The Ultimate Tuna Melt

The Ultimate Tuna Melt

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
514 Calories
38g Fat
9g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 514
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 48%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 91mg 30%
Sodium 787mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 34g
Calcium 417mg 32%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A little fine tuning and one secret ingredient - fried capers - sets this tuna melt apart from others. Make sure to keep the tuna melt under the broiler long enough for the cheese to get slightly browned and crispy on top.

Crispy capers are simply capers quickly fried in olive oil. They have a slightly crispy texture and addictive salty flavor. Crispy capers are also delicious tossed into pasta and served over pork chops.

Types of Canned Tuna

  • Confused by all the different types of canned tuna at the market? Here's the lowdown.
  • Canned tuna often comes from albacore, skipjack, bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Which flavor you like best is a matter of personal taste, but keep in mind that the flavor can vary since not every albacore tuna out there tastes the same.
  • Tuna comes in solid, chunk and flaked varieties. Solid should have a larger piece of tuna in the can. Chunk tuna has pieces of tuna and flaked has a soft, shredded texture. 
  • Tuna is packed in water or oil. Oil-packed tuna tends to be more flavorful.

What are Capers?

Capers are the flower bud on a bush native to the Mediterranean. The buds are sun-dried then pickled in vinegar brine. Capers are usually quite small, but stemmed caperberries are as large as an olive. It is often recommended that capers are rinsed before eating because they are so salty.


  • 2 5-ounce cans of tuna (ideally packed in oil)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon caper juice
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley or dill, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 4 slices bread
  • 1/2 pound cheese (Cheddar is a classic choice, Manchego, or a blend of Manchego and Cheddar, is also a delicious as is Swiss cheese.)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Ultimate Tuna Melt ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a medium bowl, mix tuna with mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, caper juice, red onion, celery, and parsley or dill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

    mix tuna with mayonnaise, olive oil, caper juice, red onion, celery, and parsley

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the capers and cook, stirring or shaking occasionally, until the capers are crisp about 4 minutes. There is a fine line between a crispy caper and a burnt caper, so keep your eye on the pan and use your nose as a guide

    capers and olive oil in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Lay out 4 slices of bread. Drizzle with olive oil or spread with mayonnaise.

    bread slices with olive oil

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Spread tuna evenly over each slice. Top each slice generously with cheese.

    bread slices with a tuna mixture and cheese

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Place under the broiler, keeping an eye on the bread and rotating as necessary, until the cheese is completely melted and browned slightly on top.

    bread slices with tuna salad and melted cheese on top

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Pull out of the oven and top with crispy capers before serving.

    The Ultimate Tuna Melt on a baking sheet, tuna melt with capers

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.