Comforting, nostalgic, and delicious, this Vegan Tuna Casserole is a healthy take on a family favorite. Made from a simply delicious cheesy sauce, noodles, peas, onions, garlic, optional celery, and breadcrumbs, this satisfying meal is ready in 30 minutes!
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Hey Internet, this vegan tuna noodle casserole is my latest and greatest easy vegan dinner and I LOVE it.
Ironically, it’s also another one of those things I didn’t like before going vegan. I actually hated tuna (canned tuna, anyway, I loved fresh tuna) before… but now since going vegan I have to make it myself (takes all of 5 minutes) and I can customize it the way I like it.
I also already shared my vegan tuna recipe with you when I shared my vegan tuna melts, which desperately need new photos taken, but ya know, life.
Anyway, we’re here today to talk about the comfort classic: tuna noodle casserole.
Generally made with canned tuna, fried onions or potato chips, cheese, eggs, and egg noodles, this classic is not what I’d call super healthy or vegan friendly.
However, I wanted to try it since I knew it was a pretty popular dish, and I love a good challenge to veganize things.
I made a delicious cheesy vegan sauce to coat the noodles in, much like in my vegan hamburger helper dish. I also sauteed some onions with some peas and celery (leave out what ya don’t like!) and paired it with some fresh parsley for a very green dish.
The easiest part? I mixed it all together, topped it with my vegan tuna, threw on some bread crumbs and baked it -- voila! A delicious vegan tuna casserole.
This dish is packed with protein, fiber, and micronutrients from veggies. Oh, and lots of flavor!
Let’s jump into this delicious recipe instead of just yapping about it.
What You’ll Need
Well, for my vegan tuna noodle casserole, I hate to break it to ya but you’re gonna need vegan tuna. Let’s talk about that first, then we’ll talk about the noodles and other stuff.
My vegan tuna is chickpea-based like many others… chickpeas just have a great texture. White beans like white navy beans or Great Northern beans will work but they won't have the exact same texture.
You can use canned or cooked-from-scratch chickpeas. If you cook them from scratch you may need to add more salt to get that tuna fish flavor.
Many chickpea tuna recipes have vegan mayo as the creamy base. You can use that but I prefer not to use oil so I used tahini instead. I love the rich sesame flavor it gives this vegan tuna.
Dulse flakes: If you do not like seaweed I promise this recipe does not taste like seaweed, nor is there much of a texture of seaweed since the flakes are so small.
Ume Plum Vinegar: This magically delicious vinegar is made from Japanese umeboshi plums. It's so good but if you can't find it, you can add a little salt to white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
If you don't like seafood, omit these items and use any spices you like.
To round out the flavors I added garlic and onion powder.
So, since noodle is in the name of this vegan tuna noodle casserole, let’s talk about em.
The traditional dish is made with egg noodles. When I made my vegan spinach noodle kugel, I found by happy accident that Walmart sells Egg-Free Wide Noodles!
However, you can also use fusilli, Reginetti, or Toscani if you want the look of egg noodles. Otherwise, just use elbows or shells!
Use gluten-free pasta if needed (and gluten-free breadcrumbs) to make this dish totally gluten-free!
For veggies, I used peas, celery, onion, and garlic. You can use any veggies you like though. Chop up some broccoli, thinly slice carrots, throw in frozen veggies--whatever you and your kids or partner or guests enjoy will work great.
The cheesy sauce… oh man, it’s just the best.
So, like all my creamy sauce recipes, it starts with a block of tofu. Firm, soft, doesn’t matter, just adjust the amount of non-dairy milk you add accordingly.
You can sub soaked cashews, sunflower seeds, or white beans if you can’t have soy.
You’ll need unsweetened original flavor non-dairy milk--any kind will work. For a richer flavor, try canned coconut milk!
For flavor, throw in a bit of miso paste (or just use salt if you can’t have soy), the juice of a lemon, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and a pinch of turmeric (this is mostly for color, so it’s optional).
Finally, the whole thing gets topped off with breadcrumbs, so use whatever vegan breadcrumbs you like. You can also use panko. Make sure to get gluten-free breadcrumbs if you are cooking gluten-free.
You could also use some homemade vegan Parmesan topping on the top. Mine takes 2 minutes and no equipment to make.
Tips for Making Vegan Tuna Casserole
This casserole is pretty simple to make. Just follow the steps below and you’ll have yourself a delicious dinner in no time!
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (or 218 degrees Celsius).
- Start by putting on a pot of water to boil for pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions until it’s almost totally cooked, but just shy. It will finish cooking in the oven.
- While that cooks, let’s make the vegan tuna. Mash your chickpeas with the back of a fork. If you find them hard to mash, microwave them for a minute or two to soften them. I like to mash them so that there are no whole chickpeas but they're not completely pulverized. Mash to the consistency you like. Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the vegan tuna and set aside.
- If you want to saute your onions and garlic, which I recommend, start that in a separate pan now. Saute the onions and celery over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. If you don’t cook with oil like me, just add a splash of water every now and then so they don’t stick. If you use oil you can go ahead and add that first. After the onions are translucent, add the garlic and saute for another minute. Then throw in the peas and allow to cook for 5 minutes, until the celery is bright green and the peas are no longer frozen (or a bit soft, if using fresh peas).
- Make the cheese sauce in the blender. Only add as much non-dairy milk as you need to get it blending, otherwise the sauce can get too runny.
- Finally, let’s assemble the vegan tuna casserole. Add the drained noodles back to the pot and mix in the sauce. If you prefer your veggies to be coated in sauce (great for little ones), add them in now and stir everything well. If you prefer the veggies not to be totally coated, add them on top of the pasta after it’s in the baking dish. So, put that cheesy pasta in your baking dish. Now add the tuna in an even layer all over the pasta. I like to use a cookie scoop for this. Finally, add some parsley and your breadcrumbs (or vegan parm).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. You can also broil it for 3-5 minutes at the end if you’d like the top to get nice and crispy (I did).
- Serve with fresh parsley and maybe some cracked black pepper and enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
More Easy Vegan Pasta Dinners
I probably love pasta more than anything--sorry Mr. Zardyplants, aka Paul.
Here’s some of my fave pasta dishes right now--if you loved this vegan tuna noodle casserole I bet you’ll like these:
- Vegan White Cheddar Mac Bake with Mushroom Bacon
- Savory Coconut Pasta
- Pasta Puttanesca (one pot)
- Vegan Vodka Sauce (with pasta)
- Chickpea Florentine (one pot)
- Vegan Manicotti
- Tahini Pasta with Broccolini
- Vegan Hamburger Helper
- Vegan Goulash (American/Chili Mac Style)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We both literally licked our bowls each time we made it.
This vegan tuna casserole is:
And perfect for a quick and cozy dinner, but impressive enough to serve guests!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!