What Does Tuna Taste Like? Raw, Cooked, Canned Read On!

What Does Tuna Taste Like

For as long as I can remember, tuna has been a hit-or-miss among my friends. But what does tuna taste like, let’s find out. Some people seem to like tuna the first time they taste it; others can get accustomed to it over time.

The taste of tuna depends on the quality you buy and also the way it is cooked. Tuna is exceptionally healthy, but what does tuna steak taste like? What does canned tuna taste like compared to raw tuna? Is there a better type for specific situations and needs? Are there certain things that can impact the flavor of tuna? An understanding these find points is what we are going to find out here, so get those cooking utensils ready!

The unique thing about tuna is that the taste changes with the way you prepare it. So, a seared fillet of tuna will taste different from a raw sashimi slice of the same fish. The taste also varies depending on the fat content of the tuna. Answering the question of what ahi tuna, or any other type of tuna for that matter, tastes like can be difficult.

People’s tastes and preferences are so varied and unique. It can be a challenge at times to put these subtle flavors into words. But we are going to try to help make this easier and give you an idea of what to expect when you are attempting to choose the best tuna for your various meals. 

If you are going to try it for the first time, I’d suggest you look through this guide and decide for yourself how you would like to consume it on your first try.

What Does Tuna Taste Like?

The taste of tuna is dependent on the way you prepare it. But, most people who have tried raw tuna say it tastes milder than raw salmon.

The texture of cooked salmon is similar to that of chicken, given how meaty the flesh is. Since it’s a carnivore fish, it has a salty taste to it that is a lot more palatable and has a less fishy smell and taste. Understanding how to approach the question of what tuna tastes like involves knowing what to expect from the start.  Check out this sister article if you also want to learn what sushi tastes like. (As many types of tuna are used in sushi, this can be a great way to expand your experiences and food tastes.)

To further your understanding of the taste of tuna, let’s look at the taste when it’s canned, fresh, and seared.

Canned Tuna

Canned Tuna Taste Like

Canned tuna is the one most commercially available, and it is pretty economical as well. The taste and texture depend on whether it is packed in oil or water. There are various qualities of tuna, as well as species, which are worth checking out as well. Of the multiple ways to buy tuna, this has the fishiest taste. It also has a bit of a meaty texture, and like any cooked fish, it is very flakey. It canned tuna tastes a little less fishy if it has been packed in oil, instead of water.

Fresh Tuna

How does tune taste like

Nothing beats the taste of fresh tuna. From the mild and neutral flavor to the soft and chewy texture, it is a treat in itself. If you are trying fresh tuna, I’d suggest trying Albacore tuna. It is the one that tastes the best and has the flavor of the ocean. There is also an option to look for ahi tuna or other types that might be more easily available in certain areas and in certain seasons.

Seared Tuna

Seared tuna with asian crunchy salad with oranges
Seared tuna is the one is often used in salads. But, if overcooked, seared tuna can lose its natural flavor, making it taste a lot like cardboard. A light sear on all the sides, leaves the exterior of the tuna cooked, but the fish remains raw and succulent inside. It is considered the best way to eat it, as it combines the meaty grilled taste of a steak outside with the delicate taste and texture inside. Pouring a sweet and sour soy vinaigrette on the top can further enhance the taste and flavor.

Grilled or Fried Tuna

how does tuna taste like

Cooking tuna all the way through gives a much more meaty taste and texture to this fish and unlike most fish, when fully cooked, it doesn’t flake. It is recommended that you season your tuna before cooking, much like you would a steak.

What Does Each Type of Tuna Taste Like?

As mentioned above, tuna is available in four main varieties – bluefin, albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack. Each one has its unique taste and method of preparation, so be sure your kitchen knives, boards and dishes are ready for a treat!  Uncovering the answer to the question of what does tuna taste like means diving deeper into the different kinds of tuna you are likely to come across.


Bluefin is the most popular type of tuna. It has a higher fat content and is a lot meatier than the other varieties. As for the taste, it has a fresh and salty taste with bright red flesh. 


If you don’t like the extremely fishy taste of tuna, Albacore is your safest choice. It has thick flesh but a very mild flavor. The mercury level in this variety is relatively high, so you need to eat it with caution and only in small amounts.


Generally, tuna is quite expensive, but yellowfin is more economical. It is also known as Ahi tuna and is often used in the raw form of sushi. It has a rich flavor profile that many people enjoy


If you are trying tuna for the first time, I’d suggest you not try this. It is the fishiest of them all and has the highest fat content. Unlike the other varieties, it is a lot smaller and can be more expensive.

Nutritional Content of Tuna

Ask any nutritional expert, and they will tell you to include tuna in your diet.

It contains a host of vitamins and minerals and is a fantastic source of protein and sodium. 

It is enriched with a wide range of healthy fatty acids, which are beneficial for improving your heart health and reducing the risks of stroke, atherosclerosis, and cardiac arrest.

Tuna is also a protein-rich fish. It is this dense and rich meat that gives tuna the flavor people enjoy. 

Because the fish has a balanced content of potassium and sodium, it helps regulate the fluid balance of the body, protecting your kidney functions. These elements also impact the texture and flavor of the fish and add to its unique flavor profile. Just remember that tuna tends to absorb mercury from the sea, so limit your intake of tuna, which is otherwise a very healthy fish.

Note that canned light tuna, which is generally made from skipjack, is the lowest in mercury, and it is considered that an adult may safely consume up to 3 cans a week.

Health Benefits of Tuna

Tuna is one of the healthiest fishes available. If you don’t enjoy the taste of meat and want to replace it with something just as good, tuna serves the purpose right, but just make sure you don’t eat too much each week to avoid mercury poisoning.

Here are some of the health benefits of this fish.

1. Filled with Vitamins and Minerals

Tuna is one of the best sources of Vitamin D and B12. It also has zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, and phosphorus in it. The combination of vitamins and minerals enables better metabolism and prevents the risks of chronic diseases.

2. Helps Promote Weight Loss

Tuna has a high protein content in it. This is a good bet if you are trying to lose weight on a high-protein diet. It has a healthy blend of fatty acids too, which further regulate your metabolism, promoting weight loss.

3. Reduces Risks of Heart Diseases

Tuna also reduces the risks of heart diseases, mostly by regulating cholesterol levels in the body. Healthy fatty acids promote heart function and reduce the chances of hypertension and chronic heart diseases.

Which Tastes Better – Raw or Cooked Tuna?

I personally prefer raw tuna to cooked tuna, as it is so mild, tender and delicious-tasting!

Others enjoy cooked tuna for its meaty qualities. People who don’t eat meat but miss it, particularly appreciate the taste and texture of cooked tuna.

Raw tuna is very commonly consumed in sushi and sashimi (raw), while cooked tuna is eaten in salads or by itself.  The texture of tuna drastically changes when you cook it. It is also very easy to overcook tuna (just like with any fish), which is why being careful while cooking fish is essential. Whether you enjoy raw or cooked tuna depends on your own personal likes and dislikes.

How Does One Know If the Tuna Has Gone Bad?

Tuna is a lot meatier than the other types of fish. It has a pungent fishy smell and flavor to it, along with the fresh taste of the ocean.

But, if you taste or smell an overwhelming fishy taste to the tuna, it is probably not fresh and has gone bad. A sour taste to the fish is also a sign that the fish has gone bad. In case you feel something amiss with the fish, I’d suggest you avoid eating it altogether. Better safe than sorry with fish and meat.


What does tuna taste like? This is a complicated question that hopefully has been somewhat answered for you today. Tuna is more or less an acquired taste. If you haven’t eaten fish before, I’d suggest you start with the less fishy varieties first and then make your way up from there. It is also better you try out freshly caught tuna instead of canned tuna options.

I hope this article is helpful enough to guide you in the taste and texture of the tuna. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

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