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 54 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:

  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds (black, or both black and white)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder (or onion powder)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (see notes)

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.

Dried thyme  adds a flavorful herbal note- feel free to leave it out or sub-Italian herb seasoning – which I realize sounds different but does taste good. 


  • 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. Super easy and so tasty . I didn’t have the sushi tuna so I used tuna filet it was still good next time I will use a lil less salt

  2. So thrilled to find I had all ingredients needed. Easy to follow recipe… I have a grill pan which works so well on my electric range for this occasion. The taste was exquisite… will certainly do this again. Thank you!

  3. Made this recipe this evening. I was skeptical since I’ve not cooked ahi before and was nervous about over cooking. These were thick pieces and 90 seconds each side worked perfect and it turned out delicious. Used canola oil with a touch of seasame oil. We also plated with sriracha making a pretty plate as well as adding a bit of spice. Will definitely make again.

  4. Made this for dinner last night and everyone absolutely LOVED it. I might make a bit more of the seed mixture as some spots were a little sparse but it was delicious.

  5. The timing is key along with the very hot skillet. For some zing I prepared equal parts soy sauce and Wasabi powder. The Asian cucumber salad is so refreshing it adds a dimension and depth to the overall taste of the tuna.
    Theme for sharing this roadway to a great seared tuna dinner.

  6. Don’t know how many times I’ve made this dish. It’s probably my all time favourite dinner with the cucumber salad 😎 Unreal!

  7. This was wonderful I used 1/2 tsp of onion powder and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and marinated in allegro sauce for 20 min.

  8. You mention skillet and pan – I’m confused. They sound like two different items, but surely we’re just using a skillet?

  9. Best tuna steak I’ve ever had!! I did tweak the recipe a little to my liking. I added both onion and garlic powder, due to the fact I was making two tuna steaks, so a tablespoon of both. I added some heat, a blend of roasted garlic, jalapeño and toasted onion from flatiron pepper co. Wow! Best herb crusted tuna we’ve ever had! Thank you. By the way, first time I’ve ever made it!

  10. I guess it depends on the thickness of the tuna but the first time I did this it was overcooked. 30 seconds on each side is all that is needed to have the perfect tuna. Less is better!

    1. Also depends on how hot your pan is. I tend to cook it less, like you, but I get my pan really hot. 🙂

  11. We love this! My husband eats a lot of ahi tuna and it’s so terrific to find this recipe. It looks as fantastic as it tastes. I’m starting to make it in larger batches and storing it in the fridge so it’s handy whenever the tuna mood strikes us. Thanks for such a fabulously delicious dinner every time.

    1. I am so glad you both are enjoying this. AND, I feel like I should say this- Ahi is best eaten in moderation due to its high mercury content. I really love it too, but I try to limit it to a couple of times a month.

  12. It came out great! This is the second time I’ve cooked Ahi Tuna and the first time, although following the instructions on the packaging, turned out overcooked. This is exactly what I had imagined!
    The only “problem” I had was the sesame crust falling off while cooking, it was probably user error lol. Do you have any tips for next time in regards to this? I firmly pressed them in, I think maybe the oil from the pan loosened the grip?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Darby! Yes, some will fall off…best bet is to sear, don’t move until ready to turn. A thin metal spatula helps get underneath that crust. It’s a delicate process; just do the best you can. You could do an egg batter- whisk and egg, and egg dip, and add a little flour to the seed mixture if you want to try that.

  13. This recipe is awesome! We’ve tried it twice and it cooks the fish perfectly. I feel 3 tbs sesame seeds is a bit too much so I cut that down a to 1 but Love it!

    1. Ok good! Yes, feel free to cut back. I like them loaded up, but to each her own! 🙂


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