Grilled Tuna Melt

Tuna Melts

I’ve never really been a big fan of sandwiches. I think it’s because I find that the bread gets in the way of the filling. My mom said that as a kid, we’d go out for burgers and she’d only have to get one for my sister and I to share – I would eat the meat, and she would eat the bun. Weird.

We don’t even have a loaf of bread on hand regularly. It just doesn’t get eaten fast enough.

On the odd weekend, however, I’m really in the mood for a grilled cheese or tuna melt. After a morning at the farmer’s market, we love to come home and throw together something special.

Tuna Melt bread

The bread has gotten better, too! Now that J bakes bread, we sometimes plan for our weekend sammiches and he bakes up a fresh loaf.

I like to put all sorts of crazy junk in my tuna melts. Usually, I assess what we have on hand and try to find something crunchy, something spicy. My favourite ‘something crunchy’ has to be chunks of Granny Smith apple. The tartness is amazing with the other flavours. Apple slices also make a great side, along with some crunchy dills.

Another important part to this process, for me, is the selection of the perfect mustard. I don’t remember ever making a tuna melt without mustard, and we always have a selection of interesting mustards to choose from (mostly from Kozlik’s, at St. Lawrence market). I like to use really grainy mustard in the mix, usually with names like ‘Double C’. So much fun!

The main thing to take away — the recipe below is just an example. It was what I made on a particular day, with what I had on hand and what I felt like eating. Feel free to substitute – add thinly sliced veggies, olives, different cheese, omit the mustard (what!?!)… just don’t add anything that will make it too wet and sloppy.

Grilled to perfection on a grill pan with a panini press. Would be just as yummy done in a frying pan.

Recipe after the jump!

Grilled Tuna Melt

Makes 2 sandwiches.


  • 4 slices of thick, multigrain bread
  • 1 can of tuna (133g, drained weight), drained well
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (can use yogurt or sour cream instead)
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dill relish
  • 1/2 a Granny Smith apple, peeled and small dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nanami togarashi (or a pinch of cayenne pepper, or a few drops of hot sauce) (optional)
  • some thin slices of melty cheese – stronger tasting cheese like Jarlsberg, Raclette cheese and Gruyere work best


  1. Start heating your pan on medium heat. I like to use a grill pan with a panini press for this, so I have to heat both parts.
  2. Mix tuna, carrot, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, apple, salt, pepper, and spices in a big bowl.
  3. Generously pile the tuna salad onto the bread, making sure to compress it a little so that it doesn’t fall apart when you grill it.
  4. Layer the cheese on top of the tuna salad.
  5. Test the heat of the pan by putting a small piece of bread on. If it starts to smoke right away, the pan is too hot! Turn it down and leave for a few minutes before cooking the sandwich.
  6. Once the pan is ready, carefully put the sandwich on the grill. Grill for about 2-3 minutes, just enough to melt the cheese part way and toast the bread. Flip, and grill for another 2-3 minutes. If it needs longer, you can flip again. You want the cheese to be melty, and the outside of the bread to be crisp.

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