Nothing beats a cheesy, open-faced classic like this Sun Dried Tomato Tuna Melt. This Italian-inspired tuna salad is bursting with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, celery, lemon, and fresh herbs. The result is a bright, flavorful tuna that pairs perfectly with sharp Italian provolone cheese. The cheese gets wonderfully bubbly and drippy under the broiler, making it the most delicious sandwich!
If you are like me, I find prepared tuna fish just meh. I mean, I grew up on mushy canned tuna that was drowning in mayo, stuffed between 2 slices of boring white bread. Too fishy for me. This tuna I can eat. It's all grown up, a little fancy, and downright delicious.
And let's be honest, when you add melty cheese to any sandwich, doesn't it just make it better?
You can top these sun-dried tomato tuna melts with bread, just like you would with any sandwich, but I prefer them open-faced. This way, that warm, gooey cheese hits your taste buds first, and that's always a good thing in my book.
How to shop for canned tuna
All those labels can be confusing! Luckily, none of it matters for making a tasty tuna melt. It just comes down to preference. I look for tuna that says white, albacore, solid, and packed in water.
- Light Tuna- Tan to pink in color. Has a softer texture and stronger flavor (more fishy) than albacore.
- White or albacore- White to pink in color. Firmer in texture and a milder flavor (less fishy).
- Solid- Larger, whole pieces of tuna.
- Chunk- Smaller pieces of tuna, looks shredded.
- Water or oil packed- I prefer water packed, mainly so I can adjust the oil myself if using.
Ingredients for Italian tuna melt
Bursting with Mediterranean flavors, you can find all the ingredients easily in the grocery store or in your pantry.
- Canned tuna- Canned, pouched, or, in a tin. However, you buy your tuna fish. I buy tuna packed in water so I can add the flavors myself.
- Sun-dried tomatoes- Look for them in oil for the best flavor. If you have plain sun-dried tomatoes, you can rehydrate them by soaking the tomatoes in hot water for about 10 minutes until they are nice and plump.
- Dijon mustard
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs such as parsley, chives and oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Provolone cheese- You can also use Swiss.
- Bagels or English muffins
See recipe card for quantities.
You will need a medium bowl to prepare the tuna salad as well as a baking sheet to broil the tuna melts. For easy clean-up, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
How to make an Italian tuna melt
This recipe is super easy to make. Prepare the salad ahead, and then broil the cheese when you are ready to eat.
Start by adding all the tuna salad ingredients to a bowl. Mix to combine and set aside.
Preheat the oven broiler to high. Cut your bagels in half so you have 6 halves. Add 1 slice of cheese to each, followed by the tuna salad, and then top with another slice of cheese.
Broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and melted. Serve immediately.
Keep an eye on that broiler. I like to keep the oven light on and watch it closely. Cheese can go from golden brown to burnt in a matter of seconds. Three to five minutes is all you need to get the cheese perfectly melty.
How to customize your tuna melt
Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking. Want more crunch? Add more celery! Hate capers? Just leave them out. Here are some other great ideas.
- Use shredded chicken in place of the tuna. It's a great way to use up leftover chicken if you don't like tuna.
- Make it vegetarian by swapping out the tuna for chickpeas.
- Play around with the herbs. Try scallions, rosemary, or thyme.
- Experiment with other cheeses. Just choose one that will melt well such as Gruyere.
- If not using bagels or muffins, try a toasty sourdough. Just be sure to use something substantial for bread so that the tuna doesn't soak through.
- Wanna skip the bread? Serve this sun-dried tomato tuna salad plain with a side salad for a light meal.
Make it a sandwich-Just add the tuna salad to your favorite sandwich bread.
Tuna salad can be made ahead and stored, covered in the fridge for up to five days. When ready to eat, just add to the bread and melt the cheese under the broiler.
A tuna sandwich consists of prepared tuna inside two slices of bread. A tuna melt has cheese added to the top and is served hot with the cheese melted.
It's all about the bread. Choose a good sturdy bread such as a bagel, sourdough slices, or a hearty roll such as a ciabatta.
🍳Did you make this recipe? I would love to hear about it! Please leave a recipe rating with comment right below the recipe card. If you snapped a photo of your creation, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @brunchandbatter.
Sun Dried Tomato Tuna Melt
- baking sheet
- measuring cups and mixing bowl
- 2 7 ounce (5.1 oz. dry weight) canned tuna fish in water or about 1¼ cups (from 2½- 5oz. cans of tuna)
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil; chopped
- 3 tablespoon diced celery
- 2 teaspoon capers, drained
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup olive oil (plus more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon fresh oregano (optional), can use dried
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 bagels sliced in half (will have 6 halves) can use English muffins
- 12 slices Provolone or Swiss cheese
- In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, celery, capers, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix until just combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a little more oil if dry. (This will depend on how much liquid you drained from the tuna as well as how much oil was in your sun-dried tomatoes). Set aside.2 7 ounce (5.1 oz. dry weight) canned tuna fish in water, ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil; chopped, 3 tablespoon diced celery, 2 teaspoon capers, drained, 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ⅓ cup olive oil (plus more if needed), 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, ½ teaspoon fresh oregano (optional), can use dried, ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven broiler to high. Have a baking sheet ready. Lay out your bread on the baking sheet. Place a slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Add about ⅓ cup of tuna to each bread slice. Top with an additional slice of cheese.3 bagels sliced in half (will have 6 halves), 12 slices Provolone or Swiss cheese
- Broil on high for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted, golden brown, and bubbly. Serve immediately.