Learn the secret to making perfectly Seared Tuna with a Sesame Seed Crust in just 10 minutes flat. A healthy, delicious ahi tuna recipe that is flavorful and easy to make. Video.

Seared tuna with a sesame seed crust.

Back when I was a caterer, we made this Seared Tuna recipe so often, that I almost couldn’t bring myself to make it again for a very long time. But a good five years have passed now, and the other day I got a hankering for it, so I thought I’d share! It’s one of those recipes that seems fancy, but honestly, it couldn’t be any simpler, and the best part is that it is ridiculously fast! If you love our Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, you will love this!

Seared Tuna with Sesame Curst. Learn how to make the best Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna- crispy golden on the outside and rare on the inside in just 10 minutes flat! #tuna #ahi #searedtuna

Here we are pairing it with a cool and crunchy Asian Cucumber Salad and Seasoned Japanese Rice with Furikake, a light and refreshing summer meal.

 Seared Tuna | 60-sec Video

Best tuna to use:

Whenever you serve Ahi Tuna rare, make sure to use “sushi-grade” tuna. My favorite? Look for Saku Tuna.

What is Saku Tuna?

Ahi tuna or yellowfin tuna, also known as saku tuna,  is commonly used to make sushi. Suku means “block” and it is typically a block of boneless, skinless, frozen, vacuum-packed yellowfin tuna.

Flash-freezing tuna kills any harmful bacteria, making it very safe to eat. Yes, of course, you can also use fresh ahi tuna if you trust your source or live close to where it is caught. We used Saku Tuna in our catering business and never had a problem.

Where to get Saku Tuna?

  • If your grocery store makes sushi in-house, they likely have Saku tuna- just ask if you can buy a block. Locally, I purchase it at Huckleberries from the Sushi Department.
  • Purchase from a Sushi Restaurant. They are usually very happy to sell a block of frozen Saku Tuna.
  • Order online. This company offers frozen Saku Tuna Block.
Saku Tuna blocks

How to Sear Ahi or Yellowfin Tuna

Step One: Thaw the tuna (either in a bowl of cold water with plastic on, or overnight in the fridge), and pat it dry. Coat in soy sauce or GF liquid aminos.

Thaw the Saku Tuna, then coat Tuna in soy sauce.

Step Two: Make the sesame spice crust.

sesame spice crust ingredients

The Sesame Crust is a blend of sesame seeds, granulated garlic or onion powder, dried herbs (thyme or Italian seasoning), salt and pepper and sugar.

Sugar helps get the crust nice and golden, in a shorter amount of time which is imperative here, to prevent overcooking the fish.

Sesame seed crust

Step Three: Coat the Ahi Tuna in the sesame seed spice, pressing it into the flesh and coating all sides generously. The soy sauce helps it stick.

Coat the ahi in the sesame spice mix.

Step Four: Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat. This is KEY. You want the skillet very very HOT 🔥.  Turn your fan on, and have a spatter guard handy, or use a lid to partially cover. When the skillet is HOT, add a high heat oil-both avocado oil and peanut oil works well here. Peanut oil adds great flavor.

sear the tuna in a VERY hot cast-iron pan

Step Five: Carefully place the ahi in the pan- don’t throw it in, it will splatter, carefully lay it in the oil. Press it down into the skillet with a metal spatula and sear for about 45-60 seconds. If the seeds are popping use a splatter guard. Lift one side and check to see that the crust is golden- if not, your pan is not hot enough, so turn the heat up. 🔥

The goal here is to get a nice golden crust on all sides without cooking the ahi tuna all the way through. HOT PAN is key.

Basically, the pan needs to be hot enough to get the crust golden in 60-90 seconds, otherwise you’ll likely overcook the inside of the fish. Carefully turn it over, press down, sear for 60-90 seconds.  Then sear the two long edges, using a pair of tongs to hold it up.

Carefully turn over.

Step Six: Place the seared ahi on a cutting board, and thinly slice using a very sharp knife. The edges will be crispy and the inside, rare. At this point, you could even refrigerate the ahi block whole, and serve in slices, and serve it later cold. Seared Tuna is good hot or cold!

Seared Tuna with Sesame Seed Crust. Learn how to make the best Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna- crispy golden on the outside and rare on the inside in just 10 minutes flat!

And there you have it- a fast, flavorful protein that takes about 10 minutes time.

The flavorful sesame crust gives the Seared Tuna just enough flavor, without overpowering it.

3 Expert tips for the BEST Seared Ahi Tuna:

  • Use sushi-grade, Saku Tuna Block for nice uniform slices.
  • Add a little sugar to the spice mix, which will carmelize in the pan and give a golden crust, in a shorter amount of time.
  • Use a cast iron skillet, and make sure it is HOT HOT HOT 🔥.

Seared Tuna FAQS

What does seared Tuna taste like?

Seared Tuna tastes mild, slightly sweet, not fishy, but with a “meaty” firm, buttery texture.

Is seared tuna still raw?

Yes, technically, seared tuna is only cooked on the outside, yet rare or somewhat raw on the inside. Think of this like sushi.

Is it safe to eat Raw tuna?

Absolutely! Just make sure your ahi is “sushi grade”, smells sweet and not fishy, and has been frozen. Freezing fish kills any harmful bacteria.

Is Tuna Healthy?

Tuna contains mercury which can negatively impact the body when consumed in large amounts. I personally limit my ahi tuna consumption to not more than 1-2 times a month. Chlorella, cilantro, parsley and charcoal tablets can help the body release itself of mercury, which I try to consume regularly.

Seared Tuna with Sesame Seed Crust. Learn how to make the best Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna- crispy golden on the outside and rare on the inside in just 10 minutes flat!

What to serve with Seared Ahi Tuna:

Seared Tuna with Sesame Seed Crust. Learn how to make the best Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna- crispy golden on the outside and rare on the inside in just 10 minutes flat!

Hope you give this Seared Ahi Tuna a try- it’s healthy and light and full of flavor! Happy weekend.



More Favorite Tuna recipes!

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Seared tuna with a sesame seed crust.

Seared Tuna

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 51 reviews


Learn the secret to making perfectly Seared Tuna with a Sesame Seed Crust in just 10 minutes flat. A healthy, delicious ahi tuna recipe that is flavorful and easy to make. Video. Plus 50+ Best Fish Recipes.


Units Scale

Sesame Crust:

Serve with Furikake Rice and Asian Cucumber Salad


  1. Mix the Sesame Crust ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Pat dry the ahi tuna with paper towels.
  3. Place ahi tuna on a plate, coat all sides with soy sauce. This will help the sesame spice adhere to the tuna.
  4. Generously sprinkle all sides of the ahi tuna with the sesame mix, pressing it down into the flesh. Coat the sides. Read through the rest of the directions before starting because the next part goes very quickly.
  5. The goal here is to get a nice golden sear on all sides without cooking the ahi tuna all the way through. HOT PAN is key.
  6. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, until very very hot. Turn your hood fan on. Place tongs, metal spatula and splatter guard (or lid) near the stove.  When the pan is hot a flick of water should sizzle loudly. Once the skillet is hot, turn the fan on high. Add the oil and coat the pan and let it get hot. Carefully lay the tuna in the pan, pressing it down into the skillet with a metal spatula. Sear 45-60 seconds- checking the underneath by lifting one corner to see if it is golden. When deeply golden, carefully flip. If not golden, turn the heat up. Sear the other side, 60-90 seconds until golden. Sear the long edges using tongs to hold it upright.
  7. Place on a cutting board, blot if you like, then using a very sharp knife, thinly slice, and serve.
  8. At this point, you could also refrigerate up to 3 days, and serve this later, chilled. Either way is good.


The sesame crust is slightly on the salty side. I really like this, especially when sliced thin- but feel free to lower salt just a bit- to 3/4 teaspoon.

Make sure to “sushi-grade” ahi tuna, or if using fresh, make sure it is a trusted source. Google Saku Tuna for online resources. Read post body for where to find this locally- sushi restaurants, grocery stores with house-made Sushi will often sell frozen Saku Tuna or Saku block if you ask.


  • Serving Size: 4 ounce serving
  • Calories: 236
  • Sugar: 1.1 g
  • Sodium: 437.5 mg
  • Fat: 10.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.1 g
  • Fiber: 1.2 g
  • Protein: 29.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 44.2 mg

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  1. Our first time making ahi tuna and it was so easy! So full of flavour and fast. Will definitely make this again soon. Delicious!!

  2. I couldn’t bring myself to add Italian seasoning to an Asian dish so I left that out. Tasted delicious all the same. Made a sesame vinaigrette to dip the tuna into.

    1. I hear you. 🙂 It is basically just herbs which round out the flavors, but I’m sure good with out too. 🙂

  3. My son says, “One of ‘your’ best meals in a long time.” So simple. So clean. Fresh Hawaiian Ahi. So Good!

  4. I’ve made this several times and it is really outstanding. As others have said, it’s easy to burn the crust if you’re not careful. The highest smoke point oil I have is grapeseed, which isn’t much better than olive oil, but I don’t have my burner all the way up to compensate. I read that Ghee (clarified butter) has a high smoke point which may be tasty in this, but haven’t tried it.

    This recipe is definitely a winner, and part of the motivation to buy that Costco deal for 10 pounds of individually frozen ahi tuna.

  5. I plan on grilling these tuna steaks on the bbq. Do I need to make any changes to this recipe? How long should I grill the steaks?

    1. Hey Dora! So I haven’t tried grilling these, and I really hesitate with the seed crust. If set on grilling I would recommend doing a tester first to see if the seeds stay on.

  6. Absolutely fabulous! I prepared the recipe with ahi tuna and it was the best I’ve ever had. I’m not kidding. Super easy, too.

    Tip: If cooking indoors turn your range fan on high and close the doors to any rooms that may have smoked detectors in them. You will thank me for this.

  7. It tastes good but both times I made it the crust burnt , I used olive oil and for the sesame seeds I used white but they all turned black, much left at bottom of my cast iron pan.

    1. Hi Gail. Use a high-heat oil- not olive oil– coconut, peanut, or avocado oil. Maybe don’t let the pan get quite as hot, check at 30 seconds? Cook until perfectly golden with those white seeds.

  8. I used Brown Sugar on one. And regular sugar on the other I ran out of white sugar and frankly I liked brown sugar more salt was just right I usead a low sodium soy sauce all in all it was a great recipe thanx

  9. a little too salty for my preference. probably can cut the amount of salt in the recipe by half since you’re coating the ahi in soy sauce

  10. I hardly ever rate recipes, but my 8yo son insisted I give this a 5 star rating. He typed: “it’s sooooo good!” Thank you for sharing this recipe. We usually order such a dish from a restaurant. Now we can make it at home!

  11. Nice recipe. The sugar is a great idea. But, “caramelize” is not a word. (In fact, your spell check in the Comment Box didn’t want me to (mis)spell it that way. The word is “caramelized” and it is pronounced “CARE-uh-mell,” not “CAR-mull!”

    1. Hummm, well then, I’ve been saying and writing it wrong for the past 3O years. Which is totally possible -and at this point I think I will continue. It really should be a verb. 😉

  12. Super easy with a great presentation. Really hit the spot for my father-in-law sushi lover. Aldi has tuna in the frozen fish section which kept this very affordable. I cooked mine on a flat top grill – high heat and generous with the oil.

  13. We made this last night for guests to share my husband’s successful Albacore catch on the Oregon coast. I think this is a great recipe but would definitely cut back on the salt by half and not coat the fish with soy sauce. Next time I will try peanut oil and also use peanut oil to sear which I think might add a compatible flavor. (I used grape seed oil this time.) The fish got quite black maybe due to the grape seed oil or sugar in the crust mix. I think adding a creamy dipping sauce would be nice touch — possibly a mayo/wasabi combination.

  14. THE BEST Ahi Tuna recipe I have ever tried or tasted. The seasonings pair wonderfully, and it was a huge hit in my house. I made this with the cucumber salad, and will 100% make it again. Note: I had great results using olive oil (didn’t have a high heat oil on hand) in a cast iron skillet!

  15. Made this last night with the asian cucumber salad. Tuna was great (thank you for the instructions!), but a bit too salty for our taste. We also used the sesame crust on tofu for our toddler (seared 3 mins per side) – she ate all of it and seriously loved the cucumber salad.

  16. Such a great recipe! Thank you for the detailed instructions including what tools to have on standby by the stove—you were so right! It cooks very quickly, lots of smoke but the flavor was great and it was very easy for a non-cook like me. ☺️ I added a little Siracha mayo for a dipping sauce and it was perfect! Thank you!

  17. I added “Everything Bagel Seeds” to the sesame seed mixture because I only had golden sesame seeds. IT WAS AMAZING!.
    Follow this simple recipe for a meal that looks complicated and tastes delicious. We ate leftovers cold. 🙂


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