Cooking Grilled Tuna Steak Like A Pro

Teak Cutting Board Medium Size | Dalstrong ©Teak Cutting BoardMedium Size | Dalstrong ©

Quick Steps Overview: Grilled Tuna Steak Recipe
  1. Assemble all the tools and ingredients
  2. Prepare the grill
  3. Dry the tuna steaks
  4. Season the steaks
  5. Grill the tuna steaks
  6. Remove and rest
  7. Prepare the dipping sauce
  8. Slice and Serve

If you are a fan of seafood recipes then I’m sure you know how tuna is one of the most prized fish in the sea. Its intense flavor has been a hit among seafood enthusiasts, making it one of the most sought-after dishes in the culinary world. However, if you don’t want to wait for a special occasion to head to a restaurant for some tuna, you can learn to make it at home instead.

Before we get started, let me tell you that grilling fish isn’t for the novice griller. Fish is very delicate and your grilling session can go wrong very easily if you don’t pay attention to the meat. Still, learning to cook grilled tuna steak is not impossible, and that is why I’m here to walk you through the process and give you the confidence to get grilling like a pro. 

Premium Grill Kit - 4 Piece - Tongs, Spatula, Fork, Silicone Basting BrushPremium Grill Kit - 4 Piece - Tongs, Spatula, Fork, Silicone Basting Brush

1. How To Pick Tuna Steaks? 

You can prepare tuna in multiple ways but when making this purchase, always shop from a reputable market with the highest quality seafood available. Tuna is one of the very few fish that must be processed in a way that the parasites are killed by extremely cold freezing temperatures. 

Thick-cut Yellowfin or Ahi Tuna is the best for grilling. Fresh tuna is a very lean fish and tends to dry out quickly on the grill so I recommend you look for thicker cuts that are at least 1½ to 2 inches thick. This allows a quick sear on both sides while leaving the center nice and pink. Another thing to keep in mind is the color. Go for tuna with deep red, even color without dark patches. 

Ideally, tuna is displayed as a whole loin, and steaks are cut at your request. However, if your local store has steaks that are already cut, look for moist (but not wet), shiny, and almost translucent meat. This indicates that the fish is freshly cut. 

Tuna Slicing Knife 17" Shadow Black Series | NSF Certified | Dalstrong Shadow Black Series Tuna Slicing Knife 17" 

2. Tools You Will Need

While the process of cooking tuna steak is fairly simple, some tools will help you achieve restaurant-style precision and accuracy. 

1) Grill or Skillet

If you don’t have a grill at home, you can also cook tuna steaks on a skillet. This will give your steak a nice golden-brown sear while maintaining the pinkness of the meat inside. 

    10” Frying Pan & Skillet | Avalon Series - Dalstrong
    10" Frying Pan & Skillet Hammered Finish Black | Avalon Series | Dalstrong ©

    This highly functional piece of cookware boasts unrivaled conductivity to quickly heat and evenly cook anything placed inside it. This skillet allows for precise searing, browning, sauteing, deep-frying, quick-boiling, baking and even making sauces and jams. 


    • This skillet works well if you don’t have a grill at home as it makes sure that delicate meats like tuna steaks are cooked to perfection without damaging the meat. 
    • The non-stuck Eterna coating ensures that the tuna does not stick to the skillet, giving you a nice golden-brown layer on the outside. 
    • Not only is this skillet stunning to look at but is also built to last a lifetime. 


    • This skillet is slightly expensive, however, if you cook often and love experimenting with different cuisines, this versatile piece of cookware is worth the investment. 
    • The skillet comes with an all-steel lid which might not be the preferred choice of chefs who like to keep an eye on the food cooking inside. 

    2) Fillet Knife

    From deboning fish to helping you achieve uniform, thin slices of meat, a fillet knife is an important tool for a fish enthusiast's kitchen arsenal.

      Curved Boning & Fillet Knife 6” | Omega Series - Dalstrong
      Curved Boning & Fillet Knife 6” | Omega Series - Dalstrong

      These razor-sharp, stainless steel blades are perfect for filleting and slicing big and small fish alike. This knife comes with a thin, curved blade, making it ideal for working with fish and non-fish proteins. 


      • The “LiquidMetal” pattern on the blade reduces drag and flesh damage when slicing or deboning delicate proteins like tuna. 
      • The narrow blade of the knife easily glides through sinew, fat, muscles, and contours of bones allowing for clean separations. 
      • This low-maintenance blade cleans easily. 


      • If you are working with bigger fish or other proteins, you might want to go for a longer blade length that lets you make uniform cuts in a swift motion. 
      • This knife is slightly pricey however if you eat fish often, it is definitely worth the investment. If you want a more pocket-friendly fillet knife, you can go for this one

      3) Cutting Board

      I cannot emphasize enough the importance of investing in a sturdy cutting board for your day-to-day kitchen needs. Other than withstanding countless hours of chopping, dicing, and slicing, they also act as a great base when you need to season meat or vegetables. 

        Teak Cutting Board | Large Size - Dalstrong

        This Tropical Teak wood cutting board acts as the perfect surface to debone, fillet, or season meats like fish, poultry, and even large roasts. 


        • The material used to make this board is moisture resistant, making it very  durable and long-lasting. 
        • The lasered measurement lines on the bottom of the board make precise cuts and sectioning simple. 
        • This statement piece is perfect for preparing as well as serving food, making it very versatile. 


        • If you have a compact kitchen with limited storage space, you would want to go for a medium-sized cutting board
        • The board does not have side handles which can make it slightly difficult to move the board around to transfer meat or while serving on it. 

        4) Apron

        Any avid cook requires an apron to shield them and their clothes from daily kitchen messes and splatters. 

          Professional Chef’s Kitchen Apron | American Legend - Dalstrong
          Dalstrong Professional Chef's Kitchen Apron - American Legend

          This lightweight apron is designed for maximum comfort and function in a busy kitchen. With an adjustable neck strap and 3 front pockets and one stash pocket, this apron vouches to work alongside you in the kitchen all day. 


          • This apron is super durable and comes with a water-repellent coating that allows it to tackle big or small messes head-on. 
          • The apron comes with ample storage space which helps you work in an organized manner. 
          • The 100% denim cotton makes this apron breathable and helps you work smoothly in a hot and busy workspace. 


          • If you’re a professional chef, you might need an apron made of more sturdy materials and more storage space. In that case, you can also go for this apron
          • A denim apron might not be the preferred style for some chefs. If you want a more heavy-duty apron, you can also check this out

          3. Recipe: Grilled Tuna Steak

          Grilled Tuna Steak

          Prep Time

          15 mins

          Cook Time

          10 mins


          25 mins




          Tuna Steak

          • 4 6-ounce Ahi Tuna Steaks

          Seasoning Ingredients

          • ½ tablespoon Kosher Salt 
          • ½ tablespoon Ground Black Pepper

          Dipping Sauce Ingredients 

          • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
          • 3 tablespoons Honey
          • 1 tablespoon Lime Juice (fresh squeezed) 
          • 1 clove Garlic (grated)
          • ¼ teaspoon Ginger (fresh, grated)
          • ⅛ teaspoon Fish Sauce
          • ½ teaspoon Sesame Seeds

          Cooking Instructions

          1. Assemble all the tools and ingredients
            • Gather all the ingredients and tools you will require before you get started. 
            2. Prepare the grill
              • Prepare grill for two-zone or direct/indirect grilling.
              • Target the temperature between 500 and 600 degrees over direct heat. 
              3. Dry the tuna steaks
                • Pat dry the fresh tuna with a paper towel.
                4. Season the steaks
                  • Combine the salt and pepper in a small dish and season the tuna steaks all around. 
                  5. Grill the tuna steaks
                    • Place the seasoning tuna steaks over direct heat and grill for approximately 3 minutes. 
                    • Flip to the other side and cook for an additional 3 minutes. 
                    • The internal temperature of the tuna steak should be between 125 and 130 degrees F (for a medium-rare steak).
                    6. Remove and rest
                      • Remove the steaks from the grill. 
                      • Let it rest for 5 minutes before you slice it. 

                      In the meantime, start preparing the dipping sauce

                      7. Prepare the dipping sauce
                        • In a medium-size bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to incorporate. 
                        • Place in 4 small dipping dishes if you’re serving tuna steak as a main dish.
                        • Sprinkle some sesame seeds into the dipping sauce. 
                        8. Slice and Serve
                          • Slice the tuna into pencil-thin slices and serve with the dipping sauce. 

                          Note: Tuna tastes best when served warm. 

                          4. Tips For Grilling Tuna Steaks

                          If you are trying out a fish steak recipe for the first time then here are a few tips and tricks that will help you get the job done with ease and accuracy. 

                          Prep the grill well

                            You want to start with preheating the grill and the grill grate, clean the grate thoroughly with a grill brush, and finally oil the grate. A hot, clean, and oiled grate will reduce the chances of your fish steaks sticking to it.

                            Dry, oil, and then season the tuna steaks

                              Prep the fish while your grill is preheating. It is very important to dry the fish well on both sides with a paper towel. Minimizing surface moisture will help speed the searing process and reduce the chance of the fish sticking to the grill. After this, rub the dried steaks with a neutral oil like canola, olive oil, or vegetable oil. Remember to sprinkle salt on the tuna at the last second as it draws moisture out of proteins like fish. 

                              Grill the tuna quickly

                                Your goal is to get a sear on the exterior as quickly as possible while minimizing how much heat penetrates to the center. Even after prepping the steaks correctly, there is a high chance of the steak sticking to the grill grate at first, so try and refrain from attempting to lift or move the steak prematurely. Once they brown well, the steaks should release on their own.

                                If your tuna steaks stick to the grill, the best way to release it is by sliding a thin metal tool like a carving fork or culinary tweezers down between the grill grates and under the fish. Then gently lift from below. Do not forge it if it’s stuck on tight. 

                                5. Nutrition Facts

                                Tuna is a heart-healthy protein that contains little to no fat and a good quantity of Omega-3 fatty acids. They help regulate blood circulation and reduce cholesterol. It also contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. Vitamin B in tuna helps build strong bones, and antioxidants help boost the immune system, safeguarding you from diseases. 

                                Grilled Tuna Steak



                                Total Fat


                                Saturated Fat














                                6. Grilled Tuna Steak Temperatures

                                Just like any other meat, tuna steaks can also be cooked at different doneness levels, however, 145 degrees F is the USDA recommended temperature. 

                                Doneness Level



                                120 - 130 degrees F

                                Medium Rare

                                130 - 140 degrees F


                                140 - 150 degrees F


                                Over 150 degrees F
                                Note: We don’t cook tuna that high as it will dry up the meat and lose all the flavor

                                7. Alternate Recipe: Asian Grilled Tuna Steak

                                Asian Grilled Tuna Steak

                                Prep Time

                                15 mins

                                Cook Time

                                6 mins

                                Marinate Time

                                20 mins


                                36 mins




                                Tuna Steak

                                • 4 6-ounce Ahi Tuna Steaks


                                • ½ cup low-sodium Soy Sauce
                                • ¼ cup Scallions / Green Onion (chopped, white & green parts)
                                • 2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
                                • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
                                • 1 teaspoon Ginger (freshly grated)
                                • ½ cup Sesame Seeds
                                • ½ teaspoon Cornstarch
                                • 1 teaspoon Water

                                Cooking Instructions

                                Step 1: 

                                • Gather all the ingredients and tools required before you start with the cooking process.

                                Step 2: 

                                • Take a large zip-lock bag. 
                                • Combine the soy sauce, chopped scallions, lemon juice, sesame oil, and fresh ginger. 
                                • Swish everything around in the bag until it’s well combined. 

                                Step 3: 

                                • Add the tuna steaks to the soy sauce bag, turning to coat them completely with the marinade. 
                                • Press the excess air out of the bag, seal it, and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. 

                                Step 4:

                                • Preheat the grill to high heat. 

                                Step 5: 

                                • Place the sesame seeds on a flat plate.
                                • Remove the tuna steaks from the marinade, brushing the scallions off the steaks. 
                                • Reserve the soy sauce marinade

                                Step 6: 

                                • One at a time, coat the steaks in sesame seeds on all sides, pressing the seeds onto the steaks so they stick. 

                                Step 7:

                                • Spray the grill plate with nonstick spray and place the steaks on the grill. 
                                • Grill for about 3 minutes for a rare, pink interior; longer if you prefer the tuna steaks cooked through. 

                                Step 8:

                                • Carefully flip the tuna steaks with a pair of tongs and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side. 
                                • Remove the steaks from the grill and keep them warm. 

                                Step 9:

                                • While the tuna cooks, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.
                                • Mix the cornstarch with the water to create a slurry and add to the saucepan, stirring it with a whisk. 
                                • Let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce thickens. 

                                Step 10: 

                                • To serve, slice the tuna steaks diagonally into thin pieces.
                                • Fan the slices on a plate, drizzle with the sauce and serve warm. 

                                8. Best Seasonings for Grilled Tuna

                                Basic seasoning of salt and pepper is more than enough to bring out the wonderful flavors of tuna steak, but here are a few seasonings that also pair very well with it: 

                                • Spice Rub: This is a mixture of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper, basil, and oregano.

                                • Sweet and Spicy Herb Mix: Combine mustard seeds, coriander, cloves, allspice, black pepper, chili powder, bay leaves, and cinnamon to prepare this rub. 

                                9. How Do You Know When The Tuna Steaks Are Done? 

                                When it comes to grilling tuna steaks, there is nothing to measure. All you need to do is sear both sides of the steak and pull it off the grill right away. However, if you’re grilling for the first time, here are some things you should look out for: 

                                • Watch the edges of the seared tuna steak. Tuna’s color changes from raw to cooked is very dramatic. Raw tuna is a deep, dark purple-red hue but on touching the heat, it becomes light beige. 
                                • Remember that because heat will swirl up and around each steak, the exterior edge will cook more quickly than the interior. 
                                • When cooked, remove the steaks from the grill and slice them up with a sharp, thin-bladed slicing knife. 
                                • Tuna tastes best when served warm or even cold (take canned tuna, for example). So do not bother reheating the tuna steaks if they tend to cook down a little. 

                                10. Serving Suggestions

                                Tuna has a higher mercury content because of which the FDA recommends about 2-3 servings per week of light tuna and one 1 serving per week of white tuna. The serving size of tuna for a typical adult is about 4 ounces. 

                                Tuna steaks are delicious by themselves but if you’re wondering what else you can serve your party along with the steak, here are some sides that pair well: 

                                • A fresh vegetable salad with vinaigrette dressing 
                                • Roasted lemon potatoes
                                • Garlic fries
                                • Stir-fried veggies 
                                • Cream cheese stuffed peppers
                                • Baked sweet potato fries
                                • Serve it on a bed of brown rice
                                • Salted chips
                                • Cheese-stuffed mushrooms
                                • Pasta Salad

                                11. Frequently Asked Questions

                                How well should a tuna steak be cooked?

                                Tuna steaks tend to dry out quickly and turn crumbly, so they should be cooked briefly over high heat in a skillet, pan, or grill. You can also simmer it in a sauce for added flavor. 

                                How long do you grill tuna steaks well done?

                                It is recommended not to cook tuna steaks till they are well done as they will dry out and crumble. You must sear the tuna well on both sides, for 3 minutes each, and take it off the grill to preserve the flavors and tenderness of the meat. 

                                Do you flip tuna on the grill?

                                As soon as you place the tuna on the grill, chances are it will stick to the grill. Do not flip or move the steaks then. Leave that side down for 2-3 minutes until browned and crispy so it releases by itself. Then, flip to the other side and sear for another 2-3 minutes until browned.

                                What temperature do you grill tuna steaks?

                                It is recommended you preheat the grill to the highest heat possible- 500 to 700 degrees F, depending on how hot the grill gets. Pat the tuna dry and season liberally with salt and pepper just before placing it on the grill. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked on the outside but still raw on the inside.

                                Should tuna steak be pink in the middle? 

                                It is recommended to leave tuna steaks pink in the middle as it keeps the meat moist, tender, and flavorful. If overcooked, tuna steaks can dry out very quickly. You can tell the steak is done when the outside is firm to touch, can be easily flaked with a fork and the center is still pink. If you are still not sure, you can use an instant-read meat thermometer and aim for an internal temperature of 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). 

                                Do you need to marinate tuna steaks before grilling?

                                No. Tuna is very lean so you do not need to marinate it before grilling it. Instead of marinating the meat, you can pair the steaks with a fun dipping sauce to add some flavor. If a recipe calls for marination, 15 to 20 minutes should be enough for the tuna to absorb the flavors of the marinade.

                                Written by Himani Vaid
                                Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.

                                Cooking Grilled Tuna Steak Like A Pro

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