A tuna melt sandwich is a diner classic that’s easy to make at home! Seasoned tuna salad is piled onto thick slices of bread with cheddar cheese and toasted to perfection to create the ultimate comfort food sandwich.
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On paper, you wouldn’t think tuna salad and cheese would go together, but somehow, it works. If you’ve ever had a tuna melt sandwich, you know that this is absolute perfection between two slices of bread—it’s a little bit messy, kind of unwieldy if you’re overly generous with the tuna salad in the middle, but oh-so-delicious.
Basically, this is a tuna salad sandwich taken to the next level. Instead of simply putting a scoop of tuna salad on bread and calling it a day, the tuna melt adds cheese and then cooks the whole thing on the stovetop until the bread is toasty, the cheese is melty, and the tuna is nice and warm. So good.
Best Tuna Melt Recipe
The key to making a good tuna melt sandwich is choosing the right ingredients. Start with a good tuna salad—and we totally have a winner right here. Adding Old Bay seasoning is the little boost of flavor you totally didn’t know tuna salad needed.
Choose a cheese that melts well—cheddar is the classic choice, but you can try fontina, havarti, or Monterey Jack too. And then make sure you have a nice, thick bread to help hold everything together. You don’t want your tuna melt falling apart when you go to eat it!
Place your sandwich onto a hot skillet or griddle like a grilled cheese and lightly toast each side until the cheese has melted and the edges of the bread are golden brown. Slice in half and serve while still warm for a classic sandwich that never goes out of style.
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See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
For the Tuna Salad:
- Canned tuna – Oil-packed or water-packed tuna are both fine, so choose whichever you prefer.
- Mayonnaise – Any kind you like or have on hand.
- Dijon mustard
- Celery – Not a fan of the flavor? Diced water chestnuts will give you the crunch without the taste of celery.
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Old Bay seasoning – You can skip this if you don’t have it on hand, but I really love it in tuna salad!
To Assemble the Tuna Melt:
- Thick sliced bread – Like sourdough or Texas toast. Rye and whole wheat bread work well too, or even standard sandwich bread cut into thick slices.
- Butter – Let this soften so it’s easy to spread.
- Cheddar cheese – A nice, mild cheddar is what you want here.
- Vegetable oil
- Substitute the cheddar cheese with a slice of havarti, provolone, or Monterey jack.
- Add dill pickles to the tuna salad for a crunchy texture and tangy flavor.
- Layer sliced red onions onto the bread after the tomatoes.
- Spread a layer of Dijon mustard or mayonnaise on each slice of bread; it will add extra flavor and help hold the sandwich together when you flip it.
How to Make a Tuna Melt Sandwich
- Make the tuna salad: In a large bowl, stir together all of the tuna salad ingredients with a fork until mixed thoroughly and the tuna is broken up.
- Assemble: Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice. Divide the tuna mixture onto half of the bread slices, followed by a slice of tomato, and two slices of cheese. The buttered side of the bread should be facing out.
- Cook: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 2 of the sandwiches. Toast until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
Use a spatula to press down on the tuna melts while they cook. This will help them hold together and the flavors will really meld, too!
How to Store Leftover Tuna Melt Sandwiches
Tuna melt sandwiches are best enjoyed right away, but if you do have leftovers, you can wrap them in foil or place them in an airtight container. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for a day or two and they can be reheated in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat.
Tuna melt sandwiches are the perfect comfort food and make a delicious lunch or dinner. Serve them with a side of potato chips, salad, or air fryer French fries for a complete meal. They also pair nicely with vegetable soup like potato soup for an easy, cozy meal.
Cheddar and Monterey jack cheese are the most common cheeses for tuna melts, however, you can also use mozzarella or other types of melting cheese.
Tuna melts are best served warm, but they can also be enjoyed cold if you have leftovers. Of course, the cheese will no longer be melted that way, but it’s perfectly fine to eat!
Yes, it is okay to reheat a tuna melt. Simply place it in a skillet or microwave and heat until warmed through before serving.
While you can freeze a tuna melt sandwich, it’s not ideal. Tuna salad is made with mayonnaise, and mayo has a tendency to separate upon freezing and thawing.
More Easy Sandwich Recipes
Italian Chicken Sandwich
Crab Cake Sandwich
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
French Dip Sandwich
Tuna Melt Sandwich
- 10 ounces tuna, drained 2 cans
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 8 slices thick sliced bread such as sourdough or Texas toast
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 8 slices cheddar cheese
- 4 tomato slices
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- In a mixing bowl, stir all tuna salad ingredients until mixed thoroughly.
- Spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread. Assemble each sandwich with a portion of the tuna salad, a slice of tomato and two slices of cheese. The buttered side of the bread should be facing out.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 2 of the sandwiches. Heat until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.
Tastes even better with Swiss cheese on seeded rye bread, still grilled. sourdough bread is delicious too‼️