Recipe for Fried Calamari (Au Gratin and Crispy)

Making your own fried calamari is a breeze, and the results will blow away those from any takeout joint. The batter in this recipe gets nice and crunchy when fried. I explain what to do so that the calamari is tender, flavorful, and crisp.

Fried Calamari - on Checkered Paper in a Red Basket with Marinara Sauce in Ramekin

Is there anything on the menu that you will absolutely order if it's available? One of my go-to orders is fried calamari, or "calamari fritti" as it's sometimes referred to on menus.

I rarely partake in deep-fried foods, but fried calamari is a rare exception. Crispy, crunchy squid rings, dipped in marinara or aioli, are the BEST.

A lot of people seem to be scared of deep frying, but it's actually one of the quickest and easiest ways to cook. For instance, each batch of this fried calamari takes only about two to three minutes to cook. It's much quicker than going out to a restaurant, and the crisp exterior tastes like it came straight from the fryer.

Calamari - Fried and Plated on Checkered Paper in a Red Basket with Marinara Sauce in Ramekin

Fry at just the right temperature - this is the single most important consideration when doing any kind of frying. This aids in achieving the perfect crunch and cook. Get a thermometer if you don't already have one. There is no kitchen that would be complete without it. I use an instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature, but some people prefer to use a deep fry thermometer.

Calamari can be made more tender and flavorful by first being marinated in lemon juice.

Make sure you're using real buttermilk for the best results. People often use vinegar as a milk substitute, but the taste and consistency just aren't the same. If you must use up any leftovers, make a Lemon Buttermilk Pie or Buttermilk Pancakes with the real thing.

In order to ensure that the salt adheres well to the fried calamari, it is important to season it as soon as the squid is removed from the fryer.

Comprehensive Outline:

First, cut each whole squid into tubes and soak them in a large bowl of fresh lemon juice for 15 minutes.

Sliced Calamari Tubes and Tentacles in Stainless Steel Bowl

The acid in the lemon will soften the squid tubes, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.

Finally, combine all-purpose flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt in a third bowl. Feel free to add black pepper or any other desired seasonings at this point.

Flour, Spices, and Salt in Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

Partially fill a third bowl with buttermilk, then add it to the two remaining bowls containing the flour mixture.

Mixing Bowls Holding the Prepared calamari and Dredging Ingredients for Breading the Squid

Take the squid out of the lemon juice, dredge it in the seasoned flour, and then shake off any excess:

Calamari Slices Coated In Flour Mixture in Bowl

Then, dunk it in the buttermilk and let the excess liquid drain for a few seconds:

Dipping the Calamari Rings Into Buttermilk

Then transfer the following ingredients to the second bowl of seasoned flour, shaking off any excess:

Dipping the Calamari Rings Again Into Flour

Excess breading can cause problems if it is not removed before cooking. Before moving on to the next bowl, make sure to either shake off the excess flour or let the liquid drain for a few seconds after each dredging session.

Once the fresh calamari has been coated in flour twice, it should be deep-fried in small batches for 2 to 3 minutes.

It's crucial that the deep fryer temperature is accurate because of how quickly the food cooks.

Fried Squid - Floating In a Pot of Frying Oil with Golden Color

After only a few minutes in the fryer, the calamari should be perfectly golden and thoroughly crispy.

A slotted spoon or spider strainer can be used to fish the squid rings out of the hot oil; they should be drained on paper towels. If you want the salt to stay on the calamari, you need to do it right away.

Fried Calamari Draining on Paper Towels in Bowl

Keep an eye on the oil temperature and cook the calamari in batches until it is all done.

To get a nice golden crust and tender calamari when frying on the stove, I usually have to juggle between medium and medium-high heat.

Flavorful enough that you can eat it straight from the pan, this batter needs no accompaniment. Alternatively, you could serve it with a basic tomato sauce (I like to use Rao's marinara sauce), a side of lemon wedges, some tartar sauce, or a dollop of aioli.

As a side, I recommend serving something light and fresh like Tomato Burrata Salad or Baba Ganoush.

It's best eaten fresh from the fryer, when the crunch is at its peak.

Fried Calamari Recipe - Presented on Checkered Paper in Red Basket with marinara Dipping Sauce in ramekin

Tallow is preferable to other fats like soybean oil and peanut oil because it is stable enough to be used multiple times. Compared to industrial oils, animal fats have higher smoke points and are less prone to oxidation.

After making homemade calamari, I save the tallow for another deep-fried dish by filtering it to remove the crumbs and sediment. This works great for making homemade mozzarella sticks, corn dogs, and potato croquettes.

Advice and Frequently Asked Questions

Can fried calamari be stored for a long time after being made?

Spread out on paper towel to absorb any extra oil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Realize that it can't compare to the crispiness of something fresh from the fryer.

Can fried calamari be frozen?

Yes, keep for up to 2 months in an airtight container, paper towel under the lid to soak up any oil. Keep in mind that thawing will reduce the crispiness.

To what extent can fried calamari be rewarmed?

If you want extra crispiness, deep fry it again after it has been stored in the refrigerator for about 2 minutes at 375F (or for 1 minute longer if it has been stored in the freezer). Alternately, you could pan fry it over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is lightly crisp and hot throughout. Microwaving the squid will make it soggy, so I wouldn't recommend it.

Can you tell me if you tried the recipe and liked it? Please rate this recipe (out of 5) and share your thoughts (in the comments section).

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  • 1 lb salted squid tentacles left intact and tubes sliced into rings
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • tallow meaning "to fry in oil"
  • Serving options include marinara sauce, lemon wedges, or aioli.

  • Soak the calamari in the lemon juice for 15 minutes. This is how the calamari can be made tender.
  • Prepare a deep fryer or large cast-iron pot with tallow or your preferred frying oil and heat it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix the flour, chili powder, paprika, and salt in a medium bowl with a whisk. Separate the mixture in half and place half of it in another medium bowl. Get a third bowl ready for the buttermilk or milk. Put the bowls of spiced flour, buttermilk, and spiced flour in that order on the counter.
  • Take the calamari out of the lemon juice and coat it in flour, shaking off any excess before dipping it into the buttermilk and then back into the flour. Calamari should be treated similarly.
  • The calamari should be fried for 2–3 minutes per batch, or until it reaches a golden brown color. Then place the calamari on a paper towel to dry, and salt it heavily so it retains its flavor. Accompany with lemon wedges and marinara sauce, if desired. Enjoy
Best results will be achieved if you use actual buttermilk; however, regular milk can be used in a pinch. If you're going to be cutting the squid tubes yourself, I would go with a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Reheat before serving, or store in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container with a paper towel between layers to absorb any excess oil. Realize that it can't compare to the crispiness of something fresh from the fryer. Storage in the freezer: Two months if kept in an airtight container, spread out on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Realize that thawing will diminish its crispiness. A night in the refrigerator should do the trick for thawing the container. If you want the crispiest results after reheating, deep fry it again for about 2 minutes at 375F (or for 1 minute longer if you're using frozen food). Alternatively, you could pan fry it over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until lightly crisp and warmed through. Soggy squid is a result of microwaving, so I wouldn't recommend it.

Calories: 351 kcal , Carbohydrates: 52 g , Protein: 25 g , Fat: 3 g , Cholesterol-Inducing Saturated Fat: 1 g , Cholesterol: 267 mg , Sodium: 664 mg , Potassium: 386 mg , Fiber: 1 g , Sugar: 1 g , Vitamin A: 320 IU , Vitamin C: 5.4 mg , Calcium: 80 mg , Iron: 3.7 mg

Data from a food database is used to make educated guesses about a dish's nutritional make-up.

New as of November 2018! Published first in February 2016

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