Tuna Casserole with a Twist

Tuna casserole

This is not your Grandma’s Tuna Casserole. Tender tuna, spinach, whole-wheat penne and a blend of spices come together for this Tuna Casserole with a twist.

When I think of tuna casserole, I picture a combo of egg noodles, cream of mushroom soup, peas and tuna with either a potato chip or bread crumb topping. It’s the more traditional casserole that you might have grown up with and may even consider comfort food. I’ve never really been a fan, but still wanted to take a stab at creating an updated version with some new flavors.


The end result includes some of the flavors from the more traditional tuna casserole, but some new ones too. I swapped peas for spinach, egg noodles for whole wheat penne, and cream of mushroom soup for a combo of chicken stock, half and half, and a bit of low-fat sour cream. You’ll also taste subtle hints of lemon and garlic. And what’s a casserole without some cheese? I used a combo of freshly grated parmesan and mozzarella which worked perfectly. In some ways, it actually reminds me of a spinach dip (which I love) that meets a tuna casserole.

If I had to think of one word to describe this tuna casserole, it’s subtle. All of the flavors are pretty mild and I absolutely love the addition of spinach and whole-wheat penne. For a quick weeknight meal, this will do the trick as it only requires about 10 minutes of prep time and 10-15 minutes of baking time.

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Tuna Casserole with a Twist

Tuna casserole

Prep Time: 5mn
Cook Time: 35mn
Total Time: 40mn


  • 1 pound Whole-wheat penne cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 box frozen spinach thawed and drained
  • 2 – 6 ounce cans tuna packed in water – drained
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese- divided
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese- divided
Need to convert the measurements? Click here!


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet on medium heat, drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Sauté’ onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts appearing translucent.
  3. Sprinkle onion and garlic with 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to incorporate. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup half and half and continue whisking until the sauce has thickened.
  5. To the pan add in salt, pepper, parsley, zest of one lemon, and the juice from half of a lemon. Stir.
  6. Next add in spinach that has been thawed and drained. I usually drain my spinach in a clean kitchen towel, or place it in a strainer and place another bowl on top and push down on the spinach to drain it. Essentially you want to get rid of the excess water, otherwise your casserole will be runny.
  7. Stir in tuna, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  8. Lastly, stir in low fat sour cream. Allow to cook for a few minutes so that the flavors incorporate, then stir in the cooked pasta.
  9. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  11. Serve immediately.

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Comments (16)

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  1. JL

    When do you add the pasta?

  2. Good question! I updated step 8 to add that you stir in the cooked pasta after the sour cream, right at the end before you pour the mixture into your casserole dish.

  3. Marni

    How much pasta did you use?

  4. Anonymous

    Can you use milk instead of half and half? Want to go low fat

    • You can certainly try it. I haven’t tried it myself to provide accurate feedback. It’ll be a little less creamy if you use milk as a substitution for the half and half.

      • Sharon

        Use low fat condensed milk instead of half and half…this keeps the same consistency…

  5. Can I use broth instead of stock?

  6. Diane Troxell

    Yay, I was just thinking of making a tuna casserole for the first time in years. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Terri Hoppe

    Yum. So have to try this twist on an old favorite. Thanks for the post.

  8. Pam Kelland

    Here comes supper tonight!

  9. Have you used chicken instead of the tuna? I have one who does not like tuna in general, but might eat it with chicken. Any thoughts?

    • I haven’t tried it with chicken, but I think it would be delicious. I’d just use cooked shredded chicken and I think it’d be great.

  10. Kim Cutlip

    It is funny I can eat tuna hot but not cold so will definitely be trying this

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