Stovetop Tuna Noodle Casserole

Stovetop Tuna Noodle Casserole in Bowl Closeup Featured Image

4.8 from 4 reviews

A comfort food classic ready in about 30 minutes! You can make this creamy pasta dish only using your stovetop, and it even includes a buttery breadcrumb topping!


  • 12 ounces short pasta (penne, fusilli, shells, etc.)
  • 2 cups small florets of broccoli (can also include chopped pieces of stem)
  • 1 1/2 cups small (between 1/4 - 1/3" size) pieces of bread (either torn or cut) 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more to season bread and salt the pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • two 5 ounce cans tuna, well drained
  • optional garnish: chives


  1. Set a large stock pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, add a few large pinches of salt. When ready, boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli. (See notes for more information on timing for the pasta.) 
  2. Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp. of the butter to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add in the bread pieces. Stir the bread to evenly coat the pieces in the butter and season with a pinch of salt. Let the bread cook in a single layer, stirring occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown with some deeper brown edges (about 3 minutes). Remove the bread pieces, including any crumbs, onto a plate to cool.
  3. In the same saucepan (it's ok if there are still a few small crumbs left!), set over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the 2 tbsp. flour. Using a whisk, stir the mixture frequently, letting it cook until it is a light golden brown color (about 1 - 2 minutes).
  4. Add in the milk very slowly, whisking continuously. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth, then add in the 1 1/2 tsp. salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and (optional) cayenne. 
  5. Turn the heat up to medium high, and continue to whisk the mixture very frequently until the milk begins to boil and the sauce has thickened (about 5 - 6 minutes). (Make sure you get into the corners of the pan with the whisk!) 
  6. Add in the cream cheese pieces and continue to whisk until the cream cheese has fully incorporated into the sauce (about 3 minutes).
  7. Add the well-drained tuna into the sauce, whisk to combine.
  8. Once the pasta and broccoli has finished cooking, drain it very well and add it back into the stock pot. Immediately pour the finished sauce over the pasta and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkled on top with the buttery bread topping and snipped chives (optional).


Ideally, you want the pasta to be finished boiling either right around the same time or a little after the sauce has finished cooking. If the pasta water has begun to boil before you are ready to add the pasta, turn the heat down to maintain a simmer, then back up a minute or two before you want to add the pasta.

For more tips on pasta timing, see the blog section "How to time the pasta to be finished when the sauce is ready."

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