Casseroles don’t get enough credit. People are all about one-pot meals and easy dinner hacks, but when you utter the word “casserole,” they picture a Pyrex baking dish filled with beige mush prepared by a corner-cutting grandma who still cooks with a Virginia Slim dangling from her lips. I am a proud Millennial (an old one, but stay with me here) and I think casseroles are great—tuna noodle casserole in particular. It’s creamy and satisfying and probably the second best way to turn a can of tuna into dinner (niçoise salad being the first—see, I can be a food snob, too). But casseroles are only as good as their ingredients. That’s why we rounded up all the components you need to make the best tuna noodle casserole this side of the 1970s.
- American Tuna with Sea Salt
If you use crummy tuna, you’re gonna have a crummy tuna noodle casserole. Simple as that! Given that your canned tuna will be marinatin’ in bubbly, hot cream of mushroom soup, you need a good, firm, meaty tuna. American Tuna with Sea Salt is just the stuff. “This tuna doesn’t taste like it’s packed in water so much as it tastes like it was packed in the natural juices of the fish itself,” Sporked contributor Danny Palumbo wrote. “It’s a really fresh, excellent product.” Most importantly, it doesn’t taste like a can! Nothing ruins a casserole like can.
Read the full ranking of the best canned tuna (pouches, too!)
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart
- Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup with Roasted Garlic
During our cream of mushroom soup taste test, I could not stop eating this soup—and that’s saying something when you have to taste, like, 12 different varieties of cream of mushroom soup. The garlic flavor gives it a little extra “oomph” without causing it to stray too far from classic Campbell’s cream of mushroom territory. This is the casserole binder you know and love, but just a little bit tastier and better.
Read the full ranking of the best cream of mushroom soup
Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart
- Kroger Garden Variety Sweet Peas
A lot of people use frozen peas in their tuna noodle casserole, but ours is going to be just as good with only pantry ingredients. That’s cool, right? These Garden Variety peas from Kroger are plump and firm and taste fresher than any other canned peas we tried. These will add lovely little pops of sweetness to an otherwise salty casserole.
Read the full ranking of the best canned peas
Credit: Merc / Ralphs
- Trader Joe’s Onion Salt
If you’re giving your casserole a bread crumb topping, Trader Joe’s onion salt is a really easy way to turn unseasoned bread crumbs into seasoned ones. It’s not just granulated onion and salt, see. It’s also got dehydrated green onion, chives, and some granulated garlic, too. It’s a real all-in-one hero of a seasoning blend and it’s perfect for most casseroles.
Read the full ranking of the best Trader Joe’s seasonings
Bonus Item: Great Value Wide Egg Noodles
Full disclosure: We’ve yet to taste test egg noodles here at Sporked, but if you’re a frequent reader, you’re probably aware that we really like Great Value products. They taste good. They’re cheap. And they’re sold at Walmart, so they’re (very) available nationwide. Basically, we’re willing to guess that they make egg noodles that are worthy of the ultimate tuna noodle casserole.