You don't have to be a big fan of canned tuna to love this healthy Mexican Tuna Melt! This new take on an old favorite classic sandwich pairs Mexican flavors with healthy broccoli slaw, two types of gooey melted cheese, and good ol' canned tuna for an easy and quick weeknight dinner. If you are looking for healthy canned tuna recipes this tuna melt is a unique, quick, and delicious dinner!
This tuna melt sandwich is a easy meal and makes an excellent busy weeknight dinner and is popular any time of the year. Canned tuna is an excellent meal option for both price and convenience. Yet buying tuna can be completely overwhelming because of the health considerations surrounding mercury content and Omega-3 fats.
💭WHAT TUNA SHOULD YOU BUY?
Types of Tuna:
Many people instinctively reach for the lowest price or most familiar brand, but there are other considerations. When you are shopping for tuna, it's important to know that there are two main kinds of canned tuna: chunk light (skipjack) and solid or chunk white (albacore).
Larger, older fish tend to have more concentrated levels of mercury than smaller, younger fish. Albacore, or white tuna, (comes in “chunk” and “solid” varieties) are the big fish in the tuna world so albacore has the highest mercury level of all the canned tunas (and 3x higher than skipjack). Light tuna, or Skipjack, tend to be much smaller fish than albacore, so naturally have less mercury.
Nutrition & Omega-3
Both types are good sources of protein with very little fat, but Albacore tuna has marginally more calories (ie: 109 calories as compared to 99 in a 3-ounce serving in chunk light tuna) ⅔ more fat, and slightly more protein. Albacore has more sodium and less selenium, vitamin B-12, niacin, and iron.
However, light tuna (or Skipjack), has a lower level of Omega-3s than albacore but is still a rich source of the most efficiently used Omega-3s, EPA, and DHA. Albacore has a lot more healthy omega-3 fats (808 milligrams versus 239 milligrams in chunk light)!
Taste & Texture:
Albacore tuna has a firmer texture and a milder flavor than the solid or chunk light fish varieties. Skipjack tuna can also be mushier.
💭Recommendations (what and how much tuna to safely eat):
(based on EPA guidance and estimates of mercury in the most popular canned tunas)
- Canned white, or albacore (0.32 parts per million of mercury). Children under six can eat up to one 3-ounce portion a month; children from 6–12, two 4.5-ounce portions a month. Adults, including pregnant women, can safely eat it up to three times a month (women, 6-ounce portions; men, 8-ounce portions).
- Canned light — (0.12 parts per million of mercury). Children under six can eat up to three 3-ounce portions per month. Older children and adults can safely eat it once a week. But look out for “gourmet” labels. They are made with bigger yellowfin tuna and can contain mercury levels comparable to canned white (albacore).
If you are most concerned about mercury content and eat tuna more than a couple of times a month, then you will likely want to stick with SKIPJACK (CANNED LIGHT TUNA). If getting an OMEGA-3 powerhouse meal is your priority and you don't eat tuna that often, then ALBACORE (CANNED WHITE TUNA) may be a good option for you.
Sustainability is another big can of worms that I didn't have room to open up in this post. So, if that is a concern for you, then I suggest you research it.
Personally, I like both types of tuna and I don't find much of a difference in the taste or texture (I couldn't pick out which is which in a blind taste test). I have also found the canned light (skipjack) to generally be a little more expensive than the canned white (albacore). Although, not by much (maybe up to $.50 per can).
📖Variations & Substitutions
- Cheese- if you don't have jack cheese, just use cheddar. I also use low-fat cheddar to lighten it up. You could also use spicy cheese to add a zip to it.
- Bread-you can use buns or any type of bread
- Coleslaw - you can use regular instead of broccoli slaw
- Onions - you can use red onion instead of green onion
- Spicy - if you want it even spicier, use pepper jack cheese instead of plain Monterey jack cheese
- Microwave it! - when it's really hot I skip the oven and make these using the toaster and microwave. Depending on your microwave wattage, you'll need to microwave them for 2-4 minutes, approximately. If you are using low-fat cheddar, as I do, it takes longer than regular cheddar cheese.
🥗 Side Dishes
I love to serve these Mexican-style Tuna Melts with my homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa Recipe. They also pair really well with soup or salad. Here are a few recommendations:
- Ukrainian Borscht Soup (with beef)
- Easy Healthy Minestrone Soup
- Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe
- Spinach salad
Store tuna melts in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. After two days, canned tuna begins to taste ('fishy' so it's best to eat it prior to that 48-hour period. You can freeze these for up to 3 months in a sealed container.
Toast the bread before you put the mixture on it and before it goes into the oven. This prevents it from getting soggy.
Leftover Broccoli Slaw: You will have a ½ bag of broccoli slaw left, so why not try my Ukrainian Shortcut Borscht for a quick and easy weeknight meal?
👪 Serving Size
This Mexican tuna sandwich makes 4 servings. However, you can half, double, or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust.
These spicy tuna melts are 6 ww points. You can further reduce the points by using lower-point bread and fat-free cheese.
❔ Frequently Asked Questions
If you lightly toast your bread first, it helps prevent tuna melts from getting soggy. Tomatoes can also make tuna melts soggy. It's best to put tomatoes on just before making them.
So if you are looking for a Mexican tuna recipe or a tuna melt with a delicious twist, you'll love this recipe!
📋 Mexican Tuna Melt Recipe (with canned tuna)
- ½ 340g/12oz bag broccoli coleslaw see NOTES for using remaining ½ bag
- ½ cup sharp/old cheddar cheese light or regular
- ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 170g can tuna (drained)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon crushed or pureed garlic
- ½ teaspoon agave syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice can substitute concentrated
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon jalapenos I use tamed jalapenos, chopped
- 3 taco shells crushed
- ⅓ cup canned, sliced black olives
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- 4 tablespoon salsa
- 4 slices of bread * I use rye bread
Garnish: additional salsa and sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Spray 9X13 baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray
- In a small mixing bowl, mix garlic, lime juice,mayo and agave together with a whisk.
- In a separate large bowl, combine tuna, broccoli slaw, green onion, jalapenos, cilantro, black olives and salt together in a large, separate bowl.
- Pour mayonnaise mixture over broccoli coleslaw/tuna mixture and mix well.
- Toast bread (to prevent sogginess)
- Top toast with about ⅓ - ½ cup broccoli/tuna mixture (however much you can fit on)
- Soften taco shells in microwave for 20 seconds then crush. Spread crushed shells over tuna melts, dividing shells between all 4 melts
- Spread 1 tablespoon of salsa on each melt over crushed taco shells.
- Top with both cheeses, dividing between all 4 melts,
- Melt in oven for 8 minutes, then turn up to broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. * If it's really hot, melt the cheese in the microwave for 3-4 minutes.
- Top with additional salsa and sour cream as garnish, if desired.