These juicy tuna patties are made from fresh ahi tuna steaks and punched up with Dijon mustard and fresh parsley. Each simple, healthy French-inspired patty is topped with a lemon-caper aioli, shaved fennel slaw and peppery arugula. It’s a perfect quick gluten-free dinner idea (under 25 minutes) with fresh seafood and one of my all-time favorite recipes!
I often tell tall tales from my days as a professional caterer and the many missteps I took along the way. At the beginning, I was mostly learning on someone else’s dime. I was wary to call myself a chef, because the truth is, I was just learning the art of becoming a more competent home cook—efficient, organized, and less forgetful.
Which is all to say that this tuna burger recipe is inspired by one of the first meals I was ever paid to make.
It was a 10 person dinner party for a crowd that featured more than one celebrity, and one professional chef and restaurateur–no pressure at all. The menu I chose included a version of these salmon burgers, and like many of the choices I made in those early days, it was not the right one.
Though the burgers were delicious, owing to my nerves, they arrived broken with lack luster garnishes on the table, a result of being harried and having to pan-fry things to order (2/10 do not recommend).
Needless to say, I’ve come a long way since then, and though I’d be certain these ahi tuna burgers would impress your guests at your next dinner party, they are even better as a special upscale weeknight meal that only requires one batch in the skillet.
Here’s how I upgraded these tuna patties and make them foolproof every time.
This tuna patty recipe borrows some of my favorite French flavors and incorporates them into every element. The ahi tuna is pulsed in a small food processor until just ground. Tuna is less fatty than salmon so you don’t need any filler or binder. They are naturally gluten-free and flavored with some minced shallot, parsley and strong Dijon mustard. No breadcrumbs or egg necessary!
PRO TIP: If you want to save time, you can always pulse the shallot and parsley in the food processor before you grind the ahi tuna steaks.
Second tip: to help the tuna patties hold together and get a beautiful medium or medium-rare sear on them, chill the patties on a plate in the fridge until right before you pan-fry them.
Can these tuna burgers be made on a grill?
Since they are still on the delicate side, I would recommend using an indoor grill pan or cast iron skillet (my preference) instead of an outdoor grill. You want them to still be lightly pink in the center and charred on the outside, which means a heavy bottomed pan that can get quite hot so you only have to cook the tuna patties for a few minutes per side.
You can serve the tuna burgers naked as a topping for a simple green salad, but the garnishes I’ve included in this gluten-free recipe really take them up a notch to something that would stun strangers.
I split the juice of one lemon between thinly shaved fennel, which wilts into a pliable slaw that gives the burger necessary crunch, and a lemon-caper aioli. The sauce is also laced with more parsley and Dijon.
Can I make this recipe low FODMAP?
To make this recipe low FODMAP, simply omit the shallot and garlic—it will still taste fantastic—reduce the fennel slaw to just a half bulb, and serve the burgers on a gluten-free bun.
Tuna burgers with canned tuna
If you can’t find ahi tuna steaks, yellowfin or fresh albacore would work! I wouldn’t use canned tuna for this recipe as is, but you could certainly do a variation with these flavorings using canned tuna and adding a beaten egg or 2 tablespoons mayonnaise as a binder. Simply make the tuna patties smaller (8 or so versus 4) and serve them with the slaw and aioli sans bun.
Here are some more gluten-free burger recipes:
- Ginger Salmon Burgers (these taste great with Ahi tuna too!)
- Smoky Turkey Burgers with Spinach and Avocado
- Curried Red Lentil Burgers
- Greek Lamb Burgers
- Paleo Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers
- Gluten-Free White Bean Veggie Burgers
- Quinoa Gluten-Free Veggie Burgers
I’m so happy my catering fail could blossom into this total winner of a tuna burger recipe. For more quick gluten-free dinner ideas with seafood check out the archives!
With health and hedonism,
Lemon-Dijon Ahi Tuna Burgers
- 1 pound yellowfin or ahi tuna steaks cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard divided
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves divided
- 1 small shallot minced
- Sea salt
- 1 fennel bulb shaved on a mandolin or thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice divided
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons capers about half one 3-ounce jar, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Avocado or olive oil
- 2 cups arugula
- 4 gluten-free burger buns toasted
- In a small food processor (or chopping by hand), pulse the ahi tuna until it’s coarsely ground (you can also ask your fish monger to do this for you). Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
- To the tuna, add 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, the shallot and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Mix until completely incorporated.
- Form the tuna mixture into 4 equal balls and pat into 1-inch thick burger patties about the size of your palm. Set aside on a plate and transfer the patties to the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the fennel slaw: in a medium mixing bowl, toss the fennel with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Toss until well-coated and set aside, stirring every 10 minutes or so to redistribute, until the fennel is softened.
- Make the aioli: In another small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, capers, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Cook the burgers: place a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame and coat with a thin layer of avocado oil. When the pan is hot, add the ahi tuna burgers. Cook the patties until nicely browned on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure not to flip the burgers too early—they need to be nicely browned on the first side in order to turn without breaking. Carefully flip using two flat spatulas and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until opaque up the sides for medium.
- To serve, slather the toasted buns with the caper aioli. Top the bottom half of each bun with a tuna burger patty, and divide the fennel slaw and arugula between them. Enjoy immediately with the remaining aioli on the side!