Toona Melt


You will notice that this recipe results in an open-faced melt, and not a closed one. I am telling you, I made A LOT of melts during this journey, some of which were open and others of which were closed. Ultimately, the open faced versions felt like they better celebrated the innards of the sandwich which can only be a good thing when the tuna salad itself is this delicious. If you are absolutely hell bent on closing this thing up, be my guest. You won't need to broil it at the end since you'll cook both sides of the sandwich in the non stick skillet and the cheese inside will melt as you do so.

Active Time: 30 Mins

Total Time: 30 min



  • 1 small red onion or 1 medium shallot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ½ cup dill leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 medium ripe tomato


  • 2 5-ounce ounce cans oil-packed tuna
  • 4 baby dill pickles
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle brine
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices rye bread


  • 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese

1. Do some prep:

  • Finely chop ½ small red onion. Reserve the other half for another use.
  • Cut two celery stalks lengthwise into ¼” thick strips. Finely chop the celery.
  • Cut 4 baby dill pickles lengthwise into ¼” thick planks. Set half of the planks aside for layering on the melt. Finely chop the remaining planks.
  • Chop ½ cup dill leaves. Combine the shallots, celery, pickles and dill in a medium bowl.
  • Thinly slice 1 medium tomato crosswise.

2. Make the tuna salad:

  • Stir in ⅓ cup mayonnaise, 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp dill pickle brine, and 1 tablespoon hot sauce, adding more as needed until it has a discernible kick.
  • Crack open two 5-ounce cans of oil packed tuna. Drain any excess oil.
  • Add the tuna. Use a fork to flake it apart, and then vigorously stir the tuna salad to encourage the tuna to break down into smaller pieces and become one with the remaining ingredients. Season the salad well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Assemble the melts:

  • Thinly slice 6 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese. If you’re not confident in your knife skills, you could always use a vegetable peeler to make nice thin shards.
  • Evenly divide 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise among 2 slices of rye bread, spreading it evenly on one side of each slice only. Arrange the bread mayo-side down in a large skillet (preferably non-stick).
  • Layer half of the cheese onto each slice of bread.
  • Spread a heaping scoop of tuna salad evenly over the cheese.
  • Arrange the pickles and tomatoes on top of the tuna, followed by the remaining sliced cheddar in an even layer.

4. Melt the melts!

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Set the skillet over medium heat (starting from cold, with assembled sandwiches already in the skillet). Once you begin to see some sizzling around the edges of the bread, cover the skillet to allow some steam to trap inside the skillet which will help to melt the cheese.
  • Once the bottom of the bread is golden brown and very crisp (take a peek!) transfer the skillets to the broiler to melt the cheese, keeping a close eye on things as this can go very quickly! (If you're not confident that your skillet belongs under the broiler, you can always transfer the melts to a baking sheet for this part.
  • Transfer the melts to plates, and finish each with more dill, freshly ground black pepper and lots of napkins.

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