Air fryer calamari is crispy and golden, but oh, so tender and not chewy. Homemade calamari bites are just as tasty as those at your favorite restaurant, but they are healthier because they're made without all the oil. You won't believe how easy it is to make fried calamari at home.
Summer trips to the shore are always highlighted by delicious seafood at every meal: crispy calamari, soft shell crab, piles of shrimp and more. Fried calamari has always been one of my favorite appetizers, but making it at home seemed overwhelming, so I often only enjoyed it at a restaurant.
Air frying makes frying calamari a breeze. It comes out crispy, golden, perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection every single time. There is no cleaning up a mess of oil either.
Not only are calamari rings easy to make at home, but they will also save you money and are much healthier for you. Calamari is low in calories and loaded with calcium, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids. Traditional deep frying is laden with oil and adds loads of unnecessary fat and calories. Air frying is simple, and the results are light and crispy.
- Calamari – Look for fresh or frozen calamari that includes rings (tubes) and tentacles. If using frozen calamari, thaw completely before continuing. I used these from Wild Fork Foods, which come cleaned and sliced.
- Eggs – Bring the eggs to room temperature and beat together more cohesively.
- Flour – Use regular all-purpose flour or substitute gluten free flour.
- Seasonings – Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
See recipe card for exact quantities and instructions.
How to Air Fry Calamari
- Coat the calamari in egg mixture and seasoned flour mixture.
2. Arrange the calamari in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
3. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat in small batches if needed.
4. Season with salt and pepper and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Hint: Defrost frozen calamari overnight in the fridge. When completely defrosted, pat dry with paper towels.
- Panko - Subtitute half the flour with Panko breadcrumbs. They are perfect for adding even more crunch. Make sure the calamari are well coated with the flour and Panko mixture.
- Gluten Free - use gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour to make this gluten free.
- Spicy - Add red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce to bring heat to this dish.
- Seasoning – Add garlic powder, onion powder or your favorite seasonings to the flour mixture.
You can cook calamari in a basket air fryer or an air fryer oven. Air fried calamari should be cooked in a single layer, so for small air fryers, cook in batches. Air fryers cook at different rates, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Completely cool the fried calamari before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer bag. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Reheat fried calamari in a 400 degrees F air fryer until warmed through.
Don't overcook the calamari! Fried calamari is incredibly tender when cooked right but turns chewy and tough when overcooked. Keep a close eye on the air fryer and remove the calamari rings as soon as they become golden in color in about 6-8 minutes.
You can make calamari rings a main entree when you pair it with your favorite side dishes such as Crispy Oven Fried Zucchini Chips, Air Fryer Baked Potato Recipe with Seasoned Sour Cream, or a generous helping of fluffy couscous.
Sauces to Serve Air Fried Calamari With
Crispy, crunchy calamari can be sprinkled with parsley and served with lemon wedges. If you are a dipper serve with a small bowl of extra sauce. Sweet chili sauce, classic cocktail sauce and tzatziki sauce are always winners. We also recommend these sauces:
There is some disagreement about whether calamari and squid are the same things. Calamari is an Italian word for a dish that has become synonymous with squid. However, they are actually two different creatures. Calamari is typically larger in size and thought to be more tender than squid. Calamari is often high priced than squid, but both are cooked similarly.
Yes. Frozen calamari should be thawed before cooking. Thaw it overnight in the fridge or run the sealed package under cold water for 30 minutes or until defrosted. Dry the calamari with paper towels before coating and air frying.
Many recipes call for soaking the calamari in buttermilk. If you have time and wish to include this step, you may. I have not noticed much difference between calamari that was soaked versus calamari that wasn't.
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Air Fryer Calamari
- 8-10 ounces calamari (rings and tentacles)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Defrost calamari if necessary and pat dry with paper towels.
- Beat eggs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl or plate stir together the flour, Old Bay seasoning and paprika.
- Dip the calamari in the egg then the seasoned flour mixture lightlly making sure to remove any excess. Repeat with all calamari.
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees if necessary. Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Arrange calamari in a single layer and spray the tops with cooking spray. cook for about 8 minutes or until calamari is golden brown. Turn once in the middle of cooking. Repeat in batches for more calamari if your basket or rack is not big enough to arrange in a single layer.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your favorite sauce for dipping.
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