This is the tuna rice casserole recipe that mom always made. It's flavorful, creamy, cozy, easy to make, and the buttered bread crumbs are the best things on earth.

If you like easy family recipes, also try out one-pot pasta with peas and bacon and our makeover pumpkin mac and cheese casserole.

A wooden spoon taking a scoop of tuna rice casserole out of a casserole dish.

Tuna rice casserole

This tuna rice casserole has been a family staple for decades.

The flavorful sauce mixes with the rice to make it super cozy and delicious. Then the buttered croutons add the perfect crispiness to contrast the creamy rice situation. It's pretty hard to resist.

We make our tuna casserole sauce by thickening milk with cornstarch. It's a little easier than using butter, flour, and milk – which is the way mom used to make it.

Bonus that by using cornstarch, you can easily make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free croutons. (Even though those big, delicious croutons you see in the pictures were made from sourdough bread.)

4 pictures showing how to assemble tuna rice casserole.

How to make tuna casserole

This is an easy tuna casserole recipe. There are 3 basic step to make it:

  1. Cook the rice – rice + stock in a pot. Easy!
  2. Make the sauce – thicken milk with cornstarch then add cheese and canned tuna. Also easy!
  3. Butter the croutons – Pour melted butter over croutons and mix. Doesn't get any simpler than that.

Once you've done those three steps, simply layer the tuna rice casserole ingredients into a baking dish and pop it into the oven. This really is an easy tuna casserole recipe!

Full recipe instructions in the recipe card below.

A casserole dish with tuna rice casserole and lots of croutons on top.

How long does tuna casserole last?

Tuna rice casserole will keep for 2-3 days in your fridge in a covered container. It reheats beautifully so you'll be happy if there are leftovers!

Can you freeze tuna casserole?

Yes! This is a great meal-prep recipe. Simply assemble the casserole then wait for it to cool completely. (It will be warm from cooking the sauce.)

Once it's cool, wrap it with plastic wrap then again with aluminum foil. It will keep well for 3 months in your freezer.

To reheat the tuna casserole, let it thaw overnight in your fridge before popping it into your oven.

Tuna rice casserole variations

While we love this tried and true recipe, switching it up can be fun. Here are a few ideas:

  • Instead of canned tuna – use canned salmon.
  • Instead of peas – use broccoli or mixed frozen veggies.
  • Instead of cheddar cheese – try spicy jack cheese.
Tuna casserole in a casserole dish with a wooden spoon taking a scoop.

What to serve with tuna rice casserole?

While tuna casserole holds it's own at the table without needing any sides, we like a few more veggies with our dinner. Here are our favorite sides that go great with this casserole:

A bowl of tuna rice casserole with a fork in it.
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A bowl of tuna rice casserole with a fork in it.

Mom's Tuna Rice Casserole

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: North American

Description

This is the tuna rice casserole recipe that mom always made. It's flavorful, creamy, cozy, easy to make, and the buttered bread crumbs are the best things on earth. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 ½ cups of milk, divided
  •   cup of cornstarch
  • 2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
  • 3 cans of tuna (use the juice!)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: salt and pepper
  • 4 cups large croutons (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Add the rice and stock to a medium-sized pot over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the casserole. 
  3. Heat 3 cups of the milk in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, but not boiling, mix the remaining ½ cup of milk with the cornstarch and add it to the pot. Whisk it continuously while it thickens then remove the pot from the heat. 
  4. Add the cheese and whisk until it melts. Stir in the tuna and the juice from the cans. Season with salt and pepper. 
  5. In a large bowl, mix the croutons with the melted butter. 
  6. Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×11″ casserole dish. Top with half the rice, half of the sauce, and half of the peas. Repeat once more then top with the buttered croutons. 
  7. Bake the tuna casserole for 20-25 minutes, or until the croutons are crispy and browned and the casserole is bubbling at the edges. 

Notes

Learn some tips on how to cook perfect basmati rice in a pot

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A wooden spoon taking a scoop of tuna rice casserole out of a casserole dish with the recipe title on top of the picture.