Tuna Pasta Bake- Avoid Dry Bakes with These Expert Tricks

Tuna Pasta Bake- Avoid Dry Bakes with These Expert Tricks

If you’re searching for a recipe that’s both comforting and easy to prepare, look no further than the classic Tuna Pasta Bake. This delightful dish, with its creamy sauce, tender pasta, and hearty tuna, has been a staple in British homes for generations. Today, we’ll add a modern twist by incorporating the use of an air fryer, making this recipe not only easy but also efficient.

Ingredients and Equipment


  • 300g pasta (penne or fusilli works best)
  • 2 cans of tuna in spring water, drained
  • 1 can of sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400ml double cream
  • 200g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 100g breadcrumbs (optional)


  • Large pot for boiling pasta
  • Medium frying pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Baking dish (suitable for air fryer or oven)
  • Air fryer (or conventional oven)
  • Mixing spoon
  • Knife and chopping board

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the double cream and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Add the grated cheddar cheese, stirring until melted and well combined.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried basil.

Step 3: Assemble the Bake

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 180°C (350°F) or your oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, drained tuna, sweetcorn, and the creamy cheese sauce.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish.
  4. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs if using.

Step 4: Bake

  1. Place the baking dish in the preheated air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.
  2. If using an oven, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tips and Tricks for a Unique Tuna Pasta Bake

  • Add Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value by adding chopped spinach, peas, or broccoli.
  • Herb Infusion: For a burst of flavour, try adding fresh herbs like parsley or dill.
  • Spice It Up: A pinch of chilli flakes can give the dish a pleasant kick.
  • Cheese Variety: Experiment with different cheeses such as mozzarella or blue cheese for a unique twist.

Fun Facts

  • Historical Roots: The Tuna dish is believed to have gained popularity in the UK during the 1950s as a convenient and economical meal option.
  • Versatility: This dish is incredibly versatile and can be customised to suit various dietary needs, including gluten-free and dairy-free versions.

How to Make Tuna Pasta Bake Like Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s approach to Tuna Pasta Bake includes using high-quality ingredients and a few special touches. Here’s a simplified version:

  1. Follow the basic steps above for cooking pasta and preparing the sauce.
  2. Jamie often adds vegetables like cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach to the mix for added colour and nutrition.
  3. He uses a combination of cheeses, including mozzarella for its melting quality.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) until golden and bubbly on top.

How to Make Pasta Bake Like Mary Berry

Mary Berry’s version of a pasta bake typically involves a creamy white sauce and a variety of cheeses:

  1. Cook the pasta as per usual.
  2. Prepare a white sauce with butter, flour, and milk, stirring until thickened.
  3. Combine the pasta with the white sauce, tuna, and some sweetcorn or peas.
  4. Top with a mixture of grated cheddar and Parmesan.
  5. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for about 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and crisp.

Why Is My Pasta Bake So Dry?

A dry pasta bake can result from several factors:

  • Insufficient Sauce: Make sure there’s enough sauce to coat the pasta thoroughly. The pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it bakes.
  • Overbaking: Cooking the bake for too long can dry it out. Keep an eye on it and take it out once the top is golden.
  • Lack of Covering: Consider covering the dish with foil for the first half of the baking time to retain moisture, then remove the foil to crisp up the top.

How to Reheat Tuna Pasta Bake in the UK

  1. Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the pasta bake in an oven-safe dish, cover with foil, and heat for about 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to crisp the top.
  2. Microwave Method: Transfer a portion to a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through, until thoroughly heated.
  3. Air Fryer Method: Preheat the air fryer to 160°C (320°F). Place a portion in the air fryer basket and heat for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.


With this easy and delicious Tuna Pasta Bake recipe, you can bring a touch of British culinary tradition to your kitchen. Using an air fryer not only speeds up the cooking process but also ensures a perfectly crispy top layer. So, gather your ingredients and equipment, and enjoy making this comforting classic with a modern twist!

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