Crunchy, creamy, gooey tuna cheese melts you can make at home! We show you how to make Tuna Cheese Melts in the oven, anytime, two at a time.
What's in this post
Pam's Best Tips
A skillet wouldn't fit both sandwiches at once, so we turned to the oven and fully assembled both sandwiches on untoasted, generously buttered bread. This way, the bread toasts a beautiful golden brown while the salad is warmed through and the cheese melts.
This oven method also means the sandwiches are hands-off (aside from a flip halfway through) and ready all at once!
For the tuna salad, sweet bread-and-butter pickles mixed in kept it bright, a little crunchy, and balanced. Rather than layering dill slices in the sandwich which are overwhelmingly salty and strong, mixing mayonnaise with a little Dijon and lemon juice makes the salad more complex. For freshness and more crunch, add chopped onion and minced celery.
As for the cheese, I opt for a slice ofAmerican, which melts beautifully, and a slice of sharp cheddar for its flavorful kick. Provolone is a great option if you are not an American cheese fan.
Let’s get started!
What you'll need
Here's a quick overview of some of the key ingredients needed to make this tuna melt recipe in the oven. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post.
- Solid white, canned tuna - For the best results, do not use chunk light tuna here. You can substitute a jar of Tonnino Tuna Fillets in Olive Oil, if desired. The sandwiches will just be a little bigger.
- Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard and Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice – mayo enhanced with Dijon mustard and lemon juice brings flavor complexity to the salad.
- Onion and Celery – adding freshness and crunch. I like to use white onion in my tuna salad for sharper onion flavor. A milder yellow onion works great as well.
- Bread-and-butter pickles – keeps the salad bright, crunchy, and balanced. Do not substitute dill pickles they are too salty and overwhelm the other ingredients.
- Salt and Pepper
- Sliced hearty white sandwich bread – not a white sandwich bread fan? Check the section below for the best bread for tuna melts.
- Melted unsalted butter
- Deli sharp cheddar cheese and American cheese – mix and match cheeses, see below in the best cheese for tuna melts section for recommendations.
Note: See recipe card for ingredient measurements
How to make tuna cheese melts in the oven
- Combine all tuna salad ingredients in a bowl
2. Brush 1 side of each slice of bread with melted butter. Place 2 slices of bread, buttered side down, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
3. Top each slice of bread with 1 slice of cheddar, one-quarter of tuna salad, 1 slice of American cheese, and 1 remaining slice of bread, buttered side up.
4. Bake sandwiches in a 425 degree preheated oven until golden brown on top, about 8 minutes.
5. Flip sandwiches and continue to bake until golden brown on second side and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Let cool for a few minutes so you can cleanly cut the sandwiches in half. Enjoy!
Best cheese for tuna melts
There are two types of cheeses. The ones that are the stars of the show on a cheese and meat board, that demand to be eaten by themselves to enjoy all their goodness. And then there are those that when they melt we experience the stretch and pull goodness we love to see. So, what varieties get you the melt and cheese pull we are after in a tuna melt?
There are 5 favorite cheeses that I would give the honor of gracing my tuna cheese melt:
- American Cheese – and yes, I am calling it cheese. It’s the meltiest and creamiest of the bunch and is the one you will find on my tuna melt.
- Cheddar – deli slices of cheddar melt very well, but it brings a sharp quality that adds complexity to our cheese melt.
- Gruyere – its slightly sweet, salty, nutty and brings a beautiful pull to the sandwich.
- Fontina – the flavor of this Italian, cow’s milk cheese is not far from a milk provolone. It melts extremely well.
- Provolone – grab the deli-sliced provolone and you will love how it melts and the mild tang it brings to your tuna melt.
Best bread for tuna melts
Now let’s talk bread. Some breads work better than others, and their flavors and textures pair better with a tuna and cheese than others.
Here are a few to consider for your tuna melt with cheese:
- White sandwich bread – but make sure it is sliced thickly so it will hold up to the tuna salad and melty cheese.
- Multigrain – Thick slices of a nutty multigrain boost flavor and fiber in your sandwich. Hearty multigrain stands up well with tuna salad.
- English Muffins or bagels are great options for open faced tuna melts. No butter needed, simply layer cheese and tuna salad on each half and toast in the oven.
- Ciabatta – the crusty exterior and tight bubbly interior make it a great candidate for stuffing with tuna salad and cheese.
Breads that don’t work as well are Artisan breads like sourdough and focaccia as they have large holes that cheese will melt through– it’s better to have the cheese end up in your mouth than stuck to the pan. Sticking with a “tight crumb” like a sandwich bread is a definite winner.
Make ahead tips
Short on time? You can make the tuna salad up to three days before using. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Now you just need to assemble the sandwiches and put them in the oven for the bread to toast, the salad to warm and the cheese to melt. Dinner for two will be on the table in 15 minutes.
What to serve with tuna melts
Or try one of these recipes that pair perfectly with tuna melts:
How to make Tuna Cheese Melts in the oven
Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box
You can access your saved recipes on this device and generate a shopping list for recipes in your collections.
- 1 5-ounce can solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked
- ⅛ cup mayonnaise
- ⅛ cup finely chopped onion
- ⅛ cup chopped bread-and-butter pickles
- ⅛ cup minced celery
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- 4 slices hearty white sandwich bread multigrain, or ciabatta thickly sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 slices deli sharp cheddar cheese 2 ounces
- 2 slices deli American cheese 2 ounces – see section on best cheese for tuna melts for substitutions.
- For the best results, do not use chunk light tuna here. You can substitute one 6.7-ounce jar of Tonnino Tuna Fillets in Olive Oil, if desired. The sandwiches will just be a nice and thick.
- FOR THE TUNA SALAD: Before preheating the oven, Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Now preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients in medium sized bowl. Tuna salad is great to make ahead to save time. If you are short of time make ahead and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- FOR THE SANDWICHES: Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt your butter in the microwave and brush 1 side of each slice of bread with melted butter. Place 2 slices of bread, buttered side down, on prepared sheet. Top each slice of bread with 1 slice of cheddar, one-quarter of tuna salad, 1 slice of American cheese, and 1 remaining slice of bread, buttered side up.
- Bake sandwiches until golden brown on top, about 8 minutes. Flip sandwiches using a spatula like this fish spatula and continue to bake until golden brown on second side and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Looking for more sandwich recipes for two? Try these: