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This ahi tuna steak recipe makes one brilliantly cooked piece of fish: in just 5 minutes! Here’s how to cook tuna steak.

Tuna Steak

Need a simple meal that’s restaurant quality? Try a Tuna Steak! Tuna steaks are one of our favorite easy meals because they’re high protein and cook up in a flash: just 2 to 4 minutes! The flavor is melt-in-your-mouth meaty: with a salty, seasoned exterior and a buttery, raw interior. You’ll want to use sushi grade fish here. Sear it up in a hot pan, and it’s one of the most impressive meals you can make!

Tips for buying ahi tuna steak

You’ll want a great piece of fish for this tuna steak recipe. Ahi tuna, aka yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna, is a mild, lean fish commonly served as sushi, in poke bowls, or cooked rare or medium-rare. It’s sold as large thick steaks at the grocery, not thin fillets like with other types of fish. Here’s what to look for when buying tuna steaks:

  • Consider sushi or sashimi grade. 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.
  • Check at the fish counter. You should be able to find ahi tuna steaks at your local grocery counter.
  • Look for frozen steaks. Or, it’s possible that your grocery might have 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.
  • Find wild caught. Fish that is wild caught is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
Tuna steak

How to cook tuna steak

How to cook tuna steak? It takes just 2 to 4 minutes, so it goes quickly! Here are the basic steps to the process, or you can jump right to the recipe to get started!

  • Allow it to come to room temperature first! This is important: otherwise the inside is still cold when the exterior is cooked! Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes prior to cooking. It makes a big difference!
  • Season it liberally. Coat it with salt and pepper, as shown in the photo below. We use about ¾ teaspoon for every 8 ounces.
  • Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, and use a food thermometer to assess temperature (130 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the steak and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still rare the inside. The tuna will continue cooking while sitting. For a medium-rare tuna steak, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer at the thickest point.
  • Rest for 2 minutes. This helps it to set and become easier to cut.
How to cook tuna steak

Can you cook it medium instead of rare?

In some cases you may not want the ahi tuna completely raw on the inside, like for children or pregnant women. You can cook tuna steaks to medium, too! They are just as meaty and delicious. Here’s what to know:

  • Cook the tuna steak slightly longer, until it’s no longer pink on the inside but still tender. The steak will look gray the entire way through instead of just on the outside.
  • Check for an internal temperature around 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sauces for this tuna steak recipe

Want a sauce to serve with this tuna steak recipe? Here are a few tasty serving ideas:

  • Garlic Herb Sauce: This Garlic Herb Sauce is Mediterranean-style with lemon, parsley, garlic, butter and capers: and it makes the fish sing.
  • Hoisin Sauce: For Asian-style flavors, try purchased hoisin sauce for dipping: it’s quick and easy and packed with savory flavor.
  • Ponzu Sauce: Ponzu sauce is a Japanese dipping sauce made with soy sauce and citrus juice. Try this Ponzu Sauce recipe.
Tuna Steak

Sides for tuna steak

Just about anything can pair with ahi tuna steaks to make them into a healthy dinner. Here are a few ideas for quick sides that can be made in the time it takes to rest and cook the tuna steak:

More tuna recipes

Love ahi tuna? Here are a few more tuna steak recipes you might enjoy:

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Tuna steak

Perfect Tuna Steak


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 4-ounce servings 1x

Description

This ahi tuna steak recipe makes one brilliantly cooked piece of fish: in just 5 minutes! Here’s how to cook tuna steak.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 steaks (8 ounces) high quality ahi tuna (sashimi grade recommended; wild caught if possible*)
  • ½ tablespoon neutral oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • For serving: Garlic Herb Sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Allow the tuna steak to come to room temperature by letting it stand for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Pat the tuna dry. Sprinkle it liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on both sides to get a nice even coating (about ¾ teaspoon kosher salt for 8 ounces).
  3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add the tuna steak and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still rare on the inside. The tuna will continue cooking while sitting. For a medium-rare tuna steak, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer at the thickest point.
  5. Cool for 2 minutes. Then slice the tuna against the grain into ½-inch slices and serve immediately, with the sauce if desired. 

Notes

*Frozen is okay, just thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.

  • Category: Fish
  • Method: Seared

Keywords: Tuna steak, tuna steak recipe, how to cook tuna steak

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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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6 Comments

  1. Turned out great! I looked up your tuna steak recipe mainly for the cooking instructions and tips to make sure I didn’t ruin our lovely wild caught fish. I used a light blend of Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, and sea salt. Didn’t have any neutral oils, so I used coconut oil and olive oil and the tuna steaks still came out delicious. Moist, tender, flavorful, not overcooked. The whole family loved it!

  2. Easy to follow directions. Will use this website for more recipes for sure!! Bon appétit!

  3. great, thank you, fish is something I rarely make, but do like ahi tuna, just hadn’t been sure how to prepare and make it, so this really helps!