What Is the Best Way To Cook Tuna Steak?

Melissa Bahen

What is the best way to cook tuna steak? We’ve rounded up some favorite ways of how to cook tuna steak so you can decide!

Tuna steak is one of those unique ingredients that seems very posh and fancy, but is so easy to make that it can easily make for a quick, weeknight dinner.

There are a handful of different ways to prepare and cook tuna steak. What’s the best way to cook tuna steak? We’ll walk you through some of our favorites.

You can then have fun trying them all and deciding for yourself! No matter which way you choose, cooking tuna does not have to be intimidating - trust us!

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Varieties of Tuna

There are four main varieties of tuna that are fished commercially for food. The first two, albacore and skipjack, are more often canned than eaten fresh.

You won’t often see these sold as steaks. This is the kind of tuna you'd use in our tuna stuffed tomatoes or Mediterranean tuna pasta salad, for instance.

Bluefin tuna is the most expensive variety of tuna. The meat of this tuna is fatty and flavorful, but it also comes with a correspondingly hefty pricetag.

Yellowfin tuna, also known as ahi tuna, is mild in flavor and more affordable than bluefin tuna. It makes for great tuna steaks and is commonly used for sushi.

And, bonus - yellowfin tuna is easy to find! Lots of seafood markets and even grocery store seafood counters have yellowfin tuna steaks in stock.

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How To Choose Tuna Steaks

The very best place to buy fresh tuna steaks is at your local seafood market whenever possible. They’ll have the very freshest, highest quality tuna available.

If you don’t have a seafood market near you, the seafood counter at your local grocery is a good alternative. They should stock a good selection of tuna.

Tuna will oxidize fairly quickly once it is cut, so look for steaks that still have a nice, pink color to them with no browning or dry spots.

It’s even better if you can get the steaks cut fresh for you at the counter. Try to use your tuna steaks the same day you purchase them as tuna degrades quickly.

While fresh tuna steaks are the very best option, if you can only find good-quality frozen tuna steaks, they will work well too for most recipes.

Let frozen tuna steaks thaw completely in the refrigerator before cooking.

Tuna Ceviche Bowls Image

What Size and Thickness of Tuna Steak Is Best?

Buy tuna steaks that are 1 - 2 inches thick. This thickness will keep the middle of the steaks from drying out excessively while the outside gets cooked.

What Internal Temperature Should Tuna Steaks Be Cooked To?

Sushi grade ahi tuna should be served rare or seared rare, and cooked to an internal temperature of 115 to 120°F.

Regular tuna steaks should be served medium-rare, otherwise it will become dry and lose flavor. It should be cooked to an internal temperature of 125°F.

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What Is the Best Way To Cook Tuna Steak?

Before you cook your tuna steaks, you might want to boost their flavor with an easy marinade. A quick marination will add so much flavor to your seafood.

Some popular marinade options include our popular Mediterranean marinade, our soy sauce marinade, chili and lime, lemon and dill, and citrus and herb.

Once your tuna steak has had a chance to soak in that flavorful marinade, it’s time to get cooking! 

There are lots of fantastic ways to prepare tuna, including grilling, baking tuna in the oven, and stovetop searing all leading to delicious results.

Tuna Ceviche Bowls Pic

Searing tuna steaks in a pan is a lot like searing beef steaks - you want to cook them quickly over intense heat to lock in moisture and develop a flavorful, caramelized crust

The very best kind of pan to use for cooking tuna steaks on the stovetop is a heavy-bottomed pan like heavy stainless steel or a cast iron skillet.

Add a little oil (one with a high smoke point), let it get so hot it shimmers, then sear your tuna steaks on each side for just a few minutes.

Another great way to cook tuna steak on a busy weeknight is our oven baked tuna recipe. This method is very hands-off, so even though it takes longer overall than searing on the stovetop, it requires less active cooking time.

Place tuna steaks on a baking sheet, add your favorite seasonings and toss on some fresh veggies for a weeknight sheet pan dinner that is easy and delicious.

Asian Nicoise Salad

Grilling tuna steaks is another option. Just like in searing, you want a very high heat and then a brief stint on the grill on both sides to get tuna steaks that are sizzling outside while still being juicy and pink on the inside.

Lastly, you can skip cooking all together and enjoy fresh tuna in poke bowls (or our spicy tuna poke avocado wonton cups) or fresh tuna ceviche bowls.

The combination of flavorful rare tuna alongside crispy, crunchy vegetables is irresistible - our incredible Asian nicoise salad with fresh tuna is another favorite.

Do you have a favorite way to cook tuna steaks? Tuna is surprisingly easy to make and a huge crowd favorite - try these methods and find your new go-to!

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Melissa Bahen

About Melissa

Melissa is an author and blogger living with her husband and four kids on a darling hobby farm in western Oregon. Her cookbooks, Farmhouse Weekends and Scandinavian Gatherings, and her blog, Lulu the Baker, celebrate her love for food and modern country life.