Tuna Pie – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Nov 9 2011 - 6:42am by RetroRuth

This is it! This is the end! The absolute LAST tuna recipe that we tried from our recent tuna contest. Can you believe it?  I barely can. I feel like I have tuna coming out of my ears.


Correction. Tuna Pie coming out of my ears.

This recipe is another entry from Toni, who won the Best Recipe with the Disneyland Tunaburgers. Even though she hit a home run  with the Tunaburgers, we still decided to give this pie a try because…well…Tom LOVES tuna and potato chips together. He was hoping this pie was going to win out over the Tunaburgers even though the pie contained *Gasp* the dreaded American Cheese!

IMG_5763 edit




Toni writes:

My mom still makes Chicken Parmesan and Lasagna from recipes cut out of the Hayward Daily Review newspaper from the 1960’s. The recipes are yellowed with age, but she still uses them. She also has a bunch of other clippings stuck in her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from 1966ish. Some of the BHG recipes have been used so much, the ink has faded from the page! I love those and I have to admit those two Italian recipes are very NomNom.

But Tuna Pie was a less successful recipe.

I can not tell you how much I hate canned tuna. It was a staple growing up, and I skipped many a childhood dinner over it.


Tuna Pie

Preheat oven to 425.

Tuna Filling
Combine in saucepan:
1 can (10 ½ oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons flour and
2 tablespoons French’s Onion Flakes.
Cook until thickened. Remove from heat.
1 package frozen peas
2 cans (6 ½ oz. each) tuna, drained and
1 can (4 oz.) pimento, chopped.
Turn hot filling into baked pie shell.
Top with sliced American Cheese and crushed potato chips.
Bake 12-15 minutes until cheese melts.


Thanks for the recipe and the great email, Toni!

And for the chance to feed Tom American Cheese. It doesn’t happen often.


“This is not good.”

“Really?” I was surprised. Even with the American Cheese I thought it would be at least passing.

“It isn’t totally disgusting, but it isn’t great either.”

“Well, at least you can eat the chips off.”

“They’re covered with American Cheese.”

The Verdict: Not good, but not disgusting either. Not quite sure what happened to this one, since it has all the components of Tuna and Potato Chip casserole, which we actually eat with some regularity in our house. Maybe it was the French’s onions, or the pimento. Either way, something wasn’t quite right in Pie-Town.

Thanks for the entry, Toni!

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

  1. Retrochef November 9, 2011 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Really doesn’t seem like a terribly pleasant recipe, and that face-in-hand photo really just says it all 😀

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 10:42 am - Reply

      I know! It was a great reaction! 🙂

  2. veg-o-matic November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Yeah, that last picture of Tom is the best one yet. I could actually feel his anguish.

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Nice! The runner-up picture, in my opinion, is the second one, where the strip of pimento looks like a worm hanging off Tom’s fork. Yuck!

  3. Sara In AZ November 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Poor, poor Tom having to eat American Cheese. 😉 I am surprised it was kinda bad, seems like it should taste just like the regular old tuna noodle casserole. It probably was those pesky onion flakes AND that *horrible* American Cheese combined that made it extra yuccy! 🙂

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      I know! I was confused, too. It didn’t make sense that just a few ingredients would make the pie so crappy. But they did!

  4. Andrea November 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    I should have known better than to click on this one while I am sick, LOL. Tom’s last expression really does sum it up well – it looks like he regrets eating it!

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Ugh! Sorry you are sick, Andrea! Hope you feel better soon!

  5. Emily November 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh! I just love these posts you do! and I especially love seeing Tom’s reactions. Thank you and keep it up!

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Emily and welcome to the blog!

  6. Toni November 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Awesome pic! Pretty much how I felt anytime Tuna was on the menu.

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      I can imagine that is totally how you felt if you were expected to eat this pie. Yuck!

  7. DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman November 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    I am sooooooooooo relieved! I was feeling pouty as I clicked through because I just knew that the tuna pie would be perfect and make my attempts at tuna pies just look pathetic.

    And then I saw the last photo and my mood changed.

    Thank you for taking one for the readers, Tom!

    The Mister loves tuna casserole but I just can’t get the tuna pie thing down.

    • RetroRuth November 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm - Reply

      Ha ha! Oh my goodness, really? I don’t think anyone could ever consider a tuna pie “perfect” no matter how good at cooking they are. And this isn’t the first failed tuna pie we’ve had, either. I’ve NEVER eaten one I’ve liked. I think we are just going to stick with tuna casserole at our house from now on. 🙂

  8. Pam November 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    What a letdown after all that work…I actually thought the pie looked pretty good! Melted American cheese and potato chips *seems* pretty good to me.

    • RetroRuth November 13, 2011 at 9:07 am - Reply

      They are to most people, Pam! Tom just HATES American Cheese! 🙂

  9. Maggie November 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    The minute I saw it I thought potato chip casserole!!!! omg i want it. i’m going to have to make it this week now….

    • RetroRuth November 13, 2011 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Do it! Send me a picture! 🙂

  10. veg-o-matic February 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    I made this last night because, unlike Tom, we actually like American cheese. I’m not particularly good at math, but this looked like a safe bet–everything seemed to add up: tuna + cream soup + peas + cheese + potato chips + pie crust = Awesome.
    It wasn’t *bad*, it just wasn’t very good. Really, all I tasted was peas. No tuna, no cheese, even the potato chips seemed to lose their lovely saltiness. And really, what is that pie crust even there for? The pie falls completely apart when you try to serve it.
    What surprised me, though (and I don’t think you mentioned), is how absolutely VILE this smells while baking. It’s not fishy or potato-chippy as one would think. It was sort of like that cleaning-the-oven smell that gets into the curtains and stuff. Mixed with a soupcon of Rendering Plant.
    But hey–at least I’m smart enough not to try the Tuna Pizza, right?

    • RetroRuth February 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      I know what you mean!!! It SEEMS like a good idea, and then it all goes wrong in practice! Oh man, I had forgotten about the smell!!!! Why did you guys do this to yourselves??

      Also, did you take a pic? 🙂

      And no, do NOT try the Tuna Pizza!

  11. veg-o-matic February 15, 2012 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Just do be clear, WE did not do this to ourselves; *I* did it. This was entirely my idea. The blame is all mine.

    I did not take a pic, but we’re having the leftovers tonight (I hate to waste food, and we’ll at least have a good time laughing about this.) Would you like a picture of a partially-eaten Tuna Pie? Guaranteed to be 100% more disgusting than an uneaten one!

    Don’t worry about the Tuna Pizza. Even I’m not that crazy.

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 11:32 am - Reply

      Ha ha ha!! Oh man. Yeah, a half-eaten pie would be just fine! 🙂

  12. John March 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I just made this with a few modifications and it was rather tasty. I made my own oil pie crust and I used cream of celery soup because I hate mushrooms. I used 1/2 as many pimentos because I bought the wrong size and I used only about 1 cup of peas because that’s all I had left. I used shredded white cheddar cheese because that’s all I had. And if it sits awhile, it does eventually become more solid. I’m definitely going to make this again.

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