Take some toasted bread, add a savory tuna filling, and top it with tomatoes and melted cheddar and what do you have? You have an easy, classic oven baked Tuna Melt - a kicked-up tuna sandwich on toasted ciabatta with tomatoes and cheddar cheese!
In my opinion tuna melts are underrated in the sandwich department. Sure, cold tuna salad sandwiches are properly appreciated, but when it comes to hot sandwiches, tuna always seems to be put on the back burner.
But I say watch out grilled cheese because the tuna melt is making a comeback! Just you wait and see!
They're easy to make for a quick lunch, just mix the tuna with some seasonings, layer it on some nice ciabatta bread, add some acidity with tomatoes, some fat with tangy cheddar cheese, and pop it in the oven. Et voila! You have a hot, gooey tuna melt sandwich just tempting you to eat it.
The filling for my tuna melt recipe is a bit different from my standard tuna salad which contains low-fat mayo, a little mustard, minced celery, minced apple (if you're saying, "HUH?" just give it a try), and a little sweet pickle relish. Fantastic on bread or just with your choice of crackers.
This Tuna Melt recipe takes those old tuna sandwiches up a notch and turns them into a very nice, satisfying meal. Serve it with a fresh green salad dressed with a little vinaigrette.
Why We Like This Recipe
- It's easy and quick to make; you'll be sitting down to eat in 30 minutes.
- It contains familiar flavors with the tuna and cheddar cheese.
- Uses lots of common pantry ingredients; you probably already have everything you need to make it.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Ciabatta bread (I like to use ciabatta bread or rolls because they're a sturdy bread that stands up to the moisture from the tuna filling; however, you can use whatever you have on hand from regular sandwich bread to sourdough to plain old hamburger buns.)
- Cheddar cheese (the classic cheese used for tuna melts; it melts easily and pairs well with the strong flavor of tuna. Take your pick of mild, sharp, or extra sharp).
- Tomatoes (for topping the sandwiches)
- Canned tuna (my preference when buying tuna is always to purchase tuna packed in oil; the difference in calories is really small but the difference in flavor is tremendous)
- Lemon juice, parsley, shallot (or green onion), salt, and pepper (these ingredients are the perfect seasoning combination for the tuna filling)
- Mayonnaise (binds the filling and adds its own flavor; choose a really good brand (I always recommend Duke's) or make your own from scratch)
You'll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make an Oven Baked Tuna Melt
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you'll find the recipe card.
Toast the Bread
I used sliced ciabatta rolls for the sandwiches. You can also use a ciabatta loaf. If using a loaf, slice it horizontally, then cut it into sandwich sized pieces. Choose any bread you like, but try to pick something substantial that will hold up to the tuna and toppings.
STEP 1. Turn the oven on to broil. Place the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven at least 6-inches below the broiler unit and toast until the bread is a light golden color.
Make the Sandwich Filling
STEP 2. In a medium bowl, combine the drained tuna, shallot (or green onion), mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
STEP 3. Spread ¼ of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast.
STEP 4. Top with a few tomato slices and 2 tablespoons of cheese on each.
Melt the Cheese
STEP 5. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
What to Serve with Tuna Melt Sandwiches
To make a meal out of your tuna melt sandwich, you'll want to have a side! Because the tuna melt is fairly rich, I like to temper it with my Pecan, Raisin, and Apple Salad! You could also make Zucchini Chips or Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad. Parmesan Potato Wedges are good, too, if you prefer a starchier option!
I always look for the Italian brands of tuna (like Genova) and make sure that it's packed in oil. That small amount of fat really adds to the flavor profile and ensures you aren't going to be eating a dry tuna melt.
I suppose, technically, you could but I don't recommend it. The oven is your best bet for this type of sandwich. If your only option is a microwave, I would layer the tuna on a plate and place the tomato and cheese on top. Heat that just until the cheese starts to melt. While you're waiting, pop your bread into the toaster. Once the cheese is melted, use a spatula to plate the tuna-tomato-cheese on top of the bread.
Tuna melts are always served hot. If you prefer a cold tuna sandwich, you'll use a traditional tuna salad recipe and skip the cheese.
Yes! The tuna is cooked during the commercial canning process. That's one of the great advantages to using canned tuna - you don't have to do very much to it so meal prep is fast!
If you don't like mayo but still want to try making a tuna melt sandwich, you can use several different things in its place. Try greek yogurt, mashed avocado, a vegan mayo substitute, or even hummus. Keep in mind that some ingredients heat up better than others and the flavor profile changes with every ingredient change you make.
You May Also Like ...
- Roasted Tomato Sandwich
- Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Sandwich
- Mediterranean Pressed Sandwich
- Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish Cream
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Oven Baked Tuna Melt on Ciabatta
- 4 slices ciabatta or other substantial bread
- 12 ounces canned tuna packed in oil well drained
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot (or substitute green onion)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (regular or reduced fat)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2 roma tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Turn the oven on to broil. Place the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven at least 6-inches below the broiler unit and toast until the bread is a light golden color.
- In a medium bowl, combine the drained tuna, shallot (or green onion), mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Spread ¼ of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast.
- Top with a few tomato slices and 2 tablespoons of cheese on each.
- Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.