Should You Ever Boil Canned Tuna?

One of the best-canned goods to keep stocked in your pantry is tuna. It is a cheap and convenient protein that can be transformed into just about anything. But, while you might prefer reserving cans of albacore and skipjack for topping leafy green salads and pan bagnet-inspired toasts, the hearty fish can also be a great addition to creamy baked casseroles, crispy fried croquettes, or cheesy toasted melts. Yet, of the many ways you could cook with canned tuna, boiling always seems to be one method shrouded in mystery, leaving many wondering whether or not you should ever boil canned tuna.

In comparison to fresh filets, the BBC Good Food explains that tins of tuna boast many of the same levels of protein and nutrients, like omega fatty acids, just with a touch of more fat if the fish is packed in oil. However, that oil can add natural flavor to a dish, along with eliminating the need for any extra fats during cooking. But does canned tuna even need to be cooked? After all, it's produced by undergoing a canning process; re-boiling might seem counterintuitive, but here's what you should know.

Just because you can re-boil, it doesn't mean you should

It's true that canned tuna can be enjoyed right out of the can. However, Kidadl explains that heating the already-cooked, canned tuna doesn't pose any health risks. That said, while it's entirely safe to re-cook the tuna, there is a major drawback to consider.

Aside from creating more work when preparing a dish, Sweetish Hill shares that boiling (or even searing) canned tuna should be avoided mainly because applying additional heat to the fish will result in overcooking. Rather than serve dry and tasteless tuna, the protein is best used directly out of the can. As for recipes that involve cooking tuna, there's no need to boil the fish beforehand, simply work it into the recipes and cook as indicated.

If you're not a fan of eating cold tuna, then heating is totally acceptable — so long as it's done correctly. Although it should go without saying, always remove tuna from the can before applying any heat. Next, remember that the goal of heating canned tuna is less about cooking and more about warming. Working with low temperatures, Foods Guy recommends either warming it up by placing a paper towel over the container you're using or gently sautéing tuna in the oil it was packed.