The Crucial Tuna Melt Detail You're Overlooking

The tuna melt seems like an odd snack that magically made its way into big-boy delis and country clubs. This accidental dish brings together a seemingly odd mix of ingredients, but you can easily find them all in the average American household — canned tuna, mayonnaise, bread, and sliced cheese. That's the key to this sandwich's success; it rose in popularity due to its convenience. Since then, however, people have elevated it by adding unique ingredients and using various cooking methods.

To prepare a tuna melt, some might say add less mayonnaise for a meatier taste, debate what cheese works, or in Ina Garten's case add a bit of anchovy paste for a fishier flavor. Chef Mona Talbott even considers the ratio of tuna to cheese; telling the Wall Street Journal that she believes equal parts tuna and cheese make the best tuna melt. While all of these considerations are important, there is one element for creating the perfect tuna melt that many overlook.

The right amount of bread matters

Yes, the type of bread, cheese, and tuna you choose matters when you're putting together the ultimate tuna melt. However, what many fail to consider is the proportion of bread to filling. You need a good amount of bread to serve as the vehicle for the cheesy, fatty tuna. 

Serious Eats found that the best ratio of tuna to bread is achieved by creating two sandwiches with one five-ounce can of tuna and a total thickness of one inch of bread for each melt. Now, you'll need to decide between an open- or closed-faced sandwich. The open-faced version of the tuna melt can easily turn into a salty glop on a floppy piece of bread if you go for the sliced white bread from the grocery store. Instead, you should use a slice of bread that is two times thicker for an open-faced sandwich than a slice you would use for a closed sandwich. When you think about it, it only makes sense to have the same amount of bread for an open-faced sandwich as a closed one! So per Serious Eats' instructions, an open-faced sandwich would have a one-inch slice of bread, and a closed one would have two half-inch slices of bread. 

All in all, the proportion of bread to tuna and cheese is a determining factor for the best tuna melt, so slicing your own is recommended for the ultimate control. In this case, slicing your own bread is the greatest thing since, well, since sliced bread.