Can You Freeze Tuna?

Tuna is probably the most popular deep-sea fish around, not just because of its flavor, but because of its meat-like texture, and its nutritional benefits. 

Tuna is available as fresh, usually prepared as steaks or fillets, or canned, where it has been shredded.

Because fresh tuna is quite delicate, you need to be careful how you store it, and this especially applies to freezing it.

Usually, fresh tuna that’s sold whole is frozen solid to preserve its quality and texture. When it comes to canned tuna, you don’t have to worry. 

As long as it remains unopened and in date, you can store it for months or even years in the cupboard before it will go off. 

When it comes to leftover tuna and dishes that include this lovely fish (see also Freezing Sushi), you will need to do some prep before you freeze it. This will ensure the texture and flavor will be as similar to its fresh counterpart as possible. 

The Shelf Life Of Tuna

Tinned tuna rarely needs freezing, if at all. It’s the longest lasting form of tuna, where it will keep up to a year or two in the cupboard. 

Once you open it, the leftover contents will need to go into the fridge, and they’ll last about 2 or 3 days for peak freshness, or up to 5 days, where it will start to go dry. 

Fresh fish (see also Can You Freeze Cooked Salmon?) including tuna should be eaten as soon as possible, but it should be kept in the fridge for a maximum of 3 days, if eating it on the day you buy it isn’t possible. 

Don’t leave tuna sitting out on the counter. If you do forget, and it’s left out for more than an hour, discard it to be safe. 

When it comes to freezing tuna, it almost keeps for as long as you want. Having said that, you should eat it within 3 months, as this is before the texture and flavor will start to degrade.

When storing tuna in the freezer for a longer period of time, you need to make sure that the temperature will be constant, at 0°F. If it fluctuates, this will impact the quality and flavor of the fish.

How Do You Freeze Tuna?

There are several options when it comes to freezing tuna (see also Can You Freeze Tuna Pasta Bake?). Let’s look at each one in turn. 

Freezing Tuna Salad

You’ll want several resealable freezer bags, and labelling them now will be much easier than trying once the salad is in there. 

Portion the salad as necessary, which will save you time later when it comes to defrosting it, and preventing waste.

Decant the tuna salad into the bags, making sure to get rid of any excess air, and seal. 

You can also use airtight containers if you prefer, but freezer bags will save you some room in the freezer.

Freezing Unopened Canned Tuna

Do you need to freeze an unopened can of tuna? Probably not, but here’s how to do it anyway.

Cans aren’t freezer safe, so you’ll need to take the tuna out of the can and pour it directly into a freezer safe container, which seals properly. 

Cover the tuna with cling film before you seal it, label, and freeze.

Freezing Fresh Tuna

There are two ways of freezing fresh tuna, and both methods work best if you cut the tuna into steaks first. This will also help with portioning, and cutting down the defrosting time.

The first method is by far the easiest. Get rid of any excess moisture from the tuna with a paper towel. 

This isn’t optional, as this step significantly reduces any changes in texture and flavor when you freeze it. 

Wrap each steak in either foil or cling film, and seal in a heavy-duty freezer bag. 

Wrapping the fish first will protect it from freezer burn, especially if you plan on freezing the tuna for a longer period of time. Label, and freeze.

The second method requires either a salt solution, made up of a 1/4 cup of salt and a quart of water, or a solution of dissolved ascorbic acid crystals.

You need to dip the tuna into the solution, and then wrap it either in cling film or foil. Put it into a freezer bag, and freeze.

How Do You Defrost And Reheat Frozen Tuna?

The easiest way to thaw frozen raw tuna is to transfer it into the fridge and leave overnight to defrost. 

If you want it a little faster than that, make sure the container is sealed, and submerge it into a bowl of tap water. 

This will be thawed within a few hours, but you’ll need to use it fairly quickly, preferably in a cooked dish. 

When it comes to defrosting tuna salad (see also Freezing Quinoa), tuna that was originally tinned, or leftover tuna, let it defrost in the fridge for a few hours. 

You can then reheat the fish in the microwave, only for a couple of minutes. 


Tuna is easily frozen, and it defrosts without much fuss or loss in texture or flavor. It also means that you’ll be able to buy it on offer and save it for later. 

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