My Tuna Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe boasts mouthwatering, flaky tuna with shredded cheddar, crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes, all grilled to perfection on buttery bread! You’re gonna love this tasty tuna melt!
The Best Grilled Tuna Melt Recipe
Oh, tuna sandwiches. How I love them. Seriously, there are so many ways to make a great tuna sandwich; from the classic plain tuna salad on soft white sandwich bread, to epic grilled masterpieces like this one!
Usually, I opt for a simple sandwich on whatever healthy bread I have on hand, with a nice addition of sweet pickle relish. But sometimes, ya gotta go big or go home.
And this grilled tuna melt definitely counts as “going big!”
For one thing, we’re adding slices of crispy bacon, which is pretty much the perfect way to kick things up. For another, we’re slicing up fresh tomatoes and letting them gently “marinate” with a sprinkling of salt. You might not think that would make much difference, but the altered taste and texture of the tomatoes will have you snacking them off of your cutting board—they’re that good.
Finally, we’re grilling these up with a butter-and-parmesan coating on the outside because, omg why not!? 👩🍳
Get ready, because just browsing through these ingredients, it is going to make you hungry! Fresh tomato, cheddar cheese, bacon—oh my!
- Tomato: You’ll need one fresh tomato, thinly sliced.
- Salt: I usually use kosher salt, but you can use any salt you like, or a salt substitute.
- Tuna: For this recipe, I recommend using tuna in water. Drain it well and chop or flake it with a fork.
- Cheese: Sharp cheddar is a classic choice for this sandwich! You’ll need one and a half cups, shredded.
- Fresh Basil: Chop up about four fresh basil leaves. These add a wonderful fresh taste to the richness of the cheese and tuna.
- Thyme: You’ll need one teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Onion: I use red onion in this dish, but you can use whatever onions you have on hand. Finely chop up a couple of tablespoon’s worth.
- Bread: Have ready four slices of sturdy bread, such as sourdough.
- Butter: You’ll need to bring it to room temperature.
- Parmesan: A couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese adds so much flavor and depth.
- Bacon: Cook four slices of bacon to your desired crispiness.
- Olive Oil: Just a couple of spoonfuls, for “grilling” the sandwiches.
Other Cheese Variations
There are a lot of great cheeses that would work here, by the way! Don’t feel stuck with plain cheddar! It’s delicious, but you can certainly make substitutions. Some ideas might include…
- Pepper Jack
- Colby Jack
How to Make a Tuna Melt Grilled Cheese Sandwich
If you’ve ever made a grilled cheese, you can do this! It’s all about evenly distributing the ingredients, and then gently frying until golden brown.
- Salt Tomatoes: Arrange your tomato slices on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt; let stand 15 minutes.
- Make Cheddar/Tuna Mixture: In a mixing bowl, combine the drained and chopped tuna, shredded cheddar, basil, thyme and red onions. Mix well.
- Prepare Bread Slices: Brush the outside of each slice of bread with butter. This is the side you will be grilling. Next, sprinkle Parmesan over the butter and gently press in so that it adheres to each slice.
- Fill Sandwiches: On the un-buttered side of a slice of bread, place a layer of the tuna/cheese mixture, a layer of tomato and a layer of bacon. Top with another slice of bread. Remember, the buttered sides face out. Repeat this process with the other slices of bread.
- Grill Sandwiches: Heat the olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Then, place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown. Firmly press down on the sandwich with a spatula before flipping it over. Then cook the other side for 3 or 4 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the grilled sandwiches to a serving platter or individual plates.
- Cut and enjoy!
Tips for Success
Making this sandwich is so fun, and the results are absolutely drool-worthy. Still, it’s a big sandwich with a lot going on, so keep reading for my best tips for this recipe!
- Choose the Right Tomato: We’re slicing and salting these tomatoes in order to bring out their flavors, but that will also bring out some extra juice. For that reason, I suggest using tomatoes that have more flesh and potentially less of the seedy liquid pulp, like Roma or plum tomatoes. You may need more than one, if they’re on the small side.
- Choose the Right Bread: Almost any bread can work for a grilled tuna melt, theoretically. But, this one has quite a few toppings, so a sturdy bread with a lot of body is best. Thicker slices of sourdough, rye or whole wheat are your best bet. Sprouted breads are also delicious, healthy and sturdy.
What Goes with a Tuna Melt?
Honestly, this tasty sandwich is a meal all on its own! But if you’d like to add a side, there are some delicious options below. Check them out!
- Cucumber Salad: A nice cold salad like this Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream Dressing hits all the right notes, adding a refreshing contrast to the warm and melty sandwich.
- Fruit Salad: Another cool and refreshing option, my Easy Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing makes a wholesome and delicious side dish for this yummy lunch.
- Soup: A bowl or mug of hot soup is one of my favorite sides for a good sandwich. Try this Quick and Easy Instant Pot Corn Chowder! It’s an amazing creamy soup that comes together easily in the Instant Pot!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
These sandwiches are best when fresh, but that doesn’t mean your leftovers won’t make a tasty snack later! Here’s how to store them and warm them back up.
- To Refrigerate: It’s best to make these sandwiches fresh, as the bread may become damp and even soggy if stored in the refrigerator. However, they will be safe to eat if refrigerated within two hours of making them, for up to 24 hours.
- To Reheat: Reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the tuna is hot all the way through and the cheese is melty.
Tuna Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 can (6 to 8 ounces) tuna in water, drained, and chopped
- 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 4 slices cooked bacon
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- Arrange tomato slices on a cutting board or plate, and sprinkle with salt; let stand 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine tuna, cheddar, basil, thyme, and red onions in a mixing bowl; stir to incorporate.
- Brush the outside of each slice of bread with butter and sprinkle the buttered side with parmesan cheese; press to adhere to the bread.
- On the inside of two bread slices evenly divide a layer of the cheese mixture, tomatoes, and bacon.
- Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side on the outside.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat.
- Place sandwiches in the skillet and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown, firmly pressing down on the sandwich with a spatula before flipping over the sandwich to cook on the other side.
- Remove from skillet.
- Cut sandwiches in half and serve.
More Easy Lunch Ideas
Need more healthy homemade lunches to put on the table for your family? Everyone will adore these easy recipes!