Herbs and Spices to Season Tuna

Whether a chef, a home cook, or just a food lover, everyone knows how important seasoning and condiments are to get the most out of any meat or seafood. It’s no different when it comes to tuna — one of the most celebrated seafoods. With hundreds of cuisines and countless preparations, it may need some research to know what spices and herbs work well for which tuna dish.

Herbs and Spices for Tuna Seasoning

Does the Type of Tuna Matter When Choosing the Spices?

Before getting to the list of spices, it will help to know a bit about the types of tuna you can eat and how they are prepared. For example, skipjack and bonito are typical favorites for canned tuna, mainly because of their fatty, high-flavored flesh. When you get canned tuna from the supermarket, it’s almost always skipjack. Their small size makes them more suitable for canned fish than steaks. Canned tunas make spicy tuna salads, sandwiches, dips, and other similar items.

Then come the bigger varieties like bigeye, bluefin, albacore, and ahi (yellowfin), usually eaten in steaks, sushis, and all the famous preparations that call for fresh tuna.

So, the type and recipe are both important considerations when choosing spices that will go well with tuna.

Best Herbs and Spices to Add to Tuna

Personal preferences play a huge role in the choice of cooking ingredients. Still, certain spices, herbs, and condiments are acknowledged to enhance the taste and flavor of tuna dishes. It can be a starting point for you to start your experiment and come up with unique blends.

NameTaste & FlavorUsed forCombination Spices & Condiments
Black PepperPeppery, earthyGrilled steak, salad, sandwichLemon pepper, garlic powder
Garlic PowderSavory, umamiSalad, pasta, casseroleOnion powder, lemon
Onion PowderSweet, umamiSalad, casserole, burgerGarlic powder, mustard powder
Lemon JuiceCitrusy, brightGrilled steak, salad, pastaLemon pepper, rosemary
PaprikaSmoky, mild heatGrilled steak, salad, wrapCayenne pepper, lemon pepper
Cayenne PepperSpicy, pungentSpicy tuna salad, steak, tacosPaprika, chili powder
Sesame SeedsNutty, toastedSesame-crusted tuna, sushi roll, tuna stir-frySoy sauce, ginger
Dill LeavesFresh, anise-likeSalad, wrap, dipLemon, mustard powder
ThymeHerbaceous, earthyGrilled steak, casserole, soupRosemary, oregano
OreganoRobust, pepperyPasta, pizza, saladBasil, thyme
Chili PowderSpicy, smokySpicy tuna wrap, tuna chili, tacosCumin, cayenne pepper
Lemon PepperCitrusy, pepperyGrilled steak, salad, sandwichBlack pepper, lemon 
CuminWarm, earthyCurries, tacos, burgerChili powder, coriander
CorianderCitrusy, floralCurries, salad, wrapCumin, mustard powder
Mustard PowderTangy, pungentSalad, burger, dipOnion powder, dill
BasilSweet, mintyPasta, salad, pizzaOregano, garlic powder
RosemaryWoody, resinousGrilled steak, casserole, soupThyme, lemon
Fennel SeedsAnise-like, sweetSalad, pasta, sandwichDill, lemon
ParsleyFresh, pepperySalad, pasta, wrapLemon, garlic powder
TarragonAnise-like, pepperySalad, wrap, burgerLemon, cilantro
CilantroFresh, citrusySalad, tacos, sushi rollTarragon, lemon
Note: While the term 'seasoning' might bring to mind only table spices, in today's culinary world, it encompasses all the spices and condiments that enhance your food — whether added before, during, or after cooking.

Some of the spices, like black pepper, oregano, and lemon juice, also work well as table-seasoning for most tuna dishes.

If you are going for a specific cuisine, then look for spices typical to that cuisine in the list. For example, seasoning with chili pepper flakes, ginger, and cilantro gives it an Asian touch. Similarly, basil, oregano, and cumin can give your tuna a Mediterranean twist.


How do you season canned tuna?

Canned tuna is known for its fatty, flaky texture and robust flavor, often accompanied by a distinct ‘fishy’ smell. While it is prepared to heat and serve, many find that adding bold and flavorful seasonings is essential to balance the strong aroma and make it more palatable. Fresh herbs like chopped cilantro and dill, along with spices such as a dash of lemon pepper or cayenne, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice, can work wonders in transforming the taste. For avid tuna lovers, a simple salt and pepper combination may be enough.