Here’s a fantastic and easy air fryer tuna melt recipe for you to enjoy all week long! It’s so quick and simple to make a classic tuna melt in air fryer. Make a batch of tuna salad, then all you need is a slice of bread and some cheese. Within minutes you can enjoy a tuna sandwich that tastes like it’s grilled but instead, it’s air fried.

tuna melt in air fryer basket

Air Fryer Tuna Melt

This recipe is simple and inspired from our popular classic grilled cheese in the air fryer and air fried ham and cheese melt. We make an awesome tuna salad that we love eating in a regular sandwich or in a green salad. Taking that same tuna salad mix, we just add it to a sandwich with cheese and melt it in the air fryer. The hot circulating air for the air fryer makes the bread crispy and melts the cheese perfectly.

Can You Use Just Plain Tuna?

Yes, you can just use tuna straight from the can if you want. Use any variation of the canned tuna or even your own personal tuna mix. Any tuna will work for the grilled cheese as long as you have a great melting cheese. You can use yellowfin tuna or albacore tuna. Either types are great for this tuna melt.

plated air fryer tuna melt sandwich

Best Types of Bread for Air Frying Tuna Melts?

We like using simple sliced sandwich bread or thin sliced loaf bread. These will air fry nice and crisp and won’t get too hard or dry. Slices of brioche style bread is great too because the crumb is soft and tender. Spread some butter on these breads and they’ll air fry to a wonderful crisp and the cheese will stick great to them as well.

Video: Air Fryer Tuna Melts

What Types of Cheese Are Best?

We like simple cheese that melt well. Slices of american cheese, swiss cheese, colby jack and cheddar cheese are good examples of cheese that are great for melts and grilled cheese sandwiches. We also like slices of gouda cheese for great smoked flavors. Gouda doesn’t melt as well but consider adding two slices of cheese. One that melts well and one that gives great flavor like gouda or smoked aged cheddar.

Tips on How to Air Fry Tuna Melt Sandwiches:

  • If you made a tuna salad or tuna mix that was in the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature first. If the tuna mix is cold, it might not warm up quick enough in the air fryer. This whole air frying technique is really quick and fast enough to melt the cheese and crisp the bread, but not long enough to make the tuna warm.
  • Using tuna straight from the can is fine too. Just make sure to add some seasoning like a little salt, pepper, garlic powder or onion powder to give some extra delicious flavor.
  • We like to use softened butter on the outside of the bread. If you want to use a light brush of coconut oil, olive oil or mayo, that works too!
  • Add your favorite filings for melts like slices of tomato or even pickles.
  • All air fryer tuna melt recipe details are in the recipe box below.
plated air fryer tuna melt sandwich

Air Fryer Tuna Melt

Canned tuna fish varies in texture. Some are chunkier and some are more mushy so add the amount of mayo to your preferred taste.
Different breads will brown quicker than others. Some air fryers will cook faster than others. Adjust timing as needed to your liking.
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For the Tuna Filling:

  • 10 oz. (284 g) canned tuna , drained
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) mayo (or more depending on how creamy you want it to be)
  • 1 stalk celery , minced
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) sweet relish or diced dill pickles
  • 2 Tablespoon (30 ml) minced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) mustard
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) minced parsley
  • salt , to taste
  • black pepper , to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) optional dried dill (or 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) minced fresh dill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) optional hot sauce or Sriracha sauce
  • (optional) freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

For the Sandwich:

  • 3 Tablespoons (45 g) Butter , softened
  • 4-6 slices Bread
  • 3 slices American cheese , Swiss cheese or Cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
  • 3 slices Tomato slices (optional)
  • Pickles (optional)



  • Make Tuna Filling: Drain the oil or water from the tuna. Add drained tuna to bowl and gently break up large chunks.
    Tuna filling ingredients in bowls
  • Add mayonnaise, celery, relish or pickles, red onion, mustard, parsley, salt, pepper and/or optional dill, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Gently stir everything together.
    Tuna filling mixed together
  • Assemble Sandwich: Place slice of cheese on bread, then add some tuna and spread over the cheese. Optional: add tomato and/or pickles (these can also be served on the side after the sandwiches are cooked if you like).
  • Top with another slice of cheese and bread. Spread a layer of butter on the outside of the bread.
    Tuna melt assembled and buttered
  • Air Fry at 360°F/182°C for about 3-5 minutes for the cheese to melt. Carefully flip the sandwich.
    Turning the half cooked tuna melt
  • Increase heat to 380°F/193°C (finish and crisp the bread).  Air fry at 380°F/193°C for about 5 minutes or until the sandwich is to your preferred texture.
    Fully cooked tuna melt in the air fryer
  • Check on the sandwich often to make sure it doesn't burn (different breads will toast quicker or slower than others). Let the sandwich cool a bit. Cut in half if desired and enjoy asap!
    Fully cooked tuna melt on plate

If your air fryer is preheated or if you are cooking multiple batches, you may need to reduce timing by a few minutes (unless preheating is called for in the recipe).


YouTube video

Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 512kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 1072mg, Potassium: 308mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 813IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 297mg, Iron: 3mg
halved tuna melt sandwich in air fryer basket

Grilled Tuna Cheese Sandwich Filling Ideas

There’s so many possibilities for making air fried tuna melts delicious. Here’s some awesome takes on taking your tuna melt to a new level of flavor.

  • thin slices of tomato
  • how about adding some slices of avocado? YUM!
  • add extra slices of cheese especially when it comes to different flavors of cheeses
  • sautee some spinach or kale leaves to add to the sandwich
  • thin slices of pickles like dill pickles, bread and butter sweet pickles or pickled onions
  • slices of apple
  • chopped sun dried tomato

What side dishes to serve with air fried tuna melts?

They’re great on their own but if you want to make a more complete meal out of a tuna melt, here’s some serving suggestions.

  • serve them with a nice salad
  • a bowl of tomato soup or any type of soup is great
  • air fryer vegetables are fantastic to serve
  • If you’re wanting a hearty meal, serve the sandwich with a side of mac and cheese or pasta dish