Crispy Fried Calamari

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Crispy Fried Calamari is a delicious and easy appetizer to make that you’ll love served with lemon or marinara sauce.

We love this calamari as an appetizer served with our favorite Italian dinners like Olive Garden Chicken Piccata and Ultimate Meat Lasagna. We also sometimes just do fish fry dinners and serve it alongside Classic Fried Shrimp and Beer Battered Crispy Fish Tacos.

Crispy Fried Calamari
 Crispy Fried Calamari

Calamari seems intimidating to most people I’ve ever made it for. During dinner parties I’d cook for clients we would often have a portion where I would teach them how to cook one of the dishes. Almost without fail when calamari was on the menu they’d want to see me cook it even though I’d offer something more enjoyable or more difficult since making calamari is so easy.

What is calamari made of? Squid! It may sound scary, but it’s just like eating any other seafood when cooked properly. The visions of kids hating calamari come from versions that have been so overcooked its rubbery and unappealing. Well cooked calamari is crispy, light and tender, perfect with just a squeeze of lemon juice or marinara sauce for serving.

The only part of calamari that is even marginally difficult is cleaning the squid.

How to clean a whole Squid:

  1. Wash the squid under cold water.
  2. Pull the tentacles off the body (I don’t care for fried tentacles so I discard but you can absolutely fry them too).
  3. Pull out the clear quill (looks like a plastic feather) and the other innards of the squid.
  4. Rinse well again and remove the purple sheath from the squid.
  5. Cut the fins and the head off the squid and discard.
  6. If the beak is still present, squeeze to remove.
  7. Rinse one final time before slicing into rings.

Crispy Calamari Recipe

How to clean prepared squid:

  • In most grocery stores they sell prepared, cleaned squid. If you’ve purchased the cleaned variety the first thing to ensure is that it’s fresh. Squid should smell like…nothing. If it smells off or fishy in any way it isn’t fresh and you shouldn’t purchase it.
  • Once you find fresh, prepped squid you can bring it home, rinse it well then dab it dry with a paper towel.
  • You may also be able to find frozen cleaned squid. If so defrost gently, rinse and pat dry. Fresh will always be more tender than frozen though.

What to serve calamari with?

Easy Fried Calamari and Lemon Wedge



Crispy Fried Calamari

5 from 8 votes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Course: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Crispy Fried Calamari is a crisp, light and tender squid appetizer that's easy  to make that you'll love served with lemon or marinara sauce.


  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 pound clean squid bodies cut in ¼ inch rings and dried with a paper towel
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven add three inches of oil and bring to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Toss the squid pieces in the flour then into the hot oil.
  4. Fry the squid for 1-2 minutes. You want the color to stay pale like in the pictures.

  5. Remove to a cookie sheet to drain (do not add paper towels as it will steam the calamari and make it soft.)

  6. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 Servings, Amount per serving: 341 calories, Calories: 341g, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 264mg, Sodium: 342mg, Potassium: 383mg, Fiber: 2g, Vitamin A: 35g, Vitamin C: 19.6g, Calcium: 53g, Iron: 3.8g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Crispy Fried Calamari
Crispy Calamari Recipe
Easy and Fast Calamari

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  1. This recipe is easy to follow and tastes great! I definitely would recommend using a deep fryer thermometer to be able to ensure that the oil is just the right temperature to avoid overcooking too fast. The buttermilk used to tenderize the squid was a great tip. I used pre-frozen squid rings from the asian market (you can also find them at the regular grocery store), I quickly thawed them out in a bowl and cold water, then soaked them in buttermilk and they turned out amazing. If you want to avoid having to clean whole squid, this is an easy and cheaper alternative especially for large batches or last minute planning. Served it with marinara sauce and garlic aioli sauce. Don’t forget the squeeze of lemon on top! That’s a must :). Thank you for this recipe Sabrina! #newfamilyfavouriteappetizer

  2. can you use frozen calamari with your recipe? if so, anything I would need to change? Hard to find fresh around my area. thank you

    1. If you’re using frozen squid bodies, just make sure to completely thaw them before. You want to make sure there isn’t any excess liquid that would release from them that would make crisping up an issue. Good luck!

  3. I used grape seed oil for high heat frying and the rings came out a little overdone. I had never fried calamari before and I think I over cooked.

    1. Oh no! Next time, shorten your cook time and make sure to keep an eye on how they look. You want them to stay pale. Hope this helps for next time.

  4. Worked perfectly! I tossed the finished calamari in some chipotle pepper, more salt, and some like juice – amazing flavor.

  5. The simplicity of preparing these dishes is awesome. I never thought. I never prepared calamari before so this was exciting for me. Thank you

  6. Unlike everyone else that has commented, I actually made these today using this recipe. I used frozen squid and they turned out delicious. Perfectly seasoned and tender and this was a super easy recipe. Thank-you. I look forward to making these again.

  7. I think it’s pretty disgusting that you waste half of the squid by discarding the tentacles. Really shows how wasteful this world is.

  8. I really need to give this recipe a try. I had the best calamari ever when I was out shopping with my daughters. I had almost given up trying it, since ALL my past experiences were terrible. This looks super crispy…just the way I like it. Time to have some fun in the kitchen and give this a try.