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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



  • 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.


  • 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


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!


  • 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.


  • 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! 
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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


    • drinkoj
    • 5 stars

    Perfect perfect perfect. Talk about simple but delicious. For the sriracha mayo, use Kewpie mayo to balance with the marinade.

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you! 🙂

    • Karen
    • 5 stars

    I made this last night and it was delicious. I made the sriracha Mayo but added horseradish.

    I also made an Asian dip sauce
    • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (parsley)
    • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 3 tablespoons lime iuice
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced

      • Amy Dong

      Thanks, Karen!

    • Laura
    • 5 stars

    Have made many times & am again tonight. It’s a keeper & one I’ve shared with friends. Delicious every time!

    • Kris
    • 5 stars

    We really loved this! I followed the recipe exact, and marinated it for about 3 hours. I seared it in avocado oil. Only problem I had was I was cooking on a gas stove and when I added the tuna to the oil in the pan, it flared up and caused it to flame up. After quickly throwing a lid over it to douse the flame, I carried on. Next time I think I will shut the flame off, add the fish, and turn it back on and be more prepared as it set off my fire alarm. I served it over Brown jasmine rice and a dressed asian kale slaw, sliced avocado, edamame, radish and cucumber and topped with siracha mayonaisse, sesame seeds and cilantro, like a budda bowl. My husband couldn’t stop with the compliments. Perfection! thanks for a great recipe, its a keeper!

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you loved this, Kris! Love the brown rice and Asian slaw 🙂

    • Donna johansson
    • 5 stars

    So awesome. I make this all the time. My whole family lives it including young grandkids. I do use low sodium and put everything bagel seasoning on sides. Yummy

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, so happy the family loves this!

    • MelodySings
    • 5 stars

    I forgot to say I saved some of the sauce and added toasted sesame seeds and sweet chile sauce to it, it turned out great.

    • MelodySings
    • 5 stars

    I changed some of the ingredients because of health and allergy issues but it turned out great, I marinated it for about 10 minutes while I was getting the other food cooking and that was the perfect amount of time.

    • Hillary L

    I was soooooo looking forward to this, but it was so salty I could t eat it. What did I do wrong?? I didn’t have kosher salt, I used regular, should I have halved it? I seared in Sesame oil. The first two burned immediately and stuck to my non-stick pan. Any advice for others so they don’t wind up with my fate??

      • Amy Dong

      Yes, the salt should have been halved if using regular salt. Here’s why kosher salt is different. Hope you can try again and love it!

    • Anthony A
    • 5 stars

    I’d say 4.5 stars to be more accurate. I marinated mine for 2 nights and even though it tasted really good I’d also say it’s missing something. However, the recipe does allow for the taste of the tuna to be on full display and indeed it was. I added some different sauces after trying and the best sauce was more soy. I had a boom boom (bang bang) sauce instead of the spicy Mayo which I’m sure is comparable. Wish I had some wasabi to add to my soy but I didn’t. Either way, I’d recommend this recipe and encourage you to be creative and find that missing link if you agree.

      • Amy Dong

      Thanks, Anthony! Love the boom sauce and yes to wasabi!

    • Shari
    • 5 stars

    My husband and I both absolutely loved this!

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, Shari!

    • Chrissy
    • 5 stars

    Very flavorful marinade. My whole family enjoyed it. Will make again.

    • Jill
    • 5 stars

    I scored a 10 for this today. We loved…loved…loved this. He was worried when I told him I was marinating the tuna but afterwards he said it’d be hard to top this and the Crunchy Asian Cabbage Ramen recipe…also from this site!

    • Laura
    • 5 stars

    Making this a second time as main course. I seared on the grill last time. Flavors are amazing. It’s a keeper!

    • Ronna
    • 5 stars

    This marinade is a winner! I have served this dish multiple times and to multiple different groups of people and it’s always a favorite. Delicious and easy and impressive all in one! Thank you.

    • 5 stars

    Making the dish now, but substituted Coco Aminos for soy sauce due to allergies. The marinade leftovers went well with grilled veggies and would make a great cabbage salad dressing. Thanks so much for the recipe!!!

    • Deb
    • 5 stars

    This is the best marinade for ahi tuna. Simple yet flavorful. I also add a little fresh grated ginger & fresh garlic. Get that oil smoking hot is the key before searing the steaks. Perfect every time! Sriracha mixed in mayo is the perfect dip for it! Thank you!

      • Amy Dong

      So happy you love this, Deb!

    • LaWanna Starks
    • 5 stars

    Love This!!!! I have made it repeatedly and it always is delicious

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, so happy you love this!

    • Loreto and Nicoletta Nardelli
    • 5 stars

    I’ve only thought of ordering ahi tuna at a restaurant, but now with your recipe and instructions, I feel like we can make it at home. Looks fantastic!

    • Moop Brown
    • 5 stars

    This tuna looks really taste and I love the suggestions you offered for things to serve with it. Thanks

    • Jamie R
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely delish! I coated in sesame seeds before searing, used fresh garlic instead of powder, omitted sugar, added grated ginger.

      • chewoutloud

      Great job, Jamie!

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