Tomato Tuna Melts eliminate the bread and instead serve up flavourful tuna salad piled on thick slices of tomato, topped with cheese and broiled to perfection. They make a quick and easy weeknight meal or light and healthy lunch.
Ever since I started making this recipe I haven't gone back to the bread. The tomato version is so much lighter and more flavourful plus you get the added nutrition from the tomatoes. Of course all of this on top of a toasted bagel is also delicious and decadent.
If all you get from this post is a new tuna salad recipe you are a winner! I like to add a couple of extra things to mine to bump up flavour and nutrients. Those things just happen to also make it next-level delicious.
🥘Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you will need to make this recipe. For quantities see the recipe card below.
Which is the best canned tuna?
There are so many brands and varieties of canned tuna out there so it can be confusing. I try to keep things as simple as possible. So here are the things I look for.
- Top priority for me is the MSC label. What does the label mean? "The blue fish label is only applied to wild fish or seafood from fisheries certified to the MSC standard, a scientific measure of sustainable fishing." Head over to The Marine Stewardship Council website for more information.
- If you are concerned about the mercury levels in tuna look for Skipjack instead or Albacore. Skipjack tuna are smaller and the smaller the fish, the lower the mercury levels are. The bonus is that the Skipjack tends to be less expensive.
- I like tuna in water for things like tuna salad when I'm mixing in other fats. Otherwise everything becomes too oily.
- Canned tuna - This recipe also works with canned salmon or chicken.
- Large tomatoes - Juicy, in-season tomatoes are always ideal. In the off-season I recommend Kumato or vine ripened tomatoes.
- Mayonnaise - Go with real mayonnaise like Hellman's instead of Miracle Whip. Or if you can't eat eggs a vegan mayo works perfectly.
- Avocado - Instead of adding more mayo I opt for a half a small avocado for extra fiber, healthy fat, and nutrients.
- Fresh lemon juice - the hit of acidity balances out the flavours. A splash of pickle juice is perfect if you are out of lemons.
- Dill pickle - I love chopped dill pickles in tuna salad. They add a crunch as well as another layer of flavour. If I'm out of pickles chopped celery adds that needed crunch.
- Sharp Cheddar - adds that ooey-gooey deliciousness. Any type of cheddar works as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Swiss, or any other melty cheese.
- Fresh parsley - not essential but adds some freshness and colour to the finished tuna melts.
Everything comes together in a pinch! Make extra tuna salad to have throughout the week.
Step 1 - Drain the tuna and add to a bowl along with the mayo, avocado, dill pickle and lemon juice. Mix everything together, using a fork so you can mash up the avocado while mixing. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. You may find the ingredients used provide enough salt already.
Step 2 - Thickly slice the tomatoes and place on a parchment or foil lined baking tray. Top with tuna salad and shredded cheese.
Step 3 - Set oven rack to the top third position (one level down from the top). Broil on high for 2-3 minutes. Just until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Leave it a bit longer to brown if you like but keep a close eye on it. Top with fresh, chopped parsley, if using and serve.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Serve cold, at room temperature, or reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until warm.
No Tomato - If you prefer to use something other than tomatoes try a half or quarter of a bell pepper, portabella mushrooms or zucchini boats instead. With these vegetables I suggest pre-baking them at 375°F (190°C) for about 10 minutes, or until cooked to your liking, before stuffing and broiling.
Stuffed Tomato - Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Stuff with tuna salad, top with cheese and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.
What to serve with these melts
I like having these with a simple green salad but if you are looking to level up this meal or serve them as part of a brunch or special lunch here are some great accompaniments.
- White Bean Salad with Arugula
- Dill Pickle Chopped Salad
- Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa
- Grilled Vegetable Salad
Tomato Tuna Melts
- 2 cans chunk or flaked tuna (170 g/6 oz)
- 1 dill pickle, finely diced
- 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
- ½ small avocado, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large tomatoes, or enough for 6 thick slices
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Drain the tuna and add to a large bowl along with the mayo, chopped avocado, chopped dill pickle and lemon juice.
- Mix everything together with a fork, mashing the avocado as you mix, until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Place oven rack in the top third of oven (2nd rack from the top). Preheat broiler to high.
- Slice the tomatoes into 6 thick slices. Place on a foil or parchment lined tray. If your broiler tends to get very hot use foil instead of parchment paper.
- Scoop tuna onto tomato slices and top with grated cheese.
- Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from oven, top with fresh parsley and serve.