Creamy tuna pasta bake is a delicious and comforting dish that never fails as a family favorite. My version is a bit lighter but still cheesy, creamy and super easy to make, even on a busy weeknight!
This tuna pasta bake has been a staple in my kitchen back from when I was a student, and I still love to make it when I want a fuss-free dinner.
Over the years, I perfected my own version of this classic pasta bake, and today I'm making it a bit lighter and healthier but still cheesy and delicious.
This is a budget-friendly recipe that's always a savior on those days you don't feel like going to the shops. I almost always have all the ingredients in the house, and I sometimes improvise by adding extra veggies.
The secret ingredient that makes this creamy tuna pasta bake extra delicious is a finely diced red onion sauteed in the butter before adding the flour for the roux.
Red onion pairs perfectly with tuna and makes this pasta dish utterly delicious.
Why you'll love this creamy tuna pasta bake
- It's a much more healthy tuna pasta bake made with low-fat cheese and semi-skimmed milk.
- You can have it on the table in 45 minutes with very little effort and using staple ingredients.
- It's comforting, delicious and rich in protein.
What goes into this tuna and pasta bake
Butter — Unsalted butter is best for making the roux, and it keeps the sodium content of the pasta bake low.
Red onion — The flavor of red onion is absolutely perfect in this sauce, but you can also use shallots or regular yellow onion.
Flour — Plain flour is best for making the bechamel sauce.
Milk — I used semi-skimmed milk to keep the fat content of the pasta bake low.
I found that the sauce is still super creamy when using semi-skimmed milk if you allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens.
Dijon mustard — This is optional, but I love it because it adds extra depth to the sauce.
Cheddar — I make this pasta dish with sharp low-fat cheddar cheese. If you don't mind the extra fat and calories, you can use regular cheddar but make sure it's a sharp one for the best flavor. You can also use a mix of cheddar and parmesan cheese.
Tuna — Albacore tuna is best in this tuna pasta bake because it doesn't turn to mush quickly, but any other kind of canned tuna would work. Make sure you drain the tuna well before adding it to the sauce.
Sweetcorn — Both frozen and canned sweetcorn are perfect in this dish.
Pasta — Rigatoni is usually my pasta of choice for this pasta bake, but any other type of short pasta also works.
How to make creamy tuna pasta bake
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
Add the red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until it softens, stirring regularly.
Whisk in the flour until you get a thick roux, then start adding the milk. Do it gradually and whisk continuously to avoid any lumps. Once you have added all the milk, simmer for 1-2 minutes until the creamy sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
Preheat your oven to 390°F/200°C.
Turn off the heat and stir in all but a handful of cheddar.
Once the cheese has melted, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine, then gently toss in the tuna and sweetcorn.
Transfer everything to a baking dish and top with the remaining cheddar.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden on top.
Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or chives and serve hot.
Leftovers and storage
- This tuna pasta bake will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- It's best to reheat it in the oven for 5-6 minutes so it retains its crunchy texture. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave.
- You can freeze this tuna pasta bake for 1-2 months. Reheat it in the oven from frozen until piping hot.
Recipe notes and tips
- Some extra veggies you can add to this cheesy tuna pasta bake include broccoli florets, cauliflower, frozen peas, green beans, sliced bell pepper and zucchini.
- Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top for extra texture and crunchiness.
- Make sure you whisk continuously when making the cheese sauce, so it doesn't burn.
If you liked this creamy tuna pasta bake recipe, you might also like some of my other easy recipes with tuna:
- Easy Anchovy and Tuna Pasta
- Creamy Tuna and Mushroom Pasta
- Healthy Tuna Salad Without Mayo
- Easy Garlic Lemon Tuna Pasta
- Tuna Red Pesto Pasta
- 14 oz (400 g) rigatoni (or another short pasta)
- 2 tablespoons (40 g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) plain flour
- 2 ½ cups (600 ml) semi-skimmed milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 7 oz (200 g) low-fat sharp cheddar
- 10.5 oz (300 g) albacore tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 cup (165 g) sweetcorn
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile, add the butter to a large, deep pan or Dutch oven and melt it over medium heat.
- Add the red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until it softens, stirring regularly.
- Whisk in the flour until you get a thick roux, then start adding the milk. Do it gradually and whisk continuously to avoid any lumps. Once you have added all the milk, simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat your oven to 390°F/200°C.
- Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stir in the Dijon mustard.
- Turn off the heat and stir in all but a handful of cheddar. Once the cheese has melted, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine, then gently toss in the tuna and sweetcorn.
- Transfer everything to a baking dish and top with the remaining cheddar.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden on top.
- Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or chives and serve hot.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 425mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 29g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.