Fully Loaded Tuna Melt With Bacon, Pickled Peppers, Avocado, and Tomato Recipe

This tuna melt comes with all the bells and whistles: mashed avocado, sliced tomato, crispy bacon, pickled jalapeños, and melted cheese in two forms.

Photographs: Daniel Gritzer

Why It Works

  • Brushing the bread with bacon fat 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.

There's no holding back with this tuna melt, which comes with "the works." Here, that means a layer of mashed avocado, thinly sliced tomato, crispy rashers of bacon, pickled jalapeños, and two forms of cheese—shredded mozzarella that melts into the tuna salad itself and slices of Pepper Jack melting in layers in the sandwich.

The ingredients and elements are endlessly customizable, so feel free to come up with your own "with the works" tuna melt, with or without the avocado, tomato, bacon (if you omit the bacon, you'll need to use oil or another cooking fat to grease the bread), and so forth. Looking for something a bit more straightforward? Try our classic diner-style tuna melt or our Jewish deli-style tuna melt with celery, relish, and Swiss cheese.

Recipe Facts



Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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  • 4 rashers bacon, cut in half crosswise

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

  • 6 tablespoons (90g) mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's (see note)

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

  • 1/4 cup (55g) grated or finely minced low-moisture mozzarella

  • 2 tablespoons (20g) minced red onion

  • 1 tablespoon (15g) finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Four 1/2-inch-thick slices white, rye, or whole wheat sandwich bread

  • 4 slices Pepper Jack cheese

  • 1 medium (6-ounce; 170g) Hass avocado, halved, pitted, and flesh scooped

  • 4 thin slices tomato


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, or using a griddle, cook bacon over medium heat, turning as needed, until well browned and crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes; if possible, use a weight to press bacon flat as it cooks. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate, and reserve bacon fat in a heatproof bowl; wipe out skillet.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, panko (if using), mozzarella, red onion, and pickled jalapeños. Stir, mashing very well with a fork or stiff rubber spatula, until well-combined and almost no flakes of tuna remain. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Using a pastry brush, lightly but evenly brush both sides of each slice of bread with reserved bacon fat. Using the same skillet or 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.

  4. Flip bread and lay one slice of cheese on top of each bread slice. Mound avocado on 2 of the bread slices, spreading it in an even layer. Top avocado with tuna, spreading it in an even layer, followed by tomato slices and bacon. 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.

  5. Flip sandwiches and cook until second side is well-toasted. Transfer tuna melts to a baking sheet and heat in oven until cheese is melted through, about 5 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 mayonnaise 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 6 tablespoons (90g) to 1/4 cup (60g).

Make-Ahead and Storage

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

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1103 Calories
78g Fat
52g Carbs
52g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 1103
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 78g 100%
Saturated Fat 24g 118%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 2121mg 92%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 52g
Vitamin C 49mg 246%
Calcium 644mg 50%
Iron 4mg 25%
Potassium 1143mg 24%
*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.)