HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Tuna noodle salad.

Did anyone else grow up with tuna noodle salad? My mom wasn't a very good cook but one nutty thing she made that I liked and have fond memories of was this. Ellbow macaroni, canned peas, diced onions, tuna,diced celery and miracle whip garlic salt and pepper. Haven't had it in years. Anyone else have this recipe growing up? Or was my mom a maveric?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. we call it macaroni salad, and it is a summer staple. Ours has elbow macaroni, canned tuna, hard boiled eggs, celery, red onion, cucumber, red pepper (my addition - my mother used to use radishes), and mayo (no Miracle Whip for us). I use a lot less mayo than she did, and season with salt & pepper. Not fancy, but easy to make & tasty, great to have in the fridge for a hot day when I don't want to cook.

    1. As kids we called it Tuna 'N Noodles. Canned Tuna in oil drained (later in water if we bought it accidentally) and any pasta you had on hand (elbow macaroni, salad macaroni, egg noodles, etc), mayo, diced celery, diced onions, seasoning salt and black pepper. Sometimes we added sweet pickle relish. Served chilled, it we could wait that long ;-) . I have it once in a while as a comfort food. We hated the hot tuna casseroles (the one with mushroom soup, crushed potato chips, etc).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Antilope

        I also hate the mushroom soup kind. Eeewww. She also mixed in canned tuna in with Betty crocker augratain potatoes. Up the ick factor to 10 on this one.

      2. 100% yes. 100% the same salad. I probably ate the smallest no-thank-you serving possible and went to bed hungry. It really grossed me out at the time. We probably had it once a week.

        1. yes, tuna mac. tuna, mayo, onion, celery, NO CANNED PEAS, yuck! If you need peas, use frozen.

          1. Hmmm. I haven't had that for a very long time. I never had it with peas, but I think it would be good with frozen baby peas instead of canned and maybe some chopped hard-cooked egg. I used to make it for my kids when they were small using mayo, canned tuna, onion, celery and elbow macaroni.

            1. An old roommate used to make a tasty one - ditalini, canned tuna, finely chopped red onion and cubes of cheddar cheese, moistened with sweet pickle juice and (I think) a bit of olive oil. I don't remember if there were actually pickles in it, but I don't think so. Apparently her mother added mayo but I've never felt that to be necessary.

              1. My mom made it with Creamette rings, tuna, chopped hard boiled eggs, celery, onion and mayo with a dash of salt and pepper.

                I personally can't stand packaged/canned tuna. I make it for her now to bring it to her at her assisted living place. She craves the stuff quite often. Love my mom but every time I make it I get the 'Ewww' factor.

                1. One of the family favorites
                  Tuna, mayo, frozen peas, red onion, HB Eggs, black olives.

                  1. Very, almost icy cold macaroni dressed with tuna, Miracle Whip, sliced celery, shallots and pineapple segments. I don't think we had a single family party without my mother whipping up a batch of this to feed a crowd on a budget.

                    1. My mother didn't make it, but I do. I make a bowl of my elbow or shell-shaped macaroni salad as a side for a weekend meal and then add tuna to it for lunch for next day or two. I'm in Maryland so my macaroni salad always has Old Bay seasoning, plus diced bell peppers, onion, celery. Pretty basic, but it gets scarfed. Oh, and always Dukes or Hellman's mayo - can't do Miracle Whip.

                      1. My mom made it all the time in the summer months and we still ask her to make it when we have cook-outs. (I actually think this thread topic gets started every year when the weather starts to get warm). We all make it using very al dente radiatore, tuna, chopped celery and Hellmann's. Lots of salt and black pepper. I make it a lot to bring to work for lunch. I'll add whatever leftovers vegetables are in the firdge. Asparagus is great in this. My only regret is that when I make it for myself, I use whole wheat pasta and I can't find whole wheat radiatore, so I use penne.

                        1. My mom never made it, but it's what I do with leftover macaroni salad. Since hub isn't a bit mac salad fan, I add a can of good olive-oil tuna to leftovers when I make it, & enjoy the new dish myself for a couple of lunches.

                          1. (paraphrased recipe)

                            School Cafeteria Neptune Salad

                            50 Servings

                            5 T. salt
                            3 3/4 gal. boiling water
                            2 lbs. elbow macaroni
                            4 c. celery, chopped
                            2 1/2 c. green pepper,chopped
                            2/3 c. pimiento, chopped
                            1 1/4 c. pickle relish
                            5 c. tuna, flaked
                            2 1/3 t. salt
                            3 1/3 c. salad dressing / mayonnaise
                            5-7 tomatoes, cut in wedges

                            To rapidly boiling water, add the salt. Add the macaroni and boil until it's tender,
                            eight minutes. Drain, rinse and chill the macaroni. Add remaining ingredients
                            except for the tomatoes. Toss. Garnish with the cut tomato wedges.

                            Source: "The School Lunch" by Marion L. Cronan, 1962
                            (A guide to school lunchroom operation)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Antilope

                              I've spoken to people about it and most people don't know what it is. Good to know that there is going to be a few kids out there fondly remembering this stuff some day. Just like I fondly remember hamburger pizza( ground beef in sauce on thick dough that was somewhere in between biscuit and bread dough and park) and snow on a moutian( quarter inch thick ham slice covered in a scoop of mashed potatoes and yellow cheese). I have tried in vain to recreate it in vain but can't. Just something about cafeteria lunch lady magic.

                              1. re: suzigirl

                                Might be Pourable Pizza Crust (a USDA School Lunch recipe made since 1988).
                                Here's a link to the recipe:

                                Pourable Pizza Crust (USDA 1988 school lunch recipe)

                                Here's the Pourable Pizza Crust recipe cut down to a single half-sheet pan (10 slices

                                Pizza with Ground Beef Topping (USDA 1988 school lunch recipe

                                Here's a link to a review of the recipe (with pictures) at the bottom 1/2 of the webpage:


                                1. re: Antilope

                                  You are super helpful and I thank you. It sounds hauntingly familiar even though I was raised in the 70's . By the time '88 rolled around I was in high school having a milky way and a coke for lunch. Yeah, crappy lunch, I know but I was a dumb teen. They also did not offer anything vegitarian on campus and was briefly(18 months) a veggie girl then. I was to try the pizza. I will probably not be as jazzed now that i am grown but it is worth capturing those youthful food memories

                            2. never encountered anything like it until i went away to college in ATL - we used to eat at a salad bar restaurant that had an item they called Tuna Tarragon - pasta shells mixed with mayo-based tuna salad spiked with tarragon (served cold). i loved it, and after all this time i still put tarragon in my tuna salad occasionally (though i haven't eaten pasta in many years).

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Tarragon in tuna salad sounds lovely. I have done fresh dill but that needs to go on my mental " must try" list

                                1. re: suzigirl

                                  something about it just works. add a little sharp Dijon to offset the sweetness of the tarragon. i personally prefer to use fresh herbs, but you can use dried tarragon (or tarragon-infused vinegar).

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I seem to remember that you had to give up pasta for health reasons although the condition escapes me. Does that also limit your diet to no bread either? I can no longer have caffine and artificial sweeteners for health reasons myself and frankly, I found it easier to quit smoking than to give up Coke Zero. I long for sugar free items when i see them. I would also miss pasta.

                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                      how sweet of you to remember! yes, unfortunately i had to give up all gluten due to Celiac disease. theoretically i could still eat gluten-free bread, pasta and the like, but i've gone completely grain-free and just don't bother with any of those foods now. and honestly, it's such a relief to be free of the misery and unexplained symptoms that plagued me for the better part of 35 years, that in those rare moments when i do crave a good bialy with nova or a piping hot slice of NY pizza, all i have to do is think about how much better i feel now, and the urge passes.

                                      hang in there, and you'll eventually get a handle on those cravings. just keep reminding yourself that you're doing your body a world of good by forgoing the artificial junk.

                                  2. re: suzigirl

                                    Yes - fresh chopped Tarragon (although remember - a little goes a long way with Tarragon) is fabulous in any seafood salad. In fact, it's a favorite here with shrimp salad, crab salad, & even added to our Lobster Roll sandwiches.

                                2. Not my mother - but my aunt by marriage did and I love it as it was so far from the stuff I grew up eating. She gave me the recipe years ago and instead of canned peas she used fresh or frozen and mayo. She cooked the noodles a couple minutes longer and it was just disgusting mushy goodness!

                                  1 Reply