Sheet pan tuna melts are the original from the pantry comfort food, with a sublime mix of flavor, texture, and temperature. My tuna melts are made in the oven, so no messy flipping, and everybody gets their own piping hot, melty sandwich at the same time. Heaven.
Tuna melts are humble comfort food that also happen to be insanely delicious
Tuna melts were 30 minute pantry meals before 30 minute pantry meals were even a thing. But you don’t make these sandwiches because there’s nothing else in the house…you make them because you’re craving them. I don’t know how something so simple can induce such food lust, but there it is. My sheet pan method is a no muss no fuss method that’s perfect for big families, game days, or any time you’ve got hungry mouths to feed. It’s also a pretty darned great (dare I say romantic??) dinner for two
What you’ll need:
- canned tuna of your choice
- red onion
- sliced tomatoes
- sliced cheese ~ anything from cheddar to Monterey jack
- rye bread ~ thin sliced is best
What’s the best tuna for tuna melts?
A few years ago I partnered with Genova tuna and developed such an appreciation for Italian olive oil packed tuna that I permanently switched from the solid white water packed American tuna I grew up with.
- Oil packed albacore tuna is my choice for tuna in just about any recipe. If you’ve not tried it yet, I’d call it the gourmet version of canned tuna. The fish is firm, meaty, and moist thanks to the oil. The can on the lower left is in olive oil, and on the right is solid white tuna packed in water.
- Whether you choose oil or water packed, solid white (albacore) is a better choice than canned light (yellowfin or skipjack) which tends to be mushier. But that’s just my opinion.
- If you’re counting calories, water packed is a better way to go.
- If you eat a lot of tuna, canned light contains less mercury so that might be the better choice.
how to make grilled sandwiches on a sheet pan
I’ve of course made open faced tuna melts in the oven before, but it never occurred to me to do the full sandwiches in the oven instead of in a skillet. This brilliant tweak allows for any number of sandwiches to all emerge, piping hot and melty, at exactly the same time. Mind blown.
- Assemble the sandwiches as you normally would, but arrange them on a sheet pan, making sure the buttered sides of the bread are on the outside.
- Bake at 400F for about 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted. Switch to broil for the last blast so they get golden on top, if necessary.
- The big bonus to this method, besides having everything ready at once, is that you can really load up your sandwiches without fear of them falling apart when you have to flip them in a skillet.
people also ask:
- what kind of bread is best for a tuna melt?
I love to use thin sliced rye because it’s what they served at the Jewish deli around the corner where I grew up, and I think tuna and rye just belong together. Some swear by challah, some only use white, but use any bread you like. I recommend thinly sliced bread because you want the heat to get to the cheese to make it nice and melty.
- What’s the best cheese for tuna melts?
Your choice of cheese, and how much you use, makes a big difference in your sandwich. I like to mix cheeses, and use 2 or 3 thin slices. Cheddar is traditional, but Havarti, Muenster, Gouda, and Swiss are all acceptable, according to Reddit, lol. I used smoked cheddar for flavor and provolone for its melting qualities. Pepper jack cheese would be amazing.
- what can you use instead of mayo?
You can make the tuna salad with olive oil, or yogurt, or a mixture of sour cream and yogurt. If you’re simply out of mayo, try making your own.
- what else can you put in a tuna melt?
You can add sliced avocado, bacon, dill, fresh sprouts, or jalapeño, but then you would have a hipster melt.
tuna, tuna, and more tuna!
- Spaghetti Peperonata with Tuna and Olives
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Tuna
- Rainbow Poke Bowl with Tuna
- Albacore Tuna Buddha Bowls
- Wild Caught Tuna Crostini
Sheet Pan Tuna Melts
- Sheet pan
- 12 ounces canned tuna of your choice, well drained
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise Note: I heap my measuring cup, and depending on your tuna you may want to use a little more.
- salt and fresh cracked pepper
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 8 slices thin rye bread
- softened butter
- 4-8 thin sliced of tomato, drained on a paper towel
- 4-8 thin slices of red onion (optional)
- 8 slices cheese of your choice, I used provolone and smoked cheddar
- Preheat oven to 400F Put the tomato slices on paper towels to drain.
- Add the drained tuna to a bowl and break apart with a fork.
- Add the onion, and celery and blend.
- Fold in the mayo and lemon juice.
- Blend well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Butter one side of 8 slices of rye bread
- Flip the bread over so the buttered side is against the pan. Put a scoop of tuna salad on the unbuttered side of 4 pieces of bread. Spread the tuna out evenly.
- Top each sandwich with 2 slices of tomato.
- Top the tomato with thinly sliced red onion.
- Top the onion with cheese, I use 2 slices for each sandwich. You can do more if you like.
- Top with the remaining bread, being sure the buttered side is on the outside.
- Bake the bread for about 10 minutes until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted. There should be no need to flip the sandwiches, they should be golden on the bottom side. Note: if you like more browning you can switch to broil for the last minute or so, but watch carefully, the bread can burn quickly.
- Slice the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.
notes and variations
- For open faced tuna melts, omit the second piece of bread and add an extra slice of cheese.