Old Fashioned Tuna Casserole With Chow Mein Noodles

Last Updated: April 14, 2024

4.80 from 5 votes
This old fashioned tuna casserole recipe combines onions and celery with creamy mushroom soup, flaky tuna, and crunchy chow mein noodles for a comforting and easy-to-make family dinner that's also perfect for a potluck
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Tuna Casserole
Why this tuna casserole is so easy

This tuna casserole made with chow mein noodles and cream of mushroom soup is an old family recipe from the 60’s that is super easy to make.

And here’s all the reasons it’s one of my all-time favorites:

  • It’s ready in less than an hour.
  • It’s made in the same oven proof dish that it’s baked in. Which means no extra mess to clean up.
  • It also uses chow mein noodles instead of pasta so there’s one less prep step. The noodles are added right out of the package, so you don’t have to cook them first. (And they add the perfect crunch to the topping!)
  • Finally, it’s really easy to make ahead of time so it’s great to take to a potluck. Or if you’re doing meal prep in advance.

Ingredients

tuna casserole ingredients - chow mein noodles, canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, onion, celery, salt and pepper

This recipe will make 4 to 6 dinner-sized servings.

Here is your shopping list:

  • Fresh vegetables – 2 to 3 stalks celery, 1 yellow onion
  • Canned goods – 1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 5- to 6-ounce can tuna. I prefer white tuna but any variety of canned tuna will work.
  • International food – 1 12-ounce package or can chow mein noodles
  • Seasoning – Pepper to taste

Substitutions

  • Instead of onion: Substitute 1 cup shallots, finely chopped, for a milder flavor.
  • To add more flavor: Use ½ cup chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water.
  • To replace the chow mein noodles: Use 1 package of crushed plain potato chips or fried onions for the crunchy topping, and substitute 1 cup cooked rice or 6 ounces pasta (already boiled) mixed into the casserole.

Equipment

  • You’ll need a 1.5- to 2-quart square or round baking dish. I like to use my old glass Corning Ware bakeware for this.

How to make chow mein tuna casserole

tuna casserole after baking

1 | Prep Work

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.

Start by dicing the onion. You’ll need enough for 1 cup.

Aim for uniform pieces to ensure they cook evenly. I like to use a mini food processor for this, but you can chop them by hand if you don’t have one.

Chop enough celery into thin slices to fill 1 cup.

Drain the liquid from the can of tuna.

2 | Cook the celery and onions

chopped onions and celery in a glass baking dish

Combine 1 cup diced onions and sliced celery with ½ cup of water in a casserole dish.

Cover the dish and heat it on the stove top over medium heat.

Simmer for 5 minutes. The onions should be translucent and the celery soft.

Remove from the heat.

3 | Make the casserole

tuna casserole topped with chow mein noodles before baking

Add the can of soup (without adding any water), drained tuna, and a dash of pepper to the casserole dish with the celery and onions.

The soup will act as a creamy binder that holds all the ingredients together so you don’t want to thin it out too much by adding water.

Stir these ingredients until they are well combined.

Add in half of the chow mein noodles. These will soak up some of the liquid and flavor from the mixture and get soft while they are baking.

Top the mixture with the remaining chow mein noodles. Spread them evenly over the top. This layer will crisp up beautifully in the oven, providing a contrast to the creamy mixture below.

4 | Bake

tuna casserole in the oven

Place the casserole in the pre-heated 375°F oven and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and the top is crispy brown

Keep an eye on it as it cooks, especially towards the end of the time. If the top is browning too quickly, you can loosely cover it with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Serving suggestions

tuna casserole on a plate

Garnish the tuna casserole with freshly chopped parsley or green onions for a pop of color and freshness.

For added flavor, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top just before serving.

Serve alongside a crisp green salad dressed with a light vinaigrette, grilled asparagus or herbed broccoli.

And a side of crusty garlic bread to complement the creamy texture of the casserole.

Storage

Allow the tuna casserole to cool to room temperature, then cover it tightly with a lid, plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Or transfer it to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Make sure it cools down to room temperature before storing to avoid condensation that can make the topping soggy.

For longer storage, freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months, thawing overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave.

The chow mein noodles on top will not be as crispy after they have been reheated. But the dish still tastes great.

How to make ahead of time

To make tuna casserole ahead of time, prepare the recipe up to the point of putting on the chow mein noodle topping (before baking).

The noodles on top will get soggy if you put them on too early, so hold off on adding them until you are ready to cook it.

Cover the casserole dish with a lid or tightly wrap it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, remove the cover, sprinkle on the chow mein noodles and bake as directed. You may need to add an extra 5 to 10 minutes cooking time if the casserole is cold from the refrigerator.

close up of tuna casserole on a plate

Tuna Casserole With Chow Mein Noodles

4.80 from 5 votes
Servings: 4 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 5- to 6- ounce can tuna drained
  • 1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup undiluted
  • 1 12-ounce package or can chow mein noodles
  • Pepper to taste

Equipment

  • measuring cups
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • 1.5 or 2 quart casserole dish that is both stove-top and oven safe
  • stirring spoon
  • oven mitts

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • Combine the onions and celery with the water in the casserole dish.
    1 cup onion, 1 cup celery, ½ cup water
  • Cover and heat on the stove top over medium heat.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
  • Add soup, tuna and pepper and stir to combine.
    1 5- to 6- ounce can tuna, 1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup, Pepper to taste
  • Add half of the chow mien noodles and stir well.
    1 12-ounce package or can chow mein noodles
  • Top with remaining noodles.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and the top is crispy brown.
Nutrition Facts
Tuna Casserole With Chow Mein Noodles
Serving Size
 
1 serving
Amount per Serving
Calories
408
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
19
mg
6
%
Sodium
 
1189
mg
52
%
Potassium
 
295
mg
8
%
Carbohydrates
 
68
g
23
%
Fiber
 
6
g
25
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
24
g
48
%
Vitamin A
 
138
IU
3
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
31
mg
3
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

authorWanda Simone
courseMain Course
cuisineAmerican
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This post was originally published on September 28, 2016 but was updated with new content on April 14, 2024.


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