How to Thaw Tuna Steaks Quickly

How to Thaw Frozen Tuna Steak: The 3 Best Methods to Use

Are you in a rush and trying to figure out how to thaw frozen tuna steaks quickly?

Today, I am going to highlight the 3 best defrosting options that can be used on frozen tuna steaks, along with some very useful and important information.

So, let us jump right into it

3 Things to Know Before Thawing Frozen Tuna Steaks

Tuna Steak

There are a couple of important tips that you should know, before you begin the process of defrosting frozen tuna.

  1. Never thaw at room temperature. Perishable food should never be thawed on the counter at room temperature.

    This increases the possibility of the thawing tuna entering what is known as the Danger Zone. The United States Department of Agriculture defines the Danger Zone as temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, where harmful bacteria that cause food borne illnesses, multiply rapidly.

    Thawed food should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  2. Never thaw in warm water. When you thaw fish or any other perishable food in warm water, it significantly increases the chance of the tuna steak reaching in the danger zone.
  3. Remove from vacuum pack before thawing. According to Michigan State University Extension, frozen tuna steaks that are vacuum sealed should be removed from the packaging before thawing.

    Defrosting vacuum sealed fish that is still in its packaging promotes the the growth of harmful bacteria, Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes.

    If present, these bacteria can cause food borne illness, this is why it’s very important to follow thawing guidelines found on the vacuum packaging that are provided by the processor.

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How to Thaw Frozen Tuna Steaks: 3 Best Methods to Use

You have 3 defrosting methods that you can use when thawing frozen tuna steaks, no matter if it’s Albacore, Bluefin, Skipjack or Yellow Fin (Ahi) tuna.

3 Best Methods to Defrost Frozen Tuna Steaks

These are:

  • Overnight in the refrigerator
  • Cold-water Method
  • Microwave
Overnight in the refrigerator8-12 hoursCan Be Stored Up to 48 Hours In The Refrigerator After Thawed
Cold-water Method30 MinutesCan Be Stored Up to 48 Hours In The Refrigerator After Thawed
Microwave5-8 MinutesCook Immediately

Let us take a detailed look at each method below. 

Overnight in the Refrigerator

Placing frozen tuna steaks in the refrigerator to thaw overnight is the recommended method, as the tuna will remain at a safe and constant temperature (around 40 °F) as it defrosts.

The negative to this method is that it is slow and can take anywhere from 8-12 hours for the fish to thaw properly.


  1. Remove the frozen tuna steaks from the vacuum packaging (as mentioned above) and place in a bowl, container or shallow plate that is lined with paper towels.
  2. Loosely cover the plate or bowl with plastic wrap or paper towels.
  3. Place the plate with the tuna steaks on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, so no accidental drippings from the fish lands on other food being stored.
  4. Let the tuna thaw for around 8 to 12 hours (overnight). Change the paper towels lining the container if they become too wet.
  5. Once thawed, pat dry the tuna dry with paper towels before cooking.
  6. If you do not plan to cook the tuna steaks immediately after defrosting, the steaks should be packaged properly and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Cold-Water Thawing: Quickest Method

If you need tuna steaks thawed quickly, then the cold-water method can be used. It takes about 30 minutes to thaw 1 pound of tuna when using this method.


  1. Remove the tuna steaks from the freezer and vacuum packaging (as mentioned above) and transfer to a resalable Ziploc bag.
  2. Fill a bowl or kitchen sink with cold water
  3. Submerge the tuna steaks in the cold water
  4. Let the tuna sit in the bowl/kitchen sink for 30 minutes (it takes about 30 minutes to thaw 1 pound of tuna).
  5. If you do not plan to cook the tuna steaks immediately after defrosting, package them properly and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


The microwave is a quick way to thaw tuna steaks, but it should be used with extra care and caution, as it can be somewhat tricky to achieve an even thaw.

There is also the possibility of the microwave cooking the fish if left in too long.


  1. Remove the frozen tuna from the plastic packaging and place on a microwave safe plate.
  2. Set the microwave timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the use the defrost or 30% power (low) setting.
  3. Microwave until the 2 ½ minutes are up.
  4. Flip the tuna steak and microwave for another 2 ½ minutes.
  5. If still frozen, microwave in 30 second intervals, until the tuna steak is fully defrosted.
  6. The defrosted fish should be cooked immediately.

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Wrapping it up

I hope this post highlighted everything you needed to know about thawing frozen tuna steaks.

Now, I’d like to hear what you have to say.

Which defrosting method from this post are you going to try?

Will letting it thaw overnight in the refrigerator method work best, especially since you meal plan ahead of time?


Are you in a rush and that means a quick thaw method using cold water or the microwave a must?

Either way, let me know in the comments section below.

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