How to Make ’50s Noodle Casserole with Just About Any Ingredients
This classic 1950s dish has fed millions of people over the years. We'll explain how to make noodle casserole using the items you have in your pantry or freezer.
Noodle casserole is a quintessential dish that reached peak popularity in the ’50s, and it’s as tasty today as it was back then. We’ll teach you how to make noodle casserole with a basic recipe and how to whip it up with whatever ingredients you have on hand!
How to Make a Noodle Casserole
We’re starting with this recipe from Yvonne Cook in Haskins, Ohio.
- 5 cups uncooked egg noodles
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups fat-free milk
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 4 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed
- 2 pouches (6.4 ounces each) albacore white tuna in water
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Step 1: Cook the noodles
Start off by preheating your oven to 350° F. Prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the package. (Brush up on these pasta cooking tips before you begin.) Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray, then place the noodles in the dish.
Step 2: Prep the filling
Cook the onions over medium-high heat until they’re soft. While the onions are sizzling away, pour the milk, cornstarch and seasonings in a small bowl and whisk them together until smooth. Pour the milk mix over the onions, then slowly add the broth. Bring everything to a boil, making sure to stir occasionally. Within 2 minutes, the mix should thicken.
Step 3: Add the tuna and bake
It’s time for tuna and cheese! Stir in ¾ cup of the cheese until it melts. Add the tuna and broccoli. Spoon the tuna mix over the noodles then add the remaining cheese.
Pour the butter over the breadcrumbs until they’re well-coated, then sprinkle those delicious, buttery breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the covering and continue baking until all the cheese has melted, about 15-20 minutes.
How to Make This Casserole Your Own
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time for the fun part: using the ingredients you love!
Replace the Tuna
If you’re not big on tuna, canned chicken or salmon are pantry ingredients that work in a casserole. Or you could grab those last few slices of ham, browned sausage or cooked bacon from the fridge and chop them into the mix. Pull out all the stops with cured meats like salami or chorizo or skip the meat entirely to make a hearty vegetable feast. Add spinach, leeks, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots—whatever you have!
Use Soup Instead of Broth
This recipe calls for chicken broth, but many recipes call for a can of cream of mushroom soup. Personally, I’m a huge fan of using French onion soup in my casseroles. The flavor is mouthwatering and rich without being too heavy. Prefer something a little more decadent? It’s well worth whipping up a homemade bechamel or cheese sauce.
Add a Crunchy Top
The original recipe calls for bread crumbs, but break out the crackers instead. Think Ritz, goldfish crackers or even a handful of crushed saltines.
If you’re one of those people who can manage not to polish off a bag of potato chips in one sitting (and I admire your restraint), crumble the leftover chips over your casserole. It’s a clever way to add a bit of crunch and extra flavor. Heads up—a tuna casserole with a generous salt and vinegar potato chip crumb is a match made in heaven.