This week, the extra time at home inspired chef Lisa Appleton to revive a childhood classic. Luckily for all of us, her mom’s traditional tuna noodle casserole is a pantry-friendly dish of nostalgia. 

Tuna noodle casserole ingredients
A pantry specialty

Comfort food, comfort food, comfort food. I can keep cooking it, but I always want more. As a native midwesterner, nothing says comfort for me like a casserole. 

Growing up, my favorite version of this dish was tuna noodle casserole. It’s incredibly simple to make, and comes together with just a few ingredients. As an adult, it’s not something I prepare regularly. Recently, I’ve been having a craving. Something about spending all this time at home contemplating the contents of my pantry made me feel like it was the perfect time to revive a childhood classic. 

Although there are many recipes to choose from online and in cookbooks, this particular version comes from my mother’s memory. The original source is unknown, but to me that makes it more special. You could sauté some onions and celery to add into the mix, or even some fresh mushrooms, but I wanted to stick to the original. 

After tasting, I can definitely say it lived up to the hype. This dish is nostalgia at its finest. In the future, I may jazz it up with more fresh ingredients, or create an even crunchier topping, but for now it was just the comfort I was looking for. 

A few cans of soup and a little magic

Recipe: The Appleton Family’s Tuna Noodle Casserole 

  • 1 16oz bag egg noodles (fresh or dried, either works)
  • 10 to 20 Ritz crackers (amount is to your liking, can even add more)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can tuna, drained (packed in water)
  • Frozen peas, defrosted (amount is to your liking)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, crush the Ritz crackers with a rolling pin to the size of breadcrumbs. Stir the crushed ritz into the melted butter. 

tuna noodle casserole topping
Future casserole topping

3.Drain the noodles and return to the pot. Stir in the 3 cans of soup and tuna. Fold in the peas. Transfer to a 13×9 baking dish. 

4.Top with the buttered Ritz breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the Ritz have browned, and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. Let stand for about 5 minute to cool slightly. Enjoy!