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Tuna Rice Casserole

Move over tuna noodle!

It seems like moms everywhere have always been big on Tuna Noodle Casserole as a comfort food staple, but Tuna Rice Casserole deserves its share of the limelight too. It’s a creamy bake that uses an easy pantry protein, just like the noodle version, but here the comforting carbs come in the form of tender long-grain white rice. This recipe uses a quick creamy homemade sauce and no canned soup at all, and while that might draw you in, you’ll stay for the crispy, buttery cracker crumb topping.

Instead of the cream of whatever soup you often find in tuna casseroles, this bake relies on a roux-based sauce for its creaminess. You simply start by sauteeing some onions in butter before stirring in some flour and cooking it just until the flour taste is gone.

That thickens up the milk that you stir in next, along with a bit of cheddar cheese.

Then come the hearty bits – like white rice, canned tuna, green peas – and some sour cream to up the creaminess factor.

It heads into a casserole dish and gets topped with a mixture of Ritz cracker crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

It gets nice and bubbly in the oven, but the topping gets delightfully golden brown and crisp. I’ve had plenty of cracker crumb toppings before but the way this one mingles with the nutty Parmesan cheese is not to be missed.

I mean just look at that topping! I could go on and on about it, but the good news is that the actual casserole below is just as worth rattling on about. It’s creamy and just cheesy enough and is the kind of delicious warming comfort that you always want out of a casserole.

Tuna Rice Casserole

Serves 6; 10 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook time

Ingredients
  • 2 cups white rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 (5 oz) cans tuna, drained
  • 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Whisk in flour and garlic powder and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Gradually add milk and cook until bubbly and thick. Stir in cheddar cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Add rice, tuna, peas, cheese sauce, and sour cream to casserole dish and stir to combine.
  6. Combine cracker crumbs with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of casserole.
  7. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Broil on high until top is golden brown, if desired.
  8. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Yellow Bliss Road.