This easy fried calamari recipe is one your whole family will enjoy! Calamari rings are soaked in milk to tenderize, coated in spiced flour and fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Perfection in every bite!
Fried calamari is one of my favorite foods! You can find it at many restaurants around the Mediterranean, usually served with a few lemon wedges and some kind of sauce like aioli on the side. If you like fried fish and other seafoods, you're going to love this recipe!
Table Of Contents:
What Is Calamari?
One of the most asked questions when it comes to fried calamari is: "is calamari squid or octopus?" Calamari is squid! Even though octopus and squid are sometimes confused, it's important to know that the two are very different in appearance, flavor and texture. Basically, calamari is the Italian and Spanish word for squid. Calamari is available in fresh and frozen form at many supermarkets.
Fried calamari is a common dish served throughout the Mediterranean region. Known as kalamar in Turkish, it's usually served as part of a mezze spread. In Spain, these are called calamares fritos and are served alongside other tapas such as gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).
Tips To Make The Best Fried Calamari
- Tenderize: Soaking calamari rings in milk and then frying them long enough will give you the perfect non-rubbery texture.
- Coat well: Be sure to coat the calamari rings very well with the flour mixture so they get completely crunchy.
- Manage the heat: Make sure the oil is not too hot or too cold (ideally about 350 degrees F) so the calamari cooks completely and is crispy.
- Serve immediately: It's best to serve fried calamari immediately when it's still hot and crispy.
- Calamari: You can use fresh or frozen calamari for this recipe. If using frozen, make sure it's completely thawed.
- Milk: We need whole milk to tenderize the calamari and neutralize the fishy odor.
- Flour: All purpose flour works best for this recipe and would give the calamari rings crispy edges.
- Cornstarch: To be mixed with the flour to make the calamari crispy.
- Spices: You need a combination of paprika, black pepper and oregano.
- Oil: Neutral flavor oil with a high smoke point such as grapeseed oil or canola oil works best for this recipe.
How To Make Fried Calamari
- If using If using fresh calamari, slice it into ½ inch pieces and if you're using frozen calamari rings, make sure they're completely thawed. Place the milk in a bowl and soak the calamari rings for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- In a plate, mix the flour with cornstarch, paprika and oregano. Dredge each calamari ring in the flour mixture and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. If you have an instant read thermometer, use it to see if the oil is ready. If not using a thermometer, drop one calamari ring in the oil, if it starts bubbling and floats.
- Drop a few flour coated calamari rings into the saucepan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they are golden brown. Transfer the fried calamari to a cooling rack, season with salt and fry the rest of the rings. Serve immediately.
The simplest way to serve calamari is on a plate with a few lemon wedges to add that bright zesty flavor we all love. You can also serve it with a side of aioli or marinara for dipping. In Madrid, Spain, bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich) is a must-eat!
It's best to serve fried calamari immediately when it's crispy and hot. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. It's best to reheat the calamari in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes or in the air fryer.
Frequently Asked Questions
You need to defrost the calamari completely before soaking it in milk. Once the calamari is fully frozen and has been soaked in milk for 30 minutes, you can use it to make crispy fried calamari.
If using whole calamari tubes, make sure they are clean and then slice them into ½ inch rings. Proceed with the recipe as instructed, soak them in milk and coat them in spiced flour and cornstarch mix, then fry until cooked and crispy.
Use gluten-free all purpose flour to coat the calamari rings. Follow the rest of the recipe as instructed.
It's possible to use buttermilk to tenderize calamari rings. You can use store-bought buttermilk or make it at home by mixing a cup of milk with 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
More Recipes To Try
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Fried Calamari Recipe
- 1 lb calamari rings
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- Neutral flavored oil such as canola or grapeseed oil
- Kosher salt
- If using frozen calamari rings, make sure they're fully thawed and discard excess liquid.
- Place the calamari rings in a bowl and add the milk. Make sure the milk covers all the calamari rings. Let them soak in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- In a plate mix the flour and cornstarch with paprika, black pepper and oregano.
- Dredge each calamari ring in the flour mixture and make sure it's fully coated. Place on a plate and set aside.
- Fill a small saucepan up to 3-4 inches with oil and place on medium high heat. The oil should reach 350 degrees F which would take about 10 to 15 minutes. You can use an instant read thermometer to read the temperature or drop one of the calamari rings into the saucepan. If it starts bubbling and floats to the surface it means that the oil is hot enough.
- Once the oil is hot, place a few flour coated calamari rings into the saucepan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Transfer the fried calamari to a cooling rack, season with salt and fry the rest of the rings. Serve immediately.
- If using whole calamari, slice them into ½ inch rings and then proceed with the recipe.
- If using frozen calamari rings, make sure they're completely thawed before making the recipe.
- It's best to use whole milk to soak the calamari. You can also use buttermilk.