Tuna Melt Sandwich on a plate

I’ve had a ton of requests for easy lunch recipes now that so many of us are working from home. Salads and leftovers are great — but a sizzling Tuna Melt Sandwich is even better, don’t you think?!

Gwen and I split a batch of tuna salad for lunch at least once a week. It’s an easy, healthy option for both of us and we usually dunk into it with a handful of crackers. That said, stuffing the tuna salad mixture between slices of buttered bread, topping with cheddar cheese, then sizzling until golden brown in a hot skillet is a total treat.

Plus this protein-packed combo keeps me full until dinner time. If you struggle with constant snacking during the day, you won’t even think twice about it with this filling lunch in your belly!

What is a Tuna Melt Made Of?

A Tuna Melt is basically a hot tuna salad sandwich topped with cheese. Tuna Melt has a better ring to it though, don’t you think? ;) Just like with egg salad, everyone seems to have their own version of the perfect tuna salad, but here’s my go-to mixture made with simple, everyday ingredients:

  • Canned tuna. I prefer Wild Planet Wild Albacore Tuna, which I buy from Costco. It puts other canned tunas to shame!
  • Mayonnaise. I use Hellman’s Vegan mayo to keep this recipe egg free for Gwen, who has allergies, but feel free to use your favorite mayonnaise.
  • Minced pickles. Tuna Melt sandwiches have to have a little crunch, and minced pickle spears not only bring a crispy, crunchy texture to the tuna salad recipe, but also a bold, tangy flavor. Feel free to sub in relish.
  • Steak seasoning. Yes! You heard it here first. See below for my go-to homemade steak seasoning recipe that takes this tuna melt from good to GREAT.

Mix the tuna salad up then scoop onto buttered bread slices, add slices of cheddar cheese, and cook on a flat top skillet just like you would any other grilled cheese sandwich. I recommend Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White bread, but if you don’t need to eat gluten free you can use whole wheat, white, sourdough – whatever you’ve got on hand.

hot tuna and cheese sandwich with a bite taken out of it

How to Make a Tuna Melt Sandwich

In a small bowl add a drained can of wild-caught albacore tuna then mash a bit with a fork. Next add your favorite mayonnaise, plus minced pickle spears, or a big scoop of relish, and homemade steak seasoning then stir to combine.

My homemade steak seasoning contains your standard salt and black pepper, plus bold yet everyday herbs and spices that I promise you’ve got on hand. The mixture really shines in the final sandwich!

This is our FAVORITE brand of canned tuna, by the way. It’s a little pricey at the regular grocery store but Costco sells them in a stack for a great price. If you can’t find this particular brand, look for water-packed tuna in whatever brand you can find.

Butter two slices of bread then scoop the tuna salad onto the plain side of one slice. Top with a slice of cheddar cheese then toast on a griddle or in a skillet over medium heat until hot and golden brown on both sides. OH MY WORD, such a fabulous step up from your standard cold tuna salad sandwich!

Overhead photo of a Tuna Melt Sandwich

Change it Up

My Tuna Melt recipe is clearly very simple and what I’d call a classic tuna melt. That said feel free to jazz yours up to fit your tastes. Here are some ideas:

  1. Open the hot sandwich up then add thinly sliced raw red onion, pickled red onions, tomato slices, or avocado slices.
  2. Save a few carbs and serve the sandwich open-faced. Brown on the bottom in a skillet then pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese.
  3. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on one of the bread slices before toasting for a zing of flavor.
  4. Add a couple teaspoons drained capers to the tuna salad mixture for a burst of briny flavor in each bite.
  5. Fresh chives or sliced green onions/scallions in the tuna salad add brightness and crunch.

How to Make Ahead and Store Tuna Salad

The base tuna salad mixture is perfect for making on Sundays, for example, to have on hand for quick Tuna Melts during the week. Store the tuna filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This recipe easily doubles or triples well.

What to Serve with a Tuna Melt

Since a Tuna Melt is hearty and satisfying in its own, I generally like to serve the hot sandwich with a fresh side (ok, a handful of chips is awesome too!) Here are some ideas:

  • Side salad
  • Celery and carrots
  • Coleslaw
  • Pickles
  • Fresh pepper slices
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Classic potato chips

Tuna Salad Sandwich sliced then stacked on top of each other

More Easy Lunch Ideas

Tuna Melt Sandwich


Tuna Melt Sandwich is hot, crispy, cheesy, and filling! This simple yet scrumptious recipe is perfect for an easy lunch or dinner.


serves 2

  • 5oz can tuna, drained (Wild Planet brand wild albacore tuna recommended)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 pickle spears, minced (see notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon steak seasoning (see notes)
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices gluten free bread
  • softened butter


  1. Preheat a large flat skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl stir together tuna, mayonnaise, minced pickles, and steak seasoning. Butter one side of each slice of bread then flip two over and top each with half the tuna mixture. Add a slice of cheese then cover with remaining slices of buttered bread.
  3. Place sandwiches onto preheated skillet or griddle then cook until golden brown. Flip then cook until the second side is golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove sandwiches to plates then slice and serve.


This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Photo collage of Tuna Melt Sandwiches