Tuna Noodle Casserole {gluten-free and dairy-free}

March 24, 2018

in Dinner in a Dash, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Recipes


Tuna noodle casserole is one of the best comfort foods out there. Not sure about you, but I remember having a casserole like this many times as a kid. Something like this, in addition to tuna melts, were in the rotation on a regular basis. I also remember making tuna melts all the time on my own, and toasting them in a toaster oven.  I’m not a huge tuna fan, but prepared like this or in a melt, I’d have it almost any day of the week. I wanted to make this version gluten-free and dairy-free as well but still have the creamy texture as traditional tuna noodle casserole.

I decided to add a crunchy crumb topping to this as I absolutely love having a crunch on a casserole like this. If you’re in a pinch for time, you could definitely leave it out. The noodle base is really good on its own. But if you have an extra 15 minutes, then by all means, add the topping. You won’t regret it!  I used a cornflake crumb instead of breadcrumbs as I knew it would give it much more of a crunch.


My girls both loved it (as they are mac n’ cheese fans). But with them never having tuna that much I wasn’t sure how it would go over. But alas, they both gobbled it up. This made a big batch, so I had plenty of leftovers, and re-heated the next day it was still really great. Perfect next-day lunch for on the go (bonus!)


As you’ll see in many of my recipes with a creamy (dairy-free) sauce, I use canned light coconut milk. I find its much creamier than carton non-dairy milk. I notice that with seasonings and other ingredients added, you don’t taste the coconut at all. But if you’re sensitive to coconut or really don’t want the slightest hint of coconut, then I recommend using unsweetened cashew milk.

Hope you enjoy this version as much as well did!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 lb (454 grams or about 5 cups dry) gluten-free penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp flour (gluten-free or all purpose)
  • 1 Tbsp vegan margarine (or butter)
  • 1½ cups onion, chopped fine (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 400mL (or 14oz) can light coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 2 cans tuna, drained and flaked into smaller pieces
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dairy-free Parmesan cheese (or regular)
For the Topping (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp breadcrumbs (I used cornflake crumbs, or regular breadcrumbs, or crushed crackers)
  • 1 Tbsp melted vegan margarine (or butter)
  • 2 Tbsp dairy-free cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (if doing the crumb topping)
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
  3. In a large skillet, saute the onion until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they shrink up a bit. Lastly add the frozen peas. Cook down until the peas have warmed up but still remain a brighter green color.
  4. Remove the veggies from the pan, now to make the sauce in the same skillet.
  5. Add 1 Tbsp margarine and melt. Add 2 Tbsp gluten free flour and whisk together. Add in the salt, pepper and chopped garlic.
  6. Whisk in the can of coconut milk, and chicken broth. Once it comes back to a simmer and thickens up a bit, add in the drained tuna.
  7. Add back in the veggies and drained pasta. Toss until well coated. If you aren't adding the topping, serve as is.
  8. If using the topping, transfer to a casserole dish, or if your skillet is oven-proof, keep it in the pan.
  9. Mix the melted butter together with the cornflake crumbs. Spread evenly over the casserole.
  10. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
  11. Bake for 10-15 minutes until starts to become crispy around the edges. To brown further, place the oven on broil high, and broil for a few minutes.
Nutrition based on using Tru Roots gluten-free penne & with the topping
Serving size: ⅛ of recipe Calories: 352 Fat: 9 g Saturated fat: 3.3 g Carbs: 52 g Sugar: 4.4 g Sodium: 422 g Fiber: 3.7 g Protein: 16 g Cholesterol: 15 mg


Follow Me


I'm Kristine Fretwell, busy mom of 2 little girls, author, blogger, and former pro fitness competitor. I love almost any kind of cookie, anything coconut or pumpkin flavored, and Thai food. A perfect day for me is enjoying my family, getting to the gym, and whipping up a new healthy recipe. I've got a collection of over 300 healthy recipes, and other tidbits like fitness and health tips. My recipes have been featured on websites such as Huffington Post, Savvy Mom, Shape and Skinny Scoop.
Follow Me

Latest posts by Kristine (see all)

  • Megan Howard

    This was perfect! I’ve been craving my Mother’s tuna noodle casserole, or as we called when children ‘toodleuna”. I couldn’t find GF flat noodles, so I used the little shells. Instead of peas I chopped up marinated artichoke hearts, which blended in perfectly and added an extra depth and richness. For the chicken stock I used a chicken and mushroom bone broth, which added to the mushroom flavor, and I stirred in about a T of fresh lemon juice once I had everything together. I skipped the crumbs, but put shredded vegan cheddar over the top, and used the same inside instead of the parmesan so I wouldn’t have to buy 2 kinds of vegan cheese.
    It was SO delicious! Even better than I remember my Mother’s being! Now I am going to make it for her and see what she says.
    Thank you!

Previous post:

Next post: