Cooking tuna steaks that are frozen can absolutely be done, but there are some important things to know regarding timing and technique to ensure you end up with a tender, flaky, and delicious piece of fish.
Can you cook frozen tuna steak?
Yes, you can cook tuna steaks directly from the frozen state. The key is to allow extra time for the thickest part of the steak to thaw out and come up to temperature before the exterior gets overcooked. With some simple preparation and adjusting cook times, frozen tuna steaks can turn out just as juicy and tasty as fresh.
How long does it take to cook a frozen tuna steak?
Cooking times will vary depending on a few factors:
- Thickness of the steaks – A 1-inch thick tuna steak will take longer than a 1/2 inch steak
- Cooking method – Grilling, pan searing, broiling, or baking
- Doneness – Rare tuna cooks faster than medium or well-done
- Frozen state – Fully frozen takes longer than partially thawed
As a general guideline, expect cooking times for frozen tuna steaks to be about 50% longer than fresh. A good rule of thumb is:
|Cooking Time from Frozen
Keep in mind these times are for searing and grilling over high heat. Baking or broiling may take slightly longer.
Tips for cooking frozen tuna steaks
Here are some handy tips to ensure frozen tuna steaks turn out cooked through without the exterior overcooking:
- Thaw first if time allows – Letting the tuna steaks thaw in the refrigerator overnight results in shorter cooking times.
- Brine before freezing – A saltwater brine helps keep tuna moist and seasoned.
- Sear then finish cooking – Sear over high heat to brown exterior then finish cooking in a lower oven.
- Cook over indirect heat – Use a two-zone fire to cook thicker steaks over indirect heat after searing.
- Cook most of the way before searing – For very thick tuna, sometimes it’s best to cook in an oven until nearly done then sear the exterior at the very end.
- Use a meat thermometer – An instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out and prevents overcooking.
Follow these simple steps for foolproof frozen tuna steaks:
- Take steaks out of freezer and let sit at room temperature 15-30 minutes to take chill off.
- Pat dry with paper towels and brush with oil. Season as desired.
- Heat skillet or grill to high heat. Sear steaks 2-3 minutes per side to brown.
- If needed, move steaks to cooler side of grill or place in 375°F oven to finish cooking until internal temperature reaches desired doneness, about 5 minutes more for rare.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Take tuna out of freezer and let sit at room temp to take chill off, about 15-20 minutes.
- Pat steaks dry and brush lightly with oil. Season as desired.
- Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom.
- Add steaks and cook 2 minutes until browned. Flip and cook 2 minutes on second side.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes per side for rare doneness, longer for medium-rare to medium.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Take frozen tuna out of freezer and let sit 15-20 minutes to take chill off.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Dry tuna well and brush with oil, season as desired. Place on baking sheet.
- Roast 12-15 minutes until thawed through and cooked to rare or medium-rare doneness.
- Optionally, turn on broiler and broil briefly to sear exterior.
- Rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Take tuna out of freezer and let sit for 15-30 minutes.
- Prepare grill for direct high-heat grilling.
- Oil grill grates right before cooking. Dry steaks well and brush with oil.
- Place tuna over hottest part of grill. Sear 2-3 minutes per side.
- Move to cooler side of grill and cook until desired doneness, about 5 more minutes for rare.
- Let rest before serving.
Cooking flavored frozen tuna steaks
Frozen pre-marinated or pre-seasoned tuna steaks can also be cooked directly from frozen using these same methods. Just watch marinade closely so sugars don’t burn. Baste with reserved marinade towards the end for maximum flavor.
Can you refreeze tuna after cooking?
It’s best not to refreeze tuna after it has been thawed and cooked. Refreezing can lead to loss of quality and moisture. Here are some better options for leftover cooked tuna:
- Store tuna steaks in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
- Use in another recipe like tuna salad or casseroles within 3-4 days.
- Portion into freezer bags to freeze up to 2 months.
With a little extra care and technique, delicious tuna steaks can absolutely be cooked directly from the frozen state. Allowing extra time for frozen tuna to come to temperature, using a two-zone cooking method, and keeping a close eye on doneness are keys to success. Properly thawed or brined tuna also helps ensure the fish stays juicy and tender. Follow these tips for enjoying tender, flaky tuna steaks even when cooking straight from the freezer.