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Home » Cuisines » American » Blackened Tuna Steaks Recipe: Easy Cooking Tips

Blackened Tuna Steaks Recipe: Easy Cooking Tips

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Blackened tuna steaks are deliciously seasoned, ultra tender, and ready in 15 minutes! The tuna steak has a fork-tender, buttery texture and a bold Cajun flavor from the blackening spices. Give these tuna steaks a quick sear in a hot skillet to get a restaurant-style meal on the table in no time! 

A dinner plate with a sliced tuna steak and some tartar sauce.

This blackened tuna recipe couldn’t be easier to make.

The tuna has a beautifully crisp outer crust and a perfectly pink center! You can slice them thin and serve them over rice or tucked into a fish taco.

Similar to our Grilled Tuna Steak with Marinade and our Easy Tuna Piccata, this dish is a wonderful way to enjoy ahi tuna steaks and infuse your regular dinner rotation with something quick, elevated and different!

Serve this fast and easy tuna recipe with your favorite side dishes, like our Cajun Rice DressingCorn and Shrimp Chowder, or Black Rice Salad

Why This Blackened Tuna Recipe Works

Ahi tuna steaks are often considered to be a special occasion dish, but why not enjoy them more regularly?!

This great recipe delivers delicious, bold flavors thanks to the spicy crust, and a tender tuna steak with the perfect texture. 

It works well for dinner parties when you want an impressive and easy meal, but it’s also great for busy weeknights when you only have a few minutes worth of time to devote to dinner prep. 

Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:

  • The spicy dry rub is the perfect coating on the ahi tuna steaks, and results in big flavors with a crunchy, seared crust. 
  • This easy recipe is a great way to create a quick and healthy meal with minimal effort!
  • The fish gets a lovely char on the outside and the heat distribution from the cast-iron skillet ensures that it’s cooked evenly throughout. 
Two thick fillets of fresh tuna steaks.

​Ingredients For Our Blackened Tuna Recipe

To make this simple dish, you will need:

  • Blackening spice. ​A store-bought spice mixture will do just fine, but if you prefer to make your own homemade blackening seasoning, you will need a blend of: smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, sugar, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. 
  • Tuna steaks. Choose tuna steaks that are thick, about 1-1/4 to 2 inches in thickness. Tuna steaks are known as ahi tuna or yellowfin tuna. 
  • Cooking oil. ​Use a high-heat cooking oil with a neutral flavor. Avocado oil and vegetable oil work well. 

How to Make Blackened Tuna

Here’s a look at the steps to making our seared tuna recipe! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to view the printable recipe card. 

Before you begin: For the best results, use a heavy cast iron skillet. You can get it very hot and it will retain heat well, meaning an even heat distribution as the fish cooks. 

Place the large cast iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes to get it smoking hot.

Spices for blackening seasoning: smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne.

Combine all of the seasonings and spices to make your Cajun seasoning. If preferred, use 1/3 cup of your favorite store-bought blackening spice. 

Patting a tuna steak dry with paper towels.

Pat the tuna steaks with paper towels to dry, then coat them in oil. 

Coating a tuna steak in blackening spices.

Coat the fish in the Cajun spices (blackening seasoning), pressing it down to get the seasoning mix to adhere to all sides of the tuna. 

Searing a blackened tuna steak in a cast iron skillet.

Add oil to the skillet, then place steaks in the pan and gently press down with a spatula. Sear for 45 to 60 seconds on each side for “rare” tuna.

If you want the steaks to cook to medium or well done, reduce the heat and increase the cooking time. You’ll lower the heat to medium and cook the steaks for an extra 2-4 minutes. 

Serve the blackened tuna steak and enjoy!

Recipe Variations

Love that classic blackened tuna but want to try something new? Here are some flavorful twists to the recipe.

Citrus-Herb Blackened Tuna

Add some citrus and fresh herbs to your seasoning. You could include the zest of one lemon or lime, along with a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley to the seasoning recipe.

Maple Tuna Steak

Mix ¼ cup of soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to use as a glaze or dipping sauce. Drizzle the sauce over the blackened tuna.

More Tuna Recipes

A seared tuna steak in a cast iron skillet with slices of lemon.

Pro Tips for Cooking Tuna Steaks

  • For a more well done tuna steak, watch the side of the fish as it cooks. The color will change dramatically. Rare portions will look somewhat portion while well-done ahi tuna appears white in color.
  • Tuna steak has a delicate flavor and buttery texture when cooked rare. It dries out the longer it cooks. If this is your first time enjoying fresh tuna, we recommend trying it rare first! The best part about that is you can always cook it for 1-2 minutes longer if it’s too rare for you. 
  • If you have frozen tuna steaks, let them thaw completely before you begin and make sure to pat dry any excess moisture. 
  • If you want to marinate the tuna steaks before you cook them, check out the marinade in our grilled tuna steak recipe
  • Store any leftover tuna in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions

Looking for a variety of ways to enjoy Blackened tuna? Here are a few recommendations we know you’ll love!

A tuna steak on a plate with lemon and rice.

Helpful Tools For This Recipe

Here are some items we used for this blackened tuna. Some of the following are affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you click on these links and purchase something. You don’t pay any extra, but it will help us keep the lights on. 

More Recipes You Will Love:

Pan Seared Blackened Halibut is another way to create an elevated, flavorful meal that feels like fine dining right at home! Tender halibut is seasoned with blackening spices, then pan-seared for a delicious blackened crust. It has intense flavor and, well, it’s halibut. Enough said!

Blackened Shrimp Tacos are fresh, flavor-packed and cook quickly. Spicy shrimp, zesty chipotle slaw and a sweet mango salsa combine for an incredible flavor combo in this delicious and easy meal.

This Cajun Turkey is a foolproof way to kick up the flavor of any holiday meal! Spicy seasonings added to the dry brine gives the roasted bird a bold, zesty flavor. It’s not just for Thanksgiving- you can enjoy this spin on roasted turkey on any occasion!

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Slices of blackened tuna steak on a plate with lemon slices and aioli sauce on the side.

Blackened Tuna Steaks

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

This recipe for blackened tuna steaks is fast and easy to make. You can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.
The tuna steak has a buttery texture and a spicy Cajun flavor from the blackening spices. It is perfect for a quick weeknight meal. Slice it thinly and serve it over a bed of rice or in a fish taco.

A heavy cast iron skillet works great with this recipe because you can get it very hot, and it retains heat well. High heat gives the fish that beautiful charred exterior, while the even heat distribution ensures that the fish cooks evenly throughout.

Ingredients

Blackening Spice

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon espresso coffee powder
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Tuna

  • 1 to 2 tuna steaks, about 1-¼ to 2 inches thick
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Instructions

For the Blackened Seasoning Mix

  1. Combine the ingredients for the blackening spice mix, or use ⅓ cup of your favorite store-bought blackening spice. 

For the Blackened Tuna Steak

  1. Place a large cast iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes to get it smoking hot (turn on the kitchen vent or open the window to allow for proper ventilation). 
  2. Pat the tuna steaks dry with paper towels then coat them in oil. 
  3. Coat the fish in the blackening seasoning, pressing down to get the seasoning to adhere. 
  4. When the skillet is smoking hot, add a tablespoon of oil and swirl it around. Place the tuna steaks in the pan and press down gently with a spatula. Sear for 45 to 60 seconds on each side for rare tuna. 
  5. If you want the steaks cooked to medium or well-done, lower the heat to medium and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. You can watch the side of the tuna as it cooks, and the color will change dramatically. Rare portions of the steak will look almost purple, and the well-done portion will turn white. 

Notes

  • Tuna steak has a delicate flavor and buttery texture when cooked rare. If you cook it well-done, it will have a dry texture. If this is your first time eating fresh tuna, try it rare first. You can always put it back on the griddle and cook it more if you don’t care for rare tuna. 
  • Use an oil with a high smoke point.
  • If you have frozen tuna steaks, let them thaw completely before you begin. 

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 1100mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 22g

Nutrition information is a guideline only. It is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandson or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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angiesrecipes

Friday 6th of October 2023

That's perfectly blackened and without overcooking the tuna! angiesrecipes

Dahn Boquist

Saturday 7th of October 2023

Thanks Angie!

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