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 sandwiches 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.
- For open faced tuna melts, omit the second piece of bread and add an extra slice of cheese.
Questions and Reviews
I’d never heard of tuna melts, but made them because everyone on the FB post was raving about them. They’re excellent and this will be a keeper, but mine turned out incredibly messy. Your picture shows a neater dish than what I ended up with. Is it that you have more experience in setting a photo worthy plate, or did you use all your tuna fish? I used water, light canned and after draining, ended up with 3 cans of tuna fish to get the required 12 ozs.
I didn’t add anything different (I try to make it by the recipe first).
Tuna varies so much, from brand to brand, and type to type, so it sounds like you could have used a little less mayo to make your salad firmer. Glad you enjoyed these Lorine!
We had these sandwiches for supper last night and absolutely loved them! No rye bread but good on Dave’s Killer Bread as well. I did turn on the broiler for a minute to get them a bit more brown. My husband is still raving about them the next day–guess I’ll have to make them again.
I could eat tuna melts every night for a week, glad you guys loved them 🙂
I have made this recipe a number of times (the open face version) and each time I end up adding something to it. Tonight I put capers in with the tuna mixture. I also squished a ripe avocado on the bread before the tomato. I put one spear of asparagus broke in half on each sandwich along with some pan fried mushrooms. Then the tuna mixture and cheese on top of all. It was delicious and I look at it as the deluxe version. It was completely filling for supper. Thank you, I always look forward to your recipes in my e-mail.
Love your creativity with this meal Leslie ~ I could eat it every day of the week with your variations 🙂
Just when you think, “how could anyone improve on a tuna melt, seriously?” – you SERIOUSLY knocked it of the park! Although I have made tuna salad since I was in grammar school (not the Stone Age but almost),I used your version to get the full effect of your recipe. All I can say is WOW and I wish there had been leftovers! And that cheese combo is fabulous! I’m going to try your sheetpan technique for making patty melts – less mess and everyone gets a hot cheese melt at the same time. You’re brilliant… And many thanks for a wonderful recipe that became a family favorite from the first bite!
Love this Belle ~ we got so excited about the tuna melt we’re planning a whole ‘melt’ series, stay tuned 🙂
Be still my heart <3! I read your posts first thing every day – can’t wait!
I’m in my 70s and I grew up with oil packed tuna until it dissapeared from stores. I don’t recall exactly when the switch was made.I haven’t had since then & would love to have it again.
This is a great way to do this! Brilliant! Thank you Sue!