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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!!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 487kcal
Author Marie


  • 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
  • cup corn starch (optional) can use in place of ⅓ 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 264mg | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 346mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 37IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 4mg