Tuna Melt

September 1, 2022

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The perfect Tuna Melt recipe! This amazingly easy to make sandwich includes flavorful sourdough bread (or other of choice), a creamy and herby tuna salad, rich cheddar and fresh tomato slices. It’s the ultimate upgrade to a traditional tuna sandwich!

Two tuna melt sandwiches cut into halves and stacked on a large white plate.

What is a Tuna Melt?

A tuna melt is similar to a classic hot grilled cheese sandwich but with the addition of tuna salad included.

It’s layered with a tuna filling made from canned tuna, along with shredded or sliced cheddar cheese, optional tomatoes and it’s all sandwiched between fresh bread slices that are slathered in butter. From there the sandwich is pan fried until cheese is melty, the filling has warmed and the bread has taken on a gorgeous golden brown, crisp exterior.

It makes one of the best lunches or a quick and satisfying dinner. And you’ll love that it’s made with simple ingredients, most of which you likely already have on hand.

Serve it with fresh fruit or vegetables and crisp, salty potato chips for the perfect finish.

Stacked tuna melt sandwiches.

Ingredients for tuna melts.

Tuna Melt Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 (12 oz) can solid white tuna (the big can), well drained
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped baby dill pickles
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 Tbsp minced dill
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 6 hearty bread slices, such as sourdough (white bread or whole wheat bread work well too)
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Tbsp softened butter

Tuna salad before and after mixing in a mixing bowl.

How to Make a Tuna Melt

  1. In a medium mixing bowl toss together drained tuna, mayonnaise, red onion, pickles, parsley, dill and lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread 1/2 Tbsp of butter on just one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Lay 3 slices of bread buttered side down. Top the bread with an even layer of tuna salad, then tomato slices and cheese (dividing evenly among the three slices).
  4. Top with remaining 3 bread slices buttered side up.
  5. Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.
  6. Cook sandwiches about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown on bottom, then turn (careful not to let cheese fall out). Cook on opposite until golden brown on bottom and cheese has melted, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  7. Slice each tuna melt in half and serve.

Assembling tuna melt sandwiches and pan frying.

Helpful Tips for the Best Sandwich

  • Be sure to drain tuna well otherwise the tuna salad will be watery and the sandwiches will end up soggy.
  • Use a canned tuna that is more firm, chunky and flakey rather than one that’s mushy and in tiny bits. It varies by brand.
  • Opt for a hearty somewhat dense bread that will hold up well to plenty of fillings. Very soft and fluffy sandwich bread won’t work very well here.
  • Monitor the tuna melts as they cook. Every pan cooks and browns a bit different depending on burner size, temp, thickness of pan, etc. You want it to become golden brown not dark brown by the time the cheese has melted and filling is warmed through. Reduce burner temperature as needed or increase a little if needed.

Possible Substitutes and Variations

  • Try it with canned chicken in place of canned tuna (chop into smaller pieces).
  • Green onions can be substituted for the red.
  • If needed dried dill will work here too, use 1 tsp dried. 2 tsp dried parsley will work for fresh.
  • Capers will make a tasty substitute for the pickles.
  • To lighten it up a little try a thick plain Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise.
  • For a healthier option opt to use whole wheat bread or multigrain bread and fry in a little olive oil instead of butter (go for the Greek yogurt as well).
  • Use any intensity of cheddar cheese you like from mild, medium or sharp. Yellow or white cheddar both work just the same.

Close up photo of tuna melt sandwich with cheddar, tuna salad, tomatoes, and bread.

More Simple Satisfying Recipes to Try

Two tuna melt sandwiches cut into halves and stacked on a large white plate.
5 from 5 votes

Tuna Melt

This satisfying and easy to make hot sandwich includes flavorful sourdough bread (or other of choice), a creamy and herby tuna salad, rich cheddar and fresh tomato slices. It's the ultimate upgrade to a traditional tuna sandwich!
Servings: 3
Prep15 minutes
Cook5 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 oz) can solid white tuna (the big can), well drained
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped baby dill pickles
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 Tbsp minced dill
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 6 hearty bread slices, such as sourdough or whole wheat bread
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or 6 slices cheddar
  • 3 Tbsp softened butter

Instructions

  • In a medium mixing bowl toss together drained tuna, mayonnaise, red onion, pickles, parsley, dill and lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread 1/2 Tbsp of butter on just one side of each slice of bread.
  • Lay 3 slices of bread buttered side down. Top the bread with an even layer of tuna salad, then tomato slices and cheese (dividing evenly among the three slices).
  • Top with remaining 3 bread slices buttered side up.
  • Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Cook sandwiches about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown on bottom, then turn (careful not to let cheese fall out). Cook on opposite until golden brown on bottom and cheese has melted, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  • Slice each tuna melt in half and serve.

Notes

If you use standard size slices of bread you can get 4 sandwiches out of the recipe. Bread used here was wider slices.
Nutrition Facts
Tuna Melt
Amount Per Serving
Calories 824 Calories from Fat 432
% Daily Value*
Fat 48g74%
Saturated Fat 19g119%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 14g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 126mg42%
Sodium 1332mg58%
Potassium 600mg17%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 42g84%
Vitamin A 2356IU47%
Vitamin C 26mg32%
Calcium 436mg44%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.