When you’re shopping for canned tuna, look for the “sustainably fished” logo. The cucumber adds a gorgeous freshness.–Clodagh McKenna

How do I improve my tuna melt?

A tuna melt is a tuna melt is a tuna melt, right? Uh, not exactly. We beg to differ with that simpleminded sentiment after tucking into this fancy-schmancy recipe, which bears all the hallmarks of the classic—creamy tuna-y goodness in warm and toasty sandwich form—yet with a few tweaks that mom never thought to include. Witness nubbins of cucumber for crunch. Cheese that’s not of the presliced, shrink-wrapped variety. And bread from a foreign land (although if you’re not the messy sort, think twice about that baguette, seeing as the crunchy exterior means some of the tuna salad may plop into your lap. In other words, we consider this godsend a welcome departure from the classic tuna melts we choked down each and every Friday of our childhood. P.S. You can just as easily make half the amount for a tuna melt for one.

A halved fancy tuna melt with tomato and cucumber on a baguette on a piece of parchment.

Fancy Tuna Melt

5 / 3 votes
A fancy tuna melt is definitely the best kind of tuna melt. Swiss (or Gruyere) cheese, cucumber, tomato, and a splash of lemon juice, all served on a warm baguette. This isn’t your Mama’s tuna sando.
David Leite
Servings2 tuna melts
Calories666 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 9 ounces canned tuna, (preferably packed in oil), drained
  • 1/3 cup store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/2 celery stalk, finely sliced
  • 1/4 small (about 2 tablespoons) red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 medium (about 2 inches [5 cm] long) cucumber, peeled, if desired, and finely diced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 baguette, cut crosswise into 2 portions, or 4 slices bread, such as sourdough or multigrain
  • 4 slices tomato, (optional)
  • 2 slices cheese of your choice, such as Gruyère, Swiss, or white Cheddar


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  • Using a fork, flake the tuna into a bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, celery, onion, cucumber, and lemon juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix again.
  • Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise and divide the tuna mixture between the bottom pieces. Place 2 slices tomato on each sandwich, if desired. Top with a cheese slice and the baguette lids, pressing down gently to settle the filling.
  • Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sandwich is warmed through and the cheese begins to melt and turn ooey gooey. Alternatively, you can warm the sandwich in a griddle or sandwich maker.
  • Serve the sandwiches immediately, preferably with napkins galore. Originally published April 15, 2013.
Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries Cookbook

Adapted From

Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 sandwichCalories: 666 kcalCarbohydrates: 36 gProtein: 38 gFat: 41 gSaturated Fat: 10 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 90 mgSodium: 1090 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 6 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2013 Clodagh McKenna. Photo © 2013 Kate Whitaker. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This fancy tuna melt is a lovely take on the classic tuna melt. Although I like tuna, I must say that I never really think to make tuna melts. I had all the ingredients, though, so I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad that I did; this was really good! I liked the flavor and the addition of the lemon—well, I like lemon in general, so the lemon in this recipe was a good thing.

The surprising element of this recipe, which I never would’ve thought of, was the cucumbers. It added a nice textural element to the sandwich that I really liked. I followed the recipe as written; however, instead of using the baguette, I opted to make this an open-faced sandwich. I used some artisan whole wheat bread. It was so very good!

This is a perfect quick weeknight meal. It only takes about 7 minutes to melt the cheese and warm the tuna. It was so good I ate it for dinner the first night with a salad and for lunch the next day.

In all of my many, many years, I’ve never had a tuna melt. This delightful sandwich is now in my life to stay. I love the way the red onion, lemon, and cucumber added brightness and crunch. My sandwich took 10 minutes for the filling to heat through and the cheese to melt.

Note of caution: My first bite left much of the salad oozing out the sides. Just go with it. A little ooze never hurt anyone.

I think I just retired my old tuna recipe to make way for this one. Loved it! This was an easy recipe to make on a weeknight. The lemon added a little tartness and really brightened it up. The celery and onion gave it a nice, delicate crunch.

I used 2 small cans of tuna, which equaled about 6 3/4 ounces on the scale when drained. I followed the rest of the ingredient amounts. The mayo lightly dressed the tuna, so it wasn’t too much, even though I was short a couple ounces of tuna. Good cucumbers and tomatoes are hard to find right now; I did use both a cuke and tomato but they didn’t add a whole lot to it. But an “in-season” cucumber would add some nice crunch and flavor and a ripe tomato would top it off. Another layer of flavor and texture was added by the Swiss cheese.

I baked it for about 7 minutes, thinking the cheese was completely melted, but when I removed the top of the baguette, it wasn’t. I think it’d help to put the sandwich in the oven without the top for about 5 minutes and then put the top on after to crisp up the bread.

I adore tuna melt sandwiches and this one is really tasty. I used 2 cans of tuna (120 grams each when drained, which is about 8 1/2 ounces). I made the tuna mix as directed, assembled the sandwiches, and baked them for 6 minutes until the cheese had melted and the filling was warm. The result was a toasty tuna melt enjoyed by both my tasters.

I’d certainly use this recipe again. I really liked the crusty bread and the contrast of the tuna mix with the cucumbers and tomatoes. The only thing I’d change is to divide the filling among 3 or 4 sandwiches. For my taste, the recipe makes too much filling for just 2 sandwiches.

This fancy tuna melt recipe came together quickly and included ingredients that are readily available. Initially, I was a bit leery of the addition of cucumber, but it really does add a bit of brightness to the recipe. I used toothpicks to keep the top and bottom halves of the sandwich together, which also worked well when cutting the baguette into sandwich-size pieces.

The recommendation of baking for 5 to 7 minutes to warm the filling and melt the cheese was spot-on. Also, the juice of 1 lemon comes out to 1/8 cup lemon juice in case one doesn’t have fresh lemons on hand. One could also slice the baguette on the diagonal, make an open-face sandwich, and use a broiler to melt the cheese. Either way, this recipe is a keeper. Very healthy, plates well, and tastes good!

I love simple recipes like this fancy tuna melt. Quality canned tuna is always key with tuna salad, since the list of ingredients is so short. Adding the red onion and fresh cucumber made me feel more adult-like than I typically do when I have “plain” tuna salad on sandwich bread.

I subbed provolone for the Swiss because that was what we had, and warmed this in our toaster oven until the cheese bubbled (it took about 5 minutes). Perfect lunch!

This fancy tuna melt is a super simple and delicious weeknight meal. It’s quick to make and is delicious both as a sandwich filling and tossed with salad greens as the recipe writer suggests. I don’t particularly love mayo, and I thought 1/3 cup made for a pretty creamy, mayonnaise-y salad. I’d opt to scale back next time, or even sub yogurt for some of the mayonnaise.

I typically make tuna melts with Cheddar, but the Swiss really works here, adding a savory nutty flavor that I really enjoyed. I baked my sandwiches for exactly 5 minutes, which was just enough time to toast the bread and leave the filling slightly warm.

This fancy tuna melt was very good but a little messy to eat. The filling was warm and the cheese melted perfectly in 7 minutes. Next time I’ll just add the diced cucumber to the tuna mixture since it wanted to fall off the tomato. The lemon juice gave a nice flavor to the other ingredients.

I’ve made many tuna melts in my time (about once a week, in fact) and while I’ve come across some great recipes, this tuna melt has wonderful flavors to it that I absolutely loved. The red onion really stands out, giving the sandwich some depth, and the melted cheese certainly doesn’t hinder the end result. All in all, I really enjoyed this sandwich and will definitely make it my new go-to tuna melt for a great weeknight meal.

What I felt lacked a bit was some saltiness. Perhaps some chopped mixed olives added to the tuna salad could create a nice salty and textural addition. While the cucumber lends some freshness as the recipe states, I feel that some of its distinct flavor and crunchy texture are lost once baked. Maybe the cucumber could be added after the sandwiches are baked?

I found that scooping out some of the center of the bread allowed room for more filling and kept the sandwich intact better. I baked the sandwiches on a cookie sheet with a pan lid resting over the top to slightly compress them. It took 10 to 12 minutes for the bread to toast, but more importantly for the filling to fully warm. I struggled to get the Swiss cheese to melt well, as it becomes a bit oily, but it does add a great saltiness. I made the sandwiches again the next night and used Gruyère, which had a better melting quality while still maintaining a great amount of flavor.

This reminded me of the tuna grinders I ate years ago on the East Coast, with—pardon the expression—the volume turned up a notch. The Italian tuna packed in olive oil that I used came in a 7-ounce can, so I decreased the other ingredients a wee bit. All of the ingredients combined to make a tasty sandwich filling.

I used Gruyère de Comté for my Swiss cheese. The only problem I had was with the sourdough baguette that I used. Biting into the fairly crispy crust made the filling squirt out of the sandwich onto the plate. I’ll use a different type of bread next time, perhaps a ciabatta roll, toasted sourdough bread, or a soft sandwich roll.

A very simple late-night supper or lunch for the family lies in this little beauty. What could be simpler than opening a can of tuna? Making the melt on a baguette is not your usual fare—makes it feel a bit special. The red onion is a great addition, as is the lemon juice.

I had a bit of a difficult time getting the sandwich to warm all the way through and I also prefer my cucumber and tomato cold instead of warm. I tried it a second time, just melting the cheese on top of the tuna to get that nice and hot, then added the tomato, cucumber, and the top piece of bread at the end. Delish!

This recipe was easy to follow. Personally I’m not particularly keen on raw celery and wouldn’t tend to put it in a sandwich. However, the celery didn’t overwhelm the flavor so I didn’t mind it in this sandwich. I used lemon mayonnaise to add more lemon flavor to the mixture. I used Emmental cheese slices and left the top of the bread off to heat the filling and melt the cheese. I found this took about 10 minutes. I was happy with the taste of the sandwich.

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.

Hungry For More?

Garlic-Butter Shrimp Pasta

Only 30 minutes and a few simple ingredients stands between you and a warm bowl of pasta and shrimp bathed in lemon garlic butter. What are you waiting for?

30 mins

Sticky Honey Garlic Shrimp

Skip the takeout and whip up this fast and easy honey garlic shrimp. Your tastebuds and your wallet will thank you.

25 mins

Champagne Butter Clams with Sourdough Toast

Our testers are raving about these buttery clams that are gently simmered in sparkling wine and roasted garlic butter. We’re willing to bet you will be, too.

1 hr 10 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. You know what would be really nice? It’s a take on what we used to have for Friday lunches in public school. They were called Friday burgers. Just simply tuna salad in a hot dog bun topped with a slice of cheese and baked. I have made those long past high school… just because it was a nice way to make toasted tuna with out a big mess.

    What if you you got some kind of gourmet “bun” and filled it and baked it? YUM

    1. Carrie, I know those hot tuna sandwiches well. Had ’em every Friday during lent as a kid. But to improve upon the classic, a nice brioche-like bun, something a tad sweet yet still sufficiently sturdy, could be really lovely here. I’m thinking our Beautiful Burger Buns recipe is just the thing….

  2. This looks delicious! We will definitely be trying this out. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Lovely to hear, Ali! We’ll be waiting to hear what you think, so kindly let us know when you try it. And you’re very welcome.