Mom’s Tuna Casserole with chips on top is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day, including ours. This fast meal graced our table most often during Lent (made with cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken), but we begged Mom to make it at least monthly.
Best Tuna Casserole from Scratch
Tuna Casserole with peas was a staple in our house growing up, and both Barbara and I remember always liking it. However, Barbara was a little hesitant about making it for her girls because she didn’t think it would be something they like.
Well on a Friday during Lent, our Mom just happened to be over while Barbara was preparing dinner so she decided to give this easy casserole a try. Mom’s version of classic tuna casserole is an old-fashioned version containing peas and crushed potato chips on top.
Boy oh boy, is Barbara glad she gave it another shot. It might not be fancy but both girls had two helpings! So Mom for the win.
If you don’t have any canned cream soup available, try this tuna casserole with Velveeta.
What ingredients are in tuna casserole?
- Canned Tuna (regular or albacore tuna)
- Cream of Chicken Soup (You can use cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup instead.)
- Noodles, wide or curly egg noodles
- Frozen Peas
- Crushed potato chips
We keep the pantry staples needed for this casserole recipe on hand all the time. We love the fact that we can use up all those leftover crushed potato chips as the perfect crunchy topping on this casserole.
How do you keep tuna casserole from drying out?
What’s the key to a creamy tuna casserole? Here’s a tip from years of making tuna casserole from scratch that prevents a dry tuna casserole. Don’t drain the tuna completely dry.
While you do need to drain off some of the liquid from the canned tuna, leaving the tuna a little wet will not only keep your tuna casserole from drying out but it will also make the homemade tuna casserole more flavorful. If we use the packets of tuna instead of the canned version, we just dump and go – no draining needed.
A couple of tips from Barbara when making mom’s tuna noodle casserole from scratch.
- Par-cook the noodles so they are just slightly under-done. They will finish cooking in the oven once mixed into the rest of the ingredients.
- Barbara likes the big chunks of the chunk light tuna; however, you can use any kind of canned tuna. You might even be able to trick those kiddos who think they don’t like tuna into believing it’s chicken, just saying.
- We have a deep 1-quart dish that we use for this, but go ahead and use a larger casserole dish. The casserole will just be thinner and may heat through a bit quicker than 30 minutes.
- Megan’s husband LOVES cheese so sometimes she’ll add a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the dish or sprinkle it on top with the chips…or both. She also substitutes mixed veggies for the peas when that’s all she has. It becomes a bit of a cheese and tuna medley recipe that way.
- Check out our Amazon storefront for our favorite pantry essentials, like canned tuna and cream soups.
How To Make Classic Tuna Casserole with Potato Chips
Step By Step Instructions
- Parboil egg noodles for about 6 minutes; drain.
- Spray a 1-quart cooking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix together cream of chicken soup, milk, tuna, peas, salt and drained noodles in a large bowl.
- Pour in the baking dish and top with crushed potato chips.
- Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Let leftovers cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container or cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up a week.
Full recipe and ingredient list for classic tuna casserole recipe can be found at the bottom of this post on the recipe card.
Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe for Lent
This 1950s tuna casserole has graced our family table for years, especially during the season of Lent.
During Lent, we change up the cream of chicken soup for cream of mushroom or celery…actually we do this whenever we don’t have cream of chicken on hand. Our mom always used cream of celery for almost any recipe that called for a can of cream soup!
Looking for other Lent-friendly recipes? Try our Salmon Casserole, Classic Salmon Patties, Low-Carb Salmon Patties or Easy Baked Tilapia. Check out our best canned pink salmon recipes post and this post with some fish recipes for even more ideas!
Favorite Canned Tuna Recipes
What to do with a can of tuna?
Tuna is a cheap and healthy pantry staple. Here are some family-favorite canned tuna recipes:
- Easy Tuna Salad Coneys
- Tuna Melt Turnovers
- Open Faced Tuna Melt
- Easy Tuna Barbecue
- Tuna Macaroni and Cheese
- Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna Casserole Variations
Here are some simple substitutions and additions to make this classic tuna casserole your own.
- Switch egg noodles for any type of pasta such as macaroni. Just follow instructions to cook it to al dente.
- Substitute cream of celery or cream of mushroom for cream of chicken.
- Go non-dairy by using almond milk for regular milk.
- For an extra creamy tuna casserole, use evaporated milk instead of regular milk.
- Stir in diced onions to the casserole mixture.
- Add a cup of your favorite shredded cheese to the mixture.
- Instead of potato chips, top with crushed butter crackers mixed with melted butter.
- Use canned chicken instead of tuna for a chicken noodle casserole.
- Season with garlic powder or minced garlic.
Old-Fashioned Casserole Recipes
If you are not a fan of tuna, don’t worry, we have some other great casserole options for you!
- Chicken Noodle Casserole with Crushed Potato Chips
- 5 Ingredient Ground Beef Casserole
- Chicken Crunch Casserole with Water Chestnuts
- Zucchini Tomato and Ground Beef Casserole
- Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole
- Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole
Our Favorite Recipes from Mom
Our mom is a great cook and baker. While she worked full-time as a high school English and Latin teacher, we almost always had a home-cooked meal for supper (our evening meal) and on Saturday for lunch.
In the summer, she always cooked a large lunch for us, our dad and our uncle – both farmers – who came home to eat each day. We’ve shared many of her recipes on the blog. Here are some of our all-time favorites recipe from Mom.
Mom’s Tuna Casserole
- 10.5 ounces Cream of Chicken soup
- 1/3 cup milk
- 10 ounces chunk light tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 cup peas frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups egg noodles par-cooked and drained
- 1 cup potato chips crumbled
- Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook egg noodles for about 6 minutes. Drain. These will finish cooking in the oven.
- Spray a 1- 2 quart casserole dish or an 8×8 inch dish with cooking spray.
- Mix together soup, milk, tuna, peas, salt, and drained noodles.
- Pour into casserole dish and top with potato chips.
- Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
- First, par-cook the noodles so they are just slightly under-done. They will finish cooking in the oven once mixed into the rest of the ingredients.
- You could use another type of tuna, but Barbara likes the big chunks of the chunk light tuna. You might even be able to trick those kiddos who think they don’t like tuna into believing it’s chicken, just saying.
- Looking for other Lent-friendly recipes? Try our Salmon Casserole, Tuna Salad Coneys, Low-Carb Salmon Patties or Easy Baked Tilapia.
- The nutritional information below is auto-calculated and can vary depending on the products used.