This Air Fryer Tuna Melt can be made with your fave tuna salad or my quick no-chop recipe! Either way, it makes a perfectly delicious, melty cheesy tuna sandwich you can cook in your air fryer in only 8 minutes!
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Tuna melts are pure greasy comfort food for me! Bring on the cheesy, bring on the tuna, bring on the bread and the mayo (I said it!). They’re even better when someone else makes you one… hint hint.
But the part I do not enjoy is standing over the stove, waiting for it to pre-heat, accidentally not melting the cheese all the way, and generally just not having my act together when it comes to stove-top grilled cheese and tuna melts.
That’s why I’m now all-in on air fryer sandwiches. I know the exact temp, exact time, and I get the same results with every sandwich, without standing at the stove continuously checking the doneness underneath.
If you’ve tried my Air Fryer Grilled Cheese, this is definitely the next level up! Now I just want a hot sandwich.
What are the ingredients in the Air Fryer Tuna Melt?
Ingredients for this delicious and cheesy tuna melt recipe are relatively easy and even customizable! Here’s what we’ve got:
- bread – Lately, I’ve been into Dave’s Killer Bread, the White Done Right version. You can use any bread, but aim for the larger size rather than smaller, so all of your tuna salad fits!
- mayonnaise or butter – When making grilled cheese or tuna melts, you can use either butter or mayonnaise on the outside of the bread. I’m in the camp of “use whatever works better for you”. I prefer mayo here because chances are I’ll probably already have it out for the tuna salad. And it’s always easy to spread on!
- cheddar cheese – Slice your own or use store-bought, and really you can use any cheese you want but cheddar just looks good on a tuna melt! I also tend to prefer pre-sliced cheese for this because it’s a little more even than I can cut cheese 🥴
- tuna salad – For these tuna melts, I’ve included my new favorite tuna salad recipe (also has its own post here). However, you can definitely use your own tuna salad. The important part is to only use 1/2 cup tuna salad max per sandwich! Otherwise you’ll have some overflow. We don’t like overflow here.
How do you make this Air Fryer Tuna Melt?
This is a simple recipe that just takes a couple specific steps to get right! Basically, make sure you put the bread in the air fryer the correct way. I’ll explain later!
Make sure you’ve already got your tuna salad made. If not, head over to my No-Chop Tuna Salad recipe page and make a batch! This recipe makes enough for three sandwiches, or tuna melts if that’s your thing!
First, slather one side of bread with your mayo or butter. Stick that piece of bread into the air fryer, MAYO SIDE DOWN. This mayo side goes directly into the air fryer basket – this is what browns the bread on the outside!
Next, put your cheese slices on the bread, taking care that the cheese doesn’t go over the edges of the bread. Any cheese hanging off the edge will melt off the sides. Keep it on the bread!
Finally, add your 1/2 cup scoop of tuna salad and use a spoon to push it out to each edge of the bread.
Once it looks good, take your last piece of bread and coat one side in mayonnaise, just like the other side. Add that piece of bread to the top of the sandwich, MAYO SIDE UP. This is how we get crispy golden brown bread!
Now, your sandwich is ready for air fryer. Shut the air fryer basket and set it to air fry at 370F for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
It’s done when you see melty cheese and golden brown edges to your preference!
Can I use any kind of tuna salad for the Air Fryer Tuna Melt?
Yes! You can use any kind of tuna salad you prefer. If you don’t have a favorite recipe, I’ve included my super No-Chop Tuna Salad recipe. Here are a couple more ideas:
- Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps – This tuna salad has a few more veggies but is still pretty classic!
- Tuna Melt Pita Sandwiches – This tuna salad also has a few more veggies but uses only one can of tuna. Easy classic if you want some fresh onion and celery in there.
- Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad – Totally not classic at all and uses Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Only try this one as a tuna melt if you’re feeling wild!
What kind of tuna do you use?
I prefer to use sustainably caught wild albacore tuna packed in water. My favorite brand is Wild Planet which I get at Costco!
Testing notes for Air Fryer Tuna Melts:
Here are some things I noted while testing this recipe:
- If you like a little more golden color on your tuna melt, cook at 380F. If you like it lighter color like me, cook at 370F.
- You can use either melted/room temperature butter or mayonnaise for the outside of the sandwiches. Mayo is easier for me to use but of course butter does give a more ‘buttery’ taste.
- I have only tested this recipe using a basket style air fryer.
How do you meal prep these Tuna Melt sandwiches?
I would meal prep these tuna melt sandwiches by just preparing my favorite tuna salad recipe and storing it in the fridge for up to 3 days max.
If you already have some tuna salad ready, these tuna melt sandwiches only take 10 minutes!
What should you serve with these Air Fryer Tuna Melts?
I like to serve tuna melts with something light or even simply eat them on their own. A side caesar salad or cup of soup sounds totally cliche but very nice!
Alternative customization ideas:
Here are some ways you can customize this recipe:
- Add some fresh sliced tomato to your tuna melt!
- Change up the cheese, try something spicy or sharp
- Use your favorite tuna salad recipe instead of mine!
What kind of air fryer do you recommend?
The air fryer I have currently, and the one that is pictured in this post is the Cosori XL 5.8 qt Air Fryer . If you’re going to invest in an air fryer to cook things for 2 or more people, you should opt for a larger size like this one, in my opinion!
I previously had a slightly smaller Philips Air Fryer with a metal grate basket which I liked, but I prefer the larger Cosori model with the nonstick coated basket.
If you have the basket model of air fryers, I would recommend making only one sandwich at a time, or it gets a little bit hard to flip them. If you have the tray version, you may be able to fit 2 sandwiches, depending on the size.
Is this recipe freezer-friendly?
No, I would not recommend freezing this recipe.
How to store, freeze & reheat:
To store: Store prepared tuna salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I would recommend only assembling and air frying sandwiches as you plan to eat them. Make tuna salad ahead for quick tuna melts in 10 minutes.
To freeze: I would not recommend freezing this recipe!
To reheat: I would recommend only assembling and air frying sandwiches as you plan to eat them. Make tuna salad ahead for quick tuna melts in 10 minutes.
This Air Fryer Tuna Melt can be made with your fave tuna salad or my quick no-chop recipe! Either way, it makes a delicious, cheddar cheesy, melty sandwich you can cook in your air fryer in only 8 minutes!
For No-Chop Tuna Salad (3 servings):
- 2 (5-ounce) cans of tuna fish packed in water, drained
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use avocado oil mayo)
- 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- (optional) 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
For Air Fryer Tuna Melt (per sandwich):
- 2 slices sandwich bread
- 1–2 tablespoons mayonnaise or room temperature butter
- 1 1/2–2 slices cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup tuna salad (from above or your fave!)
- Make tuna salad: Add all tuna salad ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. More details and full recipe for Lazy No-Chop Tuna Salad here! You can also use your own tuna salad recipe.
- Assemble sandwich: First, cover one side of bread with the mayo or room temp butter. Place that piece of bread into the air fryer, mayo side down. Next, put the cheese slices on the bread, taking care that the cheese doesn’t go over the edges of the bread. Add 1/2 cup of tuna salad on top of the cheese and use a spoon to push it out to each edge of the bread. Finally, take the last pieces of bread and coat one side in mayonnaise, just like the other side. Add that piece of bread to the top of the sandwich, mayo side up.
- Cook & serve: Shut the air fryer basket and set the air fryer to cook at 370F for 8 minutes, flipping the sandwich halfway through. The tuna melt is done when you see melty cheese and golden brown edges to your preference! Remove from air fryer and cut in half on a cutting board. Repeat for as many tuna melts as you need. I recommend cooking only one tuna melt at a time if you’re using the basket style air fryer.
Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 637
- Fat: 34g
- Carbohydrates: 43g
- Protein: 33g
Keywords: tuna melt, sandwich, tuna fish, air fryer recipe, air fryer, cheese, lunch, main dish
Did you make this Air Fryer Tuna Melt? I want to see how it turned out! Tag me in your social media post and use #projectmealplan when you share!