Easy Fried Calamari

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Fried Calamari with Marinara Dipping Sauce

This restaurant favorite is surprisingly easy to make! Just a few ingredients is all it takes to get crispy, delicious fried calamari at home. Dunk them in your favorite marinara sauce for ultimate deliciousness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are not making enough squid at home, people! I’m not sure why, but it seems like squid isn’t the most popular choice for home cooking. I say we change that! Squid is inexpensive, fast and easy to cook, healthy, and delicious—there’s no reason we shouldn’t be enjoying these tasty little aliens at home. Read through the post for tips on how to make the best fried calamari!

Fried Calamari with Marinara Dipping Sauce

For this recipe, I like to buy both the bodies and the tentacles. I happen to love the tentacles, but if they’re a little too alien-y for you, you can just ask for bodies only. Most of the time, the squid will already be cleaned but go ahead and double check with your fishmonger just in case! Once you’ve bought your cleaned squid, there is very little prep involved.

You will have to touch the squid a little bit, but truly, it’s no big deal—you’ll see! Give the squid a quick rinse and then cut the bodies into 1/2 inch rings and leave the tentacles as they are. Next, put the squid in a bowl with 1 cup of milk and give it a toss. Marinating the squid in milk helps to tenderize it so that it doesn’t become rubbery when cooked. Just 30 minutes to 1 hour in the milk should do the trick!

After marinating, pat the squid dry, dredge it in the flour mixture, and fry in the hot oil. I like to do this in batches so that the pot doesn’t get overcrowded. Too much squid in the pot will lower the temperature and result in soggy, steamy squid. We don’t want that. Give each piece of squid enough room to get a nice golden fry. I usually fry 1 pound of squid in 3 batches. Once you start frying your first batch, you’ll get the hang of it! Make sure to prepare a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet beforehand so that you can transfer the fried squid to it to drain. Sprinkle each batch of squid with salt as it comes out of the oil.

You’ll need a food thermometer for this recipe to make sure the oil is at the right temperature. The oil needs to stay within the 350- 375 range and having a thermometer just makes things easier! If you don’t already have one, I’ve linked my favorites at the bottom of this post.

Fried Calamari with Marinara

Once you’ve fried and seasoned all your squid, you’re ready to eat! I like to serve the fried calamari with a sprinkling of fresh parsley, lemon wedges, and marinara sauce for dipping.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Recipe Summary

  • Easy Fried Calamari
  • Prep Time
    35 Minutes
    Cook Time
    10 Minutes
    Total Time
    45 Minutes
  • Level: Easy
  • Servings: 4
  • Ingredients:

    For the fried calamari

    • 1 Pound cleaned squid, bodies and tentacles
    • 1 Cup milk
    • 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
    • 8 Cups canola or vegetable oil, for frying
    • Kosher salt

    For serving

    • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
    • Lemon wedges
    • Marinara sauce
  • Instructions:
    1. Rinse the squid and pat dry. Cut the bodies into 1/2 inch rings. Add the rings and tentacles to a bowl with the milk, toss to coat, and let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the squid and pat dry.
    2. Meanwhile, In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees and prepare a paper towel lined plate for the squid.
    3. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. In small batches, dredge the squid in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Carefully add the squid to the oil and fry until golden brown; about 3 minutes. With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the squid to the paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
    4. Transfer the fried calamari to a serving plate and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and marinara sauce for dipping.
    5. Enjoy!

4 Responses to Easy Fried Calamari

  1. Liana says:

    Do you think I could try airfrying? Spray each one with avocado or canola oil on both side perhaps?

    • Carolyn Mazzocco says:

      Hi Liana,
      I haven’t tested this recipe in the air fryer yet! I’ll try it out in the next couple weeks. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!
      Carolyn

  2. Dianna says:

    Your calamari looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it!! I’ve always heard that you had to marinate it in buttermilk before adding the flour and seasoning to make it more tender. This is the 1st time I’ve heard that plain milk can be used so I’m thrilled that I won’t have to buy buttermilk only for the purpose of marinating the calamari. Your recipe is the first I’ve seen where the calamari looks nice and crisp and it hasn’t lost the breading. Plus, there’s no cornmeal added! Thanks for a straightforward crispy and delightful dish! I, too, like the crispy tentacles. I like it dipped in garlicky lemon aioli.

    • Carolyn Mazzocco says:

      Yes, regular milk works too! I’ve tried making calamari other ways but this simple version is my favorite. Just be sure to blot the squid dry and not over crown the pot and you’ll have crispy calamari. I hope you enjoy it!

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