The Topping To Add A Buttery Crunch To Tuna Noodle Casserole

Do you love vintage clothing, vintage furniture, and vintage music? If so, then you might also love vintage recipes... Or you might not. According to the National Women's History Museum, 1950s America was a place that quickly became enamored with newly available, highly processed foods that worked their way into dishes such as green bean casserole (with those French fried onions on top), Jell-O salad studded with all manner of intriguing ingredients, and angel food cake brimming with bright red maraschino cherries (via allrecipes).

After World War II, the National Women's History Museum explains, shortcut canned and boxed foods became available to the general public at lower prices thanks to the technology rapidly put into use for wartime production of goods. These convenience foods promised to free the American housewife from the kitchen — even if, as historians have noted, this meant feeding their families less nutritious fare.

One of the many retro, streamlined recipes that has stood the test of time — ideally made with higher-quality ingredients, of course — is tuna noodle casserole, that creamy concoction of condensed soup, egg noodles, and canned tuna, all seasoned to perfection and bubbling under a buttery, crispy topping.

Ritz crackers made a delectably buttery top crust

As much as we love to don our apron, put on some music, and while away a few hours in the kitchen making something like authentic boeuf bourguignon or lovingly glazed crispy roast duck, we can admit to also enjoying less labor — and time — intensive recipes as well. And what better candidate than tuna noodle casserole? With the ability to feed a whole family with minimal effort and a low cost, per Easy Budget Recipes, the retro dish continues to be popular among home cooks long after its postwar height of popularity faded (via TASTE).

Variations on this filling casserole abound, and that includes spins on what's used to create the crispy, salty top layer of the dish. Some swear by crushed potato chips, others by corn flake cereal, and others by seasoned breadcrumbs (via The Stay at Home Chef). But one of the best choices, according to canned tuna authority Bumble Bee Tuna, is crushed Ritz-type crackers, mixed with melted butter and strewn on top, creating a crisp, crunchy, toasty top layer that perfectly contrasts with the creamy casserole below. This variation of the dish is also a super-convenient one, calling, as it does, for four packaged, ready-to-go ingredients: The condensed soup, the dry egg noodles, the canned tuna, and the buttery crackers.

It might not be gourmet, but it's definitely comforting.