Homemade Canned Tuna Fish

homemade canned tuna in oil

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Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Chill Time: 75 mins
Total: 95 mins
Servings: 8 Servings
Yield: 2 Pounds
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
308 Calories
21g Fat
1g Carbs
27g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 308
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 28%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 48mg 16%
Sodium 1411mg 61%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 24mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 279mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fresh tuna is a versatile and delicious fish. By preserving it, you can use it over the course of a couple of weeks, instead of eating it all right away or freezing it. Preserving tuna is an ancient art, perfected by the Italians thousands of years ago. Even today, the finest canned tuna comes from Italy and Spain; what separates these cans of tuna from most of the varieties on the grocery store shelf is that they are preserved in olive oil instead of water.

Albacore is the primary species used in canned tuna. Commercial canners often steam their albacore, but a far more luxurious result is achieved thanks to a slow poach of the fish in olive oil. This is a process that the French call confit. It's an easy process, that only requires a deep pan, thermometer, and a cheesecloth or a fine mesh. Your preserved tuna will then keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you'd like actually canned tuna, you must pressure-can it in a steam canner.

Use high-quality albacore or yellowfin tuna, or this recipe yields great results with other kinds of fish like mako shark, halibut, swordfish, or sturgeon.

This homemade canned tuna is great in recipes like tuna salad or this innovative pasta dish with tuna, but it's best au naturel. Use it in a Nicoise salad, open-face sandwiches, flatbreads, or as your main protein alongside potatoes, rice, or quinoa. 


For the Fish:

  • 2 pounds high-quality albacore tuna

  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the Infused Oil:

  • 3 cups olive oil

  • 2 sprigs thyme

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 sprig rosemary

  • 1 lemon peel, sliced into strips

  • 1 whole clove

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. With the help of a sharp knife, cut fish into large chunks about 1-inch thick. Generously sprinkle pieces of fish with salt on both sides.

  3. In a deep saucepan, mix infused oil ingredients. Slowly heat oil mixture over medium heat until you begin to see a gentle simmer.

  4. With the help of a food thermometer, check that the oil is close to 160 F. Hold this temperature for about 15 minutes and then turn off heat. Cover the pot and leave oil to cool off for approximately 45 minutes.

  5. Once oil has cooled, turn heat back on to medium and heat it up again to 150 F. Once you've reached this temperature, slip in the fish and arrange pieces in one layer, so fish is completely covered in oil.

  6. Turn off heat and cover pot again. Let fish steep in oil for another 30 to 45 minutes.

  7. After fish has steeped in hot oil, use a slotted spoon to remove it and transfer it to clean plastic or glass container.

  8. Let oil cool to room temperature, then strain through a piece of cheesecloth or fine mesh and pour it over fish. Make sure you do not include any liquid that the fish gave off during cooking. You want oil only to cover the fish. If your infused oil seems too contaminated with fish bits, use clean olive oil if needed. With just oil covering it, the fish will last in the refrigerator for two weeks.