How to Cook Tuna Steaks

Like Wagyu beef or caviar, fresh tuna steaks are special ingredients that should never go to waste. That's why it's so important to make sure you know how to cook tuna steaks properly. When prepared the right way, a tuna steak will be incredibly flavorful and tender.

One of the great things about tuna steaks is that they're surprisingly versatile. There are several ways to prepare them, and each delivers a unique eating experience. Learn more about how to cook a tuna steak three different ways: on the grill, in the oven, or in a pan.

How to Cook Tuna Steaks on the Grill

Grilling a tuna steak adds a nice char that can serve as a textural contrast to the tender fish. Here's how to do it correctly:

  1. Preheat the grill and clean the grates thoroughly using a grill brush. It's very important to get it as clean as possible in order to preserve the integrity of the tuna steak. Once the grate is clean, make sure your grill is on high heat and oil the grate.
  2. Dry the tuna steak with paper towels, then season lightly with salt and pepper just before you're ready to put it on the grill.
  3. Allow the steak to sit still on the grate for about 2 to 3 minutes - you want the sear to be complete before you try to move it.
  4. Once seared, flip it over and sear the other side for an equal amount of time. Remove it from the grill as soon as the other side is seared. The outside of the steak should be just browned while the inside should be nearly raw, with a vibrant purplish pink color.

How to Cook Tuna Steaks in a Pan

Many home chefs prefer to cook tuna steak on the stovetop using this method:

  1. Pat the tuna steak dry with a paper towel, then season the tuna steak liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat a nonstick skillet over high heat.
  3. Once the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of canola oil then set the steak in the pan for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Allow the tuna steak to rest for a few minutes before serving. The outside should have a hard sear, but the inside should still be deep purple or pink.

How to Cook Tuna Steak in the Oven

Baking tuna steak in the oven isn't as common as cooking it on the grill or in a skillet. However, it's a good alternative for those who prefer to have their tuna steak without a seared exterior. Here's how to do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Brush the tuna steak liberally with melted butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the steak in a greased baking dish or sheet pan, then bake for 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Test the fish with a fork - it should just begin to flake but still be a vibrant pink in the center.

Note that with all of these cooking instructions, the times for how long to cook tuna steak may vary slightly depending on your cooking equipment. Keep a close eye on your steak since this type of fish cooks quickly and needs to remain purple or pink in the center.