The Block

How to Pan-Sear Ahi Tuna


Yellowfin Tuna steaks is one of the species of tuna called “Ahi”, notable for its beautiful pink color and prized for its deliciously mild flavor and creamy texture. Ahi tuna is one of the best and highest-quality fish a cook can get their hands on. Here’s how to perfectly pan-sear your yellowfin tuna steak in a few simple steps.

The Best Yellowfin Tuna for Pan-Searing 

Often called the “steak of fish,” Ahi or Yellowfin Tuna has a mild and meaty flavor, making them a favorite among meat and seafood lovers. Sustainably wild-caught in the waters of the Pacific, ahi tuna is a great high-protein option for anyone looking for a healthy and gourmet meal at home.

How to Pan-Sear Ahi Tuna

Follow the steps below for an elegant and effortless seafood meal at home.

Tools You’ll Need Before You Start

  • Large cast iron or nonstick skillet
  • Fish spatula
  • Rubber-tipped tongs

1. Thaw Ahi Tuna

Start by completely thawing your ahi tuna steaks. To thaw overnight in the refrigerator, remove the desired number of tuna steaks from the plastic packaging, cover, and refrigerate. For quicker thawing, unpackage your tuna steak and place it in a sealable plastic bag. Immerse in cold water for 30 minutes or until completely defrosted. Once thawed consume within one to two days.

2. Season Ahi Tuna

Before seasoning, allow tuna steaks to come to room temperature, then pat dry with a paper towel. This will help the seasonings stick to the fillets. Season with your favorite seafood seasoning blend, or try our Signature Seafood Rub with Citrus & Herb to bring out the wonderful flavors of the fish.

Try Executive Chef David Rose’s seasoning blend for a sesame-crusted tuna steak. Place the sesame seed seasoning blend on a plate and press tuna steaks into seasoning and coat generously on all sides. This recipe will accommodate four Yellowfin Tuna Steaks.

Yellowfin Tuna Sesame Seasoning

A simple and delicious seasoning blend for a sesame-crusted tuna steak
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Executive Chef David Rose


  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


  • Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Chef Tip: Tuna steaks can also be seasoned with quick marinades; 30 minutes to 2 hours. To marinate, start with olive oil, fresh herbs, and spices, then add an acid or citrus in the last 15-20 minutes to avoid “cooking” the seafood. Add salt immediately before cooking. Try one of these marinade recipes.

3. Preheat Pan to Medium-High Heat

Achieving the perfect sear on your tuna steak requires a HOT pan! Whether you choose a cast iron pan or a nonstick skillet, it needs to be fully preheated before adding the tuna steaks to ensure a great sear. Add 1 teaspoon of high smoke point oil, such as avocado, olive, grapeseed, or canola oil, per yellowfin tuna portion to a pan or skillet and preheat to medium-high heat.

4. Pan-Sear Ahi Tuna to Rare or Medium-Rare Doneness

For rare doneness, place tuna steaks in a HOT preheated pan and cook 30-45 seconds per side, until golden brown on the outside, but still pink in the center. For medium-rare doneness, place tuna steaks in the preheated pan and cook for 60-90 seconds on each side. Use tongs to quickly sear the edges of the tuna steak until also golden brown. Thicker portions may take slightly longer.

Searing vs. Cooking Through

The yellowfin tuna experience is best when most of the slice you’re eating is cooked to a rare or medium-rare doneness and still pink in the middle. The juiciness, the tuna flavor, and the texture are simply sublime. It’s certainly OK to cook ahi tuna all the way through. The only risk is overcooked tuna can be quite dry (think canned tuna) and less flavorful.

How to Serve Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna

Seared tuna is delicious and so, so versatile. Consider these ideas for seared tuna steaks, and don’t be afraid to get creative! Sprinkle your tuna steaks with toasted sesame seeds for an added crunch, and drizzle with sweet-sticky soy sauce. Top with delicious mango salsa or add to a yellowfin tuna salad bowl. Serve pan-seared tuna with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and pan-seared bok choy for a delicious Asian-inspired meal.

More Articles

Group shot of seafood, including crab legs, lobster, ahi tuna, shrimp, cod and halibut


Responsibly sourced from oceans around the globe and always delivered frozen fresh for the greatest seafood experience any time you wish.

What’s On Our Board