Comforting, cheese-oozing Tuna Melts are a great sandwich for a quick and satisfying meal. This is a retro classic that never goes out of style; creamy tangy tuna salad, loaded with crunchy bits, is piled on top of toasted bread. A slice of juicy tomato goes on top, then a delicious blanket of melting cheese to cozy everything together – the combination of flavours and textures is divine! And dinner is on the table in 20 minutes! (Skip to recipe.)

Serve the tuna melts with pickles and veggie sticks

Some comfort foods are timeless. It’s their simplicity and uncomplicated flavours that keep them at the top of the list of food favourites.

If you’ve got a tin of tuna and loaf of bread in the pantry and a jar of mayonnaise and a bit of cheese in the fridge, you’ve got the makings for a delicious Tuna Melt sandwich. A few extra crunchy bits (celery, pickles) and a slice of tomato on top make the sandwich even better.

~ On days I don’t want to be fussing in the kitchen forever, but want a satisfying, light lunch or dinner, a Tuna Melt is the answer.

~ On days I forgot to take meat out of the freezer to defrost, and I’m standing in the kitchen at 5:30 looking in the fridge for some magical solution to come to me; guess what I end up making? [Insert answer here.]

~ On days the fridge is looking a bit hollow, the pantry is offering slim pickings (except for those couple cans of tuna way in the back), and I can’t get in to the grocery store any time soon . . . . you guessed it! . . . . Tuna Melts.


Classic Tuna Melts: As Easy as 1-2-3!

Just mash together all the lovely ingredients for a creamy, tangy, tuna salad loaded with crunchy bits. (You can easily halve the recipe for 2 people.)

making the tuna salad for classic tuna melts

Then toast some slices of bread (these ones are gluten free) under the broiler.

oven toasting the bread

Flip ’em and pile that tasty tuna salad thickly on the untoasted side.

piling a thick layer of tuna salad on the bread

Lay a big juicy tomato slice on top of each one (though you can omit these and the sandwich is still delicious, or replace them with pickles, sweet onion, olives, artichokes, or pickled peppers).

now top it with a tomato slice

Add a couple slices of good melting cheese (but really, any cheese will work, even shredded or crumbled chunks of whatever block of cheese you’ve got hiding in the back of the fridge).

then add a couple slices provolone cheese

Pop them under the broiler for a few minutes . . .

and melt until the cheese is just lusciously oozing for the perfect tuna melts

and you’ve got a fantastic lunch, ready to dig into!


Kitchen Frau Notes: Chunk light tuna or solid light tuna is the best choice for a tasty tuna salad. If you only have flaked tuna, drain it well and reduce the mayonnaise to 1/3 cup (80ml), as flaked tuna is more mushy and liquidy.

The amounts of tuna salad add-ins are to personal taste. If you like more celery or onions, increase the amount. You can also replace the celery with other crunchy vegetables, like diced radishes, cucumber, bell peppers, etc. You could use capers or other chopped pickled vegetables instead of the pickles or relish.

The tomato slices can be omitted or replaced with a thin slice of sweet onion, a few slices of pickles, sliced black olives, slices of canned artichoke hearts, halved cherry tomatoes, or hot pickled pepper rings.

classic tuna melts cut open to see the inside layers

Classic Cheesy Tuna Melts

for the tuna salad:

  • 2 cans (6-7 oz/170-198gms) chunk light tuna packed in water or oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup (120ml) mayonnaise
  • ½ cup finely diced celery (about 1 long stalk)
  • ¼ cup (60ml) chopped pickles or 2 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 2 finely sliced green onions/scallions or ¼ cup minced red or white onion

for the tuna melt sandwiches:

  • 4 slices bread of choice (gluten free if necessary)
  • 4 large slices tomato (or 8 small-to-medium slices) or other options (see Notes, above)
  • 8 slices provolone cheese or other melting cheese (cheddar, mozarella, havarti, etc.)

Preheat the broiler and set the top oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the top heating element.

Drain the tuna, and combine it in a bowl with the lemon juice, pepper, and mayonnaise. Mash together with a fork, breaking up any big chunks. Mix in the celery, onions, and pickles. Set aside.

Lay the bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet (lined with foil or parchment if you want easy clean-up). Toast under the broiler until the top side is golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the bread slices over so the toasted side is on the bottom.

Divide the tuna salad between the four slices of bread (about ½ cup/120ml per slice), patting it down evenly so that it’s about ½-inch (1cm) thick. You want to get the tuna right to the edges of the slices, so the bread doesn’t burn and so you’ve got lots of tuna in every bite.

Lay the tomato slices on top, cutting them to fit if using 2 small slices.

Top each toast with 2 slices of cheese, slightly overlapping so they cover the tuna as much as possible.

Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and oozes nicely down the sides.

Serve the tuna melts with pickles, veggies sticks, or a side salad. They’re also delicious with a few pickled hot pepper rings laid on top. Eat with a knife and fork.

Serves 4

Guten Appetit!


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Classic Tuna Melts make a comforting lunch

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