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Throw-back tuna casserole

Want to make one next week. Looking for good old-fashioned comfort food with potato chip or corn-flake topping and throw-back yumminess. Found this one on line that looks good:

But would love to hear what y'all have to say on that matter. Anyone out there have a favorite go-to tuna casserole from chidhood?

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  1. I loathe tuna casserole. Practically every tuesday night of my late childhood/early adolescence in the 70s-80s, my mother would concoct a huge pot of the stuff....grr. She sauteed onion, celery, garlic, and mushrooms in butter, then stirred in a can of tuna in water (undrained) and a can of cream of mushroom soup (condensed). Pour all this glop over cooked pasta, stir well, and serve. Several childhood friends thought her version was better than their mothers, who succumbed to the "tuna helper" powdered sauce and didn't even bother to open a can.

    Once, a few years ago, I tried to rehab tuna casserole...white sauce, sauteed mushrooms, monterey jack cheese, high-quality tuna....it still tasted like crap.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Hungry Celeste

      Mmm, you make it sound so appetizing.

      Funny, I didn't have too much as a kid -- except occasionally at a friend's house where I always enjoyed. When my mom was out visiting some time back, Mr. BB requested it from her and she made it using the crispy "egg-noodle" chip things instead of real egg noodles. Hilarious -- and inedible.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        Gee, Celeste, tell us what you REALLY think about tuna casserole!

        My mom made it regularly and much more simply: she cooked noodles, stirred in a can or two of tuna (in oil! Please!) and a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, covered it, and put it in the oven for about half an hour, then another twenty minutes with the lid off. It was almost my favorite of all her dishes. Many years later I introduced my wife (who had been raised mostly on French food) to my version of this - same as Mom's, only with egg, some cheese, and baby peas beaten in and cheese on top - and she loved it immediately.

        1. re: Will Owen

          this was my mom's recipie too. later on she used to add sliced water chestnuts, adds a nice crunch, a welcome texture change. this is still one of my "comfort foods" probably because i started eating it before almost anything else i can think of (after all, its almost baby food in consistency). Like will i also add some cheese and spices (worchestershire, garlic, pepper, and sometimes furukake if I have some.)

        2. re: Hungry Celeste

          I feel your pain and see your problem, HC. No peas!!

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            LOL! Apparently my MIL used canned peas instead of mushrooms and the spouse still adores it. Funny, since he has very good taste otherwise. He waits for me to go out of town to make up a big dish of the stuff since I won't allow canned cream-of-anything in my house.

            Seriously, I'm not a big fan of fish but thought I could compromise and make a turkey tetrazzini that we could all agree on. I figured the principle is about the same. I used a CI recipe (I forget from which book) that used a roux-thickened broth instread of canned soup and added some nice things like roasted red pepper and topped with panko crumbs. I LOVED it. Sad to say, I was the only one in the house who did. Oh, well, C'est la Campbell's.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              I had a craving for this about 2 years ago. Found a recipe (similar to hungry celeste's above), added the potato chip crust, and made a BIG casserole. After a few forkfuls wondered what I could have been thinking! I called my mom and she swore she never, ever made it for us. I clearly recall having it during my childhood. I didn't have the heart to throw it out and I must tell you it freezes pretty well. All desire for this casserole is now forever gone . . .

            2. Boil up some macaroni and open a couple of cans: cream of mushroom soup, Le Sueur Very Young Small Early Peas (the ones in the silver can), and solid white tuna packed in water. Drain the boiled macaroni (don't rinse!) and the canned peas and the tuna. Mix everything together in a big bowl and then put into a buttered casserole. My mom always topped this with either crumbled potato chips or Italian seasoned bread crumbs - never tried it with corn flakes, but why the heck not? Then dot with a little bit of butter and bake at - I dunno - maybe 350? until the top is a bit bubbly and browning.

              I also used to do this with the Kraft dinner in the blue box (the one with the powdered stuff, not the cheese in the can). And sometimes, instead of tuna, I mix in diced - are you ready? - Spam. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Deenso

                okay, just to jump on the hatin' bandwagon, if there's anything worse than tuna casserole, it's canned peas.

                1. re: coconutz

                  "...if there's anything worse than tuna casserole, it's canned peas."

                  Granted, I wouldn't eat canned peas on their own unless I was starving and that was the only food available. Nor would I eat condensed cream of mushroom soup - feh! However, they are both - in my opinion, of course - indispensable ingredients in this particular 50s-style casserole.

                  1. re: Deenso

                    I used frozen peas and guess what, tuna casserole is still not a good thing . . .

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      .....for financialdistrictresident. Maybe the best thing about the different foods discussed on CH is that none of them are compulsory.

                  2. re: coconutz

                    But when you put them together, it's synergy!!

                    1. re: coconutz

                      I don't use canned peas; I use the itty bitty baby frozen peas from Trader Joe's, and stir them into the noodle/soup/whatever mixture just before it goes in the oven, where they get cooked just enough to be plump and juicy and quite delicious, thanks.

                  3. This is close to the one I used to make, although I honestly don't remember the onion or celery. I always jazzed it up with more spices (probably LOTS of garlic powder!).


                      1. re: Ellen

                        Thx. Tried a search before posting and was surprised nothing came up. My spelling must have been off (nothing new there).

                        1. re: bite bite

                          That's OK. As a result I went and made some!

                          1. re: Ellen

                            I usually use google to search chowhound -- just put site:www.chowhound.com and whatever the search string is into google and you'll usually get some good results.

                            Oh, and thank you for the Simply Recipes link! I've never made a recipe from Simply Recipes that wasn't obscenely good (sometimes ruinously so for my diet). I don't have any childhood issues around tuna casserole, but I used to make it for my guy when we first moved in together and I thought opening a Hamburger Helper box was "cooking". Maybe I'll surprise him with a blast from our past one night this week!

                            1. re: dietfoodie

                              Love the Hamburger Helper. Reminds me of 1st dinner I ever "cooked" for Mr. BB when we first started dating-- pesto rice with chunks of smoked gouda stirred in while still hot. And for dessert... rice with ginger salad dressing.

                              Thx for the feedback on Simply Recipes site -- never saw it before search for tuna casserole but have now book-marked it for future reference.

                              1. re: bite bite

                                It's the only blog I check daily. And I'm amazed how often I'll be searching for something else and a link to a recipe from SR will pop up in google that's exactly what I'm looking for!

                          2. re: bite bite

                            Yep, the search still isn't working right.

                            Here's another good thread from a few months ago:


                        2. Unlike most of the posters here. Tuna Casserole was not a regular dish in my house. I don't think my mom EVER made it. I am not even sure if I ever even ate it before, if I did it was a potluck thing where I only took a small helping and you know how potlucks are you just pile a bunch of stuff on your plate and most of the casserole things look the same. Hot tuna was never sounded too appetizing to me, but I am running out of dinner ideas. Maybe I will try a tuna casserole too.

                          1. This is the best one that I have found...
                            Cook a 6 oz. ( 3 cups dried) noodles..Drain..Combine cooked noodles, one 7 oz can drained tuna, 1/2 cup mayo, 1 cup sliced celery, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, 1/4 cup chopped pimento, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend one can cream of celery soup and 1/2 cup milk and heat that through. Add 4 oz. sharp processed American cheese, shredded ( one cup);heat and stir until cheese melts. Add to noodle mixture. Turn into 2 quart casserole. If desired, top with 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds..Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 6 servings

                            1. My husband came up with this one: Saute onions and garlic in butter. Add grated ginger, salt and pepper, some curry powder and flour, then milk to make a white sauce. To this mix in cooked macaroni and tuna in olive oil mostly drained. Top it all with good old Kraft plastic cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake till plastic is melted and browning.

                              1. Saveur published a tuna casserole recipe in recent months/years that I recently clipped because it looked very good and I figured it would hit the spot someday. I haven't made it yet, but let me know if you want me to rephrase online tonight.

                                1. Actually had this last night. Things got hectic, we forgot about dinner and we all of sudden were hungry. Its called a Ghoulie dish. I've had my company cookbooks out, you know the ones where the employee contribute, been looking at refrigerator cookies, and thats another topic for another day. But I make this one in particular every few months.

                                  1 lb of ground beef browned and draine
                                  1/4 cabbage cut small
                                  2 carrots sliced or diced
                                  1 whole white onion -med dice
                                  2 garlic smashed
                                  2 cans of Campbells soup, one cream of celery and one cream of mushroom
                                  1 can of milk
                                  2 T sherry
                                  1 cup of almost cooked rice

                                  Cook the rice, remove before it almost done, it should be al dente
                                  Cook the ground meat unitl pink remove and then drain it well. add the onion and the garlic to the pan put the meat back in the pan cook it until the pink is gone.

                                  Add to the meat, onions, garlic, cabbage and chopped carrot.
                                  Into a bowl add the soup, salt and pepper, shery and garlic powder
                                  Add 1 can of milk
                                  Mix well
                                  Add the soup mix to the pan, the rice, and bring it all to a boil. Remove and put it into a casserole dish. Shallow and with surface area.
                                  Bake for 35minutes at 350 remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more.
                                  Remove and enjoy with a simple green tossed salad with redwine vinegar and olive oil,

                                  1. Update -- made the tuna casserole from Simply Recipes. A classic. Just what the doctor ordered. Yum.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bite bite

                                      I just checked it out and it looks wonderful. Might be my next one.

                                      Has anyone here ever seen the "Guindon" cartoons? I haven't been able to find them anywhere in a long time, and three or four of them still make me laugh after ~20 years. One of them was of a very dignified aproned "Betty Crocker"-type woman standing by her stove tasting something with a long spoon and looking contemplative.

                                      The caption said (approx.), "April 30, 1935; another test batch fails. The tuna-noodle casserole didn't just HAPPEN, you know."

                                    2. 2 packs 4 for a dollar Mac and cheese...cook add 1 can tuna in oil,1 can peas,cream and butter to taste.Put cheese and bread crumbs on it.Bake for 20 (not sure actual bake time) minutes at 350

                                      1. My mom made a weird version with egg noodles, grated onion, sour cream, and celery salt. (And tuna, of course.) It's actually pretty OK, even now that I'm no longer three. It was my FAVORITE when I was three!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: marigolds

                                          If you get a hankering for tuna casserole without the unhealthy Campbell's products, try using Amy's organic cream of mushroom soup. It tastes better and is better for you.

                                        2. Yay for tuna-noodle casserole, the most publicly maligned and secretly beloved dish in America. (Celeste can't possibly be very Hungry :o)

                                          I seldom make one the same way twice. I think I've done every variation on this and the other recent tuna/noodle thread, but this one might be my favorite and I've not seen anything very close to it.

                                          Precise quantities you'll have to figure out on your own. I make a BIG batch of it because it's better the next day or two--warmed up with more cheese and a drizzle of salsa verde-- and we are always disconsolate when it's all gone.

                                          I use three cans of tuna: two cans of albacore and one chunk light because it has more tuna flavor (which I like). Oil-packed, as Will O. says, is better, but not essential in this recipe that's already so rich. Drain well.

                                          Use Penn.Dutch big "Homestyle" noodles if you can. They are almost like meaty but delicate dumplings.

                                          Saute a big chopped yellow onion, a cup or so of chopped NM flame-roasted green chile of whatever heat you like, minced garlic.

                                          Add a can of ("unhealthy":o) Campbell's Chicken Verde soup, about 3/4 that amt. of sour cream, a cup or so grated Monterey Jack cheese, half an 8 oz. block of softened-in-the-microwave cream cheese. (The last being the secret to good creamy consistency, IMO.)

                                          Mix together, S&P, taste, add a little more sour cream or a pinch of cumin or whatever it needs (I almost always have to boil another handful of noodles to get the proportions right), top with more cheese and French's crispy fried onions &/or crushed Fritos/tortilla chips, bake at 325-350 til it's bubbling in the center.

                                          Now and then I do it with Cream of Mushroom soup instead of Chicken Verde, a cup or so of my frozen duxelles, sharp white cheddar, (when I have some leftover Brie in the freezer I've been known to throw it in), a cup of frozen petit peas or chopped parboiled broccoli; otherwise everything as above minus the green chile. Top with French's onions &/or crushed potato chips.

                                          Every joyous calorie cries "yea" to life.

                                          1. Here's a tuna casserole from the year one...hands down favorite with my grandkids: 1 lb macaroni
                                            1 can mushroom soup
                                            1 can cheddar cheese soup
                                            1-2 cans tuna (in water or oil)
                                            curry powder, dried parsley flakes, S & P (use judgement)
                                            top with breadcrumbs and sprinkle with paprika
                                            Bake until top is crusty and the edges bubbly.