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Tuna Melts

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Classic tuna melts are quick and easy to make, and they are so good. The open faced sandwich has tuna salad, melted cheese, and tomato for the best mix of warm and cozy with fresh and tasty.

Two plates, both with tuna melts topped with tomato slices, one cut in half showing the creamy tuna salad inside.

Whether you are looking for a quick and easy lunch or an option for Lent, these tasty tuna melt sandwiches are just the thing. It’s time to bring back the tuna melt!

This is one of those vintage recipes that scream diner classic to me. I can just imagine folks going out for dinner in the 1960s and ordering one.

Tuna melts topped with tomato, ready to eat.

They were brand new and supposedly discovered by accident when a bowl of tuna salad spilled onto a grilled cheese. Whether that is true or not, who knows. But, it is a fun story!

Either way, I am sure the housewives of the era were happy to have a new trendy meal to make that was simple to put together. I’ll have to ask my grandma what she thought when they came onto the scene.

No matter the history, Little Dude was introduced to his first tuna melt when we were testing tuna melt recipes. He didn’t think he liked tuna going into it, but he is a fan now!

We have been on a run of tuna melts, and this recipe is our favorite. We hope you give it a try for yourself!

What You’ll Need

This is one of those really simple recipes that can easily be customized to what you have on hand, and it will still be delicious.

However, a few tips can make them extra fabulous. So here are some recommendations after our testing:

Ingredients including bread, tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, onion, celery, cheese, and eggs ready to be made into tuna melt sandwiches.

Tuna – Your favorite canned tuna will work great. You can use oil packed for more flavor, but water packed works well, too. Starting with a drained canned of tuna keeps the recipe super simple and really affordable.

Bread – Lightly toasted sandwich bread will work fine, so go ahead and use it if that is what you have.

However, something a little bit hearty is great too. We tried some on my mom’s homemade sandwich bread, and it was fabulous.

Nice thin slices of sourdough bread are wonderful, too. They taste great, have a nice sturdy texture, and allow for a slightly bigger portion.

Cheese – We like using a nice shredded cheddar on our tuna melts. It is a classic pairing.

However, Swiss or gouda are great options as well. You can use a slice of cheese if you want, or go ahead and grate it so it can cover edge to edge.

Tomatoes – The tomato is optional but highly encouraged. We like to put a slice of cold or room temperature tomato on top of the hot sandwich.

However, if you prefer your tomato warm, just put it on the sandwich under the cheese. Both ways are good, so it is just a matter of preference.

The rest – everything else is just standard tuna salad fare. We use celery, pickle relish, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard.

Sometimes, we toss in chopped hard-boiled eggs as well. It just depends on our mood.

If you want to fancify it a bit, add a little fresh dill for garnish. It tastes great with the tuna and adds a little bit of frill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make tuna melts in advance?

The tuna salad can be made up to 3 days in advance. Then all you have to do is assemble the sandwich and you are ready to go.

The tuna melts themselves are best fresh. However, if you make too many, you can wrap them in plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container and enjoy it as a tuna sandwich later.

Just know that the bread will likely get a bit soggy as it sits.

Tuna melt sandwich cut in half showing bits of hard boiled egg, tuna, and celery in the tuna salad with melted cheese and fresh tomato slices on top.

What toppings can I put on my tuna melt?

If you want even more than melty cheese and a slice of tomato, don’t despair. Try adding sliced avocado, some lettuce, or your favorite deli pickles.

Do you have to eat tuna melts open face?

Of course not! Our preference is to eat them open faced. We usually eat them with a fork, but sometimes, we will pick them up and eat it as is.

However, you can toast a second piece of bread and put it on top after you cheese is melted. Then you can pick it up and eat it like a sandwich.

More Easy Sandwiches to Try

If you are looking for another quick and easy sandwich to make, how about trying my Maid Rite recipe? They are delicious, beefy, and so simple to put together.

Or try making a Coca-Cola sloppy joe. The soda adds great flavor to the already sweet and savory sandwich.

Crockpot chicken parm sandwiches are another fabulous option. The filling cooks while you go about your day. All you have to do is assemble them when you are ready to eat.

If you tried this recipe, or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments. Hungry for more?  Be sure to stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

Tuna melt on piece of toasted sourdough topped with melted cheddar cheese, two tomato slices, and some fresh parsley.

Tuna Melts

Servings: 2 Servings
Author: Carlee
Classic tuna melts are quick and easy to make, and they are so good. The open faced sandwich has tuna salad, melted cheese, and tomato for the best mix of warm and cozy with fresh and tasty.
5 from 10 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 5 oz cans of tuna drained
  • 1 rib celery finely chopped
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons pickle relish sweet or dill
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-4 slices hearty bread depending on size
  • 1 cup grated cheese cheddar, swiss, or gouda
  • 4 slices fresh tomato
  • Salt and pepper

Optional add-ins:

  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Lightly toast the bread.
    2-4 slices hearty bread
  • Mix together the drained tuna, chopped celery, mayonnaise, pickle relish, and mustard.
    2 5 oz cans of tuna, 1 rib celery, ⅓ cup mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons pickle relish, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • If using any optional add-ins, go ahead and stir them in too.
    1-2 teaspoons fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill, 1-2 hard boiled eggs, 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion
  • Put toast on baking tray and spread tuna salad over the toast.
  • Sprinkle cheese over tuna salad to form an even layer.
    1 cup grated cheese
  • Bake in the top third of the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Turn broiler on to high and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is lightly golden brown.
  • Top with fresh slices of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    4 slices fresh tomato

Notes

This recipe will make 4 melts using sandwich bread sized slices. Or it will make 2-3 larger
sandwiches if you use a bigger loaf of sourdough or rye bread.
We like the contrast of the warm sandwich and the cold tomato. However, you can put the tomato under the cheese and cook it along with the sandwich if you prefer it to all be warm.
You can make the tuna salad up to 3 days in advance. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble your melts.
Both sweet and dill pickle relish taste great in tuna salad. Pick whichever you prefer or are in the mood for.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 581kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 47gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 207mgSodium: 1400mgPotassium: 408mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 860IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 481mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




Andrea Nine

Friday 23rd of February 2024

Always been a fan of tuna melts. I make them in English muffins but I’m going to try like this. Looks so good.

Carlee

Friday 23rd of February 2024

English muffins is a fun idea!

Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!

Thursday 22nd of February 2024

I love a good tuna melt! Never heard of that "accident" origin story, but it makes sense! Don't always think of putting tomato on a tuna melt, but what a great idea!

Carlee

Thursday 22nd of February 2024

The tomato gives it a nice pop of cool acidity with goes so nicely with the warm, creamy tuna and cheese.