Sesame Crusted Tuna

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Sesame crusted tuna is crispy on the outside, yet perfectly rare on the inside. This fresh and delicious seared tuna recipe is an easy way to impress your guests in just a few minutes. Serve with steamed rice and veggies for an easy, healthy meal you’ll love!

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I’m not ashamed to say that this Sesame Crusted Tuna recipe was born out of sheer laziness. One night, I absolutely did not feel like making dinner. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there before.

Suddenly, I remembered I had a few beautiful ahi tuna steaks in the fridge that I was not about to let go to waste. And thus, this remarkably easy seared tuna dish was born.

All you need is some fresh ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and cooking oil to make this mouth-watering dish. Once you’ve got your piping hot skillet ready to go, it only takes a few minutes to sear the fish and then you’re ready to serve. This Sesame Soy Grilled Tuna is also delish.

I typically like to pair this dish with a side of steamed rice and veggies, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy seared ahi tuna. Add it to a salad, make it the star of some fish tacos, or load it into a sushi-style burrito.

Next time you’re feeling lazy but still want to enjoy a meal that feels super fancy, this sesame crusted tuna is the way to go.

Seared tuna with a sesame crust sliced on a plate with avocado, soy sauce, and green onions.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Ingredients

To make this delicious sesame-crusted tuna, you only need four ingredients. I’m willing to bet you already have three of them at home, which means all you need to do is grab a few tuna steaks from the grocery store and get cooking.

Let’s break down the simple ingredients you’re going to need to bring this dish to life.

  • Ahi Tuna: Make sure to use high-quality ahi tuna steaks. They should be sushi grade if you are searing them. If they are frozen, make sure they are fully defrosted.
  • Sesame Seeds: Any kind of sesame seeds you have will work. You can keep the color uniform or opt for a combination of differently colored sesame seeds for some extra color.
  • Soy Sauce: This adds a ton of flavor and helps the sesame seeds stick to the tuna. Feel free to swap for tamari or coconut aminos instead.
  • Canola Oil: You will need to use cooking oil that can stand up to high heat. My go-to is usually canola oil, but avocado oil would also work well.

Recipe Tips and Variations

Here are some of my top tricks for the best sesame crusted tuna:

  • For a medium-rare cook, you want to cook your ahi tuna to 125 degrees F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature, keeping in mind that the temperature will rise a few more degrees after you stop cooking the fish.
  • The key to the best seared ahi tuna is using a searing hot pan to achieve a crispy exterior without overcooking the interior. You want a rare to medium-rare cook on the tuna.
  • I love using a combination of black and white sesame seeds for a really eye-catching presentation, but any sesame seeds you have will work fine.
  • For added flavor, you can mix the sesame seeds with the seasonings of your choice before coating the tuna. Some great choices include salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and thyme. For a traditional Hawaiian option, swap in Furikake.
  • Try adding a small amount of sugar to the sesame seed mixture before coating the tuna. The sugar caramelizes under high heat, which will help to give the exterior of the ahi tuna a really beautiful golden color.
  • Garnish with lime wedges and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for a pop of color and fresh flavor.

Sesame seared tuna with soy sauce and avocado on a white plate with limes on the side.

What to Serve With Sesame Crusted Tuna

I love pairing this dish with a fresh and tangy dipping sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and green onions. Check out the recipe card down below for exact measurements—I highly recommend trying this out!

Now, if you’re on the hunt for fantastic side dishes to serve with sesame-crusted tuna, then you’re in luck. This dish is pretty versatile and can be served with a variety of sides. I typically like to keep the side dishes simple to allow the tuna to be the star of the show. My go-to sides are usually steamed rice, quinoa, cooked veggies, or a side salad.

Here are some of my favorite healthy sides to pair with this dish:

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you can find the answers to some of the most popular questions about this sesame crusted tuna recipe:

I’ve found that brushing the tuna steaks with a little soy sauce goes a long way in ensuring that my sesame seeds stay in place until I sear them into the fish. You can try this out or brush your tuna with a little sesame oil instead if you prefer.

You can store cooked tuna in the fridge for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To store your ahi tuna, allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer the fish to an airtight container or wrap it tightly with a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. To thaw, just place it in the fridge 24-48 hours before you plan on eating it.

Please note, that if the ahi tuna was previously frozen to start, it shouldn't be frozen again after cooking.

This really depends on you. Traditionally, seared tuna is only seared on the outside and left raw or lightly cooked in the middle. However, if you aren’t a fan of raw fish, you can cook your tuna to a medium temperature instead of rare to medium rare.

Ahi tuna coated with sesame seeds and seared rare served with avocado, soy dipping sauce, and limes.
The Recipe
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Sesame Crusted Tuna

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  • 24 oz yellowfin or ahi tuna (sushi-grade)
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (or other high temperature oil)

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Pat the tuna steaks with paper towels. Brush the tuna on both sides with soy sauce.

Tuna being brushed with soy sauce on a brown plate.

Press the tuna into the sesame seeds, coating completely on both sides. It is up to you if you coat the sides as well but it will make cooking it a bit more difficult so I recommend just coating the top and bottom.

Tuna being pressed into black and white sesame seeds.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Once hot, add the oil to the pan and quickly swirl. Add the tuna and cook for about 45-60 seconds until the sesame seeds are golden brown. Carefully flip over ad repeat on the other side for about one minute. This quickly seared version will yield a tuna that is seared and crisp on the outside and rare on the inside. This recipe doesn't work well for well-done fish since the sesame seeds will burn. Also, be careful while cooking because the pan will spatter. I recommend having the fan on high. Let the tuna rest and then slice thin to serve.

Sesame crusted salmon being seared in a heavy skillet.

Dipping sauce: I love to serve this with a fresh and zingy dipping sauce. Combine 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce with 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1-2 teaspoons honey, 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp minced garlic, and 1 tbsp minced green onion. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and green onions in a bowl.


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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz. (183g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 269
Calories from Fat 79
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 66mg
Sodium 302mg
Total Carbohydrate 2g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 43g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


I used regular and black sesame seeds but either will work.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Sesame Crusted Tuna
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July 31, 2023 - 16:48
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Very good dipping sauce for the tuna. I also used the sauce on fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. Yummy
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