Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
This delicious creamy tuna pasta bake uses simple store-cupboard ingredients and couldn’t be easier to make!
For my friends in Australia, this is essentially a Tuna Mornay. For my friends across the pond, I believe this is similar to a Tuna Casserole. And for my folks here in the UK, I’m sure you’ll recognise this as a weeknight dinner staple! Follow me…
Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake Ingredients
I don’t know about you, but in this house tuna pasta bake is considered an SOS meal. A cupboard cleanout meal if you will. It requires simple, no-fuss ingredients, but they all come together so beautifully! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pasta – Here I use penne, but any shortcut pasta will do the trick. Rigatoni is also a popular choice!
- Butter, Flour & Milk – To create the bechamel sauce.
- Veg Stock – I love subbing some of the milk for veg stock, just for a boost of flavour!
- Cheese – A nice strong/mature cheddar works best here.
- Dijon – This enhances the cheesy tones of the recipe.
- Tuna – Canned tuna does the trick! Make sure it’s chunks, not flakes (flakes turn mushy).
- Breadcrumbs – I pulse up a slice of bread and sprinkle it over before baking, for a gorgeous, crunchy topping! Any type of breadcrumbs will do the trick though.
- Sweetcorn – A classic addition to a tuna pasta bake.
- Salt & Pepper – To season the sauce and the topping. I typically use white pepper in the sauce, but it’s not a deal-breaker if you’ve only got black pepper.
- Chives – To garnish. These add a pop of colour and flavour!
Creamy Tuna Pasta
Making the tuna sweetcorn pasta is actually a pretty quick process. Just a few things to consider:
Room temp milk
I recommend making sure your milk is at least room temp. Whisking in cold milk increases the risk of lumps and at the extreme, increases the risk of the milk curdling. You can warm your milk in the microwave to speed things up.
Al Dente Pasta
As with all pasta bakes, you’ll want to make sure the pasta is ever-so-slightly undercooked. The pasta will continue soaking in moisture as it bakes, so you’ll need to just knock a minute or so off cooking time so it’s al dente.
Over-mixing the tuna
Just make sure that when you do mix it in at the end, you don’t go overboard; otherwise the tuna will turn to mush. A few chunks here and there are fine 🙂
Process shots: melt butter (photo 1), add flour (photo 2), stir to create roux (photo 3), gradually whisk in liquid then add mustard and seasoning (photo 4), stir in cheese (photo 5), add pasta (photo 6), stir to combine (photo 7), gently stir in tuna and sweetcorn (photo 8).
Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
Once everything is combined, you’ll want to whack it in a baking dish, then top with breadcrumbs. I recommend seasoning the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper (nothing worse than a bland topping to a pasta bake) and also liberally spraying with oil (this will help it crisp and turn golden).
Do I have to add the breadcrumb topping?
The breadcrumbs create a gorgeous crispy layer, to counteract the soft pasta filling. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I’d at least sub with cheese, if only to create a layer on top to prevent the pasta from burning.
Process shots: add tuna sweetcorn pasta to baking dish and level off with wooden spoon (photo 1), top with breadcrumbs, seasoning and oil (photo 2).
Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake FAQ
Are there any subs to make this recipe even more economical?
You get a pretty good bang for your buck with this recipe already, but there are a few ways you could stretch it further:
- Sub chives with spring onion. A bunch of spring onions is cheaper and you get a wider use out of leftovers.
- If you’ve got English or wholegrain mustard on hand, either of them will do the trick. Alternatively, you could sub mustard powder if you’ve got that.
- Sub canned sweetcorn if you’ve got frozen needing to be used.
- If you’ve got chicken stock instead of veg stock that’s fine.
Can I prepare this ahead of time?
I recommend making this fresh. The texture is much better. However, if you need to prep ahead of time I recommend draining the pasta and tossing in a knob of butter. This will help prevent it from bloating in the sauce as it rests. Also allow the sauce to cool to around lukewarm temp, then combine with the pasta. Store in the fridge then bring to room temp and bake.
Can this be frozen?
You can just follow above (don’t bake) then store in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge then bake.
Serving Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
To serve, I love sprinkling over fresh chives. They add a final layer of flavour and add a pop of colour. I’d recommend letting it sit for a few mins, at least until it stops bubbling like crazy (otherwise you’ll lose the roof of your mouth). Then tuck right in and enjoy!
For the TOMATO version of tuna pasta bake check out my Tomato Tuna Pasta Bake Recipe!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this creamy tuna pasta bake shall we?!
How to make Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake (Full Recipe & Video)
Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
- Large Deep Pan, Wooden Spoon & Whisk (for sauce)
- Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
- 9″ x 9″ Baking Dish (or similar size) (for baking)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board or Scissors (for chives)
- Food Processor (for breadcrumbs)
- Cheese Grater
- Serving Spoon
- 14oz / 400g Penne, or short cut pasta of choice
- 2 cups / 500ml Milk, at room temp
- 1 cup / 250ml Vegetable Stock
- 2 cups / 200g Sharp/Mature Cheddar, grated
- 2x 5oz/145g cans of Tuna Chunks, drained (see notes)
- 1x 198g/7oz can of Sweetcorn, drained (165g/5.8oz drained weight)
- 4 tbsp EACH: Butter, Flour
- 1 slice of Bread, pulsed into crumbs (see notes)
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 tsp EACH: Salt, White Pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder (flavour enhancers – OPTIONAL)
- Oil Spray, as needed
- finely diced Fresh Chives, to serve
- Black Pepper, as needed (or just use more white pepper, this is the season the top before baking)
- Pop your pasta in salted boiling and cook until al dente (take a min or so off cooking, you want it a touch hard). Drain just before adding to the sauce.
- Meanwhile, in a large deep pan over medium heat melt in 4 tbsp butter. Whisk in 4 tbsp flour to form a roux, then gradually add in milk, whisking as you go to avoid lumps. Whisk in veg stock and simmer for a few mins until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Stir in dijon mustard, salt, white pepper and onion/garlic powder if you’re using it, then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Once the cheese has melted, stir in the drained pasta, then gently toss in tuna and sweetcorn (don’t be too aggressive or the tuna turns to mush).
- Pour into a baking dish, then level off with a wooden spoon. Top with breadcrumbs, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a liberal coating of oil spray. Bake in the oven for 20mins at 200C/390F, or until golden and crispy on top.
- Finish with fresh chives, then serve up and enjoy!
b) Breadcrumbs – Best to use bread that’s ever-so-slightly stale and pulse it in a food processor. If you have ready made breadcrumbs (extra points for Panko) just use them. Just a light coating to cover the pasta. If you don’t have any sort of breadcrumbs on hand you could top with more cheese instead!
c) Flavour enhancers – These certainly aren’t deal breakers, so don’t make a special trip for them. Just if you’ve got them in the cupboards. If you’ve only got one or the other that’s fine, just use what you’ve got.
d) Prep Ahead – I recommend making this fresh. The texture is much better. However, if you need to prep ahead of time I recommend draining the pasta and tossing in a knob of butter. This will help prevent it bloating in the sauce as it rests. Also allow the sauce to cool to around lukewarm temp, then combine with the pasta. Store in the fridge or freezer without the topping, then thaw and bake with the topping as per recipe. I recommend bringing close to room temp before baking, just to take the chill out of the centre.
e) Tomato Version – for a TOMATO tuna pasta bake, check out my Tomato Tuna Pasta Bake Recipe!
f) Calories – Whole recipe divided by 5.
For more similar recipes check out these beauties:
Pasta Bake Recipes
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