Make this Cheesy Tuna Bake recipe from pantry staples

1 June 2024

  • Adam Liaw makes a Cheesy Tuna Bake using only ingredients he has in his fridge and pantry.
  • His top tip is to use stale bread from the freezer, cook the crumb separately and add it last – this will give you the crunchiest topping ever.
  • The result is an easy, delicious, budget-friendly meal that serves six.

Watch Adam cook an affordable family classic that everyone will love.

Want to know how to make your food budget stretch further? Shop your pantry and fridge to create meals from scratch using whatever you’ve got at hand. That’s what The Brighter Side’s Adam Liaw does to create his Cheesy Tuna Bake recipe.

Using only what he has at home, he dishes up a tasty meal and shares budget tips along the way, including which herbs can save you money (grow your own or go for dried herbs) and how to make a rich, cheesy sauce without using too much cheese.

Adam also has a surprising tip for getting the crunchiest crumb topping by using stale bread from your freezer to make your own breadcrumbs.  

Adam Liaw’s pantry staples Cheesy Tuna Bake recipe

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Serves: 6


  • 350g dried macaroni
  • 100g butter
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 2 cups grated tasty cheese, plus extra to scatter on top
  • 425g tuna in springwater, drained
  • 2 cups stale bread crusts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C (fan forced). Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add a pinch of salt. Cook macaroni for 2 minutes less than the packet directions suggest and drain well before returning to the pot.
  2. While the macaroni is cooking, heat a small saucepan and add half the butter. Fry the onion for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the flour and fry for about 3 minutes to form a blonde roux (designed to thicken saucy recipes). Add the milk, a little at a time, to form a thin sauce, then stir through the cheese until melted. Season to taste.
  3. Break the tuna into the cheese sauce and pour over the macaroni, mixing well. Transfer to a large ovenproof dish and scatter the top with extra cheese. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
  4. While the tuna mornay is baking, blitz the bread crusts in a food processor to a coarse crumb. Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the garlic until lightly browned.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until browned. Season well with salt and stir through the dried parsley. Spoon the crunchy breadcrumbs on top of the baked tuna bake and serve.

Tip: Cooking the crumb topping separately from the pasta bake and spooning it on at the end gives you a crunchier, fresher finish which elevates your home meal. 

For more recipes that are big on flavour but gentle on the household budget, don’t forget to tune into The Brighter Side on Saturday at 6pm. We’ll be adding new recipes here online every week so you can try them at home! 

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