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Tuna tartare is the ideal way to use a piece of ahi tuna! An impressive appetizer recipe, it pairs bold flavors with sushi-grade fish.

Tuna Tartare
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Got a great piece of ahi tuna? Let’s make tuna tartare! Pairing the bold flavors of soy sauce, lime and toasted sesame oil makes magic with this sushi-grade fish. It’s the ideal spread for crackers or toasts. This classic recipe came on the scene in the 1980s as a spin-off on the French beef-based version, but today it has various incarnations. Here’s our favorite way to make it into an easy appetizer recipe that will wow everyone.

What is tuna tartare?

Tuna tartare is a dish of small chunks of raw sushi-grade ahi tuna tossed with seasonings. Japanese chef Shigefumi Tachibe invented the dish in 1984 at Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills. It was originally a spin on the classic French dish beef tartare, which features raw beef molded into a dome and topped with a raw egg yolk.

Chef Tachibe noticed his American patrons weren’t quick to order raw beef. As he looked around his kitchen, he had the inspiration to use ahi tuna as a substitute for the beef. Tuna tartare was born. (Read more here.)

Ingredients in tuna tartare

Chef Tachibe’s original recipe for tuna tartare was similar to beef tartare, with French flavors like pickles, onion, capers, tarragon, and a mayonnaise sauce. But over the years, restaurants have taken the concept and made variations on it (as chefs do!). A popular variation is mixing the ahi tuna with Asian-style flavors like soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds and served on crackers or toasts. (In fact, it’s very similar to the flavors in ahi poke!)

This tuna tartare recipe features the Asian-style flavors (though we do want to try Chef Tachibe’s tuna tartare recipe!). The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Sushi-grade ahi tuna
  • Soy sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Fresno pepper or jalapeno pepper
  • Sesame seeds

Note: Often avocado is used in tuna tartare. We opted to avoid it here since we prefer the texture without and it saves better refrigerated.

Tuna Tartare

What to look for when buying ahi tuna

Since you’re using raw fish for tuna tartare, look for ahi tuna labeled sushi-grade or sashimi grade. While there are no specific regulations around the label sushi-grade, it means it’s high quality fish that is safe to be eaten raw. (Read more here.) Look at your local fish counter for a tuna steak that has a firm texture and a bright red color.

You can also find frozen sashimi grade ahi tuna at some grocery stores. It’s sold in a small box and intended for making sushi or sashimi at home. But it is perfect for making tuna tartare as well! If you buy frozen, pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator the day of serving.

Two ways to serve tuna tartare

There are two main ways to serve tuna tartare: on its own, or on crackers or toasts as an appetizer. Here are some details on each one:

  • Molded into a dome or in a bowl: The original tuna tartare was serve molded into a dome like the French beef tartare. You can serve it this way, and it becomes a heavy appetizer or even a main dish portion. It also works in a bowl.
  • On crackers or toasts: It’s common to serve tuna tartare as an appetizer on crackers or toasts. You can also get creative and serve in wonton cups, with plantain chips, on cucumber slices, etc.
Tuna Tartare recipe

Making and serving tuna tartare: a few tips!

Jump right to the recipe if you’re ready to make tuna tartare! Here are a few notes about making and serving it:

  • Cut the tuna against the grain. That’s how to cut it without mangling the fish! Cut right across the grain for lovely pieces.
  • Add all ingredients to a bowl, serve immediately. It’s so easy: just mix with all the flavors below and it’s ready to go. It tastes incredible right away.
  • Or, you can refrigerate for up to 1 day. It tastes great after refrigeration too! We prefer it freshly made, but you can make in advance as well.

And that’s it! Let us know if you try our recipe below: and remember! There are lots of ways to make tuna tartare.

More ahi tuna recipes

Ahi tuna is one of our favorite ingredients to work with! Here are a few more tuna recipes for preparing it:

This tuna tartare recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 small or 4 large appetizer servings; 2 entree servings 1x


Tuna tartare is the ideal way to use a piece of ahi tuna! An impressive appetizer recipe, it pairs bold flavors with sushi-grade fish.


  • 1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna*
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresno pepper (optional; or substitute jalapeño pepper for spicy)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish
  • To serve: crackers or toasts, wonton cups, plantain chips, etc


  1. Using a large chef’s knife, slice the tuna into 1/4-inch cubes, cutting against the grain of the tuna steak.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the tuna with the soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, kosher salt, chopped chives and cilantro, and optional fresno pepper. (Optional: you can refrigerate up to 1 day in advance. Taste before serving and add additional salt as desired.)
  3. Toast the sesame seeds.
  4. If desired, place the tuna tartare on toasts or crackers. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve.


*If desired, you can also serve this as a single serving main dish portion.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

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 and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Scott says:

    Soy Sauce is definitely not gluten free

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You can find GF versions or use tamari!