Imagine a recipe for tuna noodle casserole reminiscent of your childhood, but BETTER. Why better? A secret protein-rich ingredient in the sauce, a heavy-handed shake of dill pickle seasoning, and potato chips on top. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.(And it’s gluten-free if you choose!)
You will love this Recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole
My goal for this recipe was to create a reimagined, slightly modernized version of the tuna noodle casserole of my childhood.
Since dill pickle seasoning has made an appearance in our lives, I’ve been using a heavy had in my tuna salad. (It’s fabulous, btw.) I thought it would be a natural addition to this tuna noodle casserole, too — and it was! It adds so much fun flavor!
I also wanted the sauce to be easy and from scratch — not a “cream of whatever” soup. The sauce base is actually blended cottage cheese which works beautifully to add creaminess as well as a boost of protein!
And can we talk about the potato chips on top? They’re dill pickle flavored potato chips to boost that briny flavor. But you can use regular potato chips or even crushed gluten free crackers if you like.
That reminds me — I also wanted this to be gluten free. I made some recommendations for different types of gluten free noodles below.
The whole thing comes together in minutes — I’ll show you!
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole ingredients
- Small gluten free pasta, like elbow macaroni – small pasta works better in this recipe than spaghetti or another kind of long pasta.
- Cottage Cheese
- Dried minced onion
- Dill pickle seasoning – This is becoming more readily available. I’ve bought it at Costco and Trader Joe’s.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Potato chips (I love dill pickle chips for this!)
Best Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe substitutions
- Gluten Free Pasta: I tried this with a few different types of pasta. GF pasta that is corn based had the best flavor and texture. Brown Rice GF pasta got mushy really quickly. Legume-based pasta (like Banza or lentil pasta) had a great texture, but a stronger flavor which overpowered the flavors in the dish a little. If you’re not concerned with this recipe being gluten free, feel free to use regular pasta.
- Celery: If this seems like an odd ingredient, it’s actually quite tasty. You could also use diced pickles if you want to boost the briny, pickle flavors in this recipe.
- Cottage Cheese: I don’t recommend swapping this out for anything else and I can’t guarantee it will work if you try. You can use any type of cottage cheese, though.
- Dill Pickle Seasoning: If you use Trader Joe’s version, you’ll want to use less since it’s saltier than other brands. (I included a note in the recipe about this.) This is a unique seasoning blend and there isn’t a great equivalent, but you could probably assemble something similar yourself. I would use 1 T each dried minced garlic and dried minced onion, then 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon dried dill.
- Potato Chips: I love using dill pickle chips, but you can use regular potato chips, salt and vinegar, or crushed gluten free crackers.
How to make this Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe (Easy!)
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Get your pot of water boiling for the pasta and boil a couple of minutes less than you usually would.
- Drain the tuna and add it, along with the diced celery in a greased 9×13 casserole dish.
- Blend the cottage cheese, egg, minced onion, and pickle seasoning.
- Add the cooked pasta to the tuna and pour the sauce over the top. Add cheese and mix it around.
- Crumble potato chips on top. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Best Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe tips
- Be sure to drain the tuna well so there isn’t any excess moisture in the casserole.
- Dice the celery small so it becomes crisp tender after baking.
- Don’t overcook the pasta or it will become mushy after baking in the oven. Cook it a couple minutes less than you normally would so it has a little bite to it still.
- Blend the cottage cheese sauce really well until it’s very smooth.
- Cover the dish lightly with foil if the potato chips or crackers start to become dark too quickly.
How to serve the Best Tuna Noodle Casserole
Honestly, this stands well served on its own.
But if you’d like to add more vegetables, try serving it with a simple green salad. Or add some roasted vegetables on the bottom rack while the casserole is baking! Roasted Broccoli would be really good with this (Just roast everything at 400 instead of what the Roasted Broccoli states. It’ll be fine.)
Storing Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole
Wait until the tuna casserole cools to room temperature, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap or foil and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To reheat a single serving: Scoop some into a dish, add a tablespoon of water, then cover and microwave for about 45 seconds.
To reheat the pan: If half of the pan is gone, you’ll have a lot of burnt remnants stuck to your pan if you put it right into the oven. Try to break up the rest of the casserole and spread it out through the whole pan. This will help it to reheat more quickly and evenly without scorched spots. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until it’s hot again.
Can you freeze Tuna Noodle Casserole?
No. I don’t recommend freezing this dish.
Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe Easy FAQs
Yes! You’ll want to cook them a minute or two less than normal so they still have a little bite and don’t get mushy after baking.
Did you measure the ingredients well for the sauce? If so, try adding another 1/2 cup milk the next time you make it.
There are a couple of theories. 1) It came from a lady who lived in Washington in the 1930s. 2) It was created by the Campbell Soup Company in the 1940s and uses their cream of mushroom soup.
If you make one of my recipes, be sure to post it on social media and tag me at @perrysplate or #perrysplate so I can send you some love!
- 12 oz small gluten free pasta
- 3 cans tuna, drained
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 cups cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
- 3 Tablespoons dill pickle seasoning (see note)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 oz crushed dill pickle potato chips.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Boil pasta according to package directions, remove from boiling water about a minute or so sooner, so it’s more al dente.
- Meanwhile, grease a 9x13 baking dish. Empty the tuna into the dish and break it into small bits with a fork. Add the chopped celery.
- Blend the cottage cheese, egg, minced onion, and pickle seasoning in a blender.
- Add the cooked pasta to the baking dish and pour the cottage cheese mixture over the top. Add the cheddar cheese. Use a large spoon or spatula to mix everything together.
- Sprinkle the crushed potato chips over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sides are bubbly and the center is hot. If the chips start to get dark, cover the pan lightly with a piece of foil.
- Serve immediately.
- If you use Trader Joe's brand dill pickle seasoning, reduce the amount to 2 Tablespoons because it is more salty than other brands.
- If you can't find dill pickle seasoning, use 1 T each dried minced garlic and dried minced onion, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon dried dill.
- Feel free to use regular potato chips or even crushed gluten free crackers in place of the dill pickle chips if you can't find them.
- I recommend using a gluten free pasta that is corn based for best results. Brown rice pasta gets too mushy after baking and legume-based pasta has a stronger flavor which overpowers the flavors in the casserole.
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving Calories 367Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 69mgSodium 632mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 4gSugar 4gProtein 26g
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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