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Is Canned Tuna Cooked In The Canning Process & Can You Cook It?

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Most of us are fairly familiar with canned tuna, but many of us are also very unaware of whether canned tuna is cooked or not if we actually are supposed to be eating it right out of the can, and if we should be or even can heat it. 

Is Canned Tuna Cooked In The Canning Process & Can You Cook It?

So many questions! But we will answer them all! 

Canned tuna is a versatile and economical food, packed full of protein.

It is a healthy ingredient that can stay in your pantry and is always ready to be added to a sandwich, salad, pasta, or casserole. 

However, thanks to the processing steps, this food can last in the pantry for a very long time, and you can even heat it before you eat it, or just eat it straight out of the can.

All of this combined is what makes it so popular. 

But, let’s talk some more about canned tuna first…

Canned Tuna: Is It Cooked Or Raw?

A vast majority of canned tuna that can be picked up from your local store is completely cooked and is ready for you to eat right out of the can.

The process of canning tuna will do a couple of things. 

Firstly, it will vacuum seal the can, preventing any harmful bacteria from contaminating the tuna.

Secondly, it will preserve the flavor, overall making canned tuna rather resilient.

Canned tuna can be used in a variety of ways, it could be used in a recipe where it is cooked again, or just added to some spices, mayo, and herbs, to be enjoyed in a tuna salad sandwich. 

Whatever the case, you can eat canned tuna straight from the can without any other preparation process. 

Can You Eat Canned Tuna Right From A Can?

If you enjoy it, and you are a fan of tuna then you can have salads with canned tuna and pasta salads with canned tuna.

You can simply pop open a can of tuna and make use of it in a multitude of different delicious dishes! 

It is ready to eat! 

How Is Canned Tuna Made?

So, how is canned tuna made? 

  1. Once fresh tuna has been caught, it is most often frozen to keep it fresh until it reaches the processing plant where it will be canned. 
  2. The processing plant will then check the fish for its quality and will also inspect the fishing boat to ensure that the storage process for the tuna was done correctly.
  3. Tuna will then be thawed, cleaned, and steam baked. 
  4. The tune is cooked, skinned, boned, and then sliced before it is packed into cans. 

Many people notice that some brands will use vegetable broth, or oil in cans of tuna, while others use water.

The liquid added is a part of the process of canning, and it helps to keep the tuna properly preserved. 

As well as the added vacuum sealing, tuna will usually have a shelf life of up to 4 years!

When it comes to tuna that has not been cooked before it is canned, salt will typically also be added to the chopped-up tuna when it is frozen to help it maintain its highest quality.

The fish then goes on to be vacuum sealed and then sterilized. Canned tuna that is made in this way will last for around 3 years! 

Canned Vs Fresh

Is Canned Tuna Cooked In The Canning Process & Can You Cook It?

Canned tuna and fresh tuna are both healthy ways to enjoy some lean protein. While we have to admit that fresh tuna is significantly more nutritious, it is also much more expensive.

Meanwhile, canned tuna is very versatile and is significantly more convenient. 

If we are honest, canned tuna is also significantly more cost-effective as well!

Could You Cook Canned Tuna?

Consider a tuna casserole and many other tuna-based pasta dishes. In essence, you are essentially cooking the tuna a second time. 

Thankfully, even after you reheat the canned tuna, it still will retain its texture and its flavor. This is not lost in cooking so you most certainly can cook canned tuna a second time! 

Heating Canned Tuna

There are two primary ways in which you can heat canned tuna. The first is in the microwave, and the second is on the stove, let’s talk through both of these.


Using a microwave to cook canned tuna is a very easy and fast way to heat it.

You do need to remove the tuna from the can first of course, but then simply place it into your microwave. 

Once this is done, simply cover with a microwavable cover, or even a paper towel to save yourself from any mess, and then set the microwave timer for half a minute. 

Check on your tuna after 30 seconds and then heat it for another 30 seconds, and repeat until it is warm, to the temperature you require. 


Some would prefer to heat canned tuna on their stove. If this is the case for you then empty the can of tuna into a pan and place it over medium-low heat.

Gently heat the tuna until it is warm enough to your liking. 

Be aware that tuna that is packed in oil is always the best choice for heating canned tuna on the stove. 

Oil in the can will help to prevent the tuna from sticking to your pan, which is certain to save you from an unpleasant and fishy clean up, or any ruined cookware! 


Canned tuna is, most of the time, cooked. This means that you needn’t cook it again. However, you can cook it again if you want to, or if you need to for a specific dish. 

Raw tuna and cooked tuna do look significantly different as well, which will help you to ensure the canned tuna you have is cooked.

Cooked tuna is light pink, while raw tuna is much darker, almost red! 

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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