Tuna Melt
Tuna Melt
5 from 4 votes
Elevate your sandwich game with the ultimate Tuna Melt! This classic dish combines the comforting warmth of toasted bread with the hearty satisfaction of tuna and melted cheese. It's an easy, delicious staple for any mealtime.
Tuna Melt

Let me tell you a story – not of magic or mythical creatures, but something far more enticing. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the tale of the humble yet profoundly delightful tuna melt.

I have a deep appreciation for simple, delicious eats and a special fondness for dishes that skilfully combine complexity with straightforwardness. It’s in this world of culinary fusion that the tuna melt holds a distinct, cherished place.

Dating back to the 1960s, the tuna melt is an American classic born out of the diner culture that was sweeping the nation at that time.

It all began when someone – let’s just call them a genius – decided to put a tuna salad on top of a cheese-loaded bread and grill it to perfection. A simple idea that resulted in a taste sensation that remains loved by many, even decades later.

The tuna melt is a dish that stirs memories for a lot of us. It’s a comforting bite that brings back a sense of nostalgia and simpler times. It’s also a testament to the timeless appeal of good food, proving that you don’t need to over-complicate things to create something thoroughly enjoyable.

The tuna melt has stood the test of time, earning its status as a beloved favourite for casual lunches and easy dinners alike.

Now, let’s talk about the effort required in preparing this iconic sandwich. If I were to gauge its difficulty, I’d place it right in the “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” category.

But don’t let the simplicity of the process fool you; even the simplest of dishes can showcase depth and intrigue when the ingredients are right, and the execution is on point.

The beauty of the tuna melt, you see, lies in its flexibility. Whether you’re a novice still finding your way around the stove or an experienced cook with a knack for adding your own twist, this recipe is a playground for culinary exploration.

It’s a dish that invites you to make it your own, encouraging you to dabble in creativity while ensuring a delightful outcome each time.

The recipe I’m about to share is a result of numerous kitchen trials and taste tests. I’ve taken the basic structure of the classic tuna melt and refined it a little.

The ingredient list includes canned tuna, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, bread, red onion, tomato, salt, black pepper, and butter.

With these elements, we’re going to create a sandwich that delivers an impeccable blend of tastes and textures – crunchy, creamy, tangy, and, most importantly, utterly delicious.

As we embark on this culinary journey together, remember, the key to a perfect tuna melt is to savour the process as much as the result. Even as the bread turns golden brown and the cheese melts into gooey perfection, know that the real joy lies in the anticipation.

So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and let’s create a tuna melt that pays homage to its rich history while offering a delightful experience in every bite. After all, nothing tastes better than a meal made with a dash of history, a sprinkle of enthusiasm, and a whole lot of love!

What Ingredients to Use & Why

The iconic Tuna Melt: a classic sandwich that’s simply irresistible. The ideal amalgamation of creamy, savoury, cheesy, and crunchy, it’s no wonder this recipe has stood the test of time. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that go into making this comfort food classic.

Tuna: Tuna is the foundation of this recipe. Being a high-quality protein source, it lends a distinct, robust flavour that is both hearty and satisfying. Not to mention, it’s packed with essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health.

If you’re looking for alternatives, you could use canned chicken or salmon instead.

Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise contributes creaminess and moisture to the tuna mixture, helping bind the ingredients together. It adds a touch of tanginess that balances the rich taste of the other components.

If you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, you can substitute it with Greek yoghurt for a lighter, tangier flavour.

Cheddar Cheese: The cheese in this recipe creates that irresistible, gooey melt that the recipe is named after. It also provides a savoury depth to the sandwich. You could experiment with other cheese varieties like Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or Swiss for different flavour profiles.

Lemon Juice: A dash of lemon juice brightens the flavour of the tuna mixture. It adds a subtle acidity that cuts through the richness, bringing balance to the dish. You could also use vinegar or pickled relish as an alternative.

Dijon Mustard: This gives a spicy, tangy undertone to the sandwich, subtly enhancing the flavours. If you don’t have Dijon, you could use yellow mustard or even a pinch of wasabi for a different kick.

Bread: The bread acts as the vessel for my delicious filling. Its toasty, crunchy texture adds a delightful contrast to the creamy, melty interior. Almost any type of bread will work well – whole grain, sourdough, or even a baguette for a different spin.

Red Onion: The finely chopped red onion introduces a bite of sharpness and a bit of crunch to my tuna mixture, heightening the overall texture and flavour. If red onion is too strong for you, try using green onions or shallots instead.

Tomato: Chopped tomato provides a juicy, fresh contrast to the rich and creamy components of the sandwich. If tomatoes aren’t your thing, you can use roasted red peppers or skip this component altogether.

Salt and Black Pepper: These are the fundamental seasonings that help to enhance and balance the flavours of the ingredients. They can be adjusted according to personal preference.

Butter: Finally, the butter. It browns the bread to perfection and adds a hint of richness. You can also use margarine or a plant-based butter alternative if you prefer.

Each ingredient in this recipe serves its unique purpose to create an end product that’s an explosion of flavours and textures.

Whether it’s the heartiness of the tuna, the tanginess of the mayonnaise and mustard, the meltiness of the cheese, or the freshness of the onions and tomatoes – every element comes together to form the perfect Tuna Melt.

Choosing the Best Type of Tuna for Your Tuna Melt

When it comes to preparing a tantalizing tuna melt, the type of tuna you use can significantly influence the final taste and texture. I’ve experimented with a variety of tuna types and have discovered that different types offer different flavours, which can affect your overall enjoyment of the meal.

My go-to option is solid white tuna, canned in water. The firmness of the solid white tuna is appealing as it retains its texture even after mixing with other ingredients.

Plus, by opting for tuna canned in water, I can control the overall richness of the dish, especially considering the mayo, cheese, and butter that’s already part of the recipe.

Alternatively, I’ve found that chunk light tuna can also be a good choice. It’s generally less expensive and has a stronger flavour than solid white. However, its texture is softer, which some people might not prefer.

You can also consider yellowfin or albacore. Both are wonderful choices due to their firmer texture and milder flavour. However, they are often more expensive.

Your choice of tuna will largely depend on your personal taste preference. While I can guide you towards what I consider the best, experimenting and tasting different varieties is part of the fun of cooking!

Exploring Cheese Varieties for Your Tuna Melt

Cheddar cheese is traditionally used in a tuna melt for its rich flavour and perfect melting qualities. But if you’re like me, always looking to experiment in the kitchen, there are several other cheeses you can try.

For a smooth, creamy melt, you might want to consider mozzarella. It’s milder in flavour compared to cheddar but offers an unmatched creamy, stringy melt that pairs wonderfully with the tuna.

Swiss cheese is another excellent choice, with its mild, nutty flavour and beautiful melting capacity. Gruyere, a type of Swiss cheese, brings a more intense flavour profile and melts beautifully, giving your tuna melt a slightly gourmet twist.

For a bolder flavour, you could opt for a sharp provolone or pepper jack cheese. They add a distinct, robust flavour and melt nicely, adding a new layer of complexity to your sandwich.

Regardless of the type of cheese you choose, make sure it’s freshly grated. Pre-grated cheese often contains anti-caking agents that can impact the melting process.

Preventing Your Tuna Melt from Becoming Soggy

One of the worst things that can happen to your tuna melt is for it to turn soggy. I’ve had my fair share of this culinary catastrophe, but over time, I’ve discovered some practical tips to prevent it.

First, make sure your tuna is well-drained. Excess water from the canned tuna can seep into your bread and make it soggy. Take your time to squeeze out as much water as possible.

Second, the type of bread you use can also affect sogginess. Opt for thicker, denser bread types like sourdough or sturdy whole-grain bread. These kinds of bread are less likely to get soggy because they can hold up better to wet ingredients.

Third, try toasting the inside of your bread before assembling the sandwich. This can create a barrier, preventing the tuna and mayo mixture from making the bread soggy.

Finally, buttering and toasting both sides of the bread helps create a deliciously crisp exterior that can ward off sogginess.

Experimenting with these tips should help you create the perfect, non-soggy tuna melt!

Preparing the Tuna Mixture Ahead of Time for Your Tuna Melt

When I’m looking to save some time, I find that preparing the tuna mixture for my tuna melts ahead of time can be a great help.

It allows me to have a quick and tasty meal ready in minutes, and I’ve found that the flavours can often become even more delicious when they have time to meld together in the refrigerator.

Making the tuna mixture ahead of time is as simple as mixing together the tuna, mayo, Dijon mustard, red onion, lemon juice, and seasonings, then storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

You can do this up to two days in advance, but I wouldn’t recommend leaving it much longer than that as the mixture can start to lose its fresh taste.

When you’re ready to make your tuna melt, all you have to do is spread the tuna mixture onto your bread, add your cheese, and cook as usual. If the mixture is very cold from the refrigerator, you may need to cook your sandwich a bit longer to ensure everything is heated through.

Preparing the tuna mixture ahead of time not only saves time when you’re ready to eat but can also make for a more flavourful sandwich.

However, one tip I would give is not to add the tomato until you’re ready to make your sandwich. Tomatoes can become mushy when refrigerated and could lead to a soggy sandwich. Add them fresh just before cooking for the best results.

In my experience, a little bit of planning and prep work can make meal times so much easier, and this is one way you can simplify the process of making delicious tuna melts.

Finding Vegetarian Substitutes for Tuna in a Tuna Melt Recipe

As a cook who loves to experiment and cater to different dietary needs, I’ve explored numerous vegetarian substitutes for tuna in a tuna melt recipe. It might seem challenging, but with a little creativity, you can create a melt that mimics the texture and flavour of a traditional tuna melt.

One of my favourite substitutions is chickpeas. When mashed, they provide a texture very similar to flaked tuna. To use chickpeas, drain and rinse a can, then mash them lightly before mixing with your usual ingredients. You’ll be surprised how well this works!

Another option is to use a plant-based tuna substitute. There are several brands available on the market that aim to mimic the flavour and texture of canned tuna. Although these products can be more expensive, they can be a great option if you’re craving a tuna melt without the tuna.

Artichoke hearts are another unique substitute. They have a similar texture to tuna and, when combined with the right seasonings, can make a delicious filling for your melt.

Lastly, jackfruit, often used as a meat substitute due to its ability to shred similarly to pulled pork or chicken, can be another option. It’s relatively bland on its own, but it takes on flavours well, so it works with the seasonings in the melt.

Remember that while these substitutes might not taste exactly like traditional tuna, they can provide a satisfying and delicious alternative for vegetarians or anyone looking to cut down on their meat consumption.

Selecting the Best Kind of Bread for Your Tuna Melt

The choice of bread is paramount in making a great tuna melt. I’ve experimented with many types over the years and have found that the perfect bread can make all the difference in the world to your sandwich.

Sourdough is my top choice for a tuna melt. Its sturdy texture and slightly tangy flavour pair beautifully with the creamy, savoury tuna filling. It toasts up crispy on the outside, which provides a nice contrast to the soft filling.

Another favourite of mine is rye bread. It’s hearty texture and distinctive flavour add a whole new dimension to the sandwich. If you’re not a fan of the strong flavour of traditional rye, try light rye, which is milder but still brings a lovely depth of flavour.

Whole grain or whole wheat breads are another excellent choice, especially if you’re looking to add some additional nutrition to your meal. These bread tend to be sturdy and hold up well under the weight of the tuna and cheese.

If you prefer a softer sandwich, classic white sandwich bread or soft French or Italian bread can also work well. The key is to toast them enough to prevent sogginess but not so much that they become overly hard or dry.

The choice of bread for your tuna melt is really up to your personal preference. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds to find your perfect match. After all, variety is the spice of life!

Exploring Variations of the Classic Tuna Melt Recipe

As a fervent culinary adventurer, I find pleasure in exploring different versions of classic recipes. The tuna melt, with its endless scope for customisation, is no exception.

One variation I particularly enjoy is adding some heat to the mix. You could use spicy mayonnaise or even mix a bit of your favourite hot sauce into the tuna. Or, try adding some pickled jalapenos or crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of zing.

Another intriguing twist involves incorporating a variety of vegetables. Try adding some diced celery or bell peppers to your tuna mixture for some added crunch. Or, instead of serving your tuna melt with sliced tomato, try a handful of fresh arugula or spinach for a peppery kick and some added nutritional value.

You could also experiment with different kinds of mustard. Swap out the traditional Dijon for a grainy whole mustard or even honey mustard for a touch of sweetness.

And let’s not forget about the bread! Trying different types of bread can drastically alter the taste and texture of your tuna melt. Sourdough, rye, whole grain, or even a nice crusty baguette could each bring something new and exciting to your sandwich.

In my culinary journey, I’ve discovered that it’s all about playing with flavours and textures until you find the combination that works best for your taste buds. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box!

Choosing the Perfect Side Dish for Your Tuna Melt

A tuna melt is a meal in itself, but sometimes I like to serve it with a side dish for a more rounded meal. The key is to choose something that complements the sandwich without overpowering it.

One of my go-to sides for a tuna melt is a simple salad. The freshness of the greens provides a nice contrast to the richness of the sandwich. You could go for a classic garden salad, a tangy coleslaw, or even a cucumber and tomato salad.

Another option I love is a bowl of soup. A creamy tomato soup or a classic vegetable soup pairs beautifully with the tuna melt. In fact, there’s something incredibly comforting about the combination of a hot sandwich and a warm bowl of soup, especially on a chilly day.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more indulgent, try serving your tuna melt with some crispy fries or sweet potato fries. Or, for a healthier twist, roasted vegetables or simple grilled corn on the cob can be a great option.

The perfect side dish for your tuna melt really depends on your mood and the other flavours you’re craving. Experiment with different combinations until you find your favourite pairing!

Creating a Healthier Tuna Melt

Creating a healthier version of a tuna melt doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavour. As someone who enjoys indulging in this classic comfort food while also keeping an eye on nutrition, I’ve discovered several ways to lighten up the recipe.

One of the simplest swaps is to use whole-grain bread instead of white. Whole grain bread is higher in fibre and can make your meal more satisfying. Plus, its nuttier flavour profile can add an interesting dimension to your tuna melt.

Next, consider using a lighter version of mayonnaise, or substitute it with Greek yoghurt. Greek yoghurt offers a similar tangy flavour but with fewer calories and more protein. Similarly, you can choose a reduced-fat cheese or simply use less of it.

The tuna itself is already a lean protein, but make sure you’re choosing tuna packed in water, not oil, to keep the calorie content in check.

Finally, consider adding more vegetables. Whether that’s adding extra veggies like celery or bell pepper to the tuna mix, serving with a side salad, or adding a handful of fresh spinach to the sandwich, this not only boosts the nutritional profile but also adds a satisfying crunch.

Making healthier choices doesn’t mean giving up on your favourite meals. It’s all about making smart swaps and adding nutrient-dense ingredients. Enjoy your healthier, but still delicious, tuna melt!

Freezing and Reheating a Tuna Melt: A Step-By-Step Guide

As a fan of meal prep and convenience, I’ve experimented quite a bit with freezing and reheating various dishes. While a fresh tuna melt is undoubtedly the best, it’s absolutely possible to freeze and reheat a tuna melt for a quick and satisfying meal later on.

To freeze a tuna melt, you need to start by ensuring that your sandwich is cooled to room temperature. It’s also a good idea to slightly undercook your sandwich, as it will be reheated later. Once cooled, wrap each sandwich individually in aluminium foil.

The foil will protect the sandwich from freezer burn and help retain moisture during the reheating process. After wrapping, place the sandwiches in a freezer-safe bag or container, label it with the date, and place it in the freezer.

When it comes to reheating, I’ve found that the oven provides the most consistent and tasty results. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the frozen tuna melt, still wrapped in its foil, on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until it’s heated through and the cheese is melted. If you want to get the bread a bit crispier, you can open up the foil for the last 5 minutes of heating.

One thing to note is that while you can freeze and reheat a tuna melt, the texture may not be quite the same as when fresh. The bread might be a bit softer, and the overall sandwich may be a bit drier. However, for a quick, convenient meal, it’s still a great option.

Keep in mind that food safety is paramount. You should ideally consume the frozen tuna melt within 1-2 months. Always ensure that your sandwich is reheated thoroughly before consuming it.

In my book, nothing beats a fresh tuna melt, but with these steps, you can have a close second even on a busy day.

Check Out These Other Recipes

If you were a fan of my Tuna Melt, there’s a treasure trove of fish-based dishes waiting for you to explore. Let me guide you through some of them.

Ever thought about marrying the cheesy wonder of a quesadilla with the hearty flavour of fish? Try my Tuna Quesadilla! It’s a unique spin on your usual quesadilla that packs all the protein goodness of tuna and the melting magic of cheese. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

Next, consider giving my Tuna Pasta Salad a whirl. Imagine your favourite pasta salad – crunchy vegetables, delightful seasoning, and a tangy dressing – but with an unexpected twist: flaky, savoury tuna.

It’s an amazing dish for picnics or quick lunches, and I promise it’s as pleasing to the palate as it is easy to whip up.

Does the exotic taste of curry tantalize you? Then my Tuna Curry could be the next dish to make it onto your dinner table. This delicacy takes your love for fish and wraps it in a warm embrace of aromatic spices.

It’s an adventure for your senses, and if you haven’t yet ventured into the land of curries, this is a fantastic place to start.

Are you a fan of comfort food with a bit of an edge? Don’t overlook my Tuna Pasta Bake. This recipe takes a homely classic and injects it with the robust flavour of tuna, yielding a dish that’s both satisfying and surprising. It’s like a hug for your stomach on a cold day.

Lastly, for those who fancy a healthier option that doesn’t skimp on flavour, my Tuna Chickpea Curry is a must-try.

This nutrient-packed dish brings together the richness of tuna and the creamy texture of chickpeas, all swathed in a flavoursome curry. You won’t believe how satisfying healthy eating can be until you try this!

There’s a world of culinary delights waiting for you to discover, and I’m just as excited as you are to embark on this journey. Don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments section – I love hearing about your adventures in the kitchen.

Tuna Melt

Tuna Melt

by Nabeela Kauser
Elevate your sandwich game with the ultimate Tuna Melt! This classic dish combines the comforting warmth of toasted bread with the hearty satisfaction of tuna and melted cheese.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Lunch
Cuisine American, Western
Servings 4
Calories 320 kcal


  • 200 g Tuna Canned, drained
  • 50 g Mayonnaise
  • 50 g Cheddar Cheese Grated
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 4 slices Bread
  • ½ Red Onion Finely chopped
  • 1 Tomato Chopped
  • Salt To taste
  • Black Pepper To taste
  • 2 tbsp Butter


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the drained tuna, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, red onion, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  • Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Butter one side of each bread slice.
  • Place two slices of bread, butter side down, on the skillet.
  • Spoon half of the tuna mixture on top of each bread slice.
  • Add the grated cheddar cheese on top.
  • Add the remaining slices of bread on top, butter side up.
  • Cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Serve hot and enjoy your delicious tuna melt!


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 16gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 464mgPotassium: 237mgFibre: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 595IUVitamin C: 6mgVitamin D: 1µgCalcium: 142mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Fish, Food, Recipe, Sandwich, Seafood, Snack, Tuna
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

Rate this Tuna Melt recipe

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

More Recipes

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Lobster Risotto

Lobster Risotto

Chinese Spring Rolls

Chinese Spring Rolls

Fish Tikka

Fish Tikka

Fish Nuggets

Fish Nuggets

Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna Pasta Salad

Find Your Perfect Recipe!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x