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Oven Baked Tuna Melt Sandwich

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.

Tuna melt sandwich with potato chips on a white plate.

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 Love 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.
  • It uses lots of common pantry ingredients; you probably already have everything you need to make it.

🛒 Ingredient Notes


All ingredients needed for the recipe.

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  • 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)

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make an Oven Baked Tuna Melt


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.

Toasted ciabatta rolls on a baking sheet.
  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

Ingredients for the tuna sandwich filling in a mixing bowl.
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the drained tuna, shallot (or green onion), mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  1. Spread ¼ of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast.
  2. Top with a few tomato slices and 2 tablespoons of cheese on each.

Melt the Cheese

Finished sandwiches on a baking sheet.
  1. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Tuna melt sandwich with potato chips on a white plate.

🍽️ 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!

❓ Questions About Tuna Melt


What’s the best tuna to use for tuna melts?

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.

Can I make this in the microwave?

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.

Is a tuna melt served hot or cold?

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.

Has canned tuna been cooked?

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!

I really don’t like mayonnaise. Can I use something else?

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.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Tuna melt sandwich with potato chips on a white plate.

Oven Baked Tuna Melt on Ciabatta

This easy, classic Oven Baked Tuna Melt is a kicked-up tuna sandwich on toasted ciabatta bread with tomatoes and cheddar cheese!
5 from 7 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Calories: 317kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 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
  • teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 roma tomatoes sliced
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • My preference is always to purchase tuna packed in oil. The difference in calories is really small but the difference in flavor is tremendous.
  • I like to use ciabatta bread or rolls because they’re a sturdy bread that stands up to the moisture from the tuna filling.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 317kcal | Carbohydrates 17g | Protein 31g | Fat 14g | Saturated Fat 5g | Trans Fat 1g | Cholesterol 31mg | Sodium 654mg | Potassium 296mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 2g | Vitamin A 555IU | Vitamin C 8mg | Calcium 120mg | Iron 2mg

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 healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Classic tuna melt - a kicked-up tuna sandwich on toasted ciabatta bread with tomatoes and cheddar cheese! https://www.lanascooking.com/tuna-melt/

— This post was originally published on August 29, 2009. It has been updated with additional information and new photos.

5 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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19 Comments

  1. Marilyn Laughlin says:

    5 stars
    I was looking for a temp for oven tuna melts and saw your recipe. after reading it, I added the tomato and I also used avocado on one side. I made kale chips as a side. Thank you so much!

  2. 5 stars
    I used to eat Tuna Melt all the time, back when I lived in South Africa. When I ran across your recipe I just had to make it! You have it spot on. Just the right amount of mayo:tuna ratio, I don’t like too much mayo in mine – I like to taste the tuna. Your recipe is delicious and I will most definitely be making it again!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree that the tuna should be the star of the show in this recipe! Makes me happy to know that you enjoyed it, too :-)

  3. I grew up on tuna melts back in the 60s and 70s! (I just stumbled upon and subscribed to your blog!) My sister brought me some DIVINE tuna packed in olive oil from the Azores where she is building a house. They are famous for their tuna and it’s the best I’ve ever eaten. So thanks for this inspiration, especially since it’s tomato season here in Tennessee. I will be making a tuna melts this week!

  4. Kanmani Gobal says:

    Thank you – I thought it was much more complicated than that – until I came across your recipe.. Pictures made it all the better!

  5. seafood supplier says:

    Tuna is also good for the brain

  6. Wow – we eat tuna a few times a week in our household, so I’m definitely gonna try this to jazz it up.

  7. ooh, I just baked my first gluten-free bread loaf, and happen to have all of these ingredients on hand. Thinking maybe I should pack this for my lunch tomorrow! Yum!

  8. Cooking Like Mom says:

    There is something so very old fashioned about a good tuna melt, especially an open faced one. We used to have those routinely when we were kids. My Mom was the tuna melt Queen! She tried all sorts of concoctions when she whipped up tuna melts for us, but I don’t think she ever tried apple. Or, maybe she did… that may explain the tuna melts we liked better than the others. hmmmmm….. good trick to make them a bit more kid-friendly. :) Thanks for the great recipe and the beautiful picture.

  9. Cookin' Canuck says:

    Sweet pickle relish and tomatoes are a must in a tuna melt. I’ll have to try the chopped apple.

  10. Jessie – I like it, too, as long as it’s the kind packed in oil. The water-packed stuff is so bland and tasteless! If you drain it very well you really get so little oil and the difference in the taste is very much worth the few extra calories!

  11. Wow, just my kind of melt! Great recipe!

  12. Oh my God, tuna melts! They used to be my lunch snack of choice but I haven’t had one for ages. Will have to rectify that. And try minced apple in a tuna salad – never heard of such a thing but am willing to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hope you like the apple. That’s part of my “standard” tuna salad, but not in this recipe. This one is a savory salad, where my standard is a sweet-ish salad.

  13. jenn (Bread + Butter) says:

    I love tuna melts. I used to eat them all the time in college. I’ll still have them once in a while. I love that you made them open-faced. Mmmmmm…

    1. I like them open-faced, too. These are definitely knife-and-fork sandwiches!

  14. Angelia McGowan says:

    That looks so good and comforting, and great photo too!