Chipotle Tuna Melt recipe
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There may not be one single best way to make a tuna melt, but there is definitely a wrong way. To help you avoid disaster, here are the keys to tuna melt perfection.

Like the little girl with the little curl, when a tuna melt is good, it is very good indeed. There’s a reason the grilled cheese-on-steroids is a diner classic. 

But when the sandwich is bad, it’s horrid. Exhibit A: This microwaved monstrosity from Senator Mark Warner (D) which needs to be quarantined forever:

To be clear, the letter by his name refers to the grade for his cooking skills. 

Related Reading: This Tuna Noodle Salad Isn’t Your Grandma’s Casserole

If you want your recipe to go viral for all the right reasons, follow these steps for tuna melt perfection:

The Tuna

Let’s start with the main attraction. If you buy the good stuff, there can never be too much of it. Sustainably caught, oil-packed tuna will dispel any notion that canned fish is unappetizing. 

While you will sacrifice on flavor, garden variety water-packed canned tuna is just fine. (It’s also healthier and more affordable.)

Wild Planet Tuna, $7.96 on Amazon

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The Salad

deli style tuna salad recipe


First of all, drain your tuna. The only thing worse than mushy bread is mushy bread that tastes fishy.

Place a sieve over a small bowl and gently press the tuna with a fork or spoon to release the juices, then blend with your preferred add-ons.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, your grandma’s go-to slapdash ingredients were likely salt, pepper, a dollop of mayo and some sweet pickle relish. But if you’ve got Old Bay seasoning, here’s a great opportunity to use it. Fresh or dried tarragon also works wonders with tuna, and minced celery always adds nice crunch. Take it to the next level with our Grown-Up Tuna Salad recipe

Related Reading12 Tuna Salad Recipes You Never Found in Your Lunchbox

The Bread

The tang of sourdough is an excellent pairing with a tuna salad, but any slice of bread will do if it’s browned in a buttered saucepan. (Though it will save time, avoid using the microwave.)

Related Reading: How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

The Melting

tuna melt recipe


Gruyere is great for an elevated melt, but you can’t go wrong with a blend of jack and cheddar if you’re keeping things classic. Want to amp up the heat? This spicy chipotle version is straight fire. 

As for the method, the cooking tips outlined in our 7 Rules for Making Amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwiches apply equally to tuna melts.

Next Level: Think Beyond the Bread

Tuna Melta Potato Skins recipe


Generally, the remix isn’t as good as the original but Tuna Melt Potato Skins may be the exception to that rule. Take it back to the old school with a Tuna Noodle Casserole

Whatever route you choose to take, just remember, and we can’t emphasize this enough: DO. NOT. USE. THE. MICROWAVE!

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David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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