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This tuna melt recipe makes the best classic sandwich! Here’s how to make this easy filling meal that will make you melt in delight.

Tuna Melt
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Craving a good old, classic diner style sandwich? Try this classic tuna melt: it’s the stuff dreams are made of! Between crusty bread is sandwiched a creamy, savory mess of tuna and crunchy veggies so perfectly seasoned that you won’t be able to stop taking bites. Gooey cheddar cheese is sandwiched in with a juicy ripe tomato that gives the sandwich just the right height and heft. To us, there’s not much more satisfying than a great tuna melt: and this one is par excellence.

What’s in a tuna melt?

A tuna melt is a sandwich with tuna salad and melted cheese, served hot. Essentially, it’s a tuna salad sandwich cooked like a grilled cheese on the stovetop. Another popular method for making a tuna melt is as an open-faced sandwich, where tuna salad is spread on toast and broiled a piece of cheese on top. Either method works: but because the traditional sandwich method is most classic, that’s what we’re sharing here. Here’s what’s in this tuna melt recipe:

  • Canned tuna: Use either water-packed or oil packed (we prefer water packed).
  • Red onion & pickles: A good tuna salad must have pickles to bring in a tangy element. You can use either dill pickles or sweet pickles here.
  • Dried tarragon or dill: Just a hint of herbs adds impressive complexity! Tarragon isn’t a common herb but it’s a game changer here. If you don’t have it, use dried dill.
  • Parsley (optional): Adds just a bit of color and freshness, but it’s optional.
  • Mayonnaise: You don’t need much: just enough to come together into a creamy spread.
  • Dijon mustard: Dijon makes it taste like deli-style tuna salad.
  • Artisan bread: A hearty artisan sandwich bread makes a good canvas for this sandwich.
  • Tomato (optional): Tomato is classic in a tuna melt, and we think it adds just the right contrast to the savory filling and gooey cheese.
  • Cheddar cheese: You can use other types of melting cheese if you prefer: white cheddar, gouda, Monterey jack, Havarti, provolone or Muenster also work well.
Tuna Melt

How to make a tuna melt

Ready for the secrets to the most perfect tuna melt on the planet? Here’s how to make a tuna melt that will blow your mind:

  • Grab a great crusty bread. Slice the pieces medium thickness, so they hold up on the grill but aren’t so thick the sandwich won’t cook. We used a store-bought white artisan loaf.
  • Mix together the tuna salad. Mix up that tasty filling (below), starring mayo, Dijon and pickles.
  • Thinly slice the tomato. This is important, since too thick can make the sandwich too watery. It’s optional if it’s not tomato season or you don’t have one on hand.
  • Add sliced cheese. While our best Gourmet Grilled Cheese uses shredded cheese, it can get a little messy so we like sliced cheese for our tuna melt.
  • Grill it up (carefully). Throw it on a griddle and cook until golden and crisp on the outsides! It makes for a full sandwich, so be careful when you flip it.
Tuna Melt

What to serve with it!

It’s just that simple because…tuna melts are meant to be ultra easy to whip up! This recipe makes a quick and simple lunch or easy dinner idea. Most of the time we just eat it with no side dishes. But looking for a healthy meal? Here are some ideas for sides to complement it:

More great sandwich recipes

A sandwich is basic, but it always hits the spot for a simple lunch or dinner! Here are a few of our favorite sandwich recipes:

This tuna melt recipe is…

Pescatarian and dairy-free.

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Tuna Melt

Classic Tuna Melt

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3.5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 sandwiches 1x


This tuna melt recipe makes the BEST sandwich! Here’s how to make this easy lunch or dinner that will make you melt in delight (don’t forget napkins).


  • 1 5-ounce can white meat tuna
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh tarragon or ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 slices artisan bread
  • 2 slices tomato (optional)
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese


  1. Drain the tuna. Place it in a bowl and use a fork to break apart any large clumps. Finely chop the red onion and dill pickles, and mince the parsley. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the tuna, along with the dried tarragon or dill, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and salt. Stir to combine. 
  2. Spread the outsides of the bread slices with mayonnaise or butter. Assemble the sandwiches: on each slice of bread (buttered side out) place the tuna salad filling, a tomato slice, and 2 slices of cheddar cheese, then top with the other slice of bread. 
  3. Preheat a skillet over medium heat (cast iron works well if you have it). Cook the sandwich 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook about 2 minutes more until browned and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. 
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Filip says:

    Please be wary with the quantities on this one. Waaay too much dijon, and quite a bit of mayo too… Start small for best results, and add on as you go.

  2. Owl says:

    My mom used to make it open faced with a layer of crushed potato chips underneath the cheese. It is fabulous!

  3. Kate Pearson says:

    Tuna salad – Along with the standard mayo, mustard. I like pickled yellow peppers, red onion, celery, lemon juice and diced APPLES! And what ever spices I think would be good. I’ve never tried with tomatos on the sammmie. But for tuna melts, tomato soup, or even better, red pepper/tomato soup is a must for dipping.
    Cheese type can vary (chedder, swiss, and from my childhood Velveta is classic – it melts so good!), and good bread does make a big difference. :)

  4. Marilyn Pratt says:

    Um, “Red onion & dill pickles: A good tuna salad must have pickles to bring in a tangy sweet sweet element.” Dill pickles are not sweet. Sweet pickles, which is what I usually put in my tuna salad, are sweet. Did you really mean dill pickles?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Good point! You can use either dill or sweet pickles here. I’ve updated the verbiage accordingly. Thanks!

  5. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!