food does always remind us of when we were kids, doesn't it?

  5. Yum! I've always had a soft spot for tuna noodle casserole- this looks great!

    1. yes, comfort food for sure. Thanks for stopping by Nora!

  6. The first casserole I have ever made was a tuna casserole, so I love tuna casserole. This looks SO good!

  7. Oh yum. I'm so hungry for this now! Why were you on the fence - did you not think it was the greatest? I think I could give the kid some competition in how many helpings I'd eat! ;)

  8. I can almost taste it as I read through the ingredient list. I've been searching for a healthy recipe like this one. Thank you. I know we're going to love it. Although I didn't see the sodium count. ?

    1. I did not calculate the sodium content and it is not usually a parameter I calculate. Sorry. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy!

  9. Made this for hubby and I last night. I made a half recipe for the two of us and it made a nice full 8x8 inch casserole. Also used the veggie colored cork screw noodles because that is what I had on hand. It was DELISH! Husband said, "ooh, comfort food" :)

  10. I'm so glad it was a hit for you! Thank you for your review!


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