Tuna reinvented! These easy tuna quesadilla melts come together FAST and are a perfect meal for busy weeknights (or for a quick lunch!). Tons of flavor and cheesy goodness in every bite!

If there’s one thing I know for sure it is that canned tuna has kind of a hard life.

I’m not saying I disagree. I mean, I still have night terrors over the soggy brown bread tuna fish sandwiches I had in my school lunches in grade school.

Four triangles of quesadillas stacked with cilantro on top.

And don’t get me started on tuna noodle casserole (spoiler alert: you probably won’t ever see a reinvented recipe for that on my blog). 

But canned tuna isn’t all bad. I have a few tuna recipes in the archives (this one pot creamy tuna and shells recipe is so yummy!), and I’m striving to resurrect tuna’s insulted reputation one sporadic canned tuna recipe at a time. 

I have to say, though, it’s definitely going to be hard to beat these crazy delicious tuna quesadilla melts. Not only are they screaming fast (20 minutes or less, really!), but they are the most uniquely yummy take on a good ol’ tuna melt sandwich that I’ve ever had. Creamy, cheesy…with the most delightful southwestern flavors. Yum.

Pulling apart cut tuna quesadilla melts on wood cutting board.

How Easy is that? 

Channeling my inner Ina Garten vocabulary and disregarding the fact that I’m sure Ms. Ina wouldn’t touch canned tuna with a ten foot pole, let me reiterate that there is absolutely nothing complicated about these tuna quesadilla melts. 

They are so easy. Almost too easy. 

Since I’m convinced the month of May was created to slowly suck the life out of moms and dads everywhere, easy meals have been the needed salvation to my questionable sanity. And I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve made these tuna quesadilla melts at least 3X this month already because they really are on the table within minutes. 

Four triangles of quesadillas stacked with cilantro on top.

What started out as get-dinner-on-the-table-fast combined with a healthy dose of please-don’t-let-it-be-cold-cereal-again, these tuna melts were meant to simply appease the masses for dinner, but they ended up completely surprising us all with their deliciousness.

Well, except my one resident tuna hater. But let it be known that despite his theories otherwise, he really has survived the “Month of May and Recurring Tuna Quesadilla Melts Situation” just fine. Extra cheese = extra coping skills. 

How To cook the tuna melts

Since I’m cooking for a family of seven, I pull out my oft-used large and in charge electric griddle {aff. link} for these quesadillas. But you could just as easily use a skillet on the stove.

I’d suggest using a nonstick skillet so you don’t need to add any additional oil or butter. However, if you only have a stainless skillet, heat a bit of cooking oil or butter before adding the quesadillas so they don’t stick. 

Tuna quesadilla melt cooking on black griddle.
Bite taken out of top tuna quesadilla melt stacked on three other triangles of quesadillas.

Let’s talk tortillas + substitutions

As indicated in the recipe below, I’ve used everything from corn tortillas, flour tortillas (the kind you cook yourself on a griddle before using), corn + wheat tortillas (Trader Joes’ brand) and gluten-free flour tortillas in this recipe with good results. Basically, just use the kind of tortillas you already love the taste and texture of and you’ll be good. 

You really can’t go wrong with the golden brown tortilla sandwiching that creamy, cheesy, flavorful tuna filling. 

A large part of the punchy flavor goes to the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Wow. So yummy. I use a tablespoon of the peppers and sauce for this recipe. It packs a hint of spice, so if you want to dial that down, use less or opt for a flavor substitution. Chili powder in place of the chipotle peppers is tasty – so is a touch of cumin and dried oregano. 

Also, because I know someone’s going to bring this up – yes, I do think you could sub in shredded chicken (canned, if you choose) for the tuna. You’d definitely be channeling more of a baked taquito or hot hoagie vibe.

Stack of two triangles of tuna quesadilla melts on white plate with corn salad.

I, for one, will be sticking with the tuna. I just can’t get over how amazing it was to be inspired by such an innocent reinvention of canned tuna. I’ve always loved a good tuna melt, but I had no idea the same concept could be so delicious as a golden, cheesy quesadilla. 

Enjoy! {P.S. that ridiculously delicious street corn salad recipe in the pictures coming SOON!}

One Year Ago: Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad
Two Years Ago: Best Italian Pasta Salad {With Quick Homemade Italian Dressing}
Three Years Ago: Key Lime White Chocolate Cheesecake Pie
Four Years Ago: Whole Grain Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins
Five Years Ago: My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie

Four triangles of quesadillas stacked with cilantro on top.

Tuna Quesadilla Melts {20-Minute Meal}

4.78 stars (84 ratings)


  • ½ cup sour cream, light or regular
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, light or regular
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce OR 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt, I use coarse, kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Zest of 1 lime, about a teaspoon
  • 20 ounces canned tuna, well drained (I prefer albacore tuna packed in water)
  • 12 (8-inch) flour tortillas (see note)
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayo, cilantro, chipotle peppers or chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and lime zest. Add the tuna and mix until evenly combined. Add additional salt to taste, if needed.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese (or more, depending on how cheesy you want them) evenly on a tortilla. Top with spoonfuls of the tuna mixture, spreading into a somewhat even layer (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Sprinkle with a little more cheese and top with another tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas. I get about six quesadillas total.
  • Preheat griddle (can use a skillet on the stovetop) to medium heat. I set my electric griddle to 350 degrees F. When the griddle is hot, cook the quesadillas for 2-3 minutes per side until the tortillas are golden and the cheese is melted. Let rest for a minute or so; cut into triangles and serve warm.


Peppers: I’ve made this recipe with chipotle peppers and another batch with chili powder and loved both versions. If you are a fan of the delicious, smoky flavor of chipotle peppers, it’s worth using them in this recipe (I use the jarred chipotle peppers so the leftovers can be easily stored in the refrigerator).
Creaminess: if you want the tuna mixture a little less creamy, use only 1/3 cup of both mayo and sour cream.
Tortillas: I’ve used everything from corn tortillas, flour tortillas (the kind you cook yourself on a griddle before using), corn + wheat tortillas (Trader Joes’ brand) and gluten-free flour tortillas in this recipe with good results. A lot will simply depend on what kind of tortillas you prefer.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 547kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 1326mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g

Recipe Source: inspired from Cuisine at Home magazine (changed up mayo/sour cream and tuna amounts among other things)