Simple Tuna and Shells with Cheese

Simple Tuna with Shells and Cheese
Simple Tuna with Shells and Cheese. Diana Rattray
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Ratings (7)

This tasty old fashioned "sea shells" tuna and pasta recipe is a very simple combination of just five ingredients.

Add some herbs, cooked peas, or mixed vegetables for a more colorful dish. I added snipped chives to the dish in the photo. Take a look at the variations (below the instructions) for more ideas.

If you prefer a baked casserole, put the pasta mixture in a baking dish and top with some buttered bread crumbs, French fried onions rings or crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 F for about 20 to 25 minutes.

What You'll Need

  • 3 cups uncooked shell pasta, macaroni, or a similar sized pasta, about 12 ounces
  • 8 ounces shredded process American cheese, such as Kraft Velveeta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 or 3 cans (about 14 to 15 ounces total) solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked*
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

How to Make It

  1. Cook the shell or macaroni pasta in boiling salted water following the package directions; drain in a colander, rinse lightly with hot water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the American cheese and Parmesan cheese with the milk. Cook, stirring until cheese is melted.
  3. Stir in the hot cooked pasta shells or macaroni and the flaked tuna. Blend ingredients thoroughly.
  1. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  2. Serve the pasta with a fresh tossed green salad or Caesar salad and hot baked biscuits or rolls.


  • Use part cheddar cheese with the American cheese or all cheddar for a heartier cheddar flavor.
  • Stir in steamed peas, cooked mixed vegetables or chopped cooked broccoli to the dish along with the tuna.
  • Saute onions and celery in a little butter; add to the pasta mixture along with the tuna.
  • Saute 4 to 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms and add to the pasta mixture.
  • Turn the pasta mixture into a buttered 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole and top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 F (180 C/Gas 4)  for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread crumb topping is nicely browned and the casserole filling is bubbly. Or, top with crushed potato chips or French fried onion rings before baking.

*Have you noticed how tuna can weight has been shrinking? There was a time when a can of tuna weighed 6 or 7 ounces. These days, many weigh in at 5 ounces, and the low sodium cans can be as low as 4 1/2 ounces. 

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