Tuna Melt Sandwich

The diner classic is easy to master with a few key ingredients—and a generous helping of cheese.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    20 minutes


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on March 21, 2023

Canned tuna is an often overlooked, extremely versatile delight. If you prefer to use the water-packed version for this classic tuna melt recipe, drain off the liquid before mixing and increase the amount of mayonnaise called for to half a cup.

This recipe originally ran alongside Colman Andrews’ 2003 article, “Greater Tuna.


  • Two 6-oz. cans oil-packed tuna, oil reserved
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise, plus more
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ celery rib, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Eight ½-in. slices multigrain, caraway rye, or other hearty bread
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Swiss, cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese


Step 1

In a medium bowl, use a fork to break up the tuna into its reserved oil. Mash the mayonnaise and lemon juice into the tuna, adding a bit more mayonnaise if necessary, until the mixture has the consistency of a coarse purée. Stir in the celery, chives, and parsley, then season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Step 2

Preheat the broiler. Lightly toast bread, then divide the tuna salad equally among 4 of the slices. Top each serving of tuna salad with ¼ cup of the cheese, then broil until the cheese is melted but not browned, about 1 minute. Top with the remaining toast slices, slice each tuna melt in half if desired, and serve hot.

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