This simple, dairy-free tuna noodle dish is made on the stove top rather than baked. But you can top it with breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips and bake it casserole-style, if preferred. And don’t be afraid to add some more flavors, like onion, garlic, or any vegetables that you have on hand. This is a basic versatile recipe that is ready for your customization! I’ve included a few ideas below.
This Dairy-Free Tuna Noodle is the Epitome of Easy Comfort Food
I originally shared this dairy-free tuna noodle recipe nearly 15 years ago, but it was time for a big update and some new tips! Here are just a few add-in ideas for making this dairy-free tuna noodle recipe your own. I’ve also included a simple baked casserole option below.
- Saute some mushrooms in the buttery spread, or add canned mushrooms with the peas.
- Saute minced garlic or diced onion with the buttery spread.
- Add a little garlic powder or onion powder to the sauce, to taste.
- Steam some broccoli florets or carrots and stir them in with the pasta.
- Stir in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roasted red bell pepper, or artichoke hearts with the pasta.
- Add chicken instead of tuna. You can use canned chicken, diced cooked chicken breast, or leftover rotisserie chicken.
Purely Pantry Option
If you don’t have buttery spread on hand, you can use oil. The flavor won’t be quite as rich, but you can add a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and/or onion powder to round out the flavor. And use the canned peas, or other canned vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, etc), instead of fresh or frozen.
Casserole Style Option
Pour the cooked tuna noodle into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Toss 1/2 cup of dairy-free bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted dairy-free buttery spread. Sprinkle the buttery crumbs over the pasta. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes at 400°F, or until the crumbs are browned.
If preferred, you can use crushed potato chips or fried onions in place of the bread crumbs.
Special Diet Notes: Tuna Noodle Un-Casserole
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and soy-free.
For vegan “tuna” noodle, you can substitute a vegan canned tuna, but we prefer to just add drained and rinsed canned chickpeas.
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free buttery spread or sticks
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can use whole wheat or gluten-free all-purpose flour, if needed)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (6-ounce) can tuna, flaked
- 1½ cups frozen green peas (can sub canned or fresh)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups cooked pasta, drained but not rinsed (can use gluten-free, if needed)
- Melt the buttery spread in a skillet or pot over medium heat.
- Add the flour and whisk until no lumps remain.
- Add ¼ to ½ cup of the chicken broth and whisk until smooth.
- Slowly whisk in the remaining chicken broth.
- Add the flaked tuna, and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk.
- Once boiling, add the frozen peas, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce reaches your desired thickness, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the black pepper. Add the cooked noodles and gently stir until they are well-coated in the sauce.
Thanks for sharing this recipe. Was looking for a gluten free tuna casserole recipe and am glad I found this! Really enjoyed it!
Marvelous! Glad you enjoyed it Brieanne and thanks for the feedback!
This was such a nice surprise!! In the past I found most recipes dry & not very appealing. This was creamy & perfectly seasoned, I was out of peas so used green beans instead & was ok. (Peas are on my grocery list). Oh & the chicken broth & rue are what does the trick! Thank you, tuna casserole will be on our menu for the first time😊
Wonderful! so happy you enjoyed it Teri. I agree, peas are a must!
This is so simple and so delicious! My super picky family (including my lactose intolerant husband) loved it! Thanks for the recipe
Awesome! So glad you all enjoyed it Sabrina.
I really liked this recipe I had been wondering about something like this for a while. Thank you.
This was what i was looking for
Oven broke down made as posted was better than expected
Only diff used white peeper
Loved this, I used No Chick’n Broth cubes for the broth and boiled the cut carrots with the pasta, no peas.
That’s great! Thank you for sharing your feedback and substitution Maureen.
I just tried your recipe! I added & subtracted ingredients; first, I sautéed org white onion/chopped fresh garlic in org olive oil spray + Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals/Coarse Lemon Pepper and set it aside. I used Earth Balance + 100% White Whole Wheat Flour and a 12oz box of rainbow Rotini. I added several large chopped crimini mushrooms rather than peas /carrots. It was Delicious and I ate way too much!
Thanks for the yummy Dairy Free Easy Tuna Noodle Un-Casserole versatile Recipe.
That’s great! Thanks for sharing your feedback and modifications.
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Will this work with another butter like I can’t Believe it’s not Butter? Very, Very new to this cooking thing so sorry if it’s a silly question.
In theory it should. But I haven’t worked with the new vegan I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter, so I can’t totally vouch on how well that one works in cooking.
The vegan I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter might have too much water for sautéing.
I added 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 tbsp go veggie vegan parm to the sauce and it was perfect! Putting it in the oven with homemade crouton crust <3. Thanks for this!
Marvelous! Thanks for sharing your modifications Molly.
Thank you for your recipe! I am the only one lactose intolerant in my family, but as the mom, I still need to make meals we can all eat and enjoy. This fits the bill perfectly. Didn’t have peas, so I added diced carrots to the cooking pasta. Turned out fabulous!! Thanks for posting dairy free recipes!!
Awesome! This has been a popular recipe lately. So glad it worked out well for your family.
Thank you so much for sharing this! Very excited about this recipe! I tried it and loved it. Unfortunately I had no peas on hand but I had frozen bell pepper strips, next time I’m going to make sure I have peas since that’s the best part 🙂 thanks again!
Marvelous! So glad you enjoyed it Rose.
Tuna casserole has always been one of my favorite dishes I have a husband and now a daughter who are both allergic to milk. I can’t wait to make this! Thank you for sharing! I’m going to cut up some bread cubes, place on top, and pop it in the oven for a bit. Can’t wait to try it!
I hope it works out really well for you and your family Kelly!
How many oz or grams of uncooked pasta makes 6 cups cooked?
It depends a bit on the type of noodles you use, but here’s a good quick guide – http://www.kraftrecipes.com/cooking-tips/foodbasics/pastaguide/pasta-measuring-chart.aspx
I liked it. I felt that it could’ve had more sauce, so next time I will make more. It did have a nice light taste since you don’t use canned soup.
Will definitely make it again!
Thank you for your feedback Diana!
I sautéed some sliced onions in Earth Balance then added more melted Earth Balance and covered the onions with Panko and sea salt. Cooked until toasty brown then covered the casserole with it and baked at 350F until bubbly. My husband liked it and he doesn’t like anything!
That’s fabulous! Thanks for sharing your version Mary!
Hi! I don’t have any margarine at home. Would it be possible to substitute coconut oil for the margarine? Or would it be too strong of a flavor. I’m new to the dairy free. And new to using coconut oil, but I’ve been substituting here and there.
I think coconut oil would work well as long as you aren’t super sensitive to the taste of coconut.
Debra’s take on this fabulous recipe – Adjustments were based entirely on availability of ingredients: a bag of mixed corn, carrots, and asparagus (rather than a bag of frozen peas.) I also added a box of frozen pearl onions that had been in the freezer for some time. Instead of chicken broth, I used unsalted vegetable broth. Since the broth was unsalted I added a heavy amount of ground sea salt and ground black pepper.
End result was FABULOUS!
It would never have come to be, or had been so healthy and delicious, without the fabulous original recipe.
Thank you, Alisa Fleming!
Thank you for sharing your modifications Debra – those pearl onions sound like a fabulous addition to tuna noodle!
It is forbidden, by Jewish law, to eat any meat and fish together. I am sure that you are not aware of this. However, you can substitute using a parve imitation chicken broth flavored liquid. Please, adjust the recipe for those who are not aware that they are doing something not right. Thank You. Mrs. Siegel
Thank you Miriam, this is a good tip for those keeping kosher.
Is the canned tuna drained? Have you – or other readers – added the canned tuna water, and if so, does the chicken broth get reduced for a total of 2 cups liquid/broth?
Hi Lisa, sorry for the delay, yes, the tuna is drained. You could certainly try using the tuna juice – I would just pour it out into a measuring cup first, so you know how much to reduce the broth by.
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Tuna casserole was my favorite comfort food as a child that my wonderful Grandma always made for me! Sadly I developed a milk allergy as an adult and thought I had to put it in my past. When I found your recipe, I immediately got together the ingredients and gave it a go, only adding some saute’d diced celery to it, since Grandma always used Cream of Celery soup in her version. WOW does this bring back memories!! It was fabulous!! Thank you so much for re-inventing my old favorite!!
Awesome! So glad you enjoyed Meredith.
Mmmmm the sautéed diced celery would add a ton of umami flavor!
I found this in a search for a chicken and noodle casserole for my allergy kid. With some easy tweaks, it worked! I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery (instead of tuna) and added some carrots because the picture had them, but they weren’t called for in the recipe. Also, my son is allergic to peas, so I put it some frozen asparagus cuts instead. I did find that it needed some salt, so I added it to suit my taste. It was a hit!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe Susanna! I hear you on adding more salt!
The recipe says to not rinse the pasta but are they drained?
Yes, drain, but do not rinse. You want the starches still clinging to the pasta. I’ll put this recipe on priority to clean-up.
For food allergy purposes, Smart Balance is NOT dairy free, it still contains up to 2% dairy product and would cause anaphylaxis in some. Earth Balance is vegan.
Good news Erica! Several versions of Smart Balance are dairy-free, including: Light Original, Organic Whipped, Omega-3 Light, Light w/ EVOO, Light w/ Flax Oil, Heart Right Light. Smart Balance & Earth Balance are actually owned by the same company, as is Best Life (another new dairy-free margarine. You are correct though in that not all varieties of Smart Balance are dairy-free. I’ll modify the recipe to clarify.