Skip to content

Marinated Seared Ahi Tuna

This is the most amazing Seared Ahi Tuna that you can make right at home! Infused with bold flavors from an Asian-style marinade, this dish makes a fantastic appetizer or healthy dinner.

seared ahi tuna plated and garnished.
Super tender, flavorful Seared Ahi Tuna isn’t just for nights out – you can enjoy it right in your own home!

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

What Is Ahi Tuna?

There are two main kinds of tuna that people like to eat, albacore tuna and ahi tuna. The main difference between these two varieties lies in the fat content. Ahi tuna has more fat, making it firm, buttery, and perfect for searing. Albacore tuna, on the other hand, has less fat, making it perfect for canning and low-fat meals.

For this recipe, we use ahi tuna to get that firm texture and rich flavor. Ahi is also fairly safe to eat raw compared to other kinds of fish. Be sure to buy high quality ahi tuna that looks and smells fresh. When in doubt, ask your local fishmonger or seafood specialist.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

This Marinated Seared Ahi Tuna is packed with bold flavors, super tender and juicy, and one of our favorite seafood recipes. Here’s why:

  • Healthy: Seared ahi tuna is packed with both protein and omega-3 fatty acids making it a great option for a healthy lunch or dinner.
  • Flavorful: A marinade with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar infuses the ahi tuna with loads of flavor in every bite.
  • Easy: Seared ahi tuna sounds like a tantalizing menu item (it is) that only restaurant chefs could make (it’s not), you’ll be surprised how simple it is to make yourself.
  • Quick: This impressive dish takes just over 10 minutes to make, landing it on our list of easy weeknight dinners.
  • Poke Bowls: Pair seared ahi tuna with rice and make it into a jaw-droppingly delicious poke bowl like our Poke Bowl Recipe with Sriracha Mayo.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Ahi Tuna – We use fresh ahi tuna steaks, but you can use flash frozen tuna and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Do not use fish that has been defrosted and re-frozen. Shoot for about 1.5 to 1.75 inches thick throughout.
  • Soy Sauce – If you’re gluten-free you can replace this with Tamari. The soy sauce not only adds flavor, but also helps keep the tuna steaks juicy and tender.
  • Sesame Oil – We like using toasted sesame oil for it’s deeper flavor.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar helps create a thin crust on the seared edges of the tuna.

Substitutions And Variations

Although this recipe is pretty straight-forward, there are a few tweaks you can make to spice things up. Check them out:

  • Marinade: We absolutely love the flavor of this marinade; but if you’re making this recipe on repeat and wanting to switch it up, try using our Ginger Soy Marinade from our Baked Salmon recipe. You can also substitute fresh minced garlic for the garlic powder and honey or maple syrup for the sugar.
  • Cooked Fish: Not too keen on raw fish? You could technically cook the ahi tuna longer, but fully cooked ahi tuna tends to become tough and dry. Instead, take a look at this Mizo Glazed Salmon or this Easy Barramundi Recipe for cooked alternatives.
  • Toppings: We love Seared Ahi Tuna served with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, fresh chopped cilantro, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Sriracha Mayo also goes incredibly with this dish!

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pat tuna steaks fully dry and place in a bowl. Immerse in marinade and let sit for several hours.
  1. Place Ahi Tuna in super-hot, oiled skillet and sear for 1 1/2 minutes on first side.
  2. Flip carefully and sear another 1 1/2 minutes on second side.
  1. Remove tuna from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  2. Seared ahi tuna can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. Add desired garnishes and enjoy!

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

Here’s a few simple ways to prep Seared Ahi Tuna in advance:

  • Marinade Ingredients: Feel free to measure and mix all of the marinade ingredients several days in advance. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Ahi Tuna: If you’re starting with frozen ahi tuna, make sure to pull it out of the freezer and transfer it to the fridge for 24 hours to give it time to completely thaw before marinating.
  • Marinade Tuna: Make sure to give the tuna enough time in the marinade – from several hours to overnight. Just don’t marinade it longer than overnight as this can actually make the ahi tuna too mushy.
  • Sriracha Mayo: This luscious sauce can be made days in advance, covered, and chilled until ready to use. Green onions can also be chopped days in advance.
seared ahi tuna plated and garnished.

What To Serve With Seared Ahi Tuna

Rice

Salads

  • Asian Rice Salad combines a simple rice medley with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a great veggie side for this dish!
  • We love this Crunchy Asian Cabbage Ramen Salad as a side to any seafood dinner.
  • A side of edamame is the perfect pairing.

Drinks

  • If you’re making this impressive dish for a group of friends, try also mixing together this Big Batch Pineapple Margarita Recipe.
  • If you’re so inclined, enjoy your perfectly seared ahi with the perfect wine pairing. This Asian style ahi with sesame-soy flavors is crazy good with a quality Riesling.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat seared ahi tuna?

Ahi tuna is almost always served raw in the center, so it’s safest to use high quality, “sushi-grade” (or grade 1) ahi from a reputable seller. A quality fish market or counter should be able to answer any questions you have about the quality/source of their ahi tuna.

Can you cook ahi tuna until it’s fully cooked?

Technically, you can serve fully cooked ahi tuna, but it will taste completely different from seared ahi tuna. Tuna that has been cooked all the way through tends to be more like canned tuna; dry and flaky. Pan-seared is generally considered the best way to cook ahi tuna.

How do you know when ahi tuna is done cooking?

It’s important to ensure your ahi tuna is not overcooked, as overcooking creates an unpalatable texture that’s chewy and dry. For ahi tuna steaks that are at least 1 1/2 inches thick, we recommend searing on high heat for 1 1/2 minutes per side. For thinner tuna steaks, sear only 1 minute per side.

Why is my ahi tuna falling apart when I sear it?

This could be for a few reasons. One, your filets may be too thin if they’re falling apart. Two, you may be using your spatula too much. Once the fish is on the pan, don’t keep moving it around. Sometimes we stir and sauté, and sometimes we just let it rest on the pan. This is a let-it-rest situation.

How do I ensure the perfect sear on my ahi tuna?

The best way is to get your cooking oil smoking hot (we mean hot) prior to laying down the tuna. It’s the sizzling hot oil that will give you a perfect sear.


Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

seared ahi tuna plated and garnished.

Seared Ahi Tuna, Marinated

4.99 from 255 ratings
This is the most amazing Seared Ahi Tuna that you can make right at home! Infused with bold flavors from an Asian-style marinade, this dish makes a fantastic appetizer or healthy dinner.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Marinade

For Ahi Tuna

  • 2 ½ pounds fresh ahi tuna steaks, about 1 1/2-1 2/3 inches thick
  • 3 TB canola or vegetable oil, for searing
  • Optional: freshly chopped cilantro, green scallions, sesame seeds for garnish.
  • Optional: Sriracha mayo for drizzling, really good!

Instructions

  • In a bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients to make the marinade. Towel dry tuna steaks and place in a glass or ceramic dish. Pour marinade over the fish, turning to coat well throughout. Cover tightly and chill several hours, up to overnight; turn fish over at least once in the middle of marinade time.
  • Heat 3 TB oil in a large heavy skillet until oil is smoking.* Sear ahi steaks 1 1/2 minutes per side on high heat, taking care to flip carefully with a flat, steel spatula. (If your tuna is less than 1 1/2 inches thick, sear for only 1 minute per side.)
  • Transfer seared ahi to a large cutting board and let rest/cool 10 minutes. Use a very sharp (serrated works well) knife to slice thinly across the grain.
  • Serve chilled or at room temp. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro or green onions, if desired. Drizzle with Sriracha mayo if desired.

Notes

  • If you’re marinating the ahi overnight and are concerned about ahi tuna steaks being “cooked” in acidity, you can choose to add lemon juice 1-2 hours prior to cooking. 
  • Use a heavy, large aluminum or stainless steel skillet; forgo nonstick pans here. We’ve used our faithful All Clad stainless steel skillet for many, many years, and it continues to serve us well. It’s a heavy duty work horse in the kitchen and is meant to last a lifetime.
  • Remember, the ahi will continue to cook a bit more while resting on the cutting board, so you’ll want to carefully manage the minutes your tuna sits on the pan.
  • Seared ahi is best eaten on same day. However, leftovers can be tightly wrapped and chilled for up to 1 day.
  • For lower sodium version, use reduced sodium soy sauce.
  • To keep dish gluten-free, double check that your soy sauce is labeled gluten-free. Our favorite gluten-free soy sauce is Tamari.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
Join our Free Recipe Club and get our newest, best recipes each week!

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 797mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4128IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Asian American
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: marinade, Stovetop

More To Cook And Eat

  • Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe – This Mahi Mahi recipe gives you tender, buttery, and flaky filets complete with a mouthwatering lemon garlic butter sauce.
  • Salmon Poke Bowl – Soy sauce, fresh ginger, and lime juice give this salmon serious flavor that will have you making this healthy meal on repeat.
  • Grilled Shrimp Kabobs – You won’t believe that these succulent, tender shrimp kabobs take just 10 minutes to make!
  • Lemon Garlic Swordfish Recipe – This is one of those dishes that taste like it took way longer than just 30 minutes to make. It’s buttery, tender, and lemony.

Add a comment

Recipe Rating




146 comments

    • tweenselmom

    Omg this looks really delicious! Never tried this before, but I’ll look forward to getting a taste of it sometime!

    • Renata

    I really don’t like to eat fish but my hubby loves it 🙂

    • Sophia John

    I’ve never done Ahi Tuna. Will surely try this out

    • Marie Phillips
    • 5 stars

    This looks amazing as well as the shrimp further down on the page. I will be trying both recipes soon!

    • Kristen
    • 5 stars

    Made this recipe many times and always on point. Had tried others before and not nearly as delicious as this! Super easy as well!

      • chewoutloud

      So happy you love the flavor of the marinade! 🙂

    • Sara H
    • 5 stars

    Made this for dinner tonight. My husband has had seared tuna many times and he said this was the best ever! I only marinated the steaks for 3 hours and the flavor was perfect. I seared the steaks in a cast iron skillet on the side burner of our grill and it worked great! Thank you

      • chewoutloud

      That’s amazing, Sara!!

    • Rosa
    • 5 stars

    Delish! Used yellowfin tuna steaks because that’s what I had on hand. Will definitely use this recipe again.

      • chewoutloud

      So very happy you enjoyed this so much, Rosa! 🙂

    • Luis

    Trying it for the first time tonight smells going looks good and I’m sure it will taste good you can’t go wrong with these ingredients can’t wait thank you!!

      • chewoutloud

      I’m so excited for you to enjoy this recipe, Luis! Hope you all love it.

        • Jeremiah D White
        • 5 stars

        Stay at home dad here. This is awesome, I usually stick to talipia or salmon but I have added this to my rotation. It is awsome! Especially with the spicy mayo. Much love.

          • chewoutloud

          So glad you liked this, Jerehmiah! Thanks for coming over and enjoy the summer!

    • David

    The lemon juice cooked the tuna, I thought that was a little odd making it more of a ceviche but kept it since your pics were so inviting. Ho hum, another disappointment. Thanks for the pretty pictures though!!! 🙂

      • chewoutloud

      Sorry to hear that, David. I haven’t had the marinade cook my tuna before; was your tuna thick, at least 1″ in thickness? Thanks for being here and hope you find something you love 🙂

    • Summer
    • 5 stars

    This turned out delicious. Served over a bed of lightly dressed salad greens and topped with scallions, cilantro, and spicy mayo. Everyone enjoyed it (me, hubby, and 3 kids). My youngest doesn’t do spicy, so he had his with a drizzle of BBQ sauce. He ended up asking for seconds on the tuna! 2 thumbs up on this one.

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, Summer! So so happy to hear you guys liked this! 🙂 Enjoy the remaining warm weather days 🙂

    • Mary LaCombe

    Do you have to pat dry the tuna after marinating? OR does the tuna go directly from marinade to hot pan? I just want it to get a nice sear and not steam. Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      Go directly to hot pan, no patting needed. Just make sure not to overcrowd pan – they key is a very hot, nicely greased pan. Enjoy and hope you love it, Mary!

    • Lorin

    Can this marinade be used on Salmon? Sounds delicious but hard to find ahi in colorado sometimes 😉

        • Chriszee

        Loved this tuna tasted great! Word of caution soy sauce is only GF if you use GF soy sauce so if youre new to GF make sure to buy GF soy sauce.

    • Kimbolini

    Was delcious! Even my picky toddler ate it. We seared it on the grill. Will try searing in a pan next time. Was thinking next time will cook the remaining marinade until it thickens into a sauce that we can drizzle over the ahi.

      • chewoutloud

      Sounds awesome, Kim! So glad you and family liked this 🙂

    • Hattie

    I followed the recipe exactly, as soon as I put my steaks in the hot oil, the oil instantly turned black. I’m guessing the sugar burned?

      • chewoutloud

      Hmm, I haven’t had this happen before, but my guess is perhaps the oil was too hot (and for too long) before putting the food in? Try heating the oil just until it is barely starting to sizzle. Hope that helps, Hattie! 🙂

        • Paula Summey Weigel

        I can’t wait to try this recipe. I think all our pans are non-stick. Can we use a cast iron skillet to sear it?

          • chewoutloud

          You can definitely use cast iron, but oil it well before using and get that oil hot first 🙂 Enjoy! Happy new year 🙂

            • Paula Summey Weigel

            Thank you so much for the response. I made it last night and was in heaven!! It came out perfectly; I was so proud! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your amazing recipes!

              • chewoutloud

              Awesome!! So happy to hear it. And Happy new year!

        • Laura

        I have made this twice now and both time it has come out absolutely perfect. Everyone agrees it’s their favorite dish! Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!

        Just wondering…By any chance do you know the calories per serving?

          • chewoutloud

          You’re so welcome, Laura! So happy you guys love this. We don’t know calories per serving, but myfitnesspal has some great calculations. This recipe is likely very low in fat and calories, though 🙂 Really healthy and yummy!

            • Laura

            Great. Thanks so much! I’ll check out the app!

        • HollaRobRob

        This was amazing, my husband has requested I make it again this week! Thank You 😉

        • Kris

        Made this for dinner tonight, hubby and I loved It! I drizzled mine in sriracha mayo and eel sauce! SO GOOD!

          • chewoutloud

          Ooh, that sounds amazing, Kris! So glad you guys liked this

        • Becky

        Do you have a recipe for the sriracha mayo? Or is it exactly what it sounds like and I mix the two?

          • chewoutloud

          Becky, I just updated to include the link to recipe for Sriracha Mayo 🙂 Enjoy, hope you guys love it!

            • Becky

            Excellently! Thanks!

        • Dae
        • 5 stars

        I’ve never cooked Ahi Tuna. But I’ve cooked salmon and tilapia in the past. Is this hard? I want to make this in the near future. It looks yummy.

          • chewoutloud

          Absolutely not hard at all. Super easy and so yummy! Thanks for coming over, Dae 🙂

        • Debi

        This was very flavorful! I didn’t have time to marinate it that long but it was still delicious!

          • chewoutloud

          Yay, so happy to hear it, Debi! 🙂

            • Claire

            We just had this for supper and everyone enjoyed! Even our 3 children! Will definitely be making this again soon

              • chewoutloud

              Yay, Claire! Glad you liked it!

      Get our free email series: 5 Easy Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

      Plus our newest recipes each week