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Fried Calamari: Crispy, Tender, Easy!

Sometimes cooking tips and techniques are more important than the recipe itself – read on to learn about how to make a very tender yet crisp fried calamari using this very easy method- better than most restaurants, right at home!!

friend calamari with lemon wedges and marinara

How to Make Fried Calamari

There are many recipes out there for fried calamari (also known as squid) but did you know that the techniques for making this dish are probably more important than the recipe itself? Yes!

Making this fried calamari is super easy because, after soaking, the calarmari is simply dusted in flour and then fried and seasoned. Easy yet delicious!

A light coating ensures you’re eating mostly calamari not mostly breading.

  • Prep: To start, you need to slice the calamari bodies into rings (some calamari comes pre-sliced). If you need help on how to clean calamari see this tutorial.
  • Tenderize: Soak the calamari in water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda (I use enough water to simply cover the calamari) for about 15 minutes and then rinse well and drain well.
  • Crisp: Pat the calamari as dry as possible with tea towels or papers towels. This will help the calamari crisp up when fried.
  • Coat: Coat the calamari lightly with flour (I used semolina this time but often use all purpose flour, sometimes mixed with cornstarch [2:1 ratio]). A light coating ensures you taste calamari not fried breadcrumbs/coating. Place coated calamari in a strainer and shake over sink to remove excess flour.
  • Cook: Fry in small batches. If you fry too much at once, the oil temperature will not be hot enough and the result will be soggy calamari. Fry for less than 2 minutes to keep tender.

How to Quickly Tenderize Calamari

I use baking soda to tenderize calamari. For each pound, I dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in just enough water to cover the calamari. Let sit for about 15 minutes and then rinse very well and pat dry.

Tips for Making Crispy Fried Calamari

  • Make sure calamari is patted dry as much as possible, as excess moisture will interfere with crisping.
  • Do not salt the flour or calamari before cooking. Salt, by osmosis, extracts liquids from food making the external crust moist and soggy. 
  • Do not fry too much calamari at once or your oil temperature will plunge and your calamari will become soggy and greasy.
  • Enjoy the calamari immediately after frying when it is crispiest.
  • Consider adding cornstarch to flour for additional crunch. A common ratio is two parts flour to one part cornstarch (2:1).

Coating and Flavor Alternatives

  • Seasoned flour: Use seasoned flour to coat the calamari (add any combination of garlic powder, paprika, dried parsley, black pepper to the flour). Salt after frying.
  • Battered calamari: Make a batter by mixing 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 cups of water (still or sparkling) or try this fabulous fish fry batter.
top view of fried calamari with lemon and marinara sauce

Deep Frying Tips

  • If using a pot to fry on the stove top, do not fill pot more than halfway with oil.
  • Cook foods in small batches so the oil temperature does not drop too much.
  • Make sure the coated calamari are room temperature (not cold) so the oil temperature does not drop too much.
  • Let the cooking oil come back to temperature between batches.
  • Do not get too close to the hot oil; use long tongs or a similar utensil to add and remove food from hot oil.
  • Consider using a thermometer if you have one to keep oil temperature at 350 to 375 degrees.
  • Choose an oil with a high smoke point – avocado, peanut, canola, soybean, and sunflower oil are some examples.
  • Drain fried calamari on paper towels after frying.
  • Read more about how to fry at home with confidence

📖 Recipe

fried calamari with lemon and marinara sauce on plate

Crisp Tender Fried Calamari

Sometimes the techniques are more important than the recipe – read on to learn about how to make a very tender yet crisp fried calamari – better than most restaurants, right at home!!
5 from 3 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 487 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (for soaking calamari)
  • 1 pound calamari fresh or frozen, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 2 cups all purpose flour or semolina flour for semolina use "rimacinata" (very finely ground)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup corn starch (optional) can use in place of 1/3 of the total flour for more crisp

To Fry

  • Avocado, Peanut, or Canola oil for deep fryer (fill to minimum line) or enough to fill a deep pot by at least 1 inch

To Serve

  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Instructions
 

  • If you need help on how to clean calamari see this tutorial. I always buy calamari that is already cleaned.
  • Slice the calamari bodies into rings (unless you purchased pre-sliced).
  • Soak the calamari in a bowl with enough water to cover it, and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir well and let soak for about 15 minutes.
  • After soaking, drain the calamari (a colander helps here) and then rinse several times with water and drain well.
  • Pat the calamari as dry as possible with tea towels or papers towels. This will help the calamari crisp up when fried.
  • Coat the calamari lightly with flour (I used semolina this time but often use all purpose flour, sometimes mixed with cornstarch [2:1 ratio]). A light coating ensures you taste calamari not fried breadcrumbs/coating.
  • To coat the calamari, I like to place the flour into a plastic or paper bag and then add a handful of the calamari and shake it up. Coat the calamari in small batches and place on plate and then fry when it's all coated.
  • Fry the calamari in small batches. If you fry too much at once, the oil temperature will drop too much and the result will be soggy and greasy calamari.
  • Fry until lightly golden but not more than 2 minutes to keep calamari tender.
  • Place fried calamari on paper-towel lined dish.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper while hot.
  • Serve immediately after frying. I like to serve with lemon wedges or marinara sauce.

Notes

  • Do not salt the flour or calamari before cooking. Salt, by osmosis, extracts liquids from food making the external crust moist and soggy. 
  • If using a pot to fry on the stove top, do not fill pot more than halfway with oil.
  • Cook foods in small batches so the oil temperature does not drop too much.
  • Make sure the coated calamari are room temperature (not cold) so the oil temperature does not drop too much.
  • Let the cooking oil come back to temperature between batches.
  • Do not get too close to the hot oil; use long tongs or a similar utensil to add and remove food from hot oil.
  • Consider using a thermometer if you have one to keep oil temperature at 350 to 375 degrees.
  • Choose an oil with a high smoke point – avocado, peanut, canola, soybean, and sunflower oil are some examples.
  • Drain fried calamari on paper towels after frying.

Nutrition

Calories: 487kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 24gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 264mgSodium: 325mgPotassium: 346mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 37IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 4mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Using these suggestions resulted in the most tender calamari I have ever made. My family loved them, and kept coming back for more as I made several batches. It was the easiest meal and clean up, too!

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