Cheesy Tuna Skillet Pasta

Thursday 18 June 2020

I really love skillet meals like this Cheesy Tuna Pasta.  Meals/entrees that can be cooked all in one pan on top of the stove.  
In the summer they are especially welcome as they don't heat up the kitchen like oven bakes do. But they are equally as delicious and desired in the winter months. To be honest I am up for a one pan supper any time!

This Cheesy Tuna Pasta is just like your favourite Tuna Casserole, except it is cooked in a skillet.  Amazingly there is no need to cook the pasta first.  
The pasta cooks right in the pan with everything else. This also helps to cut down on the washing up! I am all for that!

So what do you need to cook a fantastic meal like this?  Nothing unusual.  Its simple, economical, quick and easy to make.

  • small pasta shapes (I used smaller size macaroni)
  • Albacore white tuna (I only ever buy albacore)
  • whole milk (homogenized, don't use a lower fat milk, the richness of the sauce comes from the use of whole milk)
  • water
  • butter
  • dry mustard powder
  • sweet paprika (the opposite of hot paprika)
  • grated strong cheddar cheese (don't be tempted to use pre-grated cheese please, it simply doesn't work well in this recipe.)
  • frozen petit pois (sure you can use full size peas, but I prefer petit pois)
  • salt, pepper, hot sauce and chopped parsley to garnish

As you can see, nothing too out of the ordinary here.  The most expensive bits will be your cheese and your tuna. 
I buy my Albacore tuna in glass jars from Ocado.  I end up with really great tuna, and an empty glass jar that I can use when I make jam in the summer and autumn time.

Do you save your glass jars?  I always have done, and plastic bags, etc. When I lived in Canada we used to buy our milk in plastic bags, in the 4 liter pack we would get three bags.  
After the milk was gone I would wash and dry them and store them for future use.  They made great freezer bags!  Nice and heavy duty!

This is a fabulously tasty skillet meal.  It goes together really quickly and is done in about 15 minutes time maximum.  
While it is cooking you can be putting together a nice salad to serve on the side. Easy peasy.

You do need to keep an eye on it while it is cooking. First when you bring everything to the boil. Milk has the magic quality of being able to just about double in size when it comes to the boil, so keep watch. 

You don't want to be cleaning burnt on milk from off the stove.

You also want to keep a watch on it and stir it often while it is simmering away. This is so that all of the pasta cooks equally and none sticks to the bottom of the pan.
There is nothing worse than pasta that is stuck to the bottom of the pan. If it burns it can send that burnt flavor all the way through the whole dish.

Don't attempt to cut fat in this recipe by using skimmed milk.  You want at least 1% or higher.  I use whole milk. It gives a lovely rich sauce. 
I have never used any other kinds of milk in this dish other than cow's milk so I cannot speak as to how well they would work. (Soy, oat, almond, etc.) I can't think that they would be very nice actually. But that is just me.

You can use fresh garden peas if you have them.  I use frozen petit pois (baby peas).  I am thinking that frozen chopped broccoli would also work in the same quantity as the peas, as would a mix of frozen peas and corn. 

Or even a mix of frozen vegetables.  Just pick what you enjoy most.

Always grate your own cheese when you are using it for cooking like this.  They add things to pre-grated blends to help them flow smoother when pouring out of the bag and they can often give you a poor finish. 
It doesn't really take too long to grate your own, and it is so much nicer tasting and texture wise! Also use a nice and flavorful cheese. I use strong cheddar. You can also add a TBS or two of grated Parmesan if you wish.  This adds an extra special touch!

I only ever use Albacore Tuna.  An old Italian woman told me to never use anything else once. I was in the grocery store and buying tuna. This was back in the 1980's.
She was right. There is really no comparison and, to me anyways, it has always been worth it to pay a bit more and get albacore.  Its just nicer and tastes far superior.

Make sure you use a pasta in this recipe which says it can be cooked in 6 to 8  minutes as per the instructions on the box.  I used small elbows which worked perfectly.  
All in all I think this is one winner of a weeknight supper! My children have always loved it. As a busy mom raising five children this is a recipe which always came in handy!

Cheesy Tuna Skillet Pasta

Cheesy Tuna Skillet Pasta
Yield: 4
A simple all in one supper entrée that comes together in one pan lickety split!


  • 230g small size pasta shapes (2 cups, I use small macaroni)
  • 280g Albacore white tuna (10 ounces), well drained
  • 480ml whole milk (2 cups)
  • 240ml water
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 245g grated strong cheddar cheese (2 cups)
  • 75g frozen peas (1/2 cup)
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • fresh parsley to garnish


  1. I use my largest non-stick skillet for this recipe.  Add the macaroni, the tuna (broken up), the milk, water, butter, dry mustard powder and paprika to the skillet. Place over high heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. (Stay on it as milk really doubles in volume as it boils and you don't want it to boil over.)  Turn down to a bare minimum heat and cover tightly. 
  2. Simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about 10 minutes or so, and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Stir frequently to prevent the bottom from catching. Stir in the frozen peas and cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt.  Season with the tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.


Do NOT use pre-grated cheese. It doesn't work well in this recipe.  Please grate your own.  Any small pasta shape will work. The cook time depends on your pasta. If its not cooked and most of the liquid has already been absorbed, add a  bit more boiling water if need be.
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What are your favourite things to do with Tuna?  We love it in sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, baked loaves and patties!    

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  1. This looks great and I love not having to use the oven in the summer!

    1. Thanks Jeanie! This is the perfect summer meal! xoxo

  2. I adore all things tuna (and yes, only albacore...once you have had albacore, you won't go back to the other "mush")....I also love casseroles, so this is a perfect combo.... We have always made a tuna casserole, but always cook the pasta first...will definitely be giving this one a try. Other tuna favorites here are cold tuna pasta salad and tuna melts.... ~Robin~

    1. If you like tuna casserole Robin, you will love this skillet dish! Mmmm, Tuna melts! xoxo

  3. We had this last night and it was a quick, easy and tasty dish. I added some frozen broccoli and a handful of sliced black olives, but that's just me. :) Served with a green salad it was a great, filling weekday meal.

    1. Marie! I am so glad you tried and enjoyed this! I love your additions! Sounds delicious! I sure wish the people in this house enjoyed Tuna bakes! They have very limited palates! I can’t believe they are related to me! LOL Thank you so much Marie! Xoxo


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