This is how to cook calamari deep fried or in an air fryer. Crispy and delicious bite size pieces of squid. A great appetizer or snack.
Ever since I had the most amazing fried squid at a sushi restaurant I’ve wanted to figure out how to cook calamari at home. It needed to be crispy and crunchy with tender meat on the inside. We’ll share an air fryer and fried version here so you can see which you love best. After this try these easy fish recipes too. (affiliate links present)
How to Make Fried Calamari
You’ve only had this at restaurant like Olive Garden calamari??!! OH you’re in for a treat, it actually isn’t that hard to deep fry or air fry it at home. That way you can make it as thin and crispy or thick and chewy on the inside as you want to. That is the best part. Then experiment with all sorts of dipping sauces.
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What is calamari made of?
If you didn’t know already it is the body of the squid sliced into thin (or thick) pieces. They come out as rings which is fun, sometimes the tentacles are battered and fried too. You can use the entire body if you like. Seasoned served with a dip they are very tasty and usually served as an appetizer.
Calamari Recipes Not Fried
This is what you’re going to need to get started….. There are two ways to go about this. You can find whole calamari tubes at the grocery store, or bags where they are already sliced.
The latter is easier to find typically. Look in the frozen seafood section to find them. You do want them fresh or defrosted, not frozen.
You could if you weren’t going to bread it. In this case that would be a no. The flour and seasonings won’t stick to frozen calamari pieces if they are right out of the freezer and rock hard.
Put the bag into a bowl of cool water until softened, or leave in fridge overnight. Then make this fried calamari.
How to Cook Calamari in Pan
Beyond the main ingredient this is what you’re going to need to make this either in your Ninja Foodi, pan fried or deep fried.
- Defrosted or fresh calamari rings, the thinner you slice it the crispier it will get
- Season with salt and pepper before and after cooking
- Hot oil if you’re frying them, spray if you’re not
- Lemon wedges squeezed on top and scallions diced on top at the end are great
Oil is needed to fry, Olive oil spray is all you need if you are making air fryer crispy fried calamari it instead. Link to those instructions below on top of the photo.
How do you tenderize calamari rings?
You can submerge in a bowl of lemon juice for about 30 minutes before you throw them into the flour. I don’t find that this is necessary but I do like a bit of a “bite” to them.
Pan Fried Calamari Recipe
If you don’t have a dedicated deep fryer that is okay. You can use a deep pan to do the same thing since these aren’t too large and can be submerged in about 5-6 cups of vegetable oil. It doesn’t take very long to get the outside a nice golden brown and the insides tender.
In case you do just plop them in for 2-3 minutes and remove, you don’t want to get the too brown in my opinion. I like it still tender in the middle and not crunchy like french fries. Paired with a few air fryer scallops these make for a delicious at home seafood meal.
There is another coating you could use too though. If you want something a little thicker, but still light, make our tempura batter recipe and dip into that before frying. This won’t work in your air fryer though.
Deep Fried Calamari
Here is a quick rundown of how you can make it with some oil in a pan, or deep fried. Either way each piece should be nicely submerged and cooked until golden brown.
Time needed: 15 minutes
How to cook calamari
Pat the squid pieces dry with paper towels to remove moisture from the outside. Slice into rings (if they aren’t already cut) and put into a bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on to them and toss to coat well.
Add about 6 cups of vegetable oil into a pan and heat over medium high heat until it is hot enough to fry. To test drop a tiny piece of squid in and if it begins to immediately sizzle and fry it is ready
Dip each squid ring into the flour to coat, then into the oil to fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
In a small pan heat on low the butter to melt, add garlic, chili, and scallions. Cook until garlic turns dark brown, then remove from the heat. Drizzle this with a squeeze of lemon juice on top of fried calamari, toss to coat and serve.
How Long to Cook Calamari in Air Fryer
For air fryer calamari instructions please follow these directions here. I think this method tenderizes the squid just a bit more since it is cooked on a lower temperature for a bit longer.
How to Cook Calamari Rings from Frozen
You will want to defrost them before making any of these for best results. If not the breading won’t stick. Leave in the fridge for a few hours is all that is necessary to soften up adequately.
Served with a lemon slice to squeeze on top they are so good with marinara sauce or your favorite dip. My kids tend to love it with a side of fry sauce or our bang bang shrimp sauce! So if you were wondering what’s the best way to cook squid I hope we convinced you that this is it!
What side dishes go well with seafood?
- An easy one when we make Crock Pot shrimp boil is a pot full of white rice.
- You can make air fryer fried potatoes with it too with some Za atar seasoning.
- For a lighter meal you can serve this with a side salad and a glass of white wine. I mean you just can’t go wrong with this any day of the week……
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
How to Cook Calamari
- Pat the squid dry with paper towels. Slice into rings and put into a bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on and toss to coat well.
- Add about 6 cups of vegetable oil into a pan and heat over medium high heat until it is hot enough to fry. To test drop a tiny piece of squid in and if it begins to immediately sizzle and fry it is ready.
- Dip each squid ring into the flour to coat, then into the oil to fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- In a small pan heat on low the butter to melt, add garlic, chili, and scallions. Cook until garlic turns dark brown, then remove from the heat. Drizzle this on top of fried calamari and toss to coat, then serve with a squeeze of lemon on top.