Creamy, homemade tuna salad is spread onto buttered bread, topped with cheddar cheese, and grilled to perfection in this recipe for Classic Tuna Melts. You’ll love how easy it is to make this scrumptious diner-style dinner!
The Ultimate Loaded Tuna Melt Sandwich
Melted sandwiches are the unsung hero of the easy dinner world. If you tell your family that you’re having sandwiches for dinner, you may not meet with a whole lot of enthusiasm—which is understandable. But add some cheese and throw that same sandwich onto a cast-iron skillet, and it’s a whole different ball game!
One of my favorite grilled sandwiches is a classic tuna melt. Savory melted cheddar is the perfect partner for hearty tuna salad and buttery grilled bread. Plus, one good tuna melt makes a very filling, satisfying dinner, especially if you add a side or two for the extra-hungry folks around your table.
What Is a Tuna Melt Made Of?
To make this recipe for tuna melts, you will first need a big batch (about three cups) of your favorite tuna salad. For maximum yumminess, I like to use Loaded Tuna Salad, with bacon, red onion, and lots of other yummy stuff!
- Tuna Salad: Make one recipe of Loaded Tuna Salad, or your favorite tuna salad.
- Butter: Soften the butter to room temperature for easy spreading.
- Bread: Any sliced sandwich bread is fine, but of course, soft Homemade Bread would make it extra delicious!
- Cheese: I use cheddar cheese, but you could also use sliced Colby or another bold, sharp melting cheese.
Are Tuna Melts Unhealthy?
Well, that depends! Some tuna melts can be pretty high in calories, with not a lot of nutrition packed in. But since tuna is a great source of protein, if you combine it with good-quality bread, real cheese and butter, and a decent mayo, you’ve got the makings of a highly nutritious meal! Basically, a tuna melt is what you make it!
Let’s Make Some Tuna Melts!
It’s a breeze to make tuna melts! I like to make mine in a big cast-iron skillet, but you could definitely use a griddle or another type of skillet. Here are the basic steps.
- Butter the First Slices of Bread. Lay out 6 slices of bread on a clean work surface. with Spread or brush about half a tablespoon of the softened butter on each slice. Flip the slices over. The buttered side will be the bottom of the sandwich.
- Add the Cheese and Tuna Salad. Place one slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Then spread a generous amount of your tuna salad on top of the cheese. For even cheesier sandwiches, lay a second slice of cheese over the tuna.
- Add the Top Slices of Bread. Butter the remaining slices of bread, half a tablespoon per slice. Place the slices butter-side-up on each sandwich. Press down gently on each sandwich, to flatten them slightly.
- Grill the Sandwiches. Place your skillet or griddle over medium heat, and let it heat up for a minute or two. Once the skillet is hot, carefully place each sandwich on the skillet, and brown them on each side until the outsides are golden-brown and the cheese is melted and soft.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Before you get started making your loaded tuna melts, take just a second to check out these easy tips! They’ll help you make the best sandwiches ever, just the way you like them.
- Bread Options: I like to use good-quality whole-grain bread, but any sandwich bread is fine. Pumpernickel is especially flavorful, and rye works well with tuna and cheese.
- Cheese Choices: This recipe calls for 6 to 12 slices of cheese, because you can use a single slice of cheese per sandwich, or double up with two slices of cheese! My family loves their tuna melts extra cheesy, so we use two slices of cheese in ours.
- Ghee Instead of Butter: If you want a crispier sandwich, try brushing the outside of the bread with ghee, instead of using softened butter. Butter contains more water, which can result in a softer sandwich.
What Do You Serve Tuna Melts With?
To serve these easy sandwiches, I like to have our favorite potato chips on hand, or maybe some carrot and celery sticks. But there are lots of fun side dishes and garnishes you could add to the menu! Here are just a few ideas:
- Pickles: Ultra-fresh Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles are easy to make, and so perfectly sour and flavorful! You’ll love how these add a punch of tanginess to the hot melted sandwich.
- Old Bay Cauliflower Cocktail: Old Bay seasoning turns ordinary cauliflower into a delicious Old Bay Cauliflower Cocktail. You’ll love these hot roasted cauliflower florets, well-seasoned and served with cocktail sauce. It’s a super-festive recipe that goes perfectly with tuna melts!
- Tomato Soup: This classic soup was made to go with any melty, cheesy sandwich. A buttery tuna melt would be absolutely perfect!
Can I Make These In Advance?
While you can’t really store or freeze tuna melts, you can get a head start on this easy dinner by having the tuna salad ready to go. I recommend making it the day before, but you can make it as early as 3 days in advance, if you need to. Store it in the fridge, covered, until ready to use.
Classic Tuna Melts
- 1 batch Loaded Tuna Salad
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 12 slices sandwich bread
- 6 to 12 slices cheddar cheese
- Spread 6 slices of bread with butter. Use about half a tablespoon for each slice, and butter only one side of the bread. The buttered side will be the outside of the sandwich.
- Lay the slices of bread on a clean tray or work surface, butter side down. Place a slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Spread about ½ cup of the tuna salad on top of each piece of cheese.
- If using two slices of cheese, place one more slice of cheese on top of the tuna salad.
- Butter the remaining bread, half a tablespoon per slice, on one side only. Top each sandwich with a slice of buttered bread, butter side up.
- Press down gently on each sandwich, to flatten.
- Heat a medium to large cast-iron skillet (or griddle) over medium heat.
- Once the skillet is heated, place each sandwich carefully on the skillet, and brown each side until the outsides are golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
- Tuna melts are best made fresh. They do not store well, so make them to order.
- I like to use good-quality whole-grain bread, but any sandwich bread is fine.
- This recipe calls for 6 to 12 slices of cheese, because you can use a single slice of cheese per sandwich, or double up with two slices of cheese. My family loves their tuna melts extra cheesy, so we use two slices of cheese in ours.
More Easy Comfort Food Dinner Ideas
- Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce
- Homemade Mac and Cheese (15 Minutes!)
- Dirty Rice
- Best Fried Shrimp
- Creamy Chicken Florentine
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Fried Chicken
- Best Homemade Alfredo
- Easy Chicken & Dumplings With Biscuits
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