Fried Calamari

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There are quintessential appetizers that practically everyone you know loves. This is one of them.

This dish is popular across the world and for good reason. Even non-seafood lovers seem to find a love for this iconic appetizer. Be sure to serve with our Fresh Marinara Sauce or Homemade Cocktail Sauce, and you will be in calamari heaven!

A pile of fried calamari sitting on a piece of crumpled brown paper surrounded by lemon wedges and a small bowl of marinara sauce.

How To Make Fried Calamari

This popular appetizer is actually so much easier to prepare than you might think.

Allow yourself enough time to let the calamari (squid) rings and tentacles marinate in the buttermilk for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Then everything comes together very quickly and easily!

 

What Is Calamari?

You may be wondering what calamari actually is. It’s squid and includes rings that are cut from the tubular section, as well as the tentacles.

It is delicious in a salad with a simple sauté, but we think it’s best when lightly breaded and deep-fried.

EXPERT TIP: Fresh squid can be found in the seafood section of many well-stocked supermarkets. We get ours at Whole Foods market. If you can’t find them, you can usually find at least the rings in the frozen section. Use a sharp knife to cut the tubes into ½-inch to 1-inch rings.

Don’t be scared of the tentacles. They are really delicious, and did you know that squid, including the tentacles, is good for you? Read more here.

A person using a chef's knife to slice squid tube into small ringlets on a cutting board.

After slicing the tubes into rings, place them along with the tentacles in a bowl.

Pour enough buttermilk over the calamari to cover.

EXPERT TIP: The slight acidity of the buttermilk will help to tenderize the calamari and make it not rubbery tasting. If also helps to eliminate any extra “fishy” taste. Allow the calamari to marinate for at least 4 hours or, even better, overnight.

A person pouring buttermilk from a glass dairy jar into a glass bowl filled with cut calamari.

A Light and Crunchy Breading

Once you’re ready to fry the calamari up, all you need to do is drain the buttermilk and place the pieces back into the bowl. It’s okay that there is still a little buttermilk left in the bowl. This will help the breading to adhere to the calamari.

In a bowl, plate, or pan, add the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and baking powder. A simple dredge of the rings and tentacles in the flour mixture is all that’s needed.

EXPERT TIP: The baking powder will help the batter to get extra crisp and a little puffy as the calamari fries. Add a little garlic powder to the flour mixture, if you prefer.

A hand dredging a calamari ring through seasoned flour along with a squid tentacle sitting nearby also in the flour mixture.

While you are breading the calamari, start heating up your oil. If using a deep-fryer, set the temperature to 350°F. If using a skillet, such as a cast-iron skillet, fill about a 1 to 2-inch depth of oil and use a candy thermometer to get to 350°F.

Place the breaded calamari on a large platter.

EXPERT TIP: Once the oil is at 350°F, you’ll want to work in batches. If you add too much calamari to the oil, it will drastically decrease the temperature and the end result will be greasy and soggy.

A large oval platter filled with floured calamari rings and tentacles before going into the deep fryer.

How To Serve Fried Calamari

Once beautifully fried, the calamari is ready to be served!

We love placing them on a nice large platter or cutting board and serve with lemon wedges and a bowl or two of homemade marinara sauce!

EXPERT TIP: The marinara sauce can be made several days in advance. In a pinch, good-quality purchased marinara will work, too. Cocktail sauce is another great option for dipping the crispy calamari into!

A hand dipping a crispy fried calamari ring into a small bowl of marinara sauce.

This appetizer is always a huge hit every time we serve it, and when you make it, trust us, your family and friends will flip for it, too.

And you won’t believe how easy it is to make this restaurant-quality dish in your very home.

We promise it’s as good as you’ll find anywhere!

A pile of fried calamari sitting next to a small white bowl filled with marinara sauce.

Ready to make the best, crunchiest, and most yummy appetizer in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaFoon!

A pile of fried calamari sitting on a piece of crumpled brown paper surrounded by lemon wedges and a small bowl of marinara sauce.

Fried Calamari

Don't you just love fried calamari with marinara? So do we. Get some squid from your seafood shop, and quickly fry these gems up. Let the calamari marinate in the buttermilk for 4 hours or overnight to create the perfect texture and taste!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American / Italian, Italian
Keyword: how to fry calamari, how to make fried calamari, Italian appetizer recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Marinating time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 24 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 386kcal

Equipment

  • Deep fryer, or sturdy skillet and a candy thermometer

Ingredients

  • 1 lb squid tubes and tentacles, or frozen rings (thawed)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal yellow, finely ground
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder optional
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • Marinara sauce warmed, for serving

Instructions

  • Cut the squid bodies (tubes) crosswise into ½-inch wide rings and leave the tentacles whole. Place them in a glass bowl and cover with buttermilk. Place in the refrigerate to marinate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
  • Heat your deep fryer to 350°F, or pour vegetable oil to a depth of 1 to 2 inches into a large skillet. Heat to 350°F.
  • On a platter, shallow bowl, or pan, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, baking powder, and garlic powder (if using).
  • Drain the buttermilk from the calamari. Place the calamari back in the bowl. It's okay if some of the buttermilk remains. Dredge the pieces (rings and tentacles) through the flour, shaking off excess, and place them on a large platter or cutting board. Do this in batches and clean your fingers (or fork) from time to time if becoming clumpy.
  • Working in batches, carefully add the coated calamari to the hot oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a basket or slotted spoon to remove them and place them on a platter lined with paper towels. If desired, keep the fried calamari in a low-temp oven to keep them warm while you continue frying.
  • Serve at once with warmed marinara sauce and lemon wedges.

Video

Notes

Fresh squid can be found in the seafood section of many well-stocked supermarkets.  We get ours at Whole Foods.  You can also find frozen squid rings in the seafood frozen area of most markets.  Be sure to allow the rings to thaw first.  This can be done quickly by running cool water over them in a colander in your sink.   
The fried calamari is great served piping hot, but also good served warmed, and even still addictively delicious once it has cooled off.   It can sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours. 
The marinara sauce can be made several days in advance.  It also freezes wonderfully and can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 506mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in April 2015, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography, and a fabulous new video in May 2020!
 

6 Comments

  • 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this! I love calamari, but since being gluten free for several years, I haven’t been able to enjoy it in a restaurant. I’ll use GF flour, and found squid at my Fresh Market. Marinating now in buttermilk, will have tomorrow. Thank you for making this dish approachable!

      • 5 stars
        Just gobbled them up! So crunchy, tender, and perfection! I hate to fry because I am a magnet for “pops”, but the hubby did the frying with my supervision (bossing, lol), and they were fantastic!!

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