How to Defrost Tuna Quickly. Learn These Easy Tricks


Tuna is an expensive and yummy delicacy. To prolong its shelflife for up to 6-8 months, some opt for freezing tuna. If you finally decided to cook tuna and you do not want to waste time defrosting it for ages, read our ultimate guide on how to defrost tuna quickly.

How to defrost tuna quickly? To defrost the tuna quickly, place it in a sealable plastic bag, remove the air, put the tuna in cold water (+10°C—+20°C) for 30-60 minutes. Do not use water warmer than 25 degrees as it will spoil the taste of tuna and facilitate the spread of bacteria. Do not expose tuna to direct sunlight. 

How to Thaw Tuna Quickly. Learn These Easy Tricks

Defrosting Tuna Under Running Water

For tuna to thaw quicker, cut it into smaller pieces before freezing. If you need to defrost your tuna urgently, follow these steps:

  • Put tuna in a sealable plastic bag. 

Place tuna in a sealable plastic bag. Choose a bag that is the perfect size to fit the entire fish. Try to remove as much air as possible. Be sure to seal the bag. Place the fish in a suitable bowl or container.

  • Place the bowl under cold water.

Place the bowl with tuna in the sink. Turn on cold water and hold the fish under it for a while. The water must be +10—+20°C for the fish not to go bad due to the bacteria spreading. Hold tuna under running water for 15–20 minutes. If the fish floats to the surface of the water, press it with some other dish or a small object. This will speed up the defrosting process.

  • Change water every 10 minutes.

If you are defrosting a small amount of tuna, the previous steps may be sufficient to defrost it completely. However, if the fish is big, then tuna will need more time than that. After holding the tuna under strong water pressure, leave it under a gentle stream of cold water for another 30 minutes. The tuna defrosting process takes from 20 minutes to 1 hour and depends on the size of the fish.

There is also another option. Fill a bowl with cold water and leave the tuna there. Change the water every 10 minutes until the food is completely defrosted.

  • Cook tuna right away.

Do not leave defrosted tuna in the fridge or on the counter to avoid the spread of bacteria. To make sure tuna is thawed, touch it. If it is soft and has a natural reddish color, tuna is ready to be cooked. Cooking the fish right away will preserve the beneficial substances and excellent taste of the product, which means that you will get a delicious and nutritious dinner.

See also: Fresh Tuna Storage Ultimate Guide. Refrigerating and Freezing

Defrosting Tuna in a Microwave

How to defrost tuna in the microwave? To defrost tuna in a microwave, put it in microwave-friendly containers and choose the fish defrosting setting. Take tuna out of the microwave every 5-10 minutes to turn it to ensure even thawing. On average, tuna needs 15-30 minutes to thaw in the microwave. 

Defrosting tuna in a microwave is fast and easy. Microwaves do not change the taste and texture of tuna and are available in every kitchen. Before thawing tuna in the microwave, rinse frozen fish under cold running water for a minute and dry it well with paper towels. Put tuna on a plate and use a defrosting mode. For tuna to thaw evenly, turn the pieces every 5-10 minutes.

Tuna that has been thawed must not be re-frozen, as this will significantly impair its nutritional value and taste.

Defrosting Tuna in a Fridge

To defrost tuna in the fridge, rinse it under cold water, wrap it in a cloth soaked in saltwater, place it in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator. From time to time, the fabric needs to be rinsed and moistened again in a salty composition. Tuna will be defrosted within 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the fish.

Defrosting Tuna in Water

Do not defrost tuna directly in water. Place the fish in sealable plastic bags and put in the bowl with cold water, and change the water every 30-60 minutes. How long to thaw tuna steak in water? Tuna will need 1-2 hours to thaw in cold water. Defrosting tuna in water is the most popular way to thaw it. Be sure to add salt to the water according to the formula “1-2-10”: per kilogram of tuna, use 2 liters of water and 10-15 grams of table salt. A small fish will thaw in 1.5-2 hours, for a larger fish in 3-4 hours.

But the best way is to defrost tuna in the refrigerator (on the upper shelf next to a wall), covering it with cling film. It will preserve tuna juice, which contains minerals and makes it tasty and healthy.

See also: Awesome Tips to Make Tuna Taste Better. What Does Tuna Go With?

Defrosting Tuna On the Counter

Can you defrost tuna on the counter? You must never defrost tuna on the counter or expose it to direct sunlight as it will lead to bacteria growth which will change the taste and texture of delicate, creamy tuna flesh and jeopardize its quality, leading to potential poisoning. 

How to Defrost Superfrozen Tuna Video Guide

How Long Does Tuna Take to Defrost?

How long does tuna take to defrost? Tuna needs 1-12 hours to defrost. Tuna fillets (200-500g) will need 1-2 hours to defrost in a sealable bag in the cold water, while the whole tuna (3-4 kg) will need up to 10-12 hours to defrost in the fridge (+5°C). To make the tuna thawing process quicker, buy smaller pieces and rinse them before defrosting.

How long does it take to thaw frozen tuna steak? Frozen tuna steak will need 30-60 minutes to defrost in the microwave, 2-3 hours in the water bowl, and 8-10 hours to defrost in the fridge. Do not defrost tuna steak in warm, hot water or direct sunlight.

If you are defrosting super frozen tuna, you might need up to 12 hours to thaw it in the bowl of cold water or in the fridge.

The Bottom Line

When defrosting as a result of changes in the colloidal structures of muscle tissue, tuna secretes a certain amount of juice. The bigger the loss of juice, the worse it will affect the taste of the cooked fish. The process of defrosting tuna does not tolerate warm, let alone hot water. At a water temperature of +35—+40°C, tuna protein loses its properties, absorbs hot water instead of lost muscle juice and mineral salts. Such fish takes on a stale smell, becomes loose, flabby and tasteless.

Thawed fish must not be frozen again, as this will result in a loss of nutrients, and the fish will taste bad. Tuna does not need to be completely thawed. Half-thawed tuna is juicier after cooking.

How to Defrost and Cut Superfrozen Tuna Video Guide

Tuna Thawing FAQ

How to defrost tuna steaks (fast)? To defrost tuna steaks fast, rinse them under cold water for 30-60 seconds, wipe dry with paper towels and place in sealable plastic bags. Put the bags under cold running water (+10—+15°C) for 30-60 minutes or in a bowl with cold water and change the water every 30 minutes.

How to defrost tuna for sushi? Tuna for sushi should be defrosted in the fridge, preferable overnight. Rinse the tuna and wipe it dry with paper towels. Put in a bowl and cover with foil 0r clingfilm to avoid excess air and moisture. In 10-12 hours, take the tuna out and start cooking it immediately. With this method, tuna will be juicy and tasty.

How to defrost tuna for poke? To defrost tuna for poke, rinse it and wipe dry with paper towels or tissues. Place in a plastic or glass container on the upper shelf of the fridge next to a wall and cover with a clingfilm. Start cooking tuna when it is half-frozen to preserve the juiciness and soft texture.

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