How to Cook Tuna Steak In a Pan: The Ultimate Guide
how to cook tuna steak in a pan

Including fresh fish in your diet is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Your local supermarket or fish market will be able to provide you with a wide range of different types of fish to enjoy.

Of, course, when it comes to cooking tuna, you will find that cooking it can differ from other fish like mackerel or salmon. This is because the flesh of tuna is quite firm, and has a somewhat meaty texture to it.

If you’ve never tried to cook tuna before, we offer some advice below that you may find helpful – we’ll show you how to cook tuna steak in a pan.

But before we explain more about how to cook this fish, we offer some advice about buying it.

Tips for Buying Tuna Steak or Loin

fresh tuna steakes

When you’re planning to learn how to cook tuna steak in a pan, you’ll first need to purchase the perfect tuna steak or loin. Many types of tuna are available to buy as steaks but you may also see that strips of tuna loin are available too – these are typically what you would use to make sashimi or sushi.

You may see smaller steaks available, known as toro in Japan but called ventresca elsewhere. These particular raw tuna steaks come from the fatty belly of this fish.

When looking to buy a piece of tuna to cook in a pan, look for ones that are firm and the flesh has a dense or dark red color to it.

It’s best if you go for thicker tuna fish steaks as you will find that these cook a lot better.

How to Cook Tuna Steak in a Pan

raw tuna steak in a pan on a napkin with salvia ,spices and lemon slices

When learning how to cook tuna steak in a pan, it’s important to note that fresh tuna steaks can dry out pretty quickly, and they may start to crumble. So if you want to cook yours in a pan, you should do so very briefly and make sure that it is cooked over high heat.

You can serve tuna rare or cooked. Some people like to eat their tuna with just the outside being cooked and the center still being raw.

The main benefit of cooking tuna steak in a pan is that it is easier to control the length of time the tuna cooks. This, in turn, allows you to enjoy the tuna how you like it.

As this fish has quite a robust flavor you will find that including spices, herbs, or other flavors won’t end up overwhelming it. Marinating the tuna adds further flavor to the surface of this fish, but you won’t find that it helps to make it taste any juicier.

When cooking tuna in a pan, it’s important to keep a close eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Even just a few seconds of overcooking could cause the tuna steak to dry out.

Instructions for How to Cook Tuna Steak in a Pan

When it comes to cooking tuna in a pan, there are several steps to ensure that you end up with a juicy flavorsome meal. Below we take you through the steps for how to cook tuna steak in a pan.

The timings that we suggest in this part of the article are for when you cook a 6.5 oz (180 g) tuna steak that is around 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. But for thicker steaks, you will need to increase the cooking time. 

Step 1 

Begin by taking the steak or loin out of the refrigerator and leave it to rest on the side for a few minutes to help bring it up to room temperature.

Step 2

Next, remove the tuna from the packaging and rinse it thoroughly with cold running water.

Lay the cleaned tuna steak on a plate, and then pat it with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Make sure to pat dry both sides of the steak.

Once the tuna is dry, you can generously sprinkle fresh herbs, spices, or flavors of your choice, such as black pepper, over both sides. You can also squeeze a little lemon juice on each side of the steak.

Step 3

Leave again to rest and place your pan or cast iron skillet on to the hob and turn the heat up high, then lower it to medium heat.

Step 4

In the pan, add a tablespoon of butter (best to use unsalted) and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once the butter and olive oil has heated up in the cast iron skillet, you are ready to start cooking the tuna steaks.

Gently place the tuna in the hot nonstick skillet and cook on either side for 4 minutes over medium-high heat. For thicker steaks, an additional cook time of between 1-1/2 to 2 minutes may be needed for each side of the fish. 

Step 5

Once both sides of the tuna have been cooked, remove it from the pan, place it on a plate, and leave it to rest for a few minutes. 

Step 6

After resting the tuna you are now ready to serve it. You can either divide the tuna steak into equal portions or slice it up into pieces. 

Before you serve the tuna, make sure to squeeze a little extra fresh lemon juice over it if you feel it is needed to further enhance the wonderful flavor. You can also put fresh lemon slices on the table and allow those who are enjoying the tuna to add their own.


We hope that you found the information in this article about how to cook tuna steak in a pan helpful.

We also suggest you may want to think about getting a meat thermometer to help make sure that you cook your tuna steaks with their amazing flavor as you would like to eat them and make a great alternative to meat.

When it comes to cooking tuna steaks, they can quickly become overcooked in a very short space of time. But with a meat thermometer, you will be able to quickly see that your tuna steak is cooked to perfection.

It would be great to hear if you found the information in this article useful in allowing you to cook your tuna steak to perfection.

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