Air Fryer Tuna Melt Recipe: Say Goodbye to Bland Lunches!

Tuna melts are a classic sandwich for a reason. They’re easy to make, delicious, and budget friendly as well! You can enjoy them open faced or like a traditional sandwich, and adjust the fillings as you like. This air fryer tuna melt is the perfect mix of toasty, warm, and convenient!

air fryer tuna melt recipe dinners done quick

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Making an air fryer tuna melt is my favorite preparation method. You get nicely toasted bread, hot filling, and melted cheese all from one appliance.

Cooking time is under 10 minutes, making this tasty sandwich perfect for a quick and easy lunch! You can even prep your tuna salad ahead of time to cut down on assembly.

I love that I almost always have the ingredients to make this in my pantry. Plus, even if you don’t, the recipe is easily adaptable to whatever you do have on hand!

holding up a half of an air fried tuna melt sandwich

For more great ideas with what to do with a can of tuna, make sure to check out my Best Canned Tuna Air Fryer Recipes to try out.

What You’ll Need: Ingredients

ingredients to make air fryer tuna melt

For the Tuna Salad

  • 2 cans (5 oz) tuna, drained (Albacore in water preferred)
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion (white or yellow)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp dill relish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or more to taste)
  • ½ tsp hot sauce (optional)

For the Tuna Melt Sandwich

  • 2 slices bread (or 4 if not open faced)
  • 2-3 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter or mayonnaise
  • 4 slices tomato (optional)

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • If preferred, you can swap 1 tsp onion powder for the diced onion
  • Any kind of mayonnaise is fine – I use olive oil mayo
  • You can swap Dijon mustard in for the lemon juice if you’d like
  • Any bread you like is fine (mine is honey wheat). I recommend sourdough, rye, wheat, or white (but others work fine too). You can also use a bagel or an English muffin!
  • For a sandwich (not open faced), double the amount of bread
  • You can swap the cheddar cheese for another, such as swiss, provolone, or any other mild cheese you like

How to Make a Tuna Melt in an Air Fryer

  1. Combine all ingredients for tuna salad together and mix well (this can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator)
mix ingredients to make tuna salad in a bowl
  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
  2. Spread the softened butter or mayo on one side of each of the bread pieces
butter one of the bread sides
  1. Place the butter side face down, then spread about ¼ cup of tuna salad evenly across the slice of bread
spread tuna over a slice of bread
  1. Add the sliced tomatoes (optional)
top tuna with tomato slices
  1. Cover the tuna with 1-1 ½ slices of cheddar cheese (make sure not to overhang the edges of the bread, so the amount will vary based on the slice size). Give it a little press so the cheese sticks to the tuna
add a slice of cheese over top of the tomatoes
  1. If you want to make a sandwich instead of open faced, add a second piece of bread to the top (butter facing up)
to make a sandwich add another slice of buttered bread
  1. Place your tuna melt into the preheated air fryer basket
place tuna melt in air fryer basket
  1. Cook on the air fry setting for 5-7 minutes at 350°F, or until tuna salad is warmed through and cheese is melted and browned (for a full sandwich, flip halfway through cooking)
  2. Serve with chips or your favorite sides!
overhead view of open face air fryer tuna melt on a plate with chips

What to Serve With a Tuna Melt

  • Potato chips
  • Onion rings
  • French fries
  • Macaroni salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Mac and cheese
  • Potato salad
  • Au gratin potatoes
  • Hashbrown casserole
  • Coleslaw
  • Fried zucchini
  • Pickles
  • Soup

There are a variety of great sides to serve with your tuna melts!

Try air fryer tuna melts with my homemade Air Fryer Roasted Tomato Soup, creamy Air Fryer Potato Salad, quick Frozen Onion Rings in the Air Fryer, golden brown Air Fryer Arby’s Curly Fries, or some crunchy Ninja Air Fryer Potato Chips.

Recipe FAQs

Can You Make a Tuna Melt in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can make a tuna melt in an air fryer. It works for both open faced and sandwich style melts.

The air fryer toasts the bread, warms the filling, and melts the cheese perfectly.

What’s the Difference Between a Tuna Sandwich and a Tuna Melt?

A tuna sandwich is typically cold tuna salad between two slices of bread, whereas a tuna melt has toasted bread, heated filling, and melted cheese added.

That said, a melt is still typically considered a form of tuna sandwich, but not all tuna sandwiches are melts.

Why is My Tuna Melt Soggy?

If your tuna melt is soggy, it indicates the presence of too much moisture. Make sure to drain canned tuna well before using it.

When adding things like relish, you can drain that as well to reduce moisture in the mix.

What Can I Use in a Tuna Melt Instead of Mayo?

You can use Greek yogurt, sour cream, mustard, hummus, or mashed avocado instead of mayo.

Each has a slightly different flavor profile, so choose whichever you’d like best.

What Kind of Bread is Best For Tuna Melts?

Sourdough, thick sliced white or wheat, Rye, Ciabatta, bagels, and English muffins are some of the best breads for tuna melts.

However, you can use nearly any sliced bread that you like.

What Canned Tuna is Best for Tuna Melts?

The best canned tuna for tuna melts is generally water packed. Solid pack is easier to drain, but you can use others as well.

Oil packed has more fish flavor, and can make your sandwich soggier as it’s harder to drain, plus you’re adding fat for the sandwich already.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • If you don’t like hot tomatoes, you can add the tomato to the sandwich after it finishes cooking
  • Some air fryers are powerful enough to lift the sliced cheese up off the sandwich during cooking. You can place it under the tuna salad, or put the tomatoes on top to prevent this, but whatever is on top will get the most browned
  • This filling recipe is enough for 4 sandwiches in total, so you can halve it if you’re making less, or store the extra for later use
  • My tuna melts were perfectly browned at about the 6 minute mark for the open faced version, and I let the sandwich go to about 8 minutes total for a browner exterior. This is based on a Ninja Dual Zone air fryer, so others may vary slightly
open face air fryer tuna melt on a plate with chips and a half sandwich on top

Storage and Reheating

  • A tuna melt is best enjoyed fresh. However, tuna salad keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can prepare the filling and then just make an individual sandwich when you want one
  • If you do want to reheat a tuna melt, do so within 24 hours. Cut the sandwich in half and air fry for 3-5 minutes at 350°F, or microwave for about 1 minute (though it won’t be crispy), until the filling is warmed through

More Air Fryer Sandwiches to Try

Final Thoughts

This air fryer tuna melt is everything you love about the classic sandwich, made even easier thanks to your air fryer. It’s much faster than the oven or toaster oven, and requires less tending than the stove.

You can have a hot, melty, delicious sandwich ready in under 10 minutes! These sandwiches are convenient for lunch, but could even be dinner if you pair them with some sides.

For another great tuna dinner option, make sure to check out my Air Fryer Tuna Casserole for a new spin on a comfort food favorite.

air fryer tuna melt recipe dinners done quick

Easy Air Fryer Tuna Melt (Open Faced or Sandwich)

These easy air fryer tuna melts will be your new favorite way to make the classic sandwich. Enjoy them open face or sandwiched for lunch or dinner!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 483 kcal

Equipment

  • Butter knife
  • Spoon or spatula (for mixing)
  • Spatula (for flipping and removal)

Ingredients
  

Tuna Salad

  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna, drained (Albacore in water preferred)
  • 2 Tbsp onion, finely diced (white or yellow)
  • ½ Tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp dill relish
  • 1 Tsp lemon juice
  • ½ Tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ½ Tsp black pepper (or more to taste)
  • ½ Tsp hot sauce (optional)

For Tuna Melts

  • 2 Slices bread (or 4 if not open faced)
  • 2-3 Slices cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter or mayonnaise
  • 4 ¼" Thick slices of tomato (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients for tuna salad together and mix well (this can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, or you can also use a premade salad instead)
    2 5-ounce cans tuna, drained, 2 Tbsp onion, finely diced, ½ Tsp garlic powder, ¼ Cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp dill relish, 1 Tsp lemon juice, ½ Tsp salt, ½ Tsp black pepper, ½ Tsp hot sauce
  • Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
  • Spread the softened butter or mayo on one side of each of the bread pieces
    2 Slices bread, 1 Tbsp softened butter or mayonnaise
  • Place the butter side face down, then spread about ¼ cup of tuna salad evenly across the slice of bread
  • Add the sliced tomatoes (optional)
    4 ¼" Thick slices of tomato
  • Cover the tuna with 1-1 ½ slices of cheddar cheese (make sure not to overhang the edges of the bread, so the amount will vary based on the slice size). Give it a little press so the cheese sticks to the tuna
    2-3 Slices cheddar cheese
  • If you want to make a sandwich instead of open faced, add a second piece of bread to the top (butter facing up)
  • Place your tuna melt into the preheated air fryer basket
  • Cook on the air fry setting for 5-7 minutes at 350°F, or until tuna salad is warmed through and cheese is melted and browned (for a full sandwich, flip halfway through cooking using a spatula)
  • Serve with chips or your favorite sides!

Notes

  • If preferred, you can swap 1 tsp onion powder for the diced onion
  • Any kind of mayonnaise is fine – I use olive oil mayo
  • You can swap Dijon mustard in for the lemon juice if you’d like
  • Any bread you like is fine (mine is honey wheat). I recommend sourdough, rye, wheat, or white (but others work fine too). You can also use a bagel or an English muffin!
  • For a sandwich (not open faced), double the amount of bread
  • You can swap the cheddar cheese for another, such as swiss, provolone, or any other mild cheese you like
  • If you don’t like hot tomatoes, you can add the tomato to the sandwich after it finishes cooking
  • Some air fryers are powerful enough to lift the sliced cheese up off the sandwich during cooking. You can place it under the tuna salad instead, or put the tomatoes on top to prevent this, but note that whatever is on top will get the most browned
  • This filling recipe is enough for 4 sandwiches in total, so you can halve it if you’re making less, or store the extra for later use
  • My tuna melts were perfectly browned at about the 6 minute mark for the open faced version, and I let the sandwich go to about 8 minutes total for a browner exterior. This is based on a Ninja Dual Zone air fryer, so others may vary slightly
  • A tuna melt is best enjoyed fresh. However, tuna salad keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can prepare the filling and then just make an individual sandwich when you want one
  • If you do want to reheat a tuna melt, do so within 24 hours. Cut the sandwich in half and air fry for 3-5 minutes at 350°F, or microwave for about 1 minute (though it won’t be crispy), until the filling is warmed through
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and flavor of ingredients, swaps, sides added, and quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 219gCalories: 483kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 30gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 1159mgPotassium: 189mgFiber: 1.8gSugar: 3.3gVitamin A: 694IUVitamin C: 7.2mgCalcium: 344mgIron: 2.2mg
Keyword air fryer tuna melt, air fryer tuna melt recipe, air fryer tuna melt sandwich, air fryer tuna melts, canned tuna air fryer recipes, easy air fryer tuna melt, ninja air fryer tuna melt, open faced sandwich in air fryer, open faced tuna melt in air fryer, tuna melt
Tried this recipe?Mention @TheDinnersDoneQuick or tag #dinnersdonequick!
air fryer tuna melt recipe dinners done quick pinterest
Katie Vine