Tuna Cakes With Mushroom Sauce – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Oct 19 2011 - 6:00am by RetroRuth

Guess what, guys?!?!? It’s time for some COMPLETELY insane food.

We have been pretty tame in the past two weeks with yummy desserts (Cider Eggnog Pie & Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake) so it’s time to delve back into the horrible and the hideous. And what better way to do that than with another tuna recipe?

This week we have another recipe from Charm & Poise (aka, Sharon) who won the tuna contest with Bob for the horrible Tuna Pizza. I got a couple of recipes submitted by Sharon, including the dumbfounding Tuna Cakes, which makes these:



Out of this:


Yes, that is me chopping up a can of spaghetti.

See? Completely. Insane.

Sharon writes:

This recipe is from a tiny cookbooklet entitled “30 Tempting Spaghetti Meals: Easy, Economical, Delicious” put out by the Franco American company. From the photos and illustrations, I’m guessing it was published in the 1930s. Ah, the Great Depression! – driving housewives everywhere to make dinnertime special by simply reaching for a can of spaghetti. Yes, every recipe features a can of Franco American spaghetti! So get ready for tuna cakes made from a delectable combination of tinned spaghetti and canned tuna, topped with a mushroom sauce crafted from cream of mushroom soup, butter, and pimientos.



(The printable recipe is at the end!)

As soon as I saw this, I knew we had to make it, even if Sharon’s tuna pizza was already horrible enough to make it into the top four finalists in the contest.  It was possible that these could be worse. And that slight possibility drove us on in this madness.



This is a bowl of chopped, canned spaghetti, eggs, and canned tuna.

I bet that sentence has never been written anywhere else on the internet. Ever.



This was as completely disgusting as it looked. It was squishy, it didn’t form into patties. It fell apart in the egg and it smelled completely terrible.

“I’m only making four of these. This doesn’t work at all.”

Tom shrugged. “Whatever, I’m not gonna cry.  They smell like crap.”


Finally, finally, I figured out I had to double-dip them to get them to stay together. (So the crumb-egg-crumb formula, twice!) Needless to say, they had a hearty outside. And I ended up making more than four, because I couldn’t bear to let the rest of that spaghetti smash just go to waste.


Surprisingly, they didn’t fall apart as soon as they hit the oil, like I thought they would.  They actually fried up very nicely.


And actually looked quite pretty.

And weren’t that greasy at all.


The “mushroom sauce” turned out to be nothing but cream of mushroom soup with extra butter and pimentos. But you aren’t hearing me complain. I figured anything we could sling on top of those babies would cut the horrible taste.


A fried tuna cake. In cross section.

And then it was time for the moment of truth. Forcing it down Tom’s throat.

Tom Storyboard 2

“Oh my god.”

“What? Are they too hot? Did you burn your mouth?”

“No. These things are fricking great.”


The Verdict: GOOD. Can you believe it?!?!? I have absolutely no explanation for how this worked. Somehow I took a can of spaghetti and chopped it up and made a miracle. And not a bogus everyday miracle like a sunrise. They basically tasted like good tuna croquettes and not at all like fried spaghetti, which was astonishing. And they were GREAT with the mushroom sauce.

HOWEVER, these had one huge drawback. Once they became cold, they congealed into something…not so great. They became gluey, with a distinct canned spaghetti taste and the mouth-feel of slime. So, if you are going to make these bad boys, eat them the moment they are cool enough to cram in your mouth. You’ll thank us. I swear.

Thanks for the excellent entry, Sharon!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Cakes With Mushroom Sauce
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Canned tuna and canned spaghetti together at last!
  • 1 can Franco American Spaghetti
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1½ cups flaked tuna fish
  • ¾ t salt
  • ⅛ t pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 egg beaten with 1½ T water
  • 1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 T chopped pimentos
  1. Chop spaghetti fine. Mix with beaten egg, tuna and salt and pepper.
  2. Make into cakes, then dip into crumbs, beaten egg and then crumbs again. Let chill in refridgerator for 20 mins.
  3. Fry in hot fat (375 degrees) 1 inch deep in heavy frying pan. Drain on absorbent paper.
  4. For sauce, add water to Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup and heat with butter and pimentos.
  5. Serve hot on tuna cakes.
Eat these cakes while piping hot!





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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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14 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. ae October 19, 2011 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Of course they would be good. Franco American Spaghetti and cream of mushroom soup?! Two of my favorites! And then deep fried??!! Of course! 🙂

  2. Yinzerella October 19, 2011 at 9:51 am - Reply

    The shot of the spaghetti made me gasp. I am shocked that these turned out so well. For your sake I am glad.
    I have such issues with canned tuna.

    • RetroRuth October 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      I was shocked, too! I didn’t think there would be anything yummy about this one.

  3. Toni October 19, 2011 at 11:32 am - Reply


  4. Sara In AZ October 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Wow! Simply amazing!!! I thught for sure this would be horrible with the spaghetti and tuna combo. Miracles never cease do they?!? I must try this someday!

  5. Barbara October 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    I know why they tasted good – canned spaghetti is full of sugar. That’s why the kiddies love it. I can’t imagine it could mask the taste of tuna, but what the heck!

  6. Erica October 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    There’s something really unsettling about that can-shaped pile of spaghetti. And it’s even more unsettling that it tasted really good. Something just really isn’t right there! 🙂

    • RetroRuth October 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Erica, it was totally freaky!

  7. Andrea October 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I had no idea that Campbell’s even made canned spaghetti – you can’t buy that here! I think I’ve only ever seen generic canned spaghetti. I am beyond amazed that those were edible!

    • RetroRuth October 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Me too, Andrea! I thought for sure they would just be terrible…

  8. Sharon October 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I am SO glad that I could play a small part in bringing the miracle of Tuna Cakes into your life! Spread the gospel of Franco American everybody!

  9. pam kueber November 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Oh my word.

    • RetroRuth November 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      I know, right?

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