These air fryer tuna steak slices are marinated in dark sauce, then perfectly fried in an air fryer until medium-rare, have a smoky flavor, and simply just melt in your mouth. To complete the dish, serve the steak with a zingy pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa), and with a bed of utterly creamy mashed cauliflower and potatoes.
Why It's Yummy
- Air Fryer is a very fast and delicious way of cooking ahi tuna steak. Air frying gives a light smokiness to the steak you are pretty much in control of how cooked you want your tuna to be.
- Tuna steaks are marinated in the dark sauce just enough to give a little flavor but not overpower the tuna itself. Fried/seared over high heat, cut into juicy medium-rare slices, and served with black pepper and sea salt flakes on top.
- Air fryer ahi tuna compared to grilling or searing on a pan is a healthier way to enjoy the fish. However, I do provide stovetop instructions below.
- Ahi tuna just melts in your mouth, so tender and for best results, serve it with zingy fresh tomato salsa, mango salsa, and buttery mashed cauliflower and potatoes.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Ahi Tuna (yellowfin tuna) is usually sold either fresh or frozen at the market or grocery stores. It is ideally served medium rare, lightly seared outside over high heat. If you don’t feel comfortable eating raw fish then you can cook it until medium. But I don't recommend anything more than that as it will easily become dry and resemble the canned tuna but without the excessive oil that makes the canned tuna soft. Ask the seller if it is sushi-grade tuna then it means that it is the highest quality fish they offer and they believe it is safe to consume raw. But actually, there is no such thing as ‘’sushi grade’’.
- You can use both here, frozen or fresh tuna. If frozen, I like to thaw it in cold water until very soft (It is also recommended that the fish is in a zip lock bag submerged in water). It should thaw rather quickly, but do change the cold water out every 20-30 minutes. Do not use warm water (just like with any fish or meat produce) as this will help the bacteria to multiply rapidly!
- The bacteria that sits on the fish or any meat steak is usually outside and we eliminate it by searing the surface over high heat (in our case the air fryer does the job very well). It is also a reason we need to cook the ground meat until deep golden brown!
- Sweetener - maple or agave syrup are preferred as they don’t have a strong taste as honey. But all of these options will work in the marinade.
- Lime juice - fresh is always best. Other alternatives are lemon or orange juice.
- Garlic powder - use garlic powder for a quicker solution however fresh garlic will give an even fresher and stronger garlic flavor and smell.
- Olive oil - helps the marinade ingredients to combine, will separate slightly but it is not an issue. Make sure to stir well before lowering the ahi tuna steak into the marinade. Sesame oil is another my favorite to use in fish marinades.
I used a large tuna steak slice from the fish market and cut it in half. The whole tuna steak was about 11 oz.
In a large bowl or zip lock bag add all the marinade ingredients except salt/pepper.
Add tuna steaks and make sure they are coated nicely.
Leave to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes. Reserve the marinade for later if using.
Preheat the air fryer to 370 Fahrenheit according to manufacturer directions (mine is for 4 minutes). My Air Fryer is Cosori 5.8 quart.
I like to add pepper to the steak before air frying but the correct way is to season with salt and pepper after slicing.
Once preheated transfer tuna steaks to the air fryer basket and fry for 2-3 minutes (a steak about 6 oz).
Open the air fryer, turn the tuna steaks over, and air fry for another 2 minutes. If not sure and afraid to overcook, air fry for 1 minute (make sure the air fryer was preheated!).
And then flip and air fry for 1 minute more, cut it in half and see if the steak is to your liking. You can always cook it more!
Meanwhile, reheat the marinade (sauce) in a small saucepot over medium heat. Reduce it slightly and use it as a sauce on top!
Transfer to a paper towel to remove the excess liquid, rest for 1-3 minutes and serve immediately.
Stovetop Ahi Tuna instructions:
Place a good nonstick skillet/pan over medium heat and add enough oil. The searing time will depend on how thick your tuna is.
For about 4-6 ounces and 1 ½ inches thick tuna steak: Heat a medium nonstick skillet and add oil.
Once the oil is hot and sizzling add tuna steak and sear for 1 ½ minutes on one side, flip and sear another 1 - 1 ½ minutes (or use a thermometer to register 118-120 Fahrenheit in the center for medium-rare, after resting for a couple of minutes).
Allow resting on a plate for 1-2 minutes. Once it's cooled more it will be easier to cut it into even slices. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Important to note here: different burners will give different results but use your best judgment and always aim for ''not overcooking'' the tuna steak. In this case, you can still fix the situation.
Once you start cutting it up into slices and see that the steak seems too raw for you, just pop it back into the hot pan and cook for a minute or so. But if overcooked there's nothing you can do anymore.
Ahi tuna is ideally served medium-rare but if you prefer your tuna more cooked, add another 1-2 minutes per side. Just make sure not to overcook it, it should still be pink inside.
Place the tuna onto a plate lined with a paper towel, and let it rest for 3 minutes. Cut into slices and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the air fryer tuna steak like you would with any other steak! With one or two good side dishes and using the same marinating sauce (reduce it in a small saucepot until warmed through and slightly thickened).
I think the best flavor to the fish would add any Japanese and Asian style condiments and side dishes but if not going that route feel free to use your favorite side dishes.
Asian-style cooked noodles or rice are always a great choice (in my humble opinion)!
My other side dish recommendations:
- Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes
- Mango Habanero Salsa
- Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico De Gallo)
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes With Cream Cheese
- Lime Cilantro Rice
- Oriental Coleslaw With Thai Peanut Salad Dressing
- Cabbage and Cucumber Salad With Dill
- Simple Vegetable Fried Rice
- I use Cosori 5.8 quart Air Fryer. Although it is a bit big, it fits perfectly 2 ahi tuna steaks and comes with a digital screen and a free book with plenty of air fryer recipes.
- If you are not comfortable eating tuna medium rare, you can follow the FDA recommendation by cooking the tuna until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Tuna color - raw tuna varies in color, be mindful and research upfront. I appreciate how detailed this guide is!
Freezing And Storing Instructions
Properly sealed, this ahi tuna steak will keep in the fridge for 2 days.
I wouldn't leave it to consume the next day but if you really need to, refrigerate it and reheat it in the oven at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a baking sheet or baking dish until just warm.
Any simple side dish that you would use for a meat steak will also taste delicious with tuna steak. Baked or mashed potatoes, cauliflower puree, fresh salad or salsa, fries, baked beans, plain or vegetable rice, Asian style side dishes.
Usually, there should be a label on ahi tuna of which grade it has. The highest it will get is grade #1. The grade simply means that this fish is the highest quality fish that the seller offers in his store and when caught was handled properly and frozen immediately. In short, the safest fish to consume raw is tuna and farmed salmon.
It is best recommended to consume raw ahi tuna the same day when it has been defrosted and prepared. However if properly handled it can be safe to consume within 1-2 days. As soon as tuna has been prepared and you have leftovers, transfer it in a tightly sealed food container and refrigerate for 1-2 days (refrigerator should register 40 Degrees Fahrenheit or lower).
I hope you'll enjoy this recipe and if you make this recipe, please let me know down below in the comments or by tagging @theyummy_bowl under your picture on Instagram.
Thank you for reading,
Easy Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer recipe index HERE.
2 Minute Air Fryer Tuna Steak
- 2 6-8 ounces tuna steaks, thawed or fresh
Ahi Tuna Steak Marinade
- 3 ½ tablespoon soy sauce low sodium preferred
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
- Fresh Tomato Salsa see notes
- Mashed Potato and Cauliflower Puree see notes
- More olive oil or cooked/reduced (same) marinade for drizzling on top
- (I used a large tuna steak slice from the fish market and cut it in half. The whole tuna steak was about 11 oz.) In a large bowl or zip lock bag add all the marinade ingredients except salt/pepper.
- Add tuna steaks and make sure they are coated nicely. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes. Reserve the marinade for later if using.
- Preheat the air fryer to 370 Fahrenheit according to manufacturer directions (mine is for 4 minutes). My Air Fryer is Cosori 5.8 quart.
- I like to add pepper to the steak before air frying but the correct way is to season with salt and pepper after slicing. Once preheated transfer tuna steaks to the air fryer basket and fry for 2-3 minutes (a steak about 6 oz).
- Open the air fryer, turn the tuna steaks over, and air fry for another 2 minutes. If not sure and afraid to overcook, air fry for 1 minute (make sure the air fryer was preheated!).
- And then flip and air fry for 1 minute more, cut it in half and see if the steak is to your liking. You can always cook it more! Meanwhile, reheat the marinade (sauce) in a small saucepot over medium heat. Reduce it slightly and use it as a sauce on top!
- Transfer to a paper towel to remove the excess liquid, rest for 1-3 minutes and serve immediately.