Fried Calamari: the best-ever recipe for super crispy fried calamari

Total time: 30 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 10 people
By Cookist

Although it only became popular in the US in the 1980s, fried calamari is an established dish in restaurants and homes alike in the Mediterranean and parts of Europe. Crispy Fried Calamari is not only an easy appetizer recipe but it can also be served as a main dish alongside a salad.

Many home cooks are hesitant to make calamari because it often ends up either rubbery or soggy. Not this recipe! This calamari is crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside. To make it, you simply slice the squid into rings, dredge it in eggs and seasoned flour, and fry it until golden. Serve with a slice of lemon and enjoy.

What Is Calamari?

Calamari (pronounced kaa-laa-maa-ree) is simply the Italian word for squid, which is a sea creature closely related to octopus. The flesh is firm, and can be served as calamari steaks, or sliced into tubes. Because the flavor is so mild, it’s great to pair with seasoning as it takes on whatever flavor you add.

Fried Calamari Ingredients

Calamari – use fresh calamari; if you use frozen squid, allow it to thaw in the fridge before using.

Eggs – two large fresh eggs.

Flour – all-purpose flour.

Seasoning – use a blend of salt and pepper, or add more spice if you prefer.

Oil – use an oil suitable for frying at higher temperatures; canola, peanut, sunflower, or corn oil will all work well.

How To Clean Calamari

Most of the time, the calamari you’ll find in the store will be already cleaned. Otherwise, you’ll need to clean it first. Start by rinsing the squid under running water. Pull away the tentacles, and cut off the head (you can discard it or use it for fish stock).

Clean the inside of the squid, making sure to remove any membranes if present. Cut off any fins. Slice in rings and proceed with the recipe.

How To Tenderize Calamari Before Frying

Calamari can sometimes turn out tough. It’s useful to tenderize the calamari before frying. To do this, soak them in a mixture of salted milk for half an hour (keep it in the fridge!). Use about 1 tsp of salt in ½ cup of milk. You can also use buttermilk, yogurt, or lemon juice.

How To Make Fried Calamari From Scratch

Clean the squid if necessary, then slice into rings. There’s no need to boil the calamari before frying, this will make it tough. Set up a dredging station with the whisked eggs in one shallow bowl, and the whisked flour mixture in another.

Cover the squid rings in the whisked eggs, then cover with flour. Fry in oil over medium heat until golden and cooked through.

Can You Fry Calamari In The Air Fryer?

Yes, you can! Place the battered calamari in the air fryer basket (making sure that there’s enough space between the pieces). Spray with oil or cooking spray, and air fry for 8 minutes at 400°F/200°C, turning halfway.

What To Serve With Fried Calamari

Serve the calamari as an appetizer with garlic aioli, or tzatziki.

Sides that will go well with fried calamari include roasted broccoli, sautéed green beans, French fries, or spiced rice.

A crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc makes the perfect wine pairing for this dish.

Fried Calamari Variations

There are many ways to add variation to this recipe.

If you want to make the breading crunchier, add breadcrumbs or Panko crumbs to the flour mixture. You can also use cornmeal to add a bit of crunch.

Feel free to experiment with the seasoning. Use salt, pepper, and a bit of paprika or cayenne pepper for spice. Other seasonings to try to include Old Bay Seasoning, Cajun spice, Italian Seasoning, or even taco seasoning.

Tips For Making Crispy Fried Calamari

Don’t make your oil too hot, otherwise the breading on the calamari will burn before it’s cooked through. An oil temperature of about 350°F will work great. If you want to reuse the oil, allow it to cool, and strain it. You can use it a few times more for fried calamari.

Don’t cut the strips too thin, otherwise, they might overcook, causing them to be chewy.

Add cornstarch to the flour mixture to make it extra crispy.

Serve the fried calamari hot with your favorite dip and a lemon wedge.

How To Store Fried Calamari

Fried calamari is best served hot. You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, and reheat the calamari in the oven. It might lose some of its crispiness and become rubbery when reheating.

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calamari (squids)
All-purpose flour
180 g (1 1/2 cups)
salt and pepper to taste


Slice cleaned squids into rings.

Whisk the flour with salt and pepper.

Whisk the two eggs.

Transfer the squid rings to the whisked egg.

Transfer the rings to a plate of flour.

Cook in preheated oil for 2-3 minutes.

Drain, serve and enjoy!

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