What Is a Melt Sandwich?

Susan Grindstaff

The most distinctive difference between a melt sandwich and other types of sandwiches is that a melt includes cheese that has been melted by means of grilling, toasting, or baking. There are many different types of melts, using different types of breads and fillings. Some of the most popular melts include tuna melts, patty melts, and the simple grilled cheese sandwich. A grilled panino is another popular type of melt sandwich.

Cheddar cheese is used in many melt sandwiches.
Cheddar cheese is used in many melt sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches can be made with most any type of bread or cheese. This type of melt sandwich sometimes includes spreads such as mustard or mayonnaise. In most cases, the sandwich is grilled in an iron skillet, along with melted butter or margarine. Variations on the basic grilled cheese include toasting the sandwich in an oven or serving it open faced, with lettuce and tomatoes as a topping. Grilled cheese sandwiches are usually considered one of the most popular sandwiches in the world.

Mayonnaise is a common ingredient in a variety of melt sandwiches.
Mayonnaise is a common ingredient in a variety of melt sandwiches.

A patty melt is a type of melt sandwich made using a pre-fried beef patty and cheddar or American cheese. Sometimes, patty melts include sautéed onions or mayonnaise. This sandwich is usually cooked in much the same way as the grilled cheese — pan fried in either butter or margarine. Patty melts can be made using most any type of bread, but are most often made with thick pieces of white or French bread. The beef patty typically consists of ground beef cuts such as round, chuck, or sirloin.

Tuna is a popular choice for melt sandwiches.
Tuna is a popular choice for melt sandwiches.

Tuna melts are usually made from a tuna and mayonnaise mixture combined with most any type of cheese. These melts are usually grilled in butter or margarine, or oven baked with the butter brushed onto the bread prior to baking. Tuna melts are sometimes topped with vegetables such as lettuce and tomato, either before or after cooking. This type of melt sandwich is very moist, so dense breads such as hoagie buns are often used. If thin cuts of bread are used, the sandwich may drip or break apart.

A grilled panino is a type of Italian melt sandwich consisting of thick bread, cheese, and most any type of meat filling. What makes a panino different from many other melts is that this sandwich is almost always grilled using some type of sandwich press or sandwich grill. These devices are similar to waffle irons, in that it cooks the sandwich from both sides at once. This process is used to create a bread coating that is much crunchier than that of a typical melt sandwich.

Melt sandwiches are typically grilled in melted butter.
Melt sandwiches are typically grilled in melted butter.

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Discussion Comments


My mom made tuna melt sandwiches all the time when we were growing up. I had forgotten about them until I saw them on the menu at a cafe a while back. I started making them for my kids and they love them.

I like them because they are easy to make and the tuna and cheese are good for them. It is something different than your normal grilled cheese and they will eat tuna much better when there is some melted cheese on it!


I think any kind of sandwich tastes better with melted cheese on it. There is a diner close to our house that has the best patty melt sandwiches. There is just something distinct about the taste of a good patty melt that is better than a regular burger.

Add some onions to your melt and have a milk shake to go with it and you have a great tasting meal. Even though I love this meal, it is not something that I have very often - it has enough calories for at least one day. But it's nice to have this special treat once in a while.

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