This Instant Pot tuna noodle casserole is not the gloppy concoction of your youth. Made with shallots, celery, shiitake mushrooms, egg noodles, tuna, a lightened-up creamy sauce, and a crispy Parmesan bread crumb topping, it will have all the diners at your table requesting seconds.
Just like the creamy casserole of your childhood but lighter, faster, and tastier! The dried noodles and vegetables cook under pressure first, then soft whipped cream cheese and solid albacore tuna are stirred into the mixture to make a delicious sauce. The “casserole” is finished with a crisp topping of pan-toasted bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.—Weldon Owen
Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole FAQs
Can I substitute flaked or chunk light tuna for the solid albacore tuna in the casserole?
For the best flavor and texture, use solid albacore tuna instead of chunk or flaked light tuna, which tends to be mushy.
Can you use gluten-free pasta in Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole?
I’d avoid it. It doesn’t hold up well and can turn unpleasantly gummy and mushy.
Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 6- to 8-quart Instant Pot or multicooker
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter divided
- 2 large shallots finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery sliced into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms stemmed and brushed clean, caps sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable or chicken stock
- 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
- 1 bread slice finely ground in a food processor (or substitute 1/2 cup panko)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
- 1/4 cup whole milk warmed
- Two (5-ounce) cans solid albacore tuna drained and flaked with a fork
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in the Instant Pot, select Sauté, and adjust to More/High heat. When the butter is melted, add the shallots, celery, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Pour in the wine and simmer until nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Press the Cancel button. Stir in the stock. Add the noodles and use a spatula to gently press on them until they are submerged in the liquid.
- Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to Sealing. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cook time for 5 minutes at low pressure.
- Meanwhile, in a small nonstick saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and sprinkle 1/4 cup (30 g) of the Parmesan over the crumbs and stir to combine.
- Turn the valve to Venting to quick-release the steam. Carefully remove the lid, add the remaining 1/4 cup (30 g) Parmesan, the cream cheese, and milk, and stir until the cream cheese has melted, about 5 stirs. Fold in the tuna and lemon juice.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan breadcrumbs and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
For pure nostalgia, this recipe for Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole is a hands-down happy throwback. I love that it’s all the flavor of the original but much lighter (whipped cream cheese is brilliant!) and brighter (thank you, fresh lemon juice!)…and it literally brought smiles to my family of eaters. The shiitakes were a welcome elevation of a homespun dish, but could easily be omitted if your audience includes children or picky adults.
All of that said, I’d argue that although the recipe may be faster than the old-fashioned baking method, it is definitely not simpler. I’ll be making some adjustments to streamline the effort when I make this again. I’ll completely skip the bread slice/food-processor step and simply use panko breadcrumbs. I’ll eliminate the stove-top toasting and instead use the sauté function of the Instant Pot, melting the butter, stirring in the panko, and then setting them aside before proceeding with the vegetable sauté.
Tuna noodle casserole is something I got burned out on at the ripe old age of 7. Tuna? Eww. Creamy? Eww. And there are still leftovers? Double eww. That said, this Instant Pot tuna noodle casserole recipe changed my mind, and I suspect would’ve made that 7 year old happy as well. It’s much faster, no oven needed, and it’s very light.
It shows how a dump and bake recipe can be upgraded substantially by using quality ingredients. I’m already thinking through ways to customize this further. Sliced almonds? Green peas? Fresh parsley? I think this is really versatile. My noodles still had a bit of crunch on the edges upon opening the Instant Pot, but I actually really enjoyed the texture it added, so I wouldn’t change a thing. Also, I’d never used whipped cream cheese before, but I will be using it over and over again in place of the typical block. I used multigrain bread, and enjoyed the nuttiness it added.
This is a healthy four servings, but I can barely confirm this because it disappeared so quickly! Give it a try, it’s worth it! The high quality tuna, Parmesan, and subtle shallots make it a far more nuanced dish than you’ll remember.
Originally published March 3, 2022