The possibilities are endless with this easy recipe! Serve it open faced on toast, add a slice of cheese then grill up a sandwich, use the filling as a tuna salad sandwich and more! A Tuna Melt is a classic sandwich that’s creamy, has the perfect amount of crunchy and is traditionally served with melty cheddar cheese and sliced tomatoes.
Combine creamy tuna salad on bread with melted cheddar and sliced tomatoes and you get a classic tuna melt sandwich! There’s a reason this easy sandwich has been around forever – it’s delicious!
I think the secret to a great tuna melt is the filling – there are tons of variations, but I think I’ve nailed it with the perfect balance of mayonnaise, mustard, and crunchy veggies. It’s creamy with so much flavor, especially the pop of lemon. It balances out the richness and, well, just makes the perfect sandwich!
What makes this a tuna “melt” is the cheese that is melted on top of the filling. It’s so good! If you’ve never tried it I think you’re going to love it. I bet you have a few cans of tuna in the pantry right now!
Why You’ll Love This Tuna Melt Recipe!
- It only takes 10 minutes to make which makes it a great, easy dinner or lunch recipe.
- There are a lot of ways to lighten up this recipe by using tuna packed in water, whole grain bread, serving it in a lettuce wrap, opened faced and more!
- Your family will be requesting it as it’s a classic that’s always a hit!
The Best Bread To Use
Before we get to the filling let’s talk about the bread. It’s a sandwich after all so the type you use will make a difference.
You should choose a sturdy bread. You want it to be able to hold the filling without getting soggy or soft. I’ve used ciabatta and thick-sliced country white or whole bread before and they work great. But, feel free to pick your favorite kind of bread – just be sure it’s not too soft or flimsy.
To toast or not toast? This is really up to you! Sometimes I butter and toast the bread before assembling the sandwiches and sometimes I skip this step so the choice is up to you.
Tuna Melt Ingredients
- Bread – A sturdy bread will hold up the best like Ciabatta or thick sliced bread.
- Tuna – Grab the tuna packed in water, then drain it and it’s ready.
- Celery – Finely diced or sliced.
- Onion – Finely diced or sliced red onion.
- Parsley – Fresh and finely chopped will give it extra flavor.
- Mayonnaise – Makes the tuna filling so creamy.
- Mustard – We recommend Dijon or stoneground mustard. It gives it a burst of flavor.
- Lemon juice – Grab a lemon and squeeze it for the best result.
- Salt and pepper – To taste.
To make the filling, flake the tuna (break it up so it’s not in big chunks) and combine it with all of the other ingredients.
For the mayo, you can use as little or as much as you want. Some people like a really creamy sandwich filling and others like it with less mayonnaise. So, start with a small amount and add more to your taste.
How To Make A Tuna Melt
- Butter and toast the bread slices (or skip this step if you want!)
- Top one slice of bread with some of the tuna filling.
- Add a slice of cheddar cheese. To melt it, you can place the sandwich under the broiler or melt it in the microwave.
- Top the melted cheese with a slice of tomato and serve it open-faced or top it with another piece of bread.
- Serve the sandwiches right away while the cheese is still hot and melt-y!
Air Fryer Directions
Place it in your air fryer basket and air fry at 370 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
How To Store Leftovers
If you want to make the filling ahead and assemble the sandwiches later you can! Homemade tuna salad will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days.
Because the filling is mayonnaise-based you don’t want to keep it out at room temperature for more than two hours. If it’s really warm, that time is even shorter. It’s always best to keep it cold in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
To store leftover tuna melts wrap it in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to two days. Remember the bread will get soggy as it sits.
- Low Carb – Skip the bread and make a lettuce wrap, use keto friendly bread or even an open faced sandwich will cute down on the carbs in this sandwich.
- Lighter Option – Use a low-sodium or low-calorie tuna fish.
- Cheese – We usually use a cheddar cheese but mix it up with Asiago, jalapeno jack, Colby jack, pepper jack or whatever your heart desires.
- Toppings – Sliced tomatoes, pickles, avocados and lettuce are all great options for topping your tuna melt.
- Bread – Instead of sliced bread use an English Muffin, Bagel etc.
- Mix-Ins – Add a bit of fresh or dried dill for a burst of flavor. Add green onions, minced shallot or sliced chives. For extra crunch water chestnuts that are finely chopped are a great addition.
What Should I serve with Tuna Melts?
I think you’re going to love this classic tuna melt! Want more sandwich recipes? Here are a few more of our favorites!
More Recipes to Try!
- If you’re looking for another way to use canned tuna you have to try my Egg Avocado Tuna Sandwiches! It’s a quick 10-minute recipe that’s perfect for lunch
- Another classic sandwich we love to make are Reubens! Corned beef, Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing piled on Rye bread is so delicious.
- Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich is one of my favorite ways to use up hard-boiled eggs. It’s cold, creamy and so good!
Try it and love it? Rate it, please!!!? Seriously though a five-star rating below will make my day! If you snap a photo, please be sure tag me on Instagram at @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats so I can see your yummy treat!!
- 4 cans 5 oz tuna packed in water, drained
- ¼ cup celery finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons red onion finely minced
- 1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley finely minced
- ¾ cup mayonnaise add a little at a time **see notes
- 1 teaspoon mustard dijon or stone ground
- 1 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 pieces Bread your favorite
- 4 Cheese Slices your favorite
- Butter for bread, to toast
- 4 Tomato Slices
- Drain and flake tuna, add to large bowl.
- Add celery, red onion, and parsley to bowl and stir to combine
- Add mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice to tuna mixture and stir until well combined
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Butter the outside of the bread slices, layer tuna mixture on the inside of one bread slice, top with cheese and desired toppings, then place another piece of bread, butter side up, on top.
- Heat skillet over medium-low heat and cooke until bottom bread is toasted and cheese is warm, flip and cooke on the other side until bread is toasted.
Other Serving Options
- Tuna Salad: add desired amount of tuna salad to toast
- Cheese: Add cheeses slices and melt in oven or microwave
- Tomato: thinly slice tomato and add to top of salad, or on bottom
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired
- Serve open face or add another slice of toast for a sandwich