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Ultimate Tuna Melt

Ultimate Tuna Melt

By Traeger Grills

There are tuna melts, and then there are tuna melts made the Tim Hollingsworth way. For his tuna salad, the chef-owner of Otium in Los Angeles skips the can and instead smokes fresh tuna and then flakes it. Aside from the traditional mayo, he brightens the sandwich mix with fresh herbs, adds tang with cornichons and capers, and gives it a kick with jalapeño and red pepper flakes. Then it all gets toasted with cheese for one of the most incredible bites ever. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, use a mix of mostly paprika and a little cayenne.

Prep Time

20 Min

Cook Time

1 Hrs
30 Min


Signature Pellet Blend


Number of People Serving


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Units of Measurement:
Smoked Tuna
1 1/4 Pound fresh tuna
1 Teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Stalk Celery, finely chopped
1/4 Cup chopped red onion
3 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 Tablespoon fresh chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped cornichons plus ½ teaspoon brine
2 Tablespoon chopped capers plus ½ teaspoon brine
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup mayonnaise, plus more to taste
8 Slices sandwich bread
4 Ounce unsalted butter
8 deli slices cheddar cheese


  • 1

    To smoke the tuna: Preheat the Traeger with the lid closed to 225°F; this will take about 15 minutes. Use Super Smoke if available.

    225 ˚F / 107 ˚C

    Super Smoke

  • 2

    Season the tuna all over with the Aleppo pepper, salt, and black pepper.

  • 3

    Holding a leave-in thermometer parallel to your work surface, insert into the middle of the thickest section of the tuna. Place the tuna directly on the grill grate and smoke to medium rare (130°F), 1 to 1½ hours; begin checking early. Let the tuna rest while you assemble the salad mixture.

    225 ˚F / 107 ˚C


    Super Smoke

  • 4

    In a medium bowl, combine the celery, onion, parsley, chives, dill, jalapeño, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the cornichons and a ½ teaspoon of their brine, the capers and ½ teaspoon of their brine, the pepper flakes, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the mayonnaise and mix well to combine.

  • 5

    Flake the tuna into large chunks into the bowl and mix with the salad mixture to gently combine. If not mayonnaise-y enough add a little more mayo. Season to taste with additional caper and cornichon brine, lemon, and salt, and pepper.

  • 6

    Preheat 2 zones of the Traeger flat top to medium heat for about 5 minutes or heat a griddle or cast-iron pan. (If heating the griddle on the Traeger, set the Traeger to 400°F, put the griddle directly on the grate, and let it heat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.)

  • 7

    Spread the outside of the bread with softened butter. Heap the tuna salad onto the unbuttered side of 4 slices of the bread, then top with the cheese and remaining bread slices, butter side out. Place the sandwiches in the flat top or griddle and cook, pressing lightly with a spatula until golden brown on one side. Flip, and cook until golden brown on the other side and the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

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