This Air Fryer Tuna Melt recipe is comfort food at its finest. Made with albacore tuna, onions, mayonnaise, celery, bread, and sliced cheese!
This is one of the best recipes for a quick lunch or snack, and perfect for meal prep.
What Is A Tuna Melt?
A Tuna Melt is a classic sandwich consisting of a filling made from canned tuna fish, mixed with mayonnaise, and often seasoned with ingredients like celery, onions, pickles, or herbs for added flavor and texture. This tuna mixture is then placed between slices of bread, along with cheese, and grilled or toasted until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted, creating a warm and savory sandwich.
“Tuna Melt” comes from the melting cheese on the tuna salad. It’s a popular comfort food known for its delicious combination of creamy tuna salad and gooey melted cheese. Tuna Melts are typically served hot, making them a satisfying and hearty meal option, perfect for lunch or a quick dinner. They can be made using various types of bread, and the choice of cheese and additional toppings can vary to suit individual preferences.
The kids went nuts over it; they loved it better than my Air Fryer Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (and they love that)!!
Ingredients Needed For Easy Air Fryer Tuna Melt
These simple ingredients come together to create a mouthwatering Easy Air Fryer Tuna Melt, a warm and savory sandwich that’s perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.
Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed instructions are below in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutrition info.
- Canned Tuna: You’ll require canned tuna, preferably in water, which you’ll drain before using. It forms the hearty base of the filling.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise adds creaminess and binds the tuna salad together. Use your favorite brand of light mayonnaise, or make homemade mayo for a personalized touch.
- Celery: Finely diced celery adds a fresh crunch to the tuna salad, providing a nice contrast in texture.
- Red Onion: Minced red onion adds a mild and slightly sweet onion flavor that complements the tuna perfectly.
- Dijon Mustard: A touch of Dijon mustard brings a subtle tanginess and depth of flavor to the tuna salad.
- Relish: Sweet or dill pickle relish enhances the flavor profile with its slightly sweet and tangy notes.
- Black Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper adds a hint of spice and depth of flavor to the tuna mixture.
- Bread Slices: You’ll need your choice of bread slices to build the sandwich. Good choices include white, English muffin, whole wheat, sourdough, or rye bread.
- Butter: Butter is used to spread on the outer sides of the bread slices to ensure a crispy and golden-brown exterior.
- Sliced Cheese: Choose your favorite cheese, such as cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, Swiss, American, or provolone, for that irresistible melted goodness on top of the tuna salad.
- Optional Toppings: Customize your Tuna Melt with optional toppings like sliced tomatoes, lettuce, or additional condiments like mayonnaise or hot sauce to suit your taste.
How To Make Air Fryer Tuna Melt
These Air Fryer Traditional Tuna Melts are a warm and comforting treat, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Feel free to customize them with your favorite cheese and toppings for a personalized twist on this classic sandwich.
Prepare the Tuna Salad: In a medium bowl, combine the drained canned tuna, mayonnaise, diced celery, minced red onion, Dijon mustard, pickle relish, and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are combined, and the tuna salad is creamy.
Butter the Bread: Take each slice of bread and spread a thin layer of butter on one side. This will help the bread become crispy and golden when air-fried.
Assemble the Sandwiches: Lay two slices of bread, buttered side down. Divide the tuna salad evenly between these slices, spreading it to the edges. If desired, add any optional toppings like sliced tomatoes or lettuce.
Add Cheese: Add slice of cheese on top of the tuna salad, ensuring it covers the entire surface.
Top with Bread: Take the remaining two slices of bread and place them on top of the cheese, buttered side facing out. For an open-faced sandwich, you can skip this instruction.
Air Fry: Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C) for 2-3 minutes. Once heated, carefully place the assembled sandwiches in the air fryer basket or on the air fryer tray, ensuring they are in a single layer and not overcrowded.
Air Fry the Tuna Melts: Cook the sandwiches at 350°F (175°C); set cooking time for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Depending on your air fryer model and the thickness of your bread, cooking times may vary, so keep an eye on them.
Serve: Once the Tuna Melts are nicely browned, and the cheese is gooey, carefully remove them from the air fryer. Let them cool for a minute or two before slicing them diagonally if desired.
Elevate your traditional Air Fryer Tuna Melt with these creative recipe variations:
- Spicy Tuna Melt: Add a kick by mixing some Sriracha or hot sauce into the tuna salad before assembling the sandwich. Top it off with pepper jack cheese for an extra spicy punch.
- Avocado Bliss: Slice some creamy avocado and place it on top of the tuna salad for a rich, buttery texture that pairs perfectly with the tuna.
- Bacon Lover’s Delight: Cook crispy bacon in your air fryer and add a few strips to your tuna melt. The combination of smoky bacon and melted cheese is irresistible.
- Sourdough Sensation: Swap out regular bread for slices of sourdough bread to add a tangy twist to your sandwich.
- Pesto Perfection: Spread a thin layer of basil pesto on the inside of the bread slices before assembling the sandwich—the aromatic pesto pairs beautifully with tuna and cheese.
- Tomato Basil Tuna Melt: Add a slice of fresh tomato and a few basil leaves to your sandwich for freshness and Italian-inspired flavor.
- Swiss and Mushroom: Sautéed mushrooms with a touch of garlic and thyme combined with Swiss cheese make for a gourmet and earthy tuna melt.
- Mediterranean Magic: Mix some chopped Kalamata olives, diced red bell peppers, and crumbled feta cheese into the tuna salad for a Mediterranean-inspired twist.
- Taco Tuna Melt: Season the tuna salad with taco seasoning and add shredded cheddar cheese. Top it with sliced jalapeños and a dollop of sour cream after cooking.
- Sweet and Savory: Drizzle honey or maple syrup on the tuna salad before assembling the sandwich for a sweet and savory contrast.
- Green Goddess: Layer your tuna salad with fresh spinach leaves, cucumber slices, and a drizzle of ranch dressing for a refreshing and crunchy texture.
Pro Tips For The Best Air Fyrer Perfect Tuna Melt
Achieve Tuna Melt perfection with these pro tips for using your air fryer:
You can add any good melting cheese to the classic tuna melt. We typically use colby jack, but regular cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, provolone, swiss, and American would all be great options too.
- Preheat for Crispiness: Preheat your air fryer for a few minutes before cooking. This ensures that the bread becomes crispy right from the start.
- Butter the Bread Evenly: When spreading butter on the bread, ensure it covers the entire surface, including the edges. This guarantees a uniform golden-brown crust.
- Layer Ingredients Strategically: Assemble the sandwich with care. Place the cheese slices next to the bread as a barrier, preventing the bread from becoming soggy from the tuna salad.
- Customize Your Condiments: Get creative with condiments. Experiment with different mustards, mayonnaises, or spreads to add unique flavors to your Tuna Melt.
- Watch Closely: Keep a close eye on your Tuna Melt while it’s in the air fryer. Cooking times can vary depending on your air fryer model and the thickness of your bread. Aim for a beautifully golden and crispy exterior.
- Flip for Even Cooking: If you notice that one side is browning faster than the other, flip the sandwich halfway through the cooking time to ensure both sides are evenly crisp.
- Don’t Overcrowd: If making multiple sandwiches, ensure they are in a single layer in the air fryer basket and not overcrowded. This allows for proper air circulation and even cooking.
- Rest Before Cutting: After removing the Tuna Melt from the air fryer, give it a minute or two to rest. This allows the cheese to set slightly, making it easier to cut without oozing out.
- Slice Diagonally: For that classic sandwich presentation, slice your Tuna Melt diagonally. It’s not just about aesthetics; it also makes it easier to handle and dip if desired.
- Serve Immediately: Enjoy your Tuna Melt while it’s hot and at its crispiest. These sandwiches are best enjoyed fresh out of the air fryer.
Can I use different types of cheese for my Tuna Melt?
Absolutely! You can use your favorite cheese or some kinds of cheese to use. Cheddar, Swiss, American, provolone, and pepper jack are popular choices. Experiment to find your perfect cheesy blend.
How do I prevent my Tuna Melt from becoming soggy?
To prevent sogginess, layer the cheese slices next to the bread. The cheese acts as a barrier, preventing the bread from absorbing moisture from the tuna salad. Also, make sure the tuna salad isn’t overly wet. Make sure to use drained tuna in this recipe and sturdy bread.
Can I use fresh tuna instead of canned tuna?
While canned tuna is commonly used for convenience, you can certainly use fresh tuna. Cook the fresh tuna and flake it into your tuna salad mixture.
What are some recommended sides to serve with Air Fryer Tuna Melt?
Classic side options include potato chips, coleslaw, a simple green salad, or a cup of tomato soup for a comforting combination.
Can I make Tuna Melts in advance and reheat them in the air fryer?
Tuna Melts are best enjoyed fresh for their crispy texture. However, you can assemble the sandwiches in advance and refrigerate them until you’re ready to air fry them for a quick meal. Place the sandwiches into an airtight container and then into the refrigerator. Avoid reheating already-cooked Tuna Melts, as they may become soggy.
Can I make Tuna Melts in a toaster oven or oven instead of an air fryer?
Yes, you can make Tuna Melts in a toaster oven or a conventional oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake the sandwiches for about 10-15 minutes or until they are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
How can I add some extra flavor to my Tuna Melt?
Get creative with condiments and seasonings. Add ingredients like sliced pickles, tomato slices, lemon juice, hot sauce, herbs, or spices to your tuna salad for unique flavor profiles.
Can I make a Tuna Melt without mayonnaise?
Yes, you can substitute mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or mashed avocado for a healthier twist. These alternatives provide creaminess and flavor while reducing the fat content.
More Air Fryer Sandwich Recipes
- AIR FRYER WEIGHT WATCHER GRILLED CHEESE
- AIR FRYER GRILLED CHEESE PIZZA SANDWICHES
- EASY AIR FRYER BLACKBERRY & GOAT CHEESE SANDWICHES
- AIR FRYER FRIED PASTRAMI SANDWICH
Air Fryer Tuna Melt
- 1 can albacore white tuna, drained
- 2 tablespoons onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 4 slices bread, sliced
- 2 slices cheese
- Start by draining the tuna, and then pour it into a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the onions.
- Add in the celery, and mayonnaise and mix well.
- Smear the tuna salad on top of the bread, then top with a slice of cheese. And then place it on an air fryer safe tray or in the air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 250 degrees F, for 4 minutes.
- Plate, serve and enjoy!
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray, optional
- Parchment Paper, optional