Chili-Lime Seared Ahi Tuna Recipe with Quinoa

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This seared tuna steak dinner is marinated in a bold, delicious Thai chili marinade and paired alongside simple tricolor quinoa for a quick, healthy, flavorful meal that the entire family will love.

a chili lime tuna steak next to quinoa and a wedge of lime on a plate

Chili-Lime Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Tricolor Quinoa

These seared chili-lime tuna steaks (paired with a simple side of tricolor quinoa) are straight out of Cassy’s 3rd book, Cook Once Dinner Fix, and let me tell you, they are so, so delicious. Here’s what Cassy said about this meal, “If you’re unfamiliar with cooking tuna, don’t sweat it — I’ll walk you through exactly how to cook these steaks so you can feel confident and at ease in your kitchen. The tuna first marinates in a zesty chili-lime marinade that’s my absolute favorite for fish (the combination will knock your socks off!). The steaks then get cooked in butter and paired with fluffy tricolor quinoa.”

This meal is part of a 2-part dinner series. Find part 2 (Tuna-Noodle Casserole) HERE, and find an article all about cooking these two meals together HERE.

Is ahi tuna steak healthy?

If you tolerate tuna well, it’s definitely a great protein to include in your diet. Tuna is a super heart-healthy option, includes a ton of omega-3 fatty acids, and is rich in vitamin B3, vitamin C, selenium, manganese, and zinc. It’s delicious, and so good for you.

Is it hard to sear ahi tuna?

It isn’t! I know cooking a new protein (especially seafood) can feel intimidating, but the process is so, so easy. You’ll just need to sear it in a nice, hot pan for 3-4 minutes per side.

How long does it take to make the best seared ahi tuna recipe?

Actually searing the tuna steaks takes very little time — I’m talking 3-4 minutes per side — but you’ll want the steaks to marinate for at least 10 minutes (or up to 2 hours). 

Ahi Tuna Steak Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need for this simple, flavorful meal:

  • Quinoa – to start, you’ll need 1 cup of uncooked, rinsed tricolor quinoa.
  • Thai Chili Sauce – 2 tablespoons of Thai chili sauce help to really boldly flavor the tuna steaks.
  • Soy Sauce – along with the Thai chili sauce, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or tamari if you’re gluten-free) go into the super flavorful marinade also.
  • Lime Juice – 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (from 1 juicy lime) brighten up the marinade and add a punch of acidity.
  • EVOO – 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil head into the marinade also.
  • Tuna Steaks – 1 ½ pounds of ahi tuna steaks act as the protein here. If you can't find ahi tuna, ANY tuna steaks will work great here.
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons salted butter or olive oil spray
  • Cilantro – 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro garnishes both the tuna steaks and quinoa.
  • Sesame Seeds – 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds get sprinkled on top of the plate as garnish also.
  • Lime Wedges – finally, serve each plate with a wedge of lime!

Ingredient Modifications

Here are the ingredient swaps you can make here if needed!

  • Make it dairy-free: sear your tuna steaks in olive oil instead of butter for a dairy-free dinner.
  • Swap the side: if you don’t love quinoa, nix it and pick a different starchy side instead! Any kind of rice or grain would be delicious.
  • Add a veggie: add any veggie you love to this meal as a second side. Roasted (or sauteed) broccoli or green beans would be great here.
  • Use a different kind of tuna: if you can't find ahi tuna (or it's just super expensive at your local grocery store), use ANY tuna steaks you can find.
a chili lime tuna steak next to quinoa and a wedge of lime on a plate

What You Need to Make this Recipe

How to Sear Ahi Tuna steak?

The process is super easy — here’s how you’ll pull it together:

  1. Cook the quinoa – to start, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. Marinate the tuna steaks – in a small bowl, whisk together the chili sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and olive oil. Put the tuna steaks in a large zip-top bag, pour in the chili sauce mixture, and marinate for at least 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
  3. Sear the tuna steaks – in a skillet on the stovetop, melt the butter over medium heat. Discard the marinade and add the marinated tuna steaks to the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until a slight crust forms on the bottom. Flip and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.
  4. Garnish and serve – divide the tuna among four plates and spoon the quinoa alongside. Garnish with the cilantro and sesame seeds and serve, with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over the top.

How do you know when the ahi tuna steak is done?

Great question! When overcooked, tuna steaks can get super dry and chewy. To avoid this, you’ll want to make sure that you stick to the sear times listed above (3-4 minutes per side). Having pink in the middle of your steak is totally safe and really delicious.

What temperature should ahi tuna be?

The internal temperature of tuna steak should be about 115°F — you can check this with a meat thermometer.

What goes well with this seared ahi tuna steak recipe?

Quinoa really is the perfect tuna steak accompaniment here. If you’d like to swap the side, though, that’s totally fine — rice, farro, or any other starchy side you love would be delicious here. If you’re looking to add veggies to your meal, a side of roasted or sauteed broccoli or green beans — or even a simple arugula side salad — would be great.

How do you store ahi tuna steak? Does it freeze well?

Store any leftover tuna in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I actually don’t recommend freezing cooked tuna steak, as the texture will likely be compromised in the freezing/thawing/reheating process.

How long will Ahi Tuna last in the fridge?

Stored in an airtight container, your cooked tuna steaks will last for about 5 days!

Can you reheat seared ahi tuna?

Sure! You can reheat your tuna either in the microwave or a pan on the stovetop until warmed through.

More Cook Once Dinner Fix Recipes

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Chili-Lime Seared Ahi Tuna Recipe with Quinoa

This seared tuna steak dinner is marinated in a bold, delicious Thai chili marinade and paired alongside simple tricolor quinoa for a quick, healthy, flavorful meal that the entire family will love.

  • Author: Cassy Joy Garcia
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Inactive Time: 10 minutes to 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 28 minute
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Stovetop

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup uncooked tricolor quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons Thai chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds tuna steaks
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter or olive oil spray
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the chili sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and olive oil. Put the tuna steaks in a large zip-top bag, pour in the chili sauce mixture, and marinate for at least 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
  3. In a skillet on the stovetop, melt the butter over medium heat. Discard the marinade and add the marinated tuna steaks to the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until a slight crust forms on the bottom. Flip and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.
  4. Divide the tuna among four plates and spoon the quinoa alongside. Garnish with the cilantro and sesame seeds and serve, with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over the top.

Keywords: seared ahi tuna steaks

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