Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (2024)

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This is the kind of tuna melt you're likely to be served in a Jewish deli, where rye bread, Swiss cheese, and a dill-and-pickle tuna salad are kings.


Daniel Gritzer

Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (1)

Daniel Gritzer

Senior Culinary Director

Daniel joined the Serious Eats culinary team in 2014 and writes recipes, equipment reviews, articles on cooking techniques. Prior to that he was a food editor at Food & Wine magazine, and the staff writer for Time Out New York's restaurant and bars section.

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Updated May 07, 2020

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Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (2)

Why It Works

  • Brushing the bread with oil or butter ensures it's evenly coated for proper griddling without accidentally saturating it with pools of grease in the pan.
  • Adding extra mayo plus panko bread crumbs to the tuna salad creates a texture that is moist and light and fluffy, but not runny.
  • Toasting both sides of each bread slice ensures maximum flavor and textural contrast.

Inspired by the tuna salads found at Jewish delis, this tuna melt is built on sliced sandwich rye bread, draped with layers of melted Swiss cheese, with a tuna salad that's loaded with fresh dill, red onion, celery, and sweet relish.

If you're in the mood for something simpler, give our all-American diner-style tuna melt a short. Feel like going crazier? This fully loaded tuna melt with pickled peppers, avocado, bacon, and more may be for you.

Tips for Making the Best Tuna Melt

Recipe Details

Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe

Active15 mins

Total15 mins

Serves2 servings


  • One 5-ounce (142g) canned oil- or water-packed tuna, drained well

  • 1/2 cup (120g) mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's (see note)

  • 2 tablespoons (10g) panko bread crumbs (optional; see note)

  • 2 tablespoons (20g) minced red onion

  • 1 tablespoon (5g) mincedfresh dill

  • 1 tablespoon (20g) drainedsweet relish

  • 1/2 rib celery (30g), very finely diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon (5g)coarse ground mustard

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Four 1/2-inch-thick slices rye sandwich bread

  • Vegetable oil, clarified butter, and/or melted butter, for brushing the bread

  • 4 slices Swiss cheese


  1. Adjust oven to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a small mixing bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, panko (if using), red onion, dill, sweet relish, celery, and mustard. Stir, mashing very well with a fork or stiff spatula, until almost no flakes of tuna remain. Season with salt and pepper.

    Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (3)

  2. Using a pastry brush, lightly but evenly brush both sides of each slice of bread with oil, clarified butter, or melted butter. In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, or using a griddle, toast bread slices on first side over medium heat until nicely browned and crisp, about 3 minutes; using a cooking weight or spatula, gently press down on bread slices while toasting to ensure even heating and browning.

  3. Flip bread and lay one slice of cheese on top of each bread slice. Mound tuna salad on top of 2 of the bread slices, spreading it in an even layer. Close sandwiches, placing top bread slices cheese side down, and continue to cook until bottom of sandwich is well toasted; press down gently on sandwich with cooking weights or a spatula to ensure even heating and browning.

    Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (4)

  4. Flip tuna melt and cook until second side is well toasted. If cheese at this point isn't melted enough, transfer sandwiches to a baking sheet and heat in oven until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Special equipment

Large (12-inch) cast iron pan, nonstick skillet, or a griddle


We don't often specify brands, but in this classic tuna melt, Hellmann's adds its signature flavor. Feel free to use another preferred brand or homemade if you prefer.

Panko helps make a tuna salad that's light and fluffy and moist without being runny. If you don't have it, do not substitute with another type of bread crumb as they will be too dense. Instead, reduce the mayonnaise from 1/2 cup (120g) to 6 tablespoons (90g).

For the fat to toast the bread, a neutral vegetable oil will make very crisp toasts but won't add any flavor; clarified butter will also make very crisp bread with a buttery flavor; melted butter will add buttery flavor too, but its water content will impede crisping slightly. You can use any three by themselves, or toast with oil for maximum crispness and then lightly brush with melted butter for just a bit of that rich dairy flavor.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The tuna salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight.

This Recipe Appears In

  • The Tuna Melt Manifesto: 7 Ways to Improve Your Melt
  • American
  • Stovetop
  • Cheese
  • Tuna
  • Celery
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
75g Fat
47g Carbs
40g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 75g96%
Saturated Fat 23g116%
Cholesterol 127mg42%
Sodium 1701mg74%
Total Carbohydrate 47g17%
Dietary Fiber 5g17%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 40g
Vitamin C 4mg20%
Calcium 604mg46%
Iron 4mg21%
Potassium 436mg9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Jewish Deli–Style Tuna Melt With Relish, Dill, Celery, and Swiss Recipe (2024)
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