Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 30, 2013

Tuna Macaroni Cheese Loaf

Retro Ruth from Mid-Century Menu recently posted a variety of ads for sale on eBay that she was interested in. Included was a Chicken of the Sea ad-recipe that we’d actually baked a couple days before her post (although I had found it on Flickr, not eBay).


This was her take on it: “So, this is like a layered meatloaf that my mother-in-law made for us recently, which makes me want to try this. Also, I want to see how those macaroni layers end up tasting, since there is really no white sauce involved. Apparently you just pour bread crumbs, macaroni and milk together and smash it all in a pan. Yum!”

Let’s just see if that “yum” is likely to be fulfilled, shall we?


Macaroni Layers

6 ounces macaroni
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon each chopped parsley, onion
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten

Tuna Layer

2 cans Chicken of the Sea Tuna
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each paprika and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk

Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and rinse. Combine bread crumbs, milk, cheese, parsley, onion, pimiento, salt and eggs. Stir in macaroni. Pour half the mixture into a greased 5″ x 10″ loaf pan. Combine tuna, eggs, salt, paprika, pepper, parsley, lemon juice, bread crumbs and milk. Pour over the macaroni mixture. Pour remaining macaroni mixture over tuna. Bake in a moderately slow oven (325°F) 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Slice and serve. Makes 8 servings.


At least it’s a colorful assortment of ingredients. There’s nothing standing out as big red flag saying “DON’T MAKE THIS.”


Most of the colorful stuff goes in with the macaroni layer.


The tuna layer… that just looks like an awful lot of eggs in proportion to tuna.


Once mixed and put in the loaf pan, the macaroni layer… um, doesn’t look entirely like vomit?


And neither does the tuna layer?


Well, we’ve had stuff that looked unappealing but tasted amazing before. It can happen. And after baking it has this nice golden color on top!


Unfortunately, that golden layer was on the bottom after it flipped out of the pan. AND, it broke while coming out of the pan.


This photograph is unfortunately blurred because of steam on the camera lens; I didn’t realize that until the pictures were being uploaded. It looks like some fuzzy, overlit scene from a flashback sequence in a movie.

However, you do get an idea of the color: grey, with a few interspersed spots of color from the pimento or cheese. Not much like the ad, to my amusement.


This wasn’t bad on the first bite. (It wasn’t great, either — but at least we were vaguely interested in trying a second bite.) But as we ate more and more, it became clear that there were problems. There was too much egg, too much lemon, too much bread crumb, an odd undercurrent of cheese… and it became harder and harder to choke down. Half the loaf got choked down, but the leftovers are going (literally) to the dog.

Sometimes protein-in-a-loaf can be yummy. Other times… not so much.

This bizarre retro recipe can be found on Flickr, both from Natalie and The Damn Mushroom.



  1. I think that tuna cans used to be bigger, so you’d have more tuna in proportion to the eggs. Still don’t know that this dish could be salvaged, though.

    • That might have upped it to “meh,” I’ll admit. We did spend a lot of time in the store aisle debating how to interpret “can” but erred on the side of “regular” size ones.

  2. I think the entire IDEA of hot or heated tuna fish is DIZ-GUSTING, bleeeechhhh.

    Or, as Bill the Cat in the Bloom County comic strip used to say, Ack Blat Barf!

  3. Erica actually gave me a choice between this recipe and a frankfurter/macaroni concoction. I don’t like hot dogs, and I have always rather liked tuna fish (even if I don’t eat it especially often nowadays). So I picked this recipe. I’m pretty sure I made the wrong decision.

  4. […] Tuna Macaroni Cheese Loaf didn’t work out well for us. Undaunted, we’re trying another fish-based loaf-like object this week, featuring: […]

  5. You have to season a tuna noodle casserole like this one better. Tuna casserole can either be delicious or incredibly bland… Maybe remove the egg and up the lemon, and choose a more mild cheese. Cheddar in my experience does not work well with tuna, it’s too flavorful for it. A provelone is a better option. Focus on bringing out the interplay of fish and lemon really helps a tuna noodle dish. 🙂

  6. Just serve homemade garlic mayonnaise on the side!

  7. Wow! Closest I’ve ever gotten to a recipe for Salmon loaf topped w/Mac n cheese! Thanks. My mother would mix up salmon loaf and put it on bottom of loaf pan then top it with a cooked box of Kraft Mac n cheese then bake. To serve she’d turn it out so the Mac n cheese was on the bottom! Thank you again! This was back in the 50-60s

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