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This variation of a classic sandwich uses mayonnaise, but not where you think! Mayo is brushed on the outside of the sandwich in place of butter to make the sandwich golden and crispy as it heats in a skillet. Plain Greek yogurt takes mayo's place in the salad—along with crunchy celery, roasted red bell peppers and scallions—for a satisfying lunch with less saturated fat.


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

10 mins
10 mins

Here's how we made over this recipe to be healthy and diabetes-friendly:

1. We included plenty of chopped vegetables in the tuna salad. In addition to the traditional celery, we added roasted red peppers and scallions for a flavor boost—and to sneak in a little of vitamins C and A. Studies point to evidence that these antioxidants may have the ability to reduce complications often associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease. The vegetables make the sandwich more satisfying without adding many calories. They also up the dietary fiber, which can help with regulating blood sugar. The roasted red peppers also add moisture, so you can use less mayonnaise in the tuna salad mixture.

2. We used no-salt-added tuna packed in water to make these melts, which helps control sodium. Packaged sandwich bread can be high in sodium, so opting for low-sodium fillings keeps the sodium in check overall. Eating too much salt over time can lead to heart disease, a condition which people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing. And water-packed tuna is lower in calories than tuna packed in oil, which helps keep the sandwich satisfying while controlling calories.

3. We used just a little mayonnaise and put it where it imparts the most flavor. By spreading the outside of the sandwich bread with mayonnaise, we can skip using butter when we griddle the sandwiches, but still ensure the bread crisps up perfectly. And using a little mayonnaise on the outside of the bread allowed us to swap in Greek yogurt for the mayo in the sandwich without compromising flavor. Subbing yogurt for mayo cuts down on saturated fat, a form of fat that, if consumed in high amounts, can contribute to the development of heart disease.

Having diabetes doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods. You just need the know-how (and easy cooking tips) to make better choices. In Make Over My Recipe, a fun cooking show geared toward beginner cooks, Mila Clarke takes classics like mac and cheese, meatloaf, brownies and more comfort foods and uses simple tricks to make them healthier—but just as delicious as ever.

Tips From the EatingWell Test Kitchen

If tuna isn't my favorite, can I use a different canned fish or canned chicken?

Luckily the flavors in this recipe work well for many types of proteins, so yes, try canned fish such as salmon or canned chicken. Just be sure to choose a protein that is water-packed and doesn't have any added salt.

I like whole-wheat bread, but sometimes I have other bread on hand. Can I use it for this recipe?

Of course, but just know that swapping in another bread will change the nutrition. If possible, keep slices to 1 ounce, and opt for bread with a whole grain as the first ingredient.

I don't have sharp Cheddar; can I use a different kind of cheese?

Sharp Cheddar is classic for a tuna melt, but other cheeses work well too. For a milder flavor, try Swiss, colby, Monterey Jack or Muenster. For more pronounced flavor, you can try pepper Jack or even Gouda. Just remember to keep the portion to 1 ounce.

Can I use a different kind of mustard?

If you don't have Dijon mustard, yellow mustard will work just fine. Other mustards will also work, so if you want a more "punchy" tuna melt, try a spicy mustard, horseradish mustard or a whole-grain mustard (just watch the sodium in other products).

Can I make the tuna salad ahead of time?

Prepping like a pro! Yes, feel free to make the tuna salad ahead of time. We recommend doing this no more than 1 day in advance; refrigerate airtight until you're ready to use it.

Is it possible to make this an open-faced sandwich?

Yum! We're big fans of broiled, open-faced sandwiches, and we love this idea. Here's how you do it. Preheat the broiler. Prepare the tuna salad and place the 4 pieces of bread on a baking sheet. Broil the bread until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Flip the bread and distribute the tuna mixture among all 4 pieces. Tear cheese slices in half and add to the top of each bread piece. Broil until the cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes.

10-Minute Tuna Melt
Credit: Ali Redmond


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Stir tuna, celery, roasted red pepper, scallion, yogurt, mustard and pepper together in a medium bowl until well blended.

  • Spread 1 teaspoon mayonnaise (or butter) on one side of each slice of bread. Flip 2 of the slices and top each with half of the tuna mixture, 1 slice cheese and another slice of bread, mayonnaise-side up.

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the pan and cook, turning once, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

1 sandwich
382 calories; fat 13g; cholesterol 50mg; sodium 675mg; carbohydrates 29g; dietary fiber 5g; protein 34g; sugars 5g; saturated fat 6g; vitamin a iu 776IU; potassium 419mg.