These Easy Tuna Melt Sandwiches are the Best Comfort Food

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This recipe for an Easy Tuna Melt Sandwich will be a lifesaver on busy evenings. It’s quick and easy. Enjoy fish without much hassle at all.

tuna melt on griddle

What’s crisp and soft, toothsome and gooey, crunchy and cheesy?

That, my friends, would be the classic Tuna Melt Sandwich. A delicious combination of toasted sandwich bread, melted cheese, and tender, seasoned tuna salad. Basically, it’s like a tuna sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich got married and had a baby.

And trust me, this is one of those meals that is super hearty, easy to prep, and perfect comfort food any day of the week.

The Smithsonian claims that the tuna salad sandwich is uniquely American, so my guess the case would be the same for the tuna melt. Both sandwiches are fantastic, but on cold nights, my money is on the tuna melt.

Interestingly, my love of the tuna melt sandwich was an acquired taste.

tuna melt stacked sandwich on plate

Years ago when I taught high school, my friend and fellow teacher, Tami and I had a lunch co-op. We both wanted to eat healthily, but it was hard to pack a lunch every day or remember to do it.

This was in the days before knew about meal prep, folks.

One week I would bring lunch for us; the next week Tami was on lunch duty. Whenever one of us forgot or didn’t have time to cook, she was responsible for buying lunch that day.

One day I found out that Tami had ordered Tuna Melts. I just about died.

Sure, I liked grilled cheese sandwiches. I liked tuna salad sandwiches. But, I’d never had them together and the idea intimidated me. 

Lucky for me I was hungry that day!

The Tuna Melt Sandwich has been a strong favorite of mine ever since, one of my go-to, quick-fix meals. If you’ve not yet tried them, make today the day!

ingredients for tuna melt sandwich

How do you make a tuna melt sandwich?

Tuna melts are super quick and easy to make. You need three basic things:

That’s the most basic version, but it’s super tasty to tuck in some spinach leaves and tomato slices also.

Here is how you make this classic sandwich in a panini press:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, celery, scallions, dill, salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  2. On a Panini press, lay out two slices of bread. Divide half the tuna mixture over the two slices of bread, reserving the other half of the tuna mixture for the other two sandwiches.
  3. Cover the tuna on the sandwiches with cheese slices. Cover the two sandwiches each with another slice of bread.
  4. Cook in the Panini press until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
  5. Repeat with the remaining 4 slices of bread, tuna salad, and cheese slices. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

tuna melt assembly

What type of cheese is used for a tuna melt sandwich?

I like to use cheddar or pepper jack cheese for my tuna melts, but you can use whatever cheese you like on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Let your imagination go wild by mixing in different cheeses or adding different mix-ins like pickles, hot peppers, or whatever you dream up. Pepperoncini are nice.

How do you toast a tuna melt?

This is a layered grilled fish sandwich. I use a panini press for this tuna melt recipe since I don’t have to flip the sandwich and risk losing any of the yummy filling.

But, you can grill the tuna melt sandwich in a skillet or on a griddle if you like. In that case, butter the bread so it gets all buttery and toasty. Yum!

Do you put mayo on a tuna melt?

There is mayonnaise in the tuna salad, so there’s no need to add any extra mayo to the bread!

tuna melt cooking on panini press

How to save money making tuna melt sandwiches:

Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Bake your own bread. Homebaked bread is delicious and can be more economical than purchased sandwich bread. I love sourdough.
  • Do a price comparison. I know that Costco is the best place for me to buy cheese and canned tuna when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where. 
  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Buy extra canned tuna, cheese and bread, and stash the extra, so you can make tuna melts whenever you want.
  • Boost the veg to stretch the protein. Protein is usually the most expensive ingredient in most dishes. If I need to, I often add more veggies to the chicken salad to stretch our protein purchase farther.

Tools you might need to make this recipe easy:

This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

side shot of tuna melt on panini press

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Easy Tuna Melt Sandwiches
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
A tuna salad sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich get married, making this easy tuna melt, a perfect meal for busy nights or when you want some comfort food.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast sandwich, tuna melt
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Calories: 194 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
Ingredients
  • 2 7-ounce cans albacore tuna drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or more to taste
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 8 slices sourdough bread or other favorite bread
  • 4 to 8 slices cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, celery, scallions, dill, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Adjust seasonings.

  2. On a Panini press, lay out two slices of bread. Divide half the tuna mixture over the two slices of bread, reserving the other half of the tuna mixture for the other two sandwiches

  3. Cover the tuna on the sandwiches with cheese slices. Cover the two sandwiches each with another slice of bread.

  4. Repeat with the remaining 4 slices of bread, tuna salad, and cheese slices. Cut sandwiches in half and serve

Nutrition Facts
Easy Tuna Melt Sandwiches
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 189mg8%
Potassium 49mg1%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Vitamin A 135IU3%
Vitamin C 1.5mg2%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie M. says

    I love tuna melts; I have for years. I have always served them open-faced with a slice of tomato on top. I just put them in the oven for a few minutes till hot. But, having seen your way, I like that way better and I happen to have a Panini press. Today I will be planning next week’s menu and on Monday night, we will be having these. Thanks for the idea. I haven’t made these in a long time.

  2. Patricia says

    When we were growing up, we always had fish on Friday, being Catholic. One of my mother’s go to meals was a Tuna Melt that she made with cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup. I no longer have the recipe but I’m sure it was just an easy fix. I think she diced a little onion into the mix. She put the tuna on hamburger buns and toasted them in the oven. We loved them when we were children, though I recall picking out the onions. She served them with potato chips I’m sure, and the year would have been late 1950s. If you have a recipe like that I’d like to try it. This recipe sounds pretty good too.

    I enjoy your blog and I love your book. It is just me and my husband now, he’s 70. But I freeze all our extra servings for future meals and it helps us eat well on a retirement income. Thank you!

  3. A good recipe especially for those who don’t have much time to prepare a delicious meal. I love tuna melts! I like the idea of mixing different kinds of cheese. I will surely make one.

  4. I love these too especially with a side of french fries in a diner! 🙂 Love your idea of the panini maker for them! Love your blog/website too – you seem to have my exact ideas and tastes in your recipes and menus – thanks so much – I just discovered this today and am reading everything! I love it!

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