Can you cook canned tuna? (5 Recipes)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you cook canned tuna? We will discuss some general aspects of canned including the processing and its attributes. We will also discuss some recipes to cook by using canned tuna as an ingredient. 

Can you cook canned tuna?

The international trade in fish continues to be heavily skewed toward the EU, USA and Japan. They totalled 64% of the value of world seafood trade in 2012, with the EU at 36% (including intra-EU trade) and Japan and the USA at 14% each (1).

You can cook canned tuna. Even though canned tuna comes precooked, you can cook it again if you wish.

Canned tuna is safe to eat straight from the can. However, if you intend to add it to a dish, you can cook it to some extent if you like. Remember to use low heat when you cook canned tuna to prevent ruining the texture and flavor. If tuna are overcooked, moisture, fish oils, and soluble proteins are driven out of the fish (4).

You can cook the tuna on a stovetop or in the oven. When you cook tuna in a pan, remember to add a bit of olive oil. By adding olive oil or any other oil you have at hand would prevent the tuna from sticking to the pan.

You would want to cook the tuna in the oven if you are making a casserole. To make the casserole, you can add all the ingredients including the cold tuna from the can, and let it bake.

Canned tuna is boiled for long before it is packed into cans. For some, the texture of tuna would seem overcooked even straight from the can.  

Tuna Alfredo Pasta

For example, you can make a tuna alfredo pasta by cooking the alfredo pasta strips and then adding the canned tuna along with other ingredients. You can also add canned tuna to macaroni and cheese when you add the cheese sauce.

Scrambled Eggs

You can also add the can of tuna to your scrambled eggs as a rich protein meal. All you need to do is to cook the scrambled egg and mix tuna with the rest of the ingredients that including oregano, olive oil, onion and fry for further 45 minutes before you take it off of the heat. 

Tuna Casserole

You can also make tuna casserole. To make tuna casserole, boil some pasta and then add tuna, a can of cream of either celery or mushroom, half a cup of milk, some shredded cheese, bread crumbs, pea, salt, and pepper.

Transfer the mix to a baking sheet and cook at 375 Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes. 

Broccoli and Tuna

To make Broccoli and tuna, put a steamer in the frying pan and fill some of it with water. Boil the water and add the broccoli. Steam the broccoli for 2- 6 minutes. Fish the broccoli out of the boiling water and put it in a pan. Add butter, salt, and pepper. 

Let the tuna heat in a pan and add teriyaki sauce and garlic powder. Saute for around 5 minutes and add the tuna to the broccoli and mix.  

How to cook or heat canned tuna?

Canned tuna must be heated to a gentle temperature. Heating canned tuna can cause it to deteriorate its texture. Canned tuna being soft and precooked, you need to be careful when you cook it. 

Overcooked tuna has an off-taste and texture. Regardless of what you use to heat tuna, let it be the stove or the microwave, there are certain things that you need to have in mind. 

If you use your microwave to heat canned tuna, use low power. If you use a stove, you do not need to sear tuna. Also, do not boil canned tuna at any cost. 

How is canned tuna prepared?

Canned tuna is a good option as it lasts for months on the shelf. For people who do not have access to fresh seafood, canned seafood is the way to go. Tuna is one of the most nutritious seafood that is packed with proteins, iron, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin D and omega-3 and potassium. Protein is a necessary building block of all tissues in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are “essential” because the body does not produce them, meaning they must be consumed through food. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are important for healthy brain development and function, reducing inflammation, and cardiovascular function. Vitamin D is both transported and stored in fat tissues (2,3).

  • Tuna fish are caught at sea. A large quantity of tuna is caught by commercial vessels and stored in cold storage until it is sent to canneries. 
  • After the frozen tuna is then sent to the cannery without allowing the cold chain to break. When the tuna is ready to be processed, it is checked for quality, thawed, and then cleaned. 
  • The fish is then steam-baked and boiling. A high-heat treatment procedure is important to get rid of all the microorganisms and keep the fish safe. 
  • Tuna is added to cans by salting, broth, water, and oil. 
  • After which the can is vacuum-sealed and sealed and sterilized with aid from a water bath.
  • The cans are then sterilized at high temperatures that must reach over 240 degrees to ensure the absence of live bacteria inside the sealed containers.
  • The cans are cooled, labeled, and checked for quality assurance. This process involves assessing damage to the cans, including dents, swelling, and malfunctioning seals, which could indicate potential contamination.
  • Cans are then shipped to warehouses and sent out to stores around the United States where they can remain on shelves for 2–5 years

Other FAQs about Tuna that you may be interested in.

How long will tuna last in the fridge?

How many times a week can you eat tuna?

What is the difference between albacore and yellowfin tuna?

Can you eat canned tuna daily?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you cook canned tuna? We discussed some general aspects of canned including the processing and its attributes. We also discussed some recipes to cook by using canned tuna as an ingredient. 


  1. Campling, Liam. Trade politics and the global production of canned tuna. Mar Policy, 2016, 69, 220-228.
  2. Canned Tuna. Food Source Information. 2022. Colorado State University.
  3. Ikem, Abua, and Nosa O. Egiebor. Assessment of trace elements in canned fishes (mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines and herrings) marketed in Georgia and Alabama (United States of America). J food compos anal, 2005, 18, 771-787.
  4. DeBeer, John, et al. Precooking Tuna: A Heat of Summation Analysis of Different Heating Profiles. Food Protect Trend, 2019, 39, 127-136.