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Joy of Cooking tuna casserole

The Joy of Cooking Tuna Noodle casserole recipe calls for 1 cup of condensed mushroom soup, and a can (7 oz.) of tuna, and 2 cups of cooked noodles. Some seasoning. Buttered crumbs on top. This makes for a very dry, less-than-comforting dish! Just venting.. I thought I could trust this book. (They also call it an "emergency" meal--maybe they mean that literally.)

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  1. The 1975 edition's recipe reads like a gratin.

    Most recipes call for a lot more liquid.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Mr. Lauriston, you have mentioned in another post that "Homemade tuna casserole can be very tasty." Would you mind telling how you make it, in general?
      I sure enjoyed your recipe for greens, from your site.

      1. re: blue room

        Haven't had it in years, but as I recall it was mostly bechamel and egg noodles.

    2. No milk? Yuck. (And why not the whole can of condensed soup?)

      3 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        Exactly!! This is from the Joy of Cooking--what's up?

        1. re: LindaWhit

          I put a whole can of cream of mushroom soup and a whole can of (goats) milk or half and half. Also add sherry, worcestshire, lemon juice and I can't remember what else for flavor, but cook that down with onions and celery. And lots of extra mushrooms with peas too.

          1. re: coll

            I'm the same way - a whole can of soup and at least a can of milk or half-and-half (or evaporated milk if I have neither milk or half-and-half). I just can't understand this recipe NOT having any milk it it whatsoever!

        2. This is the way my mom and now I make it:

          1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, 2 cups milk, one can on tuna. LOTS of salt and pepper.

          you basically make a simple bechamel sauce and add a can of tuna. deeelish. variation is to add some caraway seeds (so it is sort of like having tuna on rye). and maybe add some peas if desparate for something green.

          3 Replies
            1. re: DGresh

              Of course. But not spaghetti. always something with some body, like rigatoni or spirals. all this tuna noodle talk made me go home and cook it last night.

            2. re: royal bisquit

              i love tuna noodle casserole, but feel kind of gross using canned condensed soup. How do you make this simple bechamel sauce? Is it just a roux plus milk?

            3. The 97 edition's recipe for tuna noodle cassarole is better and uses a bechamel base to start with. I've made it and it's not bad for what it is.

              1. I've made this variation with prepared Alfredo sauce - great when you have a craving and want to throw it together quickly. I thought the lemon was key. Use the refrigerated Alfredo sauce, not the jarred.


                1. I make white sauce and add fresh parmesan cheese to it. Top the dish with bread crumbs or good garlicy croutons. Love it. Gosh, it's been a long time.
                  After reading Rubee's post I want to try it with a bit of lemon.

                  1. Funny that this string is so recent, because I JUST read a NYT article about just this - it's possible you have what she says is the 'weird' Joy version (1997 version)...


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: laurendlewis

                      The 1975 edition has the dry, gratin-like recipe.

                      That NYT article is what sparked this topic:


                      1. re: LoDega

                        Peas are a given with tuna noodle casserole. Any recipe that doesn't call for them is just NOT TNC. :-)

                      2. Add peas, toasted sliced almonds, sherry, Durkee's fried onion rings. Great comfort food with a little twist.

                        1. Let me help. "Joy of Cooking" IS a must have cookbook. But it's just a template. You have got to take that basic pattern and run with it. That is what good cooking is about. My version is both healthy and very delicious.

                          Here's what to do. Boil a bag of egg noodles very al dente. Drain and mix with plenty of grated jack cheese (let's say 12 oz.), a can (or 2 - add more at the end if you think it needs it)of condensed cream of mush or cream o' celery soup (I prefer the celery soup - tastier!), 1 cup frozen peas, a small container of sour cream, 2 - 3 cans drained, roughly broken up albacore solid tuna, a couple good pinches rubbed dry thyme leaves, fresh ground pepper. In a pan saute in a little oil until wilted: a cup minced celery, a cup minced onions (or use a cup sliced scallions and don't pre-cook), and a cup of minced green bell pepper. Then mix it all up and put into your lasagna pan after adjusting for...does it maybe need more cheese to you? You could definitely sprinkle more cheese on top. You could also use mild or medium cheddar instead of jack. Bake uncovered at 350 for about a half hour - cheese in the middle is melted - that is when it's done, and the top gets crispy - yum! This is one of my favorite things to eat - although I'm ashamed to admit it.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: niki rothman

                            Yikes! "Joy of Cooking" is a template? I figured you open the book, you follow instructions, you get a tried, tested, generally accepted-as-tasty dish. Surely "Joy.." does not falter as badly as this often? One poster above calls this "the dry, gratin-like recipe". Another names 10 ingredients that "Joy.." doesn't list, in order to fix it!
                            I suppose it's silly to discuss such a simple dish, I was just suprised that such a famous book dropped the ball..

                            1. re: blue room

                              Of course, one expects a recipe for a cake to be exact, but "Joy" for everything else that does not involve the absolute requirement of careful measuremen, is: a place to start, the basic idea, the nuts n' bolts, a template to set down and understand the premise involved, and then to make into something really superior, really delicious through the creative process. I'll brag and say my own version is tuna noodle casserole's leap toward immortality.

                              1. re: blue room

                                Is the recipe wrong, or is it that it just doesn't meet your expectations? Maybe some people (or regions) like it dry, with just enough sauce bind the ingredients. Others may like it soupy.

                                For a dish like this, a recipe is just the starting point. Modifying it to suit your tastes should be a no brainer. For example, you could use the whole can of soup. You could thin the soup with some milk. You could make a mushroom flavored sauce from scratch. You could add the peas, mushrooms, celery, freshly pealed water chestnuts. You could use canned cream of tuna soup, or if you can't find that, clam chowder, or lobster bisque. You could cook the noodles before you measure them, or use two cans of tuna. You could drain the tuna, or use the tuna juices to thin the soup.


                                1. re: paulj

                                  I think the recipe in the 1975 edition is a mistake. There's a general understanding of what tuna noodle casserole is, that recipe makes something else, and they changed it in the next edition.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I also have a copy of the 1964 edition, probably last printing before the 1975 edition. The only difference there is that it calls for a 10oz can of soup.

                                    Was there an edition between 1975 and 1997. The 1997 edition is a major rewrite, and doesn't use canned soup for this recipe. So that doesn't count as a correction.

                                    How do you interpret the '2 cups of boiled noodles' in this recipe? Do you measure them before or after cooking? A cup of sauce with 2 cups of noodles sounds about right. I just made 'mac and cheese' using a cup of cheese sauce with 8 oz of macaroni. On other hand, that amount of noodles might not fill a baking dish. I'm surprised that the 1997 edition retains that ambiguity. It would be better to specify the amount of noodles by dry weight, since that is how we buy them, and different shape pack differently.


                                    1. re: paulj

                                      No new edition between 1975 and 1997.

                                  2. re: paulj

                                    Well I simply had not made/had this since the '50s. So I looked at "Joy" to get basic proportions. I was suprised at the sparse recipe, but figured "they're the experts!" My doggie gobbled up what I didn't eat, I should know to trust my instincts. Just a whopper misprint, I guess--of all the recipes for them to botch, the simplest! I'm embarrassed to be so gullible. Glad Mr. Lauriston thinx it's a mistake too, I feel vindicated! Makes ya wonder tho'--what else is wrong in the book?

                              2. I like the version in Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe book. In general, I go for that book more than Joy. If I want really down and funky canned goods comfort food I reach for "Talk about Good!" published by the Junior League of Lafayette LA.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: KayZee

                                  In general, the Cooks Illustrated "Best Recipe" books are really great references. I love the way they try all the possible permutations and possibilities of a given dish. A huge "New Best Recipe" book came out last year.

                                2. I looked at the 1946 edition last night. It calls for a whole 16-ounce can of soup (which I don't think exists any more) plus 1/4 cup water. There's also an alternate "quick" recipe that calls for a 10-ounce can and no water.

                                  1. There's a big article about "Joy" being the most popular American cookbook & about their new 75th. anniversary edition in Wednesday's New York Times including goofy old pix of Rombauer & Becker (mother/daughter team). I cut out the photo to put in my own copy. Article available online free for a week.

                                    1. For a really excellent Tuna Noodle Casserole, go to Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern. It's yummy!

                                      1. I just made this last night from the new edition of Joy. I wonder if an earlier edition omitted the milk. My recipe calls for 12 oz canned tuna, drained (I used a 7 oz pouch); 1 can cream of mushroom soup; 3/4 cup milk; 1 cup peas; 4 oz egg noodles, cooked. I also added cooked broccoli florets. Top with a mixture of bread crumbs, melted butter, and (optional) grated parmesan. It was not at all dry.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Anya L

                                          I think it was pretty well decided the the recipe for Tuna Casserole in the 1975 edition of "Joy.." is incorrect. Yours sounds perfectly nice!

                                          1. re: Anya L

                                            I like to use canned tuna in oil, helps with moistness.

                                            1. re: Anya L

                                              I'm glad it specifies an uncooked weight for the noodles. It removes a potential source of confusion in the earlier volume measure. I wouldn't necessarily weigh my noodles, but I would use an estimated fraction of a pound or half pound bag of noodles.


                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I appreciated the weight measurement as well, and I did actually weigh my noodles.

                                            2. I do the mac and cheese recipe on the back of the elbow mac box, add a can of tuna and most of a can of baby peas. Works for me! It has milk and cheddar.

                                              1. What is the definitive recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole?

                                                Must have Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup,and a crunchy topping.

                                                1. I suppose it would be the one from Campbell's soup?
                                                  Tuna casserole can be goood.