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Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole made with gluten-free pasta noodles, a rich and creamy sauce, and a crispy topping for an amazingly filling and nourishing meal.

Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole - light on dairy, big on flavor healthy casserole recipe

Tuna Noodle Casserole was my second favorite meal growing up (the first being lasagna). It has always been one of those meals I can power through and just eat bottomless bowlfuls. 

Perfectly tender carby noodles swaddled in a creamy well-seasoned sauce with plenty of chunks of tuna and a nice portion of cheese? What more could we want in a casserole??

Maybe bacon. You can totally add bacon!

Tuna Noodle Casserole - gluten-free, light on dairy, easy casserole recipe

This tuna noodle casserole recipe is a bit different from the classic.  I make it using gluten-free noodles, and I make the sauce with full-fat canned coconut milk instead of regular cow’s milk or cream. 

The end result is still that incredibly comforting, satisfying casserole that can feed a crowd and make your belly beam with joy.

If you don’t do noodles of any kind, you can always visit my Tuna and Rice Casserole  – it’s a low-FODMAP recipe for those who have sensitive GI tracts, and it’s just as cozy!

Let’s dive right into the details!

Tuna Noodle Casserole made with gluten-free pasta noodles and no cream or milk. An easy and delicious casserole recipe

Ingredients for Tuna Noodle Casserole:

Pasta: One of the most important components to tuna noodle casserole are the noodles! I use Gluten-Free Spiral Noodles made with brown rice, but you can use macaroni noodles, or penne noodles as well. Choose your favorite gluten-free or regular noodle!

Veggies: Onion, garlic, mushrooms, peas. This combination of veggies provides amazing flavor for the casserole! It sort of mimics that iconic cream of mushroom soup flavor, but is so fresh and great for you!

Sauce: Chicken broth, coconut milk, rice vinegar, gluten-free flour. This combination makes the sauce silky-smooth, thick and flavorful with a little tang! Be sure to use full-fat canned coconut milk (not the coconut milk that comes in a carton next to all the other non-dairy milks!) If you do dairy, you can replace the coconut milk with regular milk or half & half.

Tuna: Canned tuna makes tuna noodle casserole extra easy to prepare and also packs it with protein. I use Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil and I don’t drain it before adding it to the sauce. This helps give the casserole a great deal of flavor and richness.For lower fat, and/or if you prefer less tuna flavor, use tuna packed in water and drain it before adding to the sauce.

Cheese: Cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. The cheese helps make the casserole extra casserole-esque! It binds everything together and makes it nice and gooey and inviting. Play with your favorite cheeses! You can use gouda, gruyere, goat cheese, feta, etc!

Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe - easy tuna casserole with gluten-free pasta and no milk or cream

A Note About Dairy:

Many people who are sensitive to dairy (like me) can tolerate certain types of cheeses (or all cheese) while staying away from fresh dairy, like milk, cream, butter, etc. For this reason, I use full-fat canned coconut milk for the sauce in this creamy casserole.

I promise, you can’t taste the coconut milk. It just comes off as creamy, not at all coconutty. The rice vinegar gives the sauce a little tang, and between the onion, garlic, mushrooms, tuna, and cheese, the subtle flavor of coconut is entirely masked.

If you tolerate dairy well, you can easily replace the coconut milk with half & half or heavy cream! On the flipside, if you are entirely dairy-free, you can replace the grated cheese with your favorite vegan grated cheese.

Tuna Casserole - gluten-free, no milk or cream

How to Make Tuna Noodle Casserole:

Cook the noodles according to package instructions (I used brown rice pasta noodles and the directions said to cook for 12 minutes – I cooked for 10 to leave the noodles al dente).

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue sautéing another 2 minutes.

Add the Italian seasoning, chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a full boil. Add the flour and whisk well until all of the clumps are out. Continue cooking at a boil, whisking occasionally, until sauce is very thick. Add the sea salt, peas, tuna, and cheese and stir well.

Sauce for tuna noodle casserole

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Transfer the noodles to a large (13” x 9”) casserole dish, followed by the creamy sauce. Stir everything together until well incorporated. 

How to make tuna casserole

In a small bowl, stir together the almond flour and avocado oil. Sprinkle this mixture over the casserole.

Tuna casserole with almond flour topping

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until casserole is bubbling. 

Serve and enjoy!

Tuna Casserole with no milk or cream, made with gluten-free spiral pasta noodles. Healthy delicious casserole recipe

Tips:

Cook the pasta noodles a couple minutes less than recommended to make sure they are nice and al dente. This ensures the noodles don’t break apart easily when they’re stirred into the sauce. 

If you love the tuna flavor, get tuna in oil and don’t drain it before adding to the sauce mixture. Don’t drain, put the whole can into the sauce.

Recipe Adaptations:

  • Replace coconut milk with whole milk or half & half
  • Use your favorite noodles.
  • Add extra cheese to make the casserole even more comforting
  • Replace the almond flour topping with gluten-free breadcrumbs.
  • Add 4 slices thick-cut bacon (cooked and chopped)

Tuna Casserole Recipe - no milk or cream, made with gluten-free pasta noodles. Rich, delicious healthy casserole recipe

More Casserole Recipes:

My cookbook, Paleo Power Bowls, is now available! CLICK HERE to check it out. Thank you for your support!

If you make this recipe, please feel free to share a photo and tag @TheRoastedRoot on Instagram!

Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole - light on dairy, big on flavor healthy casserole recipe

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe with no milk or cream. Healthy and satisfying!

Ingredients

Optional Topping:

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions (I used brown rice pasta noodles and the directions said to cook for 12 minutes - I cooked for 10 to leave the noodles al dente).
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue sautéing another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning, chicken broth, coconut milk, and rice vinegar and bring to a full boil. Add the flour and whisk well until all of the clumps are out. Continue cooking at a boil, whisking occasionally, until sauce is very thick. Add the sea salt, peas, tuna, and cheese and stir well.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Transfer the noodles to a large (13” x 9”) casserole dish, followed by the creamy sauce. Stir everything together until well incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together the almond flour and avocado oil. Sprinkle this mixture over the casserole and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until casserole is bubbling.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1 of 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 597Total Fat 23gUnsaturated Fat 0gCarbohydrates 73gFiber 6gSugar 3gProtein 22g
Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole with a creamy sauce is the perfect comforting dinner recipe

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Stephanie

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Made this last night, OMG sooooo good. Tuna Helper used to be my favourite meal in University, so when I saw this healthier version I knew I had to make it! Even my husband who is very unsure about canned tuna loved it!! I added some extra cheese on top, because why not, and had to use 4 Tbsp of flour to get it to thicken and it was DE-LICIOUS!

Julia

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

I'm so happy you love it, Stephanie! Tuna Helper was always a favorite for me, too! Psyched you're as into the casserole as I am :D xoxo

Tammy

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

This was delicious! I pretty much made as written. Used rice vinegar and probably added extra mushrooms because in my opinion you can never have enough shrooms.

Love that you also list options. For those that can't have fish, or don't like tuna fish, canned chicken would probably be great as well.

Julia

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

I'm so happy you like it, Tammy! This is one of my favorite recipes I made in 2020, so I'm thrilled you enjoy it too :D

Ryan

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

I just made this last night (without mushrooms as my girlfriend has a bit of a sensitivity) and excuse my language but holy sh*t. This was one of the best meals I have ever made. Creamy, excellent texture and had no coconut taste (not that we would have minded as we eat mostly paleo). I only had almond flour so I used that to thicken the sauce and even on a relatively high temperature it did not thicken quite as much as I would have liked.. perhaps it needed more time or almond flour is not as good of a thickening agent as gluten free all purpose flour? I ended up cheating by turning down the temperature and making a small arrowroot slurry to thicken it right before I added in the tuna, cheese, peas, etc. Worked like a charm!

Julia

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

This made me laugh, thanks so much, Ryan! I'm so happy you and your girlfriend enjoyed the casserole! It's even better the following few days :D I haven't had much success thickening sauces with almond flour, but that's awesome arrowroot came to the rescue! I often use arrowroot or tapioca flour for thickening and both seem to work nicely. Thanks so much for the sweet note and feedback! Much love to you and your lady! xoxo

Jen

Monday 28th of December 2020

We are excited to try this twist on the classic. We see vinegar in the ingredient list but do not see it in the instructions. Could you clarify when to add it?

Jen

Monday 28th of December 2020

@Julia, thank you! Printing the recipe now!

Julia

Monday 28th of December 2020

Thanks so much for catching that, Jen! You add it with the other liquids :) I made the change in the recipe. Hope you love it! xoxox

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