Tuna Casserole is a classic childhood comfort food and now you can make it in just a matter of minutes using your instant pot. With all of the classic ingredients, including pasta, mushroom soup, cheese, and peas this is the perfect weeknight dinner.
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Call me crazy, but tuna casserole has always been one of my favorite foods. It reminds me of my childhood, and now as a mom myself, I love how easy it is to make.
This recipe is inspired by my homemade instant pot mac and cheese which is also incredibly easy to make. I also have a low-carb tuna casserole recipe that is amazing if you are looking for a keto-friendly option!
Tuna Casserole Ingredients and Substitutions
Even though the cooking method for this instant pot casserole is quite different from classic, the ingredients are much the same
- I used Rotini Pasta, but you could also use macaroni, bowtie, ziti - or really anything similar. I know many recipe use egg noodles, but I honeslty prefer a heartier pasta with tuna casserole, and also I find that the egg noodles almost always end up way to soft when cooking in the instant pot.
- Frozen Peas are a classic ingredient in tuna casserole, but if peas aren't your thing, feel free to omit them or substitute with frozen broccoli florets.
- Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup - If you aren't cool with the canned stuff you can check out this recipe to make your own!
- Canned Tuna is obviously the star here, but you can also substitue with cooked and shredded chicken to change things up a bit!
- Colby Jack Cheese is my go-to, but you could also use any combination of cheddar, mozzarella, monterey jack, colby, or gruyere just to name a few options!
- Heavy Whipping Cream, half and half, or milk
- Ritz Crackers, potato chips, panko breadcrumbs, or even cornflakes can be combined with Butter to make an optional crispy topping
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Tuna Casserole in the Instant Pot
Are you ready for the easiest recipe you will ever make?
To make this instant pot tuna casserole, start by combining the pasta, water, frozen peas, salt, pepper, drained tuna, and cream of mushroom soup in the inner liner of your instant pot.
At this point will look disgusting (see image below) and you will wonder what in the world you are about to make. But trust me, and keep going 🙂
Once everything is mixed up, place the lid on your instant pot and lock it in place. Set the steam valve to the "sealed" position. Set the instant pot to manual cook, at high pressure for 4 minutes.
When the cooking time is complete, quickly release the pressure by toggling the sealing valve to 'release'. Your instant pot will hiss and steam will come from the valve. Don't freak out, just let it do its thing. Once the silver pin has dropped, remove the lid to the instant pot and stir the contents.
Note: There are so many models of instant pot and tons of other electric pressure cookers. If you aren't sure how to set yours, check out the owner's manual. You can find most instant pot brand manuals HERE. If you have another brand, try searing google for the brand and model name followed by 'user manual'
Add the cheese and heavy cream. Gently stir it in until the cheese is melted. From here, it is ready to serve just as it is OR you keep going and add that classic crispy topping.
How to make the crispy topping:
If you have an air fryer lid for your instant pot (affiliate), then you can bake the crispy topping right in the instant pot. If you don't have one, you will need to transfer the casserole to a greased baking dish and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the crushed crackers in a bowl with the melted butter. Once combined, sprinkle this mixture over the top of the casserole.
If you are using the air fryer lid on your instant pot, then place the lid on top and lock it in place. (you will hear a chime when it is placed correctly) Set it to 'Bake' at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
If you are baking it in the oven simply cook it in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Variations on Classic Tuna Casserole
If you want to change things up a bit, here are some of my top suggestions:
- Low Carb - Check out my recipe for low carb tuna casserole that uses cauliflower in place of the pasta. It is a great option if you are trying to cut carbs.
- Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole - Swap cooked and shredded chicken for the tuna, cream of chicken for the cream of mushroom, and frozen broccoli for the peas to make an entirey different dish with the same cooking technique!
- Gluten Free - To make this recipe gluten free, simply use your favorite gluten free pasta and guten free cream of mushroom soup. Omit the crispy topping, or substitute my homemade keto butter crackers for the ritz!
For another easy instant pot meal, be sure to check out my Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup!
To make this recipe you will need the following:
- An instant pot electric pressure cooker (affiliate) with at least a 6-quart capacity. (Note: I am almost certain that any comparable electric pressure cooker would also work, but I have only used Instant Pot)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A large spoon for stirring
- Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid (affiliate) OR a baking dish
You can store the leftovers in the fridge directly in the instant pot liner using a silicone lid (affiliate) or plastic wrap. It should keep for up to 5 days. You can reheat the leftovers in the oven, or in the microwave.
This recipe will not work well in a slow cooker. You can try this recipe for slow cooker tuna casserole.
If you find that the casserole is too dry, simply add a bit more milk, cream, and/or cheese until it reaches the desired consistency.
Not at all! With this recipe, the pasta will cook perfectly in the instant pot making clean-up super easy!
I may be revealing the extent of my laziness, but I find it SO much easier to use tuna in foil packs versus canned in water or oil. You don't have to drain the tuna from the foil packs so it is much less messy and saves me a few minutes as well.
Instant Pot Tuna Casserole
- Instant pot
- Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid (optional)
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- 16 oz Rotini Pasta
- 3 ½ cups Water
- 2 cups Frozen Peas
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- 10 ½ oz Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 12 oz Canned Tuna drained
- 2 cups Colby Jack Cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Optional Crispy Topping
- 1 cup Ritz Crackers crushed
- 3 tablespoon Butter melted
- Combine the pasta, water, peas, salt, pepper, cream of mushroom soup, and tuna inside the inner liner of your instant pot.16 oz Rotini Pasta, 3 ½ cups Water, 2 cups Frozen Peas, 1 teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Pepper, 10 ½ oz Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup, 12 oz Canned Tuna
- Place the lid on the instant pot and lock it in place. Set the steam valve to the "sealed" position. Set the instant pot to manual cook, at high pressure for 4 minutes. (On most models, press the 'manual' button, the light under 'high pressure' should be illuminated. If it isn't then press the 'pressure level' button once. Set the cook time by pressing the '+' or '-' button until 4 minutes is on the digital display)
- When the cooking time is complete, quickly release the pressure by toggling the sealing valve to 'release'. Once the pressure has released and the silver pin has dropped, remove the lid to the instant pot and stir the contents.
- Stir in the cheese and heavy cream. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.2 cups Colby Jack Cheese, ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
For the optional crispy topping:
- Combine the crushed ritz crackers with the melted butter.1 cup Ritz Crackers, 3 tablespoon Butter
- Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the cooked casserole in the instant pot.
- Place the Instant pot air fryer lid on the instant pot. You should hear a chime when it is correctly placed. Set it to 'Bake' at 375° for 8 minutes.
- Note: If you do not have an instant pot air fryer lid, you can transfer the cooked casserole to a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle the cracker and butter mixture over the casserole and bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until it is golden brown.
Be sure to read the entire post for tips, tricks, and help troubleshooting.
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.