Ah, the tuna melt. It may not be the most popular sandwich of all time, but it no doubt has had its moment as of late (hello, 2020) when we were all stocking up and eating tinned fish like it was 1999.
Whether you have only distant memories of tuna melts from your childhood or you’ve recently discovered newer, more praiseworthy versions, we promise that this toasted tuna sandwich will satisfy your palate. Inspired by Current Fish and Oyster in Salt Lake City, this tuna melt is wonderfully comforting. The combination of the crunchy, toasted sourdough and the smooth melted cheese along with the not-soggy tuna salad that has a bright, herby punch is a thing of simple culinary beauty.
Ingredients for a Great Tuna Melt
- Oil-Packed vs. Water-Packed Tuna While either kind of tuna works here, oil-packed tuna will be softer, less dry, with a richer texture (thank you oil!) and a pleasant tuna taste. We can all agree less “tin can” aftertaste is a good thing, yes?
- About That Bread Obviously, any bread can make a great tuna melt, and using mayo on the outside before grilling elevates any old slice (yes, even Wonder bread) to its highest calling of toasty magnificence. However, to take this sandwich from a nice tuna melt to something you want to text your mom about, a heftier bread with nice crusty edges will provide the perfect textural contrast to the soft, creamy tuna salad.
- What if I can’t find dill? Dill + seafood is a classic pairing, but parsley, chives, tarragon, or a mix of all of the above would be no less delicious.
- Think raw onions aren’t your thing? Wait, come back, please don’t skip the onions. Instead, finely dice the onion/ shallot and let them soak in the lemon juice with a pinch of sugar for 10 minutes before combining them with the rest of the tuna salad ingredients. This quick soak will take some of the raw bite out of the onion without totally omitting that onion-y flavor your tuna salad wants and needs.
Whether this tuna melt is fated to be lunch, dinner, or something in-between, kettle chips are a required accompaniment. You can’t fight destiny. Beyond chips (balance is important), either this wedge salad or this grilled peach salad would pair wonderfully.
More Great Sandwich Recipes
- Italian Sub Sandwich
- The Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Canard Steam Burgers Recipe
- Mexican Avocado Toast With Poached Egg
- 1 4-ounce can oil-packed tuna
- 3 Tablespoons mayo, plus more for bread
- Juice of ½ of a lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
- ½ Tablespoon whole grain mustard
- ¼ cup diced red onion or shallot
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 butter leaf lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry (optional)
- Make the tuna salad: Drain the oil from the tuna. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the tuna, 3 Tablespoons of mayo, lemon juice, mustard, red onion, dill, and salt and pepper with a fork, smashing the tuna as you go. Taste and make sure the tuna salad has enough salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Using the additional mayo, spread a generous pat of mayo on all four slices of bread on one side.
- Assemble and cook: Bring a skillet to medium heat, and as it’s warming place two slices of bread on the skillet (mayo side down)- this will simultaneously provide you enough time for your cheese to warm and the bread to develop a nice golden brown color. Divide the tuna mixture between the two slices of bread and spread with a knife until even. Top the tuna with 1-2 thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, depending on how big your slices of bread are. Top the cheese with the remaining sliced bread (mayo side up).
- Cook the tuna melt until the bread on the bottom is a deep golden brown. Flip the tuna melt and cook until the other side of the sandwich is also a deep golden brown color and the cheese has melted. If your grilled cheese appears to be cooking too quickly, lower your heat to medium-low.
- Once fully cooked, remove the sandwich from the skillet and place on a cutting board. If using the butter leaf lettuce, gently open the side of the sandwich without cheese, lay the butter leaf lettuce down, and close the sandwich. Cut both sandwiches in half and serve immediately.