Tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake is a very easy store cupboard recipe and a real family favourite for a mid week dinner. It's quick to make and needs just a few everyday ingredients. This filling creamy pasta bake has a delicious rich cheesy sauce. There's plenty of protein and high-fibre corn, although it's good to add some extra salad on the side. You can also make an easy gluten free tuna sweetcorn pasta dish with this recipe.
What you'll love about the recipe
- An ideal pasta bake recipe when you're running low on fresh ingredients
- An easy way to get kids (and adults!) to eat an extra portion of fish. Tinned tuna is high in B vitamins and a great source of low fat protein
- Ready to eat in just 15 minutes, this simple recipe is very easy to make. Double or triple the recipe as needed
- Satisfying and delicious, this comforting tuna and sweetcorn pasta with a rich cheesy sauce will keep you feeling full
- A budget-friendly mid week dinner recipe - just over £1 per portion (sadly gluten free pasta is more expensive!) Ideal for an easy student dinner!
You'll just need 6 everyday ingredients for this easy pasta recipe.
Pasta. Any short-cut pasta such as penne, fusilli, or macaroni will be ideal for this recipe. Use a GF pasta for a gluten-free tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake. The one I use is made from a mixture of rice, maize and quinoa flours and is readily available in UK supermarkets. If gluten is not an issue, you could also use wholemeal or a spelt pasta which is an healthier option. Make sure you follow the cooking options on the packet if using an alternative pasta.
Tuna. I prefer to use tinned tuna in spring water or brine so that the recipe is not too oily. A 185g can of tuna usually has about 145g of drained tuna. Cans of tuna vary slightly in size, so don't worry if your measurements are not exact.
Sweetcorn. A 200g can of sweetcorn usually has a drained weight of about 150g. If you prefer, you can use 150g of frozen sweetcorn. You'll need to cook frozen sweetcorn before you add it to the recipe, you can cook it at the same time in the same pan as the pasta.
Milk. You can use any type of milk to make this tuna and sweetcorn pasta. I used skimmed milk.
Cheese. A mature cheddar is ideal in this cheesy tuna bake. I've added plenty of cheese for richness, so if you want to reduce it slightly then adjust it to suit your taste. If you want to use parmesan instead of cheddar, then 50g will be plenty. You could also use a fat reduced cheddar cheese if you are trying to reduce the saturated fat in your diet. Or just use up whatever hard cheese you've got left in the fridge!
Cornflour (also known as cornstarch) is a super easy way to thicken the cheesy pasta sauce. It'll give you a rich smooth creamy sauce which is gluten free, and there's no need to use butter in the recipe.
Seasoning. Just stick to salt and pepper if that's what you have available. You won't need to add a lot of salt as the cheese and tuna are naturally quite salty. I also like to add a pinch of dried mustard to bring out the cheesiness and add depth of flavour. You could also add a pinch of dried nutmeg which goes well in creamy sauces.
Fresh herbs (optional). If you have some, add a handful of chopped fresh herbs to your tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake as it adds a lovely freshness. Fresh parsley, chives or basil go very well. I wouldn't recommend dried herbs as they won't rehydrate properly in the sauce.
How to make tuna and sweetcorn pasta
Put the pasta on to cook whilst you make the sauce. When I cook pasta I bring it up to a boil, cover the pan and turn the heat off. I find it cooks in 8 minutes in the residual heat. Use a large pan and plenty of water as the pasta is less likely to stick to the pan. Using this method uses less energy and also means that the pasta doesn't boil over whilst I'm making the sauce!
If you are using wholemeal or spelt pasta, follow the cooking instructions on the packet.
The best way to test whether the pasta is cooked to your liking is to try it. I like the pasta to be al dente which means it has a tiny bit of bite to it, but cook it as you prefer. As soon as it is cooked, drain the pasta well.
Meanwhile, make the creamy, cheesy pasta sauce. Add the cornflour, milk and seasoning to a cold pan. Mix well, then place on a medium heat. Bring the mixture up to a boil stirring constantly. Simmer gently for a minute then remove from the heat.
Set aside a tablespoon of grated cheese for the top, then stir the remainder into the sauce. The cheese will melt in the residual heat.
Mix the drained pasta, tuna and sweetcorn into the sauce and add the fresh herbs if using.
Spoon into an oven-proof baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese.
Place the dish under a preheated grill and grill for a couple of minutes until brown and bubbling.
- Make sure that the tuna, sweetcorn and pasta are all well drained so that you don't make the sauce watery.
- You can also add more vegetables to this dish if you like. Peas, peppers, broccoli, kale or leeks all work well, but any vegetables that you add will need to be cooked first. The exceptions are raw spinach, spring onions and tomatoes which can be stirred through the hot pasta.
- You can also make this recipe in individual oven-proof dishes if you prefer.
- For a crunchy topping, add a couple of tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the dish before grilling.
- For a dairy free version of this recipe, you can use dairy free milk (see the full dairy free white sauce recipe) and vegan cheese.
Serving and meal prep
Serve your tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake with a big helping of green salad on the side. It also goes well with this quick leeks and peas side dish.
I prefer freshly made tuna and sweetcorn pasta, but if you have any leftovers you can reheat them covered in the oven or microwave.
The recipe only takes 15 minutes to make from start to finish, but if you prefer you can prepare the dish ahead of time. You will need to bake the tuna and sweetcorn pasta in the oven to ensure that it is warmed through properly. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
Frequently asked questions
Canned tuna is a great low fat source of protein which is rich in vitamins and minerals. Canned sweetcorn counts as one of your 5 a day, and is high in fibre. You can make a healthier version of the recipe by using wholegrain or spelt pasta, and you can also make a lower fat version if you prefer. Remember to add some extra veggies or a salad on the side.
Yes, you can reheat leftovers. The best way is to cover the dish with foil and pop it into a hot oven for about 15 minutes. If the sauce has gone very thick, you can stir through a splash more milk. Alternatively, cover and microwave in short bursts.
A generous serving of this tuna sweetcorn pasta bake has 665 calories. If you want to reduce the calories in the recipe, you can reduce the quantity of cheese, or use a low fat cheddar cheese.
More healthy tuna recipes
It's a good idea to keep a couple of cans of tuna on standby as it's versatile and healthy. You can make a tuna quiche, quick fritters or an easy tuna pate. You can also make delicious fish cakes with tinned fish.
More healthy pasta recipes
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Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake
- 150 g pasta
- 185 g can tuna well drained
- 200 g can sweetcorn well drained
- 250 ml milk
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 60 g cheddar cheese grated
- salt and pepper
- handful fresh parsley, basil or chives
- pinch dried mustard powder
- Cook the pasta until just cooked. I bring the pasta up to a boil, clamp on a lid and turn the heat off for 8 minutes. If you prefer, just follow the instructions on your packet of pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Stir the cold milk, seasoning and cornflour together in a cold pan until well blended. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring continuously. The mixture will thicken as it comes to a boil. Simmer for a minute and remove from the heat.
- Set aside a tablespoon of the grated cheese and stir the remainder into the hot sauce.
- Preheat the grill.
- Add the drained pasta, tuna, sweetcorn and cheese sauce to the sauce. Mix gently and add the herbs. Spoon into an oven-proof baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese.
- Pop under a preheated grill until golden and bubbling.
- If you use whole grain or spelt pasta, cooking times will vary, so follow the instructions on the packet.
- For a lower fat tuna and sweetcorn pasta recipe, reduce the quantity of cheese (this recipe is very rich and cheesy!). Or you could also use a reduced fat cheese.
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.