Seared Black Pepper-Crusted Ahi Tuna Steaks

If you like steak, you will love this black pepper tuna steak recipe. It’s a classic preparation for a tuna steak and cooks very quickly—you just have to keep an eye on it. If you have never cooked ahi tuna before, this cut is best enjoyed medium-rare, like any great steak recipe, and is known for its firm, meaty texture and a mild to moderate flavor, one which takes well to the spicy pepper crust. Look for tuna steaks that are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.

Serve this dish alongside some steamed rice (brown or white) and steamed green veggies, such as bok choy, broccoli, asparagus, or green beans.



  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) ahi tuna steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick, ask for “sear” or “sushi” grade if cooking medium-rare
  • 4 tablespoons fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, quartered, for serving


Steps to Make It

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Lay the tuna steaks out on a plate and sprinkle the spice mixture evenly on both sides.
  3. Coat the tuna on both sides with the black pepper, and gently press it in so that it adheres to the surface, being careful not to smash the flesh.
  4. Place a thick-bottomed frying pan, or cast-iron skillet, over medium-high heat, until very hot.
  5. Add the oil and sear the tuna steaks for about 2 minutes per side, or until desired doneness is reached.
  6. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.



Tuna tastes great with a lot of different seasonings. Feel free to substitute a Cajun or Creole seasoning mix, or Old Bay, for some or all of the spices included. Just check to see if the mix includes salt and pepper—you don’t want to forget those two.


How to Store and Freeze Ahi Tuna Steaks

Cooked ahi tuna can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped well in aluminum foil for two days. Eat the leftover cooked tuna as is, tossed in a salad, or put into a wrap with shredded veggies, such as cabbage or carrots. You can also reheat it gently, keeping in mind that it will continue to cook if you do so.

You can freeze the tuna steaks, if you like, by wrapping them tightly and sealing in a zip-close freezer bag for up to three months. Thaw the tuna in the fridge and use within three to four days.


Should tuna steak be pink in the middle?

It is very easy for tuna steaks to become dry, tough, and chewy if they are overcooked. Therefore, conventional wisdom says to cook the tuna until it’s still medium-rare and pink in the middle. This typically happens around 130 F to 140 F. If in doubt, check the meat with an instant-read thermometer.

Source:, John Mitzewich