Mom’s Tuna Casserole

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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.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

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.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

What ingredients are in tuna casserole?

  • Canned Tuna
  • Cream of Chicken Soup (You can use cream of mushroom or cream of celery instead.)
  • Milk
  • Noodles, wide or curly egg noodles
  • Salt
  • 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.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

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.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

 

Notes about Mom’s Tuna Casserole with Chips

A couple of tips from Barbara when making this tuna 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 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.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

How To Make Classic Tuna Casserole with Potato Chips

Full recipe and ingredient list for classic tuna casserole can be found at the bottom of this post on the recipe card.

  1. Parboil egg noodles for about 6 minutes; drain.
  2. Spray a 1-quart cooking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Mix together cream of chicken soup, milk, tuna, peas, salt and drained noodles.
  4. Pour in the casserole dish and top with crushed potato chips.
  5. Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

Tuna Casserole 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 PattiesLow-Carb Salmon Patties or Easy Baked Tilapia.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

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:

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

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.
  • Use canned chicken instead of tuna for a chicken noodle casserole.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

Old-Fashioned Casserole Recipes

If you are not a fan of tuna, don’t worry, we have some other great casserole options for you!

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.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

The smell of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread baking, especially the cinnamon aroma, is delightful, and takes us right back to our childhood.

Mom’s Poppy Seed Bread

Mom's Poppy Seed Bread is one of those quick breads that is perfect for breakfast, dessert or as an afternoon snack with a hot cup of coffee.

Mom’s Hamburger Gravy

Mom's Hamburger Gravy is our go-to dinner when we are short of time and starving.  The ingredients are probably already in your refrigerator and pantry, and you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes flat.  

Cheesy Ham and Potatoes Casserole

Mom's Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole was an all-time favorite recipe at our house growing up. Mom traditionally made this with leftover ham after the holidays. This stick-to-your-ribs meal will warm you up on a cold winter day and is the perfect casserole for a new mom or sick friend.

Mom’s Oven Baked Pork Spare Ribs

Mom's Oven Baked Pork Rib follows a parboil and bake technique that results in a quick, tender barbecued pork rib.  I recommend serving over rice to absorb the finger-licking good sauce.

Mom’s Wild Rice and Broccoli Soup

If you need an easy dinner option, give Mom's Wild Rice and Broccoli Soup a try. It is full of flavor and quick to put together for a family-pleasing meal.

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.
Print Recipe
4.96 from 21 votes

Mom's Tuna Casserole

Mom's Tuna Casserole with potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day, including ours. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tuna casserole, tuna casserole with chips
Servings: 6
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

  • 10.5 oz. can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 5 oz. cans, 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

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook egg noodles for about 6 minutes. Drain. These will finish cooking in the oven.
    Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.
  • Spray a 1- 2 quart casserole dish or an 8x8 inch dish with cooking spray.
  • Mix together soup, milk, tuna, peas, salt, and drained noodles.
    Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.
  • Pour into casserole dish and top with potato chips.
    Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.
  • Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
    Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 499mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 329IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 2mg

Mom's Tuna Casserole topped with crumbled potato chips is one of those classic dishes that was on every dinner table across the country back in the day.

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77 Comments

  1. Sounds good! i still love this dish and it was one of the first things I learned to cook while still at home as a teenager–same recipe. I sometimes use macaroni instead and make it on the stove top or in the oven. If in the oven, our topping of choice is rolled cracker crumbs with dots of butter rather than the potato chips. Think I’m going to cook some up soon as we haven’t had it for a long time and it’s a perfect winter food! Love the combo and get my fix in the summer with macaroni and tuna salad–just add chopped onions and exchange cream soup/milk for Miracle Whip. Stir and let mellow in fridge for a few hours.

    1. It’s super simple but just such a classic! The crackers and butter topping sounds delicious too! We love a good cold tuna/pasta salad too!

      1. That one sounds good too. We’ll keep our eyes open as we are looking through our older cookbooks.

      2. To Roberta Gabor … Your sour cream/pimento recipe sounds good! I Googled TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE MADE WITH SOUR CREAM, and got several returns. Maybe your recipe is among them.

    2. I’m so happy that I read all these comments!

      I had no noodles, but I did have tiny pasta shells, and I had no cream of chicken soup, but I did have cream of mushroom. I had frozen peas, but I added some par-cooked green beans too.

      It came out great!

      And I think small broccoli florets (pre-steamed to partial doneness) sounds very good, too. I do love peas, so I’ll probably always have some of those in it and just add some of the green beans or broccoli as well. (Frozen peas are great when added right from the freezer, but I par-steamed the green beans and will do the same with petite broccoli florets.)

      There are lots of good suggestions here. I’ll definitely be trying the asparagus addition. Thank you! And thanks for the clarification on the dry pasta measurement.

  2. This the same as my mother’s but she used cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken

    1. Honestly, our mom used whatever cream soup she had in the cabinet! Sometimes cream of chicken, sometimes cream of mushroom, sometimes cream of celery!

  3. I’m about to make this and I’m wondering if the noodle amount is 2c measured out of the dry noodles or a 16oz package of noodles. Big difference. The package I have is 12oz but is a little over 4c dry. But 2c looks like so little. ??? I’m boiling the whole package and winging it. ?

    1. Sorry, I was traveling yesterday so I didn’t see your question until today. It is 2 cups of dry noodles. It’s a smaller casserole so if you do make it with more noodles, I’d just add a second can of soup. Hope it turned out OK for you. I hate winging it with recipes (Barbara loves winging it) so I hate that I didn’t see your question before you made it!

  4. Oh my gosh did we grow up in the same house lol! Beloved favorites tuna casserole, salmon or tuna patties, chipped beef and creamed gravy, I bet you guys had farmers potatoes, too (sliced and cooked in skillet with onions and bacon omg). I’ve been craving both salmon patties and tuna casserole and this just sealed the deal lol. Enjoyed uour post, thanks for sharing ♡

    1. Sounds like our homes were really similar. We just called them fried potatoes but they were a staple!

    2. I think I also grew up in your house. my mom made all of what yours did. Kraft macaroni and cheese with the salmon patties

    3. Lisa, sounds a lot like my house, too! I grew up in small-town northeast Kansas. We ate a lot of salmon patties, tuna casserole, and fried potatoes with onion cooked in bacon grease. Oh, man, those were the days!! I have this tuna casserole in the oven right now, and I added a little onion powder, a little garlic powder, and dried dill.

  5. Have you ever tried it with canned chicken instead? What about a different green, like broccoli? My hubby doesn’t like peas so I’m trying to think of something else to include! Thanks!

    1. We’ve done it with chicken and it is great. You could leave the peas out for sure. Broccoli should work but we haven’t tried it. We have added cheese and that’s yummy too!

    2. I have made it with green beans before because my daughter didn’t like peas when she was little and it turned out fine.

  6. I have this in the oven, baking as J type 😀
    I loved this recipe growing up And it was good! My mom did the same (using whatever cream of soup on hand). I doubled the recipe because my husband wants more for tomorrow. And I like to make extra to take over to My grown children’s homes 😀
    Ah…the memories.

      1. If you are wanting to make this in a 3-quart dish, you might want to double the recipe. Or you could make another cup or two of noodles and then adjust your wet ingredients so that it’s not too dry – add another can of soup.

    1. I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS USING CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS SPEARS CUT INTO PIECES. MY FAMILY ABSOLUTELY HATES HOT TUNA( I PERSONALLY LOVE IT WITH TUNA). I’LL BE USING CANNED ASPARAGUS SO THAT IT WILL BE SOFT. I’M SOOOO LOOKING FORWARD TO TRYING THIS RECIPE!!!!

      1. I’M PUTTING IT TOGETHER NOW,I WLL DEFINITELY LET YOU KNOW HOW IT TURNED OUT❤❤❤

    1. Charles, I made this as soon as I saw it here last year, and I have probably made it four or five times since! Emailed it to both of my daughters, too.

      In my opinion, it’s the perfect ratio of everything.

      I do use solid albacore, and I sometimes toss in some sliced scallions, but it’s a great recipe just as it is, too. I have it printed out in my “often used” folder of recipes.

      1. Connie – that’s just awesome and I love the sliced scallions idea! I have to admit that my husband is a cheese fanatic so I’ll throw in some cheese once in a while to keep him happy.

      2. Hi, Megan,

        That sounds great, and it reminds me … when I feel like a cheesy casserole, I often turn to the salmon casserole on your site. Lovely way to use canned salmon!

      3. You mentioned making this recipe on a Friday during Lent. It defeats the purpose of a meatless (Lent friendly) tuna casserole to use cream of chicken soup in it. Go with cream of mushroom or celery.

      4. Yes, that’s what we do too. We usually use whatever “cream of” soup we have on hand. Guess we should have noted that in the post. Thanks!

  7. Just like the home economics recipe I learned to make in 1960 and still love today. We topped the casserole with shredded cheddar and potato chips!

      1. Connie,
        Usually whatever is in the fridge! 🙂 That is normally mild cheddar or colby jack!

      2. Well, I’m going to try that! I didn’t really love it as much when I tried adding cheese to the mixture, but on top will be different. THANKS!

      3. Good luck. We love the classic version too – hard to go wrong with mom’s version!

  8. We tried this during the Coronavirus Pandemic when we were all staying home. I used what I had in my pantry, No Yoke brand stir fry noodles, canned chicken, green beans instead of peas and cream of mushroom soup. I added some seasoning salt to the dish and topped it with shredded cheese and cheddar and sour cream flavored potato chips. I would definitely make this again.. but with more cheese, more chips and more seasoning salt.

    1. If you prep it ahead and just keep it in the refrigerator, wait to top it with the potato chips until right before you pop it in the oven. It’s basically already cooked so you just need to heat it through. It may need an extra 10-15 minutes to warm through. Might want to pull it out of the refrigerator a bit before you pop it in the oven so the dish has time to warm up a bit instead of going directly from the cold fridge to the hot oven.

  9. This shounds like the one my Mom used to make when I was a kid (am 71 now). Do you have one for Frito Pie. Kind of like sloppy joe mix with Fritos sprinkled on top. Fun to see these again.

  10. This was delicious! I used cream of mushroom soup, frozen mixed veggies instead of just peas and added some finely chopped onion.

    I honestly had my doubts about 1 can of soup being enough, but it really was perfect. I’ll be making this more often.

    Double the recipe if your family has big appetites!

  11. I just have to say, WOW. I ended up adding a cup of shredded cheese (I had colby jack but I’m sure cheddar or any medium yellow cheese would be fine) and instead of potato chips (I didn’t have any on hand), I crushed up Ritz crackers and drizzled the top with about 1/4 cup of melted butter. I also didn’t have any frozen peas, but I *did* have frozen mixed vegetables, so I used those instead, which is fine — my husband hates peas, anyway. The tip about not cooking the noodles too much was the kicker — it made such a difference, and the noodles didn’t fall apart in shreds when I stirred everything together.

    It was SUPER fast, easy, and it Turned. Out. PERFECTLY. I didn’t really expect to like it much myself (never been a tuna casserole fan) but it was delicious, husband loved it and my daughter and her overnight guest, both two picky little girls, dove right in and snarfled it down. No leftovers at our house tonight! Thank you so much!

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It’s so hard to find classic old recipes — but they’re just the thing for little ones like mine, who have some problems with texture and such due to autism.

    1. I’m with you … this is the best tuna noodle casserole recipe, and very adjustable! Both my adult kids now use this recipe too. 🙂

  12. When I made this for my boys, I added a can of drained LeSeur English peas. I also added half the mixture to the dish, and layered American cheese slices over that layer, then put rest of filling into my Corning ware. Topped with Lays potato chips before baking. What memories this recipe brings back…

  13. Those sound like great additions. Peas sound terrific!

    I use Lays potato chips on this casserole too.

    Tuna-noodle is probably my favorite casserole, and this recipe is the best one I’ve tried.

  14. Happy memories of my Mum making this, back in the late 50’s. Made it today: sauteed onion & celery & a bit of cauliflower ’cause my celery was not much. Did buttered crumbs on top. Sooooooo good!

  15. I made this. I do like it. I made it as chicken noodle casserole. Came out pretty. Only thing I did was I had to add more liquid than recipe called for.😁

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