Despite the widespread use of radio frequency (RF) ablation, an effective way to assess thermal tissue damage during and after the procedure is still lacking. We present a method for monitoring RF ablation efficacy based on thermally induced methemoglobin as a marker for full tissue ablation. Diffuse reflectance (DR) spectra were measured from human blood samples during gradual heating of the samples from 37 to 60, 70, and 85°C. Additionally, reflectance spectra were recorded real-time during RF ablation of human liver tissue ex vivo and in vivo. Specific spectral characteristics of methemoglobin were extracted from the spectral slopes using a custom optical ablation ratio. Thermal coagulation of blood caused significant changes in the spectral slopes, which is thought to be caused by the formation of methemoglobin. The time course of these changes was clearly dependent on the heating temperature. RF ablation of liver tissue essentially led to similar spectral alterations. In vivo DR measurements confirmed that the method could be used to assess the degree of thermal damage during RF ablation and long after the tissue cooled.