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Fresh, Fast, & Punchy No-Cook Tuna Tostadas!
For as long as I can remember, tostadas have been one of my favorite simple, snacky dinners. Throughout my childhood, my mom often made the most 90’s-style tostadas complete with a packet of taco seasoning & a slice of American cheese! 🤣 A bit retro, sure, but completely craveable nonetheless!
These days, I have a lot of fun satisfying tostada cravings with slightly more grown-up creations of my own, like Smoky Grilled Chicken Tostadas & our viral Black Bean Tostadas with Avocado Crema. Today we’re adding to the collection with these Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostadas, a seriously low-effort recipe inspired by my family’s Hawaiian roots.
Since fresh ahi tuna is so beautiful all on its own, it really doesn’t need much love – we’re just finely dicing into bite-sized pieces & seasoning it with a quick mixture of shoyu, sesame oil, scallions, lime juice, & chili crisp. This sauce is inspired by my family’s go-to Ahi Poke recipe, but it’s less of a marinade & more of a dressing here, allowing the beautifully fresh flavor of the tuna to shine through.
Simply build the fresh ahi tuna tostadas with a swoop of creamy mashed avocado & a pile of the garlicky spicy tuna mixture. The resulting tostadas are so light & full-flavored, all with that classic, craveable tostada crunch. Just one bite is enough to transport you to a warm beach vacation (& there’s absolutely zero cooking involved! 🙌🏼) ☀️🏝
Tuna Tostadas Recipe Highlights
There’s no better summer dinner than these Spicy Ahi Tostadas! You’ll love them because they’re…
NO COOK. These fresh tuna tostadas are a low-effort dinner dream! Simply prepare the ahi tuna raw, letting it soak in tons of punchy flavor from a quick marinade, then build your tostadas. Absolutely zero cooking required & perfect for hot summer nights!
SUPER FLAVORFUL. The tuna marinates in a combination of umami-rich shoyu, fragrant sesame oil, bright lime juice, & spicy, garlicky chili crisp – the secret pantry ingredient that makes every flavor pop!
FUN & BEACHY. Fresh & spicy ahi tuna tostadas are a fun way to mix up your weeknight cooking with little effort. Whether you’re lakeside, poolside, or landlocked, you’ll feel like you’re snacking with a beautiful ocean breeze. 🏝
The perfect little bite of summer! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostadas, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What Are Tostadas?
Tostadas are deep-fried or toasted corn tortillas loaded with toppings. The word “tostada” translates to “toasted” in Spanish, making a crispy tortilla essential for the dish. They were invented in Mexico as a way to use leftover tortillas so they didn’t go to waste. Frying or toasting corn tortillas creates a sturdy base for a variety of different toppings like chicken, pork, black beans, & fresh fish.
Fresh tuna tostadas are enjoyed all along coastal Mexico. In fact, they’re a signature dish at Contramar, a renowned seafood restaurant in Mexico City led by Chef Gabriela Cámara. Contramar’s famous tuna tostadas are a fusion of Mexican & Asian flavors, complete with chipotle aioli, thinly sliced sushi-grade tuna dressed with soy sauce & lime juice, & frizzled leeks.
This particular ahi tuna tostadas recipe is a similar fusion of Mexican & Asian flavors, but leans into my Hawaiian roots instead. The spicy tuna mixture is adapted from my family’s go-to Shoyu Ahi Poke recipe. It comes together with a handful of pantry staple ingredients & is designed to let the beauty of fresh ahi tuna shine through. Best of all – it’s a 15-minute recipe with no cooking involved! 🙌🏼
Most of the ingredients in this tuna tostadas recipe are for the marinade, which infuses the raw ahi tuna with tons of umami & a spicy kick of heat. It’s really amazing how much flavor can come from only 8 ingredients that are probably already in your pantry!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- Tostada shells – I often use store-bought tostadas for convenience. If you feel inspired to make homemade tostadas, my friend Isabel has a great homemade, oven-baked tostada shell recipe.
- Ahi tuna – It’s important to use the best-quality fresh tuna that you can find since it’s the star ingredient of this raw preparation (refer to the Ingredient Spotlight, below, for some sourcing tips!).
- Shoyu – This Japanese-style soy sauce is a staple in Hawaii & our kitchen. My personal favorite brand is Aloha Shoyu. If you cannot find shoyu, feel free to use whatever soy sauce you keep on hand. To keep this tuna tostadas recipe entirely gluten-free, swap out soy sauce for tamari.
- Chili crisp – The secret ingredient for creating tons of flavor quickly! This all-in-one ingredient adds spice & flavor from garlic, onion, sesame, & chili peppers. My favorite brands are Momofuku & Fly by Jing. Be sure to give the jar a good stir before using it!
- Sesame oil – Its nuttiness rounds out the bold flavor of the spicy tuna mixture.
- Green onions – For aromatic flavor & a beautiful pop of color!
- Avocado – Our favorite creamy base for ahi tuna tostadas! Mash it up like a quick guacamole or layer thin avocado slices on top of the tostada.
- Lime – For a little brightness in both the tuna tostada marinade & mashed avocado.
Ahi tuna (also known as yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna) is a specific type of fish found in tropical & subtropical oceans. Thanks to its uniquely firm texture & rich, meaty flavor, fresh ahi tuna is popular in sushi, sashimi, & other seafood dishes. While it’s often served raw – like in our Hawaiian poke bowls or sushi stacks! – you can also serve ahi seared rare or medium rare.
Sourcing tips! ⇢ Since this ahi tuna tostada recipe is a raw preparation, it’s important to source the fish from somewhere you trust. A few tips…
- Many people swear by using sushi-grade or sashimi-grade ahi tuna, but it’s worth noting that these designations are loosely regulated. The U.S. does not have a national governing body that grades fish the same way we grade other proteins like beef.
- Instead, my best advice is to source raw fish from a local fishmonger – they’ll have the best knowledge of what is fresh! 👍🏼 If you’re local to the Twin Cities, my go-to shops are Coastal Seafood (St. Paul & East Side) & Brookie’s (West Metro).
How to Make Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostadas
I love this tuna tostadas recipe because it’s seriously quick to make. It’s ready in 15 minutes & you never have to turn on the stove – perfect for a hot summer evening!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Season the ahi tuna. Dice your ahi tuna steak into fine, bite-sized pieces, then toss it with thinly sliced scallions, shoyu, chili crisp, sesame oil, & lime juice. Tuna prep tips! ⇢ For easy-to-eat tostadas, we’re after a really fine dice here – about ¼-inch! It’s easiest to let the tuna steak sit in the freezer for 30-ish minutes beforehand, which firms up the flesh & makes it really easy to slice with a sharp knife. If you’re prepping for a party, you can also marinate the tuna for up to 12 hours for even more flavor. If so, just be sure to add the lime juice just before serving – we don’t want tuna ceviche!
Mash the avocado. My favorite easy avocado prep! Rather than mixing up a full-fledged guacamole, simply mash avocado with a little lime juice & salt & you’re good to go!
Assemble the tuna tostadas. For the perfect tuna tostada, spread a layer of mashed avocado on the tostada shell & top with plenty of spicy ahi tuna. Top some fresh cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, more green onions, or even finely diced red onion for a finishing touch. Tip! ⇢ You can also warm up your tostada shells, but we normally skip this step on a hot day.
Serving & Storage Suggestions
These fresh tuna tostadas are the perfect quick weeknight meal, especially when it’s just too hot to cook!
Their punchy flavors & stunning presentation also make them a great easy main dish or snack for girl’s night, afternoons by the pool, or summer entertaining. Serve them with margaritas or mai tais for full-on beach vacation vibes! (A little extra guac never hurts either! 😉)
Leftovers? ⇢ Spicy tuna tostadas are best enjoyed fresh & don’t store particularly well once they’re assembled. For this reason, we recommend only assembling the amount of tostadas needed for serving. You can always go back & make more or allow others to build their own! You can store any leftover components in the refrigerator for later – check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
I can’t wait for you to try these Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostadas! I’m completely obsessed with their beachy vibe & layers of spicy-garlicky-savory flavor. So fresh, light, & seriously tasty!
If you do give them a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
More Recipes Like This:
Low- & No-Cook Dinners
For as long as I can remember, tostadas have been one of my favorite snacky meals. We’ve shared a number of epic tostada recipes here on PWWB over the years, but the version I’m currently most obsessed with are these Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostadas. They’re light, fresh, punchy, & feel-good – basically the ultimate low-effort dinner, especially for a warm summer night!
There are 2 things that really set them apart:
- Fresh ahi tuna. Many tuna tostada recipes make use of canned tuna, but we’re rolling out all the stops with fresh ahi tuna. Also known as bigeye or yellowfish tuna, ahi tuna has a beautifully clean flavor with a satisfying meaty texture. These tuna tostadas are a raw preparation, so it’s important to source the highest quality ahi tuna you can find – more tips in the Recipe Notes, below!
- A punchy seasoning. Inspired by my family’s go-to Ahi Poke recipe, this seasoning is a simple mix of pantry staples like shoyu (soy sauce) & sesame oil, but a good amount of chili crisp gives just the right kick of heat with a craveable bits of crispy, garlicky texture.
With the spicy tuna mixture combined, all that’s left to do is pile it on a crunchy tostada shell with a cooling swoop of creamy avocado. A 15-minute recipe made with 8 simple ingredients, these tuna tostadas are perfect for everything from a weeknight dinner to a poolside hang – just one bite & I think you’ll understand exactly why we’re so smitten with them! ♡
- 4–6 tostada shells, warmed according to package directions as desired
- 1 pound sashimi-grade ahi tuna, diced into ¼-inch cubes (see Recipe Notes)
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced (approx. ⅓ cup)
- 3 tablespoons shoyu or low-sodium soy sauce (sub tamari for gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons chili crisp
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 large limes, juiced & divided (approx. 2 tablespoons each)
- 1 large avocado
- kosher salt, to season
- for serving, as desired: thinly sliced green onions, finely chopped cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, lime wedges, etc.
- Season the ahi tuna: Place the cubed ahi tuna in a large bowl with the green onions, shoyu, chili crisp (be sure to stir well to mix the oil throughout the chili crisp – try to capture as much crisp as possible with your measuring spoon & drain off any excess chili oil), sesame oil, & the juice of 1 lime. Gently fold to combine well, coating the ahi tuna evenly. Taste & adjust seasonings as desired – add more shoyu for depth & salt, chili crisp for a kick of heat, sesame oil for aromatic flavor, & lime juice for brightness. Set aside.
- Mash the avocado: Place the avocado in a small bowl. Season with the remaining lime juice & kosher salt, to taste. Mash to combine well. Taste & adjust seasonings as desired.
- Assemble the spicy tuna tostadas: If desired, warm tostada shells according to package directions. Spread the prepared avocado mash over each tostada shell. Top with a generous portion of the spicy ahi tuna mixture. If desired, garnish with thinly sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, &/or toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Jess’ Notes & Tips:
- Tuna prep tip: It can be tricky to finely dice raw tuna. I like to place my tuna steak in the freezer about 30 minutes before I prepare the tuna mixture. The tuna firms up nicely with the quick chill, making it easier to slice & dice it into small pieces.
- Make-ahead: If time permits, I like to season the tuna ahead of time so it has a chance to soak up all of the flavor of the spicy dressing. Prepare according to Step 1, omitting the lime juice, then cover & store in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. At dinnertime, simply stir in the fresh lime juice & build your tostadas.
- Ingredient Notes:
- Ahi tuna: As the star of this tostada recipe, it’s important to use the best quality ahi tuna you can find. Since this is a fresh preparation, it’s also important to source your fish from somewhere you trust. While some swear by using only “sushi-grade” or “sashimi-grade” fish, these designations aren’t regulated – this is an interesting read on the matter. Rather than focusing on specific labels, I suggest heading to your local fishmonger & letting them guide you in the right direction. If you’re local to the Twin Cities Metro, I am a big fan of Coastal Seafoods (storefronts in Minneapolis & St. Paul) & Brookies Fish Market (West Metro).
- Chili crisp: Since it plays a key role in seasoning the spicy tuna mixture, it’s important to use a really bold & punchy chili crisp. I love Momofuku Chili Crunch & Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp. As chili crisp sits, its flavorful crispy bits settle to the bottom of the jar, so be sure to stir well before measuring – aim to capture mostly the crisp & drain any excess chili oil before adding it to the spicy tuna mixture.
- Storage: While these ahi tuna tostadas are best enjoyed fresh, store any leftovers in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days. Enjoy leftovers straight out of the refrigerator.
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.