Tuna Pasta Bake
Tuna Pasta Bake
5 from 7 votes
Transform those cans of tuna and pasta packets that have been lying in your pantry into this delicious dinner recipe. Baked pasta and tuna in a delicious tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese. Perfect for families!
Tuna Pasta Bake

Our beloved tuna pasta bake is a quintessential family dinner that has its roots in British cuisine.

Throughout the years, it has been adapted and varied in countless ways to suit different tastes, but the core concept remains the same: delicious pasta combined with flavoursome tuna, all baked to perfection with a gooey cheese topping.

As for its level of difficulty, this recipe is beginner-friendly. You don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to whip up this scrumptious dish. In fact, it’s a great way to get younger family members involved in cooking.

Even if you’re just cooking for yourself, rest assured you won’t be spending endless hours in the kitchen. The recipe is straightforward, and the result is immensely satisfying.

One of the most fantastic aspects of the tuna pasta bake is its adaptability. You can easily switch up the ingredients to fit dietary needs or preferences. For instance, for those who enjoy a little extra spice, additional chillies can make a huge difference.

On the other hand, if you’re feeding it to young children or those with milder palates, you can omit the chillies altogether. The base recipe is delicious in its own right, but it’s also a canvas waiting for your culinary creativity.

Another area where this recipe shines is in the selection of vegetables. We’ve chosen bell peppers and onions, but the sky is the limit here. You could add courgettes, mushrooms or even some baby spinach for an extra dose of nutrients.

Let’s talk cheese. Mozzarella gives our tuna pasta bake that stringy, gooey texture that we all love. But if mozzarella isn’t your cup of tea, you could opt for cheddar or even a mixture of hard Italian cheeses. Again, it’s all down to personal preference.

In terms of the sauce, we opted for a classic pasta sauce but amplified it with some double cream. The cream adds richness and a velvety texture that elevates the dish to new heights. You could, however, use a bechamel sauce if that’s more to your liking.

We’ve chosen penne pasta for this recipe because its tubular shape is perfect for holding onto that sumptuous sauce. Feel free to use other types of pasta like fusilli or rigatoni if you want a bit of variety.

Finally, let’s delve into the spices we’ve incorporated. Cumin and crushed chillies add an extra layer of complexity to the dish. They complement the natural flavours of the tuna and vegetables, making every bite a delicious symphony of taste.

Now that you’re acquainted with the background and versatility of our tuna pasta bake, let’s get into the specifics of what ingredients to use and why.

What Ingredients to Use & Why

When it comes to cooking, especially a dish as versatile as our tuna pasta bake, the quality and choice of ingredients are key. The ingredients should harmonize with each other, each one adding a unique touch that contributes to the final flavour profile.

Here, we’ve selected components that work together in delightful ways, from the rich undertones of olive oil to the creamy texture that double cream provides. Let’s delve deeper into what makes each ingredient special and explore possible alternatives for more adaptability.

Olive Oil: Olive oil serves as a base for our sauté, giving the garlic and cumin seeds a medium to release their flavours. It’s a healthier alternative to butter and adds a subtle, fruity note.

If olive oil isn’t at hand, sunflower or vegetable oil can be used, although you’ll miss out on the nuanced flavours that olive oil brings.

Garlic: The garlic offers a foundational flavour, complementing almost every other ingredient. If you’re not a fan of garlic, you can use shallots or even a pinch of asafoetida for that umami kick.

Crushed Chillies: These add heat and depth to our dish. If you’re looking for something milder, consider using paprika. Conversely, for more heat, consider cayenne pepper or even a fresh, finely chopped chilli pepper.

Cumin Seeds (Jeera): Cumin lends an earthy, warm quality to the dish that pairs well with the richness of tuna. For a different aromatic experience, try using mustard seeds or fennel seeds.

Onions: The humble onion brings sweetness and bite. If you’re not fond of onions, leeks or shallots make a great substitute, each with its own distinctive flavour profile.

Bell Peppers (Red and Green): The bell peppers add colour and a slight sweetness that contrasts well with the spicy and creamy elements. You could use yellow or orange peppers for a different colour palette or even add other vegetables like courgette or mushrooms.

Salt & Black Pepper: These basic seasonings enhance all the other flavours in the dish. They are the essential tools in a cook’s flavour arsenal. No real alternatives here, although you could try using sea salt or freshly ground pepper for variations.

Tuna: The star ingredient providing protein and a robust flavour. If you’re not a fan of tuna, you can substitute with other canned fish like salmon or sardines, or even go vegetarian with chickpeas or tofu.

Pasta (Penne): Penne pasta’s shape holds the sauce well, creating a balanced bite. Fusilli or rigatoni can also be used for a different texture and experience.

Pasta Sauce: A ready-made pasta sauce simplifies the cooking process but still offers a rich tomato base. Feel free to make your own from scratch or even try a rose sauce for a different take.

Double Cream: Adds a touch of richness and creaminess. You could also use single cream or even coconut milk for a dairy-free alternative.

Mozzarella Cheese: Adds that gooey, stretchy texture that makes the dish indulgent. You could use cheddar or a blend of Italian hard cheeses as an alternative.

A comprehensive breakdown of each ingredient and its role in making our tuna pasta bake an unforgettable meal. The options are endless, allowing you to make this dish truly your own. Now, let’s move on to the intricacies of how to bring these components together in perfect harmony.

How to Choose the Perfect Pasta for Your Tuna Pasta Bake

When it comes to making our fabulous tuna pasta bake, not just any pasta will do. The type of pasta you choose can have a significant impact on the texture and overall experience of the dish.

Commonly, we opt for penne pasta for its ideal shape and size, which holds the sauce well. The small tubes fill with sauce and cheese, delivering a perfect bite every time.

If you’re keen to venture beyond penne, fusilli is another excellent choice. Its twisted shape clings to the creamy sauce, tuna, and veggies, offering an enjoyable experience in each bite.

Rigatoni is a larger alternative with ridges that help trap the sauce and other ingredients, making for a robust, hearty meal.

These options are ideal for those who like their pasta bake with a bit more substance.

Now, if you prefer lighter pasta options, you could experiment with smaller shapes like macaroni or farfalle (bow-tie pasta).

Macaroni can make the dish feel a bit more like a traditional American-style tuna casserole, while farfalle adds a delightful aesthetic with its bow-tie shape. Both of these options work well in retaining the sauce and flavours of the dish.

Whole-wheat pasta and gluten-free pasta varieties are also available if you have dietary restrictions. While whole-wheat pasta adds a more earthy, grainy texture, gluten-free options like rice or quinoa pasta are light and ideal for those who want to avoid gluten without compromising on taste.

When it comes to pasta choices for our tuna pasta bake, you have a multitude of options to suit your culinary desires. Whether you like a hearty bite or are looking for gluten-free and whole-wheat alternatives, the right pasta can elevate your dish from good to sublime.

Boosting the Nutritional Value of Your Tuna Pasta Bake

We all love the comforting taste of a tuna pasta bake. It’s one of those go-to dishes that pleases a crowd and feels like a hearty meal. However, if you’re looking to amp up the nutritional content of this already fantastic dish, there are several ways to go about it.

Firstly, let’s talk about adding more vegetables. While our recipe calls for red and green bell peppers, you can effortlessly include other nutritious veggies.

Consider adding spinach for its high iron content or even finely chopped carrots for a beta-carotene boost. The goal is to make the dish a colourful feast that’s not just pleasing to the eye but also packed with nutrients.

Now onto the tuna. While tuna is already a great source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, you can opt for sustainably-caught tuna to ensure you’re making an environmentally responsible choice. Some brands even offer tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil for that added dose of heart-healthy fats.

Speaking of fats, the olive oil we use in our recipe can be swapped out for other oils rich in unsaturated fats. Avocado oil or almond oil would both be excellent choices, offering their unique profiles while contributing to heart health.

Another way to add a nutritional punch is through the pasta itself. Whole-wheat pasta offers more fibre and a different set of nutrients compared to white pasta. If you’re gluten-sensitive, several gluten-free pasta options are just as nutritious and can be easily integrated into the recipe.

By making these changes, we not only create a dish that’s mouth-wateringly delicious but also one that aligns with various health goals.

Whether you’re aiming to add more vegetables to your diet or simply want a more heart-healthy dish, these tweaks can significantly enhance the nutritional value of our beloved tuna pasta bake.

Making Your Tuna Pasta Bake a Meal Prep Success

Meal prepping is the saving grace for those busy weeks when cooking from scratch is not an option.

If you’re a fan of our delectable tuna pasta bake, you’re in luck. It’s a dish that lends itself well to meal prepping, allowing you to enjoy its comforting richness even on a hectic day. The key to successful meal prep with this dish lies in a few simple steps that make all the difference.

Firstly, consider the containers you’ll be using to store the pasta bake. Make sure they are airtight and preferably ovenproof if you’re planning to reheat your meal in the oven. Portions should be divided based on your eating habits; this makes it easier to grab a container, heat it, and enjoy your meal without fuss.

Secondly, you’ll want to slightly undercook the pasta. Because you’ll be reheating it, undercooking ensures that the pasta doesn’t turn mushy when it’s time to eat. This trick helps maintain the delightful texture we all crave in a pasta dish, even days after the initial cooking.

When it comes to storing the dish, separate the components if possible. Keep the creamy sauce and pasta in one container and the cheese topping in another.

This strategy helps maintain the integrity of the ingredients and allows for a more satisfying experience when you finally reheat and combine them.

Don’t forget to label your containers. Knowing the date when the meal was prepped can be incredibly useful, as the tuna pasta bake will generally keep well in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two months.

The beauty of using our tuna pasta bake for meal prep lies in its versatility and the ease with which it can be stored and reheated. With these tips in mind, you’ll find that enjoying this delicious dish doesn’t have to be restricted to the day you cook it.

Creating a Vegan Version of the Tuna Pasta Bake

While the traditional tuna pasta bake holds a special place in our hearts, there’s no reason our plant-based friends should miss out on the goodness. Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on flavours or textures, and we’ve got some clever substitutions to prove it.

Instead of tuna, consider using jackfruit. This tropical fruit has an almost meaty texture when cooked and soaks up the flavours of any spices or sauces it’s cooked with. To replicate the taste of tuna, seasoning jackfruit with seaweed flakes adds that oceanic flavour you’re looking for.

Cheese is another main component of a classic tuna pasta bake. Vegan cheese options have come a long way, with varieties made from cashews, coconut, and even potatoes.

These offer the meltability and creaminess you desire. Many supermarkets now stock a variety of vegan cheeses, making it easier to find one that suits your taste buds.

Dairy-free cream alternatives, such as coconut cream or cashew cream, can replace the double cream in the original recipe. These options provide the richness and consistency you want but keep things entirely plant-based.

Even the pasta can be swapped for whole grain or legume-based alternatives if you’re looking for more nutrients in your meal. Lentil pasta or chickpea pasta are excellent options that also up the protein content of the dish.

The end result is a vegan tuna pasta bake that’s just as comforting, creamy, and satisfying as its fish-based counterpart. With these changes, everyone at the dinner table can dive into this delicious dish.

Cooking for Kids: Making the Tuna Pasta Bake Kid-Friendly

For households with young ones, a tuna pasta bake is an excellent way to deliver both flavour and nutrition in a package that can be irresistibly tempting. However, sometimes the original recipe needs a bit of tweaking to cater to younger taste buds.

To start with, the spices might need to be adjusted. While the crushed chillies and cumin seeds add a kick for adults, children might find it too spicy. Omitting the chillies and going light on the cumin can make a world of difference in making the dish child-friendly.

The choice of pasta shapes can also be a fun way to engage the kids. While penne works excellently for adults, children might enjoy the dish more with fun shapes like bowties, wheels, or even character-themed pasta.

The veggies in the dish also offer an opportunity for customization. If bell peppers aren’t popular with your little ones, consider swapping them for sweet corn or peas, which are generally well-received by children.

One way to get the kids involved is to let them sprinkle the cheese on top before baking. Children often enjoy participating in cooking, and this simple act can make them more interested in eating the dish.

Altering the recipe to make it more appealing for children doesn’t have to compromise its integrity. With these adjustments, the tuna pasta bake can easily become a household favourite for all ages.

Transforming Tuna Pasta Bake into a Gluten-Free Delight

Navigating the culinary world with gluten intolerance can be tricky. But that doesn’t mean we should sacrifice flavour or comfort. Transforming our beloved tuna pasta bake into a gluten-free version isn’t as complicated as it might seem.

Start with the pasta. Thankfully, we now have a plethora of gluten-free pasta options available, made from ingredients like rice, quinoa, and even chickpeas. These alternatives not only make the dish gluten-free but also add a unique twist to the texture and flavour.

When it comes to the sauce, ensure that your pasta sauce is gluten-free. Many store-bought options contain hidden gluten in the form of thickeners or flavourings. Read the labels carefully or make your sauce from scratch, which gives you complete control over the ingredients.

Cumin seeds and crushed chillies are naturally gluten-free but double-check all your spices. Some spice blends may contain gluten as a filler or anti-caking agent. Keeping an eye on these small details ensures that your dish remains completely gluten-free.

Cheese and double cream are generally gluten-free, but it’s crucial to read the ingredient list for any additives that might contain gluten. This is especially true for cheaper, pre-shredded cheeses that might have anti-caking agents.

A gluten-free tuna pasta bake that keeps the comfort but leaves out the gluten. Whether for dietary requirements or lifestyle choices, this dish proves that gluten-free doesn’t mean flavour-free.

Spicing Up Your Tuna Pasta Bake

Tuna pasta bake is a comfort food staple, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bland or monotonous. There are countless ways to jazz up this simple dish, and we’re excited to share a few with you.

Let’s start with the herbs. Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or even a bit of dill can add a bright, aromatic layer to your bake. These herbs can be mixed into the sauce or sprinkled on top before serving. The fresh burst of green also adds a pop of colour, making the dish visually appealing.

If you want to elevate the dish’s gourmet factor, why not add a splash of white wine to your sauce? Make sure to let it simmer well, so the alcohol cooks off, leaving behind an intricate depth of flavour. A good rule of thumb is to use a wine that you’d enjoy drinking.

A mixture of cheeses can also amp up the wow factor. While mozzarella brings in the creamy meltiness, adding a bit of parmesan or Gruyère will introduce a nutty, sophisticated flavour profile to your bake.

Then there are additional protein options. Alongside tuna, other seafood like prawns or even some grilled chicken can be tossed in for a more complex, hearty dish. These extra proteins introduce new textures and flavours, making each bite exciting.

When you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, don’t hesitate to experiment with your tuna pasta bake. These simple but impactful modifications can turn a simple family meal into a culinary experience worth talking about.

Batch Cooking with Tuna Pasta Bake

When life gets busy, it’s a comfort to know that a wholesome meal is just a quick reheat away. Batch cooking tuna pasta bake can save us both time and stress on those particularly hectic days. The dish holds up remarkably well when made in advance, making it an ideal candidate for meal prepping.

Begin by scaling up your ingredients. A good rule of thumb is to double or triple the recipe, depending on how many servings you need for the week. Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning accordingly; it’s always easier to add more later if you need to.

After the dish is prepared, allow it to cool completely before portioning it out into individual servings or family-sized portions.

Use airtight containers to keep the bake fresh and prevent it from absorbing other flavours in the fridge or freezer. The pasta bake can be refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to three months.

When you’re ready to eat, reheating is a breeze. If you’ve frozen your pasta bake, it’s a good idea to let it thaw in the fridge overnight.

For reheating, you can either pop it in the microwave for a quicker option or reheat it in the oven to bring back some of that fresh-out-of-the-oven crispiness to the cheese topping.

By planning ahead and batch cooking your tuna pasta bake, you’re not just saving time but also ensuring that a nourishing, home-cooked meal is always within reach. It’s meal planning made easy and delicious.

Adding Vegetables to Your Tuna Pasta Bake

If you’re looking to incorporate more vegetables into your meals, a tuna pasta bake offers the perfect canvas for this. Not only do vegetables add a range of colours and textures, but they also enhance the dish’s nutritional profile.

Start by choosing vegetables that complement the existing flavours of your pasta bake. Leafy greens like spinach or kale can be easily wilted into the sauce, adding a richness and extra layer of flavour. For crunch and sweetness, bell peppers and carrots are good choices.

If you’re a fan of spiciness, adding diced jalapeños or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes can provide that extra kick. However, be mindful of your audience; not everyone may appreciate the added heat.

Some root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips could also be incorporated. These vegetables can be thinly sliced and added to the layers, providing a unique texture and a subtle earthiness to the dish.

So go ahead and make your tuna pasta bake as colourful and nutritious as you’d like. It’s a fantastic way to meet your daily vegetable quota while enjoying a hearty, satisfying meal.

Check Out These Other Recipes

If you’re diving into my mouth-watering Tuna Pasta Bake, I’ve got good news—you’re in for even more culinary delight! I’ve gathered some recipes that are perfect companions to your pasta-craving soul.

Firstly, you’ve got to try the Tuna Curry. It marries the robust flavours of tuna with aromatic spices, culminating in a dish that’s just heavenly. And hey, since you’re already a fan of tuna, why not toss in some Tuna Quesadillas to your cooking repertoire?

Picture this: Melted cheese and spiced tuna snuggled between crispy tortillas. Just the thought of it is making my stomach rumble.

But wait, there’s more. Tuna and Chickpea Curry is like the cosy blanket you wrap yourself in during a chilly night.

The chickpeas add a delightful nuttiness, perfectly complementing the richness of the tuna. If you’re leaning towards a lighter fare, Tuna Pasta Salad is your go-to. It’s a breeze to make and works brilliantly for picnics or lazy Sunday lunches.

Last but definitely not least, the Tuna Melt. Imagine sinking your teeth into a toasted sandwich stuffed with warm, creamy tuna filling. It’s comfort food dialled up to a ten.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive right into these tantalizing recipes and thank me later! Don’t forget to leave your comments below—I’d love to hear what you think.

Tuna Pasta Bake

Tuna Pasta Bake

by Nabeela Kauser
Transform those cans of tuna and pasta packets that have been lying in your pantry into this delicious dinner recipe. Baked pasta and tuna in a delicious tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6
Calories 469 kcal



  • Heat up the oil in a pan on medium heat until hot
  • Add the finely chopped garlic cloves, cumin seeds and crushed chillies then sauté for 1-2 minutes
  • Add the chopped onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened
  • As the onions are cooking chop the bell peppers and add into the pan then cook for a further 4-5 minutes on medium heat
  • Add the tuna then cook for 2-3 minutes ensuring that you break up the tuna as you mix
  • Add the pasta sauce in and cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the double cream and cook for another 4-5 minutes
  • Add the boiled penne pasta and cook for 3-4 minutes on low heat
  • Add 100g of the mozzarella cheese then mix until cheese is melted
  • Transfer the pasta mixture into a heatproof oven dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c Gas Mark 6 for 10-12 minutes
  • Serve immediately alongside a healthy green salad and enjoy!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 469kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 23gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 975mgPotassium: 485mgFibre: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2115IUVitamin C: 56mgVitamin D: 1µgCalcium: 261mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Baked, Comfort Food, Dinner, Fish, Food, Pasta, Recipe, Seafood, Tuna
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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