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Here’s how to make grilled tuna steak—a mouthwateringly delicious ahi tuna recipe that’s perfectly seared on the outside and juicy on the inside!

Grilled tuna steak
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Tired of grilling burgers and salmon? Good, because here’s an incredible grilled dinner idea: grilled tuna steak! Ahi tuna has a rich and buttery texture. Seared perfectly on the outside, it tastes more like chicken or steak than fish!

Why we love this recipe: Ahi tuna is one of our favorite showstopper dinners, and it’s so fast to make. It’s truly one of the quickest things you can cook! Just 1 to 2 minutes, and you’ve got dinner. Add rice and grilled vegetables and it’s a meal. It always impresses friends, and our kids absolutely love it too.

Ingredients for grilled tuna steak

Ahi tuna is so flavorful on its own that you hardly need any seasoning! Just salt and pepper will do. Here’s what you need for grilled tuna steaks:

  • Ahi tuna steaks: The best quality tuna steaks are often marked “sushi” or “sashimi” grade. If you can find it, wild caught tuna is most sustainable. You can use fresh or frozen tuna steaks here. If the tuna is frozen, thaw it by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight the night before you plan to grill.
  • Salt and pepper: There’s no need to get fancy with marinades. All you need is salt and pepper for a next level grilled tuna steak!
Seared grilled tuna

Achieving a perfectly seared grilled tuna steak

In this recipe, you’ll use the grill to make seared tuna using ahi tuna steaks. Here are a few tips for understanding this method:

  • Seared tuna is made with only the highest quality, freshest ahi tuna. This is the tuna is the quality that’s used in sushi and sashimi.
  • The perfect seared tuna is browned on the outside and raw on the inside with a beautiful pink color. It’s absolutely safe to eat, unless you’re pregnant and avoiding raw fish.

How to make grilled tuna steak (step by step)

The basic concept behind grilled ahi tuna: you need to crank up your grill to the highest heat possible! To get a perfect sear on the outside and a raw inside, the hotter the better. Because grills vary, the exact temperature will be different based on your grill.

How to cook tuna steak

Step 1: Preheat a grill to as hot as it gets (500 to 700°F). Pat the tuna dry. Sprinkle it liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on both sides.

Smoker

Step 2: Add the steak to the grill and cook 30 to 60 seconds per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still raw on the inside (115°F if measured with a food thermometer). If you’d like to sear the short sides, turn the tuna with tongs and sear each side for a few seconds.

Tuna Steak

Step 3: To serve, slice the tuna against the grain into ½ inch slices. Serve immediately.

Tips for buying ahi tuna

Where to look for ahi tuna at the grocery? If you’re not used to buying it, here are a few things to know:

  • Consider sushi or sashimi grade. There are no specific regulations around the label “sushi-grade,” but it means it’s a high quality fish that is safe to be eaten raw. It can be more expensive, so keep that in mind. You should be able to find ahi tuna fresh at your local grocery counter.
  • Look for frozen steaks. These can be even fresher than fresh tuna if they’re flash frozen right when they’re caught. You’ll just need to remember to thaw the night before in the refrigerator.
  • Find wild caught. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms (see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide).

Ways to serve grilled ahi tuna

There are lots of fantastic sides to pair with a grilled tuna steak! If you want to serve other grilled vegetables with the tuna, cook them first at medium high heat (375 to 450°F) first, then increase the heat for the tuna.

More ways to eat ahi tuna

Ahi tuna is a highly nutritious lean protein. There are many ways to eat it, but here are some favorite tuna recipes:

Dietary notes

This grilled tuna recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and pescatarian.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of tuna is best for grilling?

Look for steaks cut from ahi tuna (also known as yellowfin tuna) or skipjack tuna. Choose steaks that are thick-cut (at least 1 inch) and have a vibrant red color with minimal blemishes.

Do I need to marinate my tuna steak?

You can, but we don’t think it’s necessary! Simple marinades with olive oil, soy sauce, citrus juices, or fresh herbs work well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours to avoid compromising the texture.

How do I get a perfect sear on my tuna steak?

Here are some secrets for a restaurant-quality sear:
High heat: Preheat your grill to high heat for even searing.
Pat the tuna dry: Excess moisture on the surface will prevent a good sear.
Sear undisturbed: Let the tuna sear for a few minutes per side without moving it to ensure a nice crust.

My tuna steak is overcooked. What went wrong?

Tuna steaks cook quickly! Here’s how to avoid overcooking:
Don’t overcook: Aim for an internal temperature of 115°F (46°C) for a rare center. You can cook it to 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare if desired, but it won’t have the same bright color.
Use a quick-read thermometer: This helps monitor the internal temperature and prevent overcooking.

What are some delicious things to serve with grilled tuna steaks?

The possibilities are endless! Here are some ideas:
Grilled vegetables: Pair your tuna with grilled asparagusgrilled zucchini, or grilled peppers for a colorful and healthy side.
Salads: Serve the tuna steak on a bed of greens with a light vinaigrette for a balanced meal.
Quinoa or rice: These whole grains offer a bed of fluffy goodness to complement the tuna.
Sauces: Drizzle the tuna with chimichurri saucepesto, or a simple lemon butter sauce for added flavor.

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Seared tuna

Grilled Tuna Steak


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4.5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 to 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Here’s how to make grilled tuna steak—a mouthwateringly delicious ahi tuna recipe that’s perfectly seared on the outside and juicy on the inside!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 6 ounce high quality ahi tuna steaks (sashimi grade recommended but not required, wild caught if possible)*
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to as hot as it gets (500 to 700°F). Allow the tuna to come to room temperature.
  2. Pat the tuna dry. Sprinkle it liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on both sides.
  3. Add the steaks to the grill and cook 30 to 60 seconds per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still raw on the inside (115°F if measured with a food thermometer). If you’d like to sear the short sides, turn the tuna with tongs and sear each side for a few seconds.
  4. To serve, slice the tuna against the grain into ½ inch slices. Serve immediately.

Notes

*The best quality tuna steaks are often marked “sushi” or “sashimi” grade. There are no specific regulations around the label “sushi-grade,” but it means it’s a high quality fish that is safe to be eaten raw. You should be able to find ahi tuna steaks at your local grocery counter. Your grocery might have also frozen steaks. These can be even fresher than fresh tuna if they’re flash frozen right when they’re caught. You’ll just need to thaw the night before in the refrigerator.

Sauce ideas: This grilled tuna steak is great with chimichurri sauce, lemon garlic butter sauce, or this sauce for tuna steaks.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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5 Comments

  1. Macel Bryant says:

    Am going to grill tuna steaks but don’t want to raw inside

  2. Tom says:

    This recipe seems simple enough, but I cooked to 115 degrees Fahrenheit as instructed and it WAAAYYYY overcooked the fish. It was a huge bummer, given how good the fish looks in the photo.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m very sorry you had this result! The steaks can continue to cook quite a bit after removing from the grill.

  3. Pepper says:

    Don’t grill pepper






  4. jim caputa says:

    I like your simple recipes. Just got bluefin and now have 80 pounds of filets to eat. Looking forward to your suggestions.

    Thank you