What Does Tuna Taste Like?

Most people of tried a tuna salad fish sandwich at some point in their lives. But it is normally mixed with mayonnaise and other seasonings, totally masking the flavor of the tuna itself. However, tuna is available in many different forms, from sushi, to grilled tuna steaks, and let’s not forget the tasty blackend tuna bites. With all these options, you might wonder what does tuna taste like?

What is Tuna?

Tuna is a member of the mackerel family. Most of the tuna species you’re likely to come across are the yellowfin, bluefin, and albacore, each one having its unique flavor profile.

Did you know that tuna is one of the fastest-swimming species in the ocean? Let’s continue on the topic of taste.

What Does Tuna Taste Like?

Tuna has a distinct, rich flavor that sets it apart from most other fish. Its meat is typically thick and hearty with a robust, slightly sweet flavor. It’s less fishy compared to other seafood choices, leaning more towards a savory taste that tantalizes your taste buds. Think of it as a mild steak from the ocean, with an almost buttery texture that simply melts in your mouth.

➡️You might be interested in this simple tuna poke nachos recipe.

What Does Tuna Taste Like Raw?

For the sushi lovers out there, you’ve probably sampled raw tuna. The flavor of raw tuna is delicate, tender, and slightly sweet. It’s softer than when cooked, making it perfect for sushi and sashimi dishes. The raw tuna taste is slightly more fishy than cooked tuna but still less so than most other fish.

is tuna good for you?

Different Types of Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

Also known as ‘ahi’ in Hawaiian, Yellowfin tuna gets its name from its long, yellow dorsal fin and sleek, metallic body. This tuna tastes slightly milder compared to other types of tuna. Its flesh varies from pink to deep red, maintaining a firm texture and light flavor. This makes it an excellent candidate for raw dining options, especially in dishes like poke bowls, sushi, and sashimi. Its flavor is very balance between tenderness and mildly sweet flavor that sets yellowfin tuna apart from its cousins.

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna, the largest member of the tuna family, can weigh up to 1100 lbs. In terms of taste, it is often considered the best for tuna lovers. Its flesh ranges from rose red to deep crimson, with a rich, buttery flavor that is nothing short of amazing. This is why it is so coveted, especially in sushi and sashimi dishes, that it often commands high prices.

Albacore Tuna

Albacore, or longfin tuna, is identifiable by its elongated pectoral fins and light-colored flesh. While smaller than its bluefin and yellowfin counterparts, it is a top choice in the canned food industry. It is known for its white to light pink flesh and mildly full flavor. Its texture is firm yet flaky, and its steak-like consistency holds up well in a variety of cooking methods.

Nutritional Quotient of Tuna

  • Protein: Tuna is a powerhouse of protein, packing 28 grams per 100-gram serving. This is why it is so popular for bodybuilders for muscle growth and for people looking for help with managing their weight.
  • Fatty Acids: It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and brain function.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Tuna is rich in B vitamins, selenium, and other essential nutrients that boost your immune system.

Health Benefits of Eating Tuna

Tuna, apart from its incredible taste, packs a potent punch when it comes to health benefits. Here are three key health benefits you’ll gain when you incorporate tuna into your diet:

  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These essential fatty acids, which our bodies can’t produce on their own, play a crucial role in maintaining heart health. They help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of heart disease. In each bite of a tuna steak, you’re treating your body to a dose of heart-healthy goodness.
  • Packed with Protein: When it comes to high-quality protein sources, tuna is a superstar. A single serving of tuna can provide about half of the daily recommended protein intake for adults. Protein plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues, making hormones, and supporting overall growth and development. So whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose weight, or just maintain a balanced diet, tuna is a great choice.
  • Abundant in Vitamins and Minerals: Tuna is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. It’s rich in Vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption for bone health. It’s also packed with Vitamin B12, essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. It also contains plenty of selenium, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.

How to Prepare Tuna


Grilling locks the flavor on the inside while creating a savory crust that keeps the steaks tender and juicy. Start by marinating your tuna steak in a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and your choice of herbs for at least 30 minutes. This not only adds flavor but also helps to keep the fish moist. Then, grill each side for a few minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak and your desired level of doneness. Remember, overcooking can make tuna dry and tough, so it’s better to lean towards underdone than overdone.


If you prefer your tuna nearly raw in the center with a nice crust on the outside, searing is the way to go. To sear tuna, season your steak with salt and pepper, then heat a pan over high heat with a splash of neutral oil. Once the pan is hot, add the tuna and cook each side for about 1-2 minutes. The result is a steak with a crispy crust and raw, sushi-like middle – a delightful contrast in textures and flavors.


Baking is an easy method that allows the tuna’s natural flavor to shine through. To bake tuna, preheat your oven to 400°F. Place your seasoned or marinated tuna steaks in a baking dish and cook for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks. Baked tuna should be slightly pink in the center for the best texture and flavor.

Canned vs Fresh

  • Canned Tuna: Convenient and easy to use, canned tuna taste is mild, making it perfect for dishes like tuna salad.
  • Fresh Tuna: Fresh tuna packs a rich flavor that’s beautifully tender and buttery. The freshness brings out the natural tuna taste, making it a star of many gourmet dishes.
  • Frozen Tuna: Like canned tuna, frozen tuna is a practical choice. Its taste and texture remain fairly consistent, especially when properly thawed. It’s a solid option if you don’t have access to fresh tuna.

Does Tuna Steak Taste Good?

Absolutely! A well-cooked tuna steak tastes like a hearty version of a beef steak. Its texture is firm, almost steak-like, and it carries a rich, bold flavor. Whether it’s grilled, seared, or broiled, the result is a succulent dish that can be paired with a wide range of sides.

Can You Freeze Tuna?

Yes, you can! Freezing tuna is a great way to prolong its shelf-life, especially when you’ve bought it fresh. To freeze tuna, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or put it in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Remember, the quality of the tuna’s taste when cooked depends heavily on how it’s frozen and thawed.

How to Thaw Tuna

Thawing tuna is an art. For the best results, thaw your frozen tuna in the refrigerator overnight. This gradual thawing process helps to maintain the texture and flavor of the tuna. Never thaw tuna at room temperature as it can encourage bacterial growth and compromise both taste and safety.

How to Reheat Leftovers

Have some cooked tuna left from dinner? No worries! To reheat it without drying out, place the tuna in a baking dish, add a little bit of water or broth, cover it with foil, and warm it up in an oven set at a low temperature. This process helps to maintain the flavor and prevents the tuna from drying out.

Health Concerns

While tuna is a nutritious food option, it’s essential to eat it in moderation. Certain types of tuna, especially larger and older fish like bluefin, can accumulate higher levels of mercury, a heavy metal that can be harmful to health if consumed excessively.

It’s also important to note that raw or undercooked tuna, like any other raw seafood, carries a risk of foodborne illness. Therefore, make sure your sushi or sashimi comes from a reputable source.

Best Place to Buy Fresh Tuna

For the freshest tuna, a local fish market or a reputable seafood store is your best bet. Look for tuna that’s shiny and moist, with a fresh, clean smell. It should bounce back when you press it. Buying from a trusted source ensures you’ll get the best quality and, consequently, the best tuna taste.


So, what does tuna taste like? It tastes like the sea has given you a meaty, less fishy, delicately flavored gift. Whether it’s the mildly sweet yellowfin tuna taste, the rich, buttery bluefin tuna taste, or the versatile canned tuna taste, there’s a tuna for every palate. From sushi to steak, tuna is a versatile protein that deserves a place in your culinary repertoire. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment