Full disclosure: This is not the easiest tuna noodle casserole recipe out there. And that’s because we nixed the canned soup in favor of a homemade take on cream of mushroom soup—we promise the minimal extra effort is worth it. There’s no canned tuna either. Instead, we call for jars of olive-oil-packed tuna, which ensures the fish stays moist and tender while the casserole is baked in the oven. Overcooked macaroni? That’s gone too in favor of perfectly cooked egg noodles. All in all, it’s a major upgrade.
Texture is king in tuna noodle casserole recipes. So don’t follow the pasta’s package directions. Undercooking ensures the final dish won’t be mushy. As the noodles cool you’ll sauté diced vegetables in melted butter and make a quick roux to serve as the base for the creamy sauce enriched with cheddar cheese that holds everything together.
Combine everything and give it a taste for seasoning before transferring to a baking dish and moving on to the crispy potato chip topping. Don’t be tempted to use crushed potato chips here. Instead, tuck whole chips upright into the mix to give this family-favorite comfort food a wonderfully crunchy element that’ll turn golden brown and not get soggy.
With a prep time of about 45 minutes, this hearty main dish is an ambitious but achievable weeknight dinner, but it’s also a great thing to make on Sunday night so you can enjoy leftovers in the days to come. Use the cook time to make an old-school Italian salad to serve alongside.