These Mediterranean tuna melts are a lighter, fresher, and, yes, healthier spin on a diner classic. In what seems a crazy unconventional riff on tradition, tzatziki replaces mayonnaise and there’s the soul-satisfying addition of creamy avocado. Or, as one of our recipe testers explained, “What we have, ultimately, is a homey if a little eccentric piece of comfort food that comes together quickly and disappears even faster.” Yet it sacrifices none of the cheesy goodness of the original.Angie Zoobkoff

When is a Tuna Melt Not a Tuna Melt?

This Mediterranean tuna melt recipe, from Manhattan chef Michael Psilakis, toasts the bread and melts the cheese first and only then adds the tuna and other ingredients to ensure the cold stuff stays cold and the hot stuff stays hot. It creates a charming collision of temperatures as well as textures. Some may call this a tuna salad sandwich rather than a traditional melt, but to us, it’s heaven.

The makings of a Mediterranean tuna melt -- a slice of whole grain bread topped with gruyere cheese, a bowl with tuna salad, and a butter lettuce leaf topped with tuna salad, avocado, and pepper

Mediterranean Tuna Melt

5 / 2 votes
This Mediterranean tuna melt is a serious upgrade to your old-school lunch staple. Creamy avocado, melty Gruyère, and tangy tzatziki will show you the light.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories352 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 10 ounces canned tuna packed in oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup store-bought tzatziki
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 slices Gruyère cheese or other melting cheese
  • 4 leaves green-leaf lettuce or romaine, or 1/2 cup packed arugula leaves or any lettuce or leafy greens
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (dill, parsley, mint)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 avocado, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick slices


  • Dump the tuna and cucumber yogurt dip or tzatziki in a bowl and use a fork to combine them until the tuna is nicely coated yet still chunky. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice and gently fold everything together.
  • Preheat the broiler on your oven or preheat your toaster oven. Lightly toast the bread under the broiler or in your toaster oven. Remove 4 slices of toast and set aside. Place 1 slice cheese on each of the 4 remaining slices of toast and return them to the broiler or toaster oven until the cheese melts, 1 to 3 minutes. Watch them carefully and don’t turn your back!
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice. Add the greens and herbs and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Divide the greens among the 4 plain slices of toast. Scoop an equal amount of tuna over the greens, arrange the avocado slices on top, and sandwich with the toasted cheese slices, cheese side down. Cut the sandwiches on the diagonal and serve immediately.
Live to Eat Cookbook

Adapted From

Live to Eat

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 352 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 28 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gCholesterol: 65 mgSodium: 634 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Michael Psilakis. Photo © 2017 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These tuna melts were the perfect sandwich—the cheese was gooey, the avocado was creamy, and then there was the slight tang of the olive oil, lemon juice, red onion, tuna, and herbs. Everyone was pleased! I’m not sure where the diner is that serves this tuna melt, but now we can have them at home! What a yummy and filling tuna melt to add to my recipes. Parsley and chives were my herbs of choice and I used Gruyère cheese. I did a rough chop on the romaine leaves instead of leaving them whole.

This tuna melt recipe makes for a lovely sandwich. It’s interesting. It’s satisfying. It elevates sandwich night. It charmed my family. It’s a winner! I used Gruyère cheese and, for herbs, dill and mint.

I grew up on a steady rotation of tuna salad sandwiches and PB&Js and I’m a sucker for new takes on old classics that promise to send my head spinning. What we have, ultimately, is a homey if a little eccentric piece of comfort food that comes together quickly and disappears even faster. This recipe had me at “tuna in oil,” which was one of those “why didn’t I ever think of that?” moments. It’s nice to avoid having to make something that’s approximately 50/50 tuna to mayonnaise just to make sure there’s some semblance of moisture in there. The tzatziki was a fun twist. I really wasn’t sure how yogurt and cucumber was going to go with tuna but it worked. I was even more unsure of how well this odd concoction would go with Gruyère cheese and avocados but that was even better. I used Gruyère cheese. I used a generic spring mix instead of romaine and fresh dill. I used a toaster oven, which was perfect to make 2 sandwiches (4 slices of bread) at a time. There was enough tuna salad mixture to make 4 sandwiches with a generous amount, but I honestly think it could easily make 5 or 6 sandwiches.

What a lovely fresh spin on the classic tuna melt. I could only find tuna in oil in 198g tins so had to use 1 1/2 tins. I used basil, dill, and parsley as my herbs. Mixing the ingredients and assembling the sandwiches took under 30 minutes, so these are completely doable on a busy weeknight. We used 2 slices creamy Havarti cheese for 2 sandwiches and 2 slices Jarlsburg cheese on the other 2 sandwiches. We all loved the freshness that the tzatziki brought to the sandwich. It was slightly tangy and lighter than mayonnaise. I used a rather heavy whole-grain bread so these were very filling. With a light soup I would consider this to be a weeknight winner. I think when I make this sandwich next time I will use all the tuna, increase the amount of tzatziki by another 1/4 cup, and use a less heavy whole-grain bread.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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