Photo Collage of Making Crispy Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari is a lot easier to make at home than you might think! This recipe has a crispy batter that fries perfectly to a golden brown crunch.

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

Are there any foods you can think of that you MUST get if you see it on the menu when you’re dining out?

For me, Fried Calamari was always one of those must-order dishes, along with Coconut Shrimp. I don’t eat fried food too often, but fried calamari is one of my favorites.

Rings of squid coated in a super crispy, crunchy shell, dipped in a little marinara or aioli…the BEST!

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

I get the impression that a lot of people are intimidated by deep frying, but it’s actually one of the easiest and quickest cooking methods of all.

This calamari for instance only takes 2-3 minutes total for each batch.

It’s super fast, and the fresh-out-of-the-fryer crispy coating is so much better than what you’d get at a restaurant.

The most important thing when frying is to make sure the temperature is right. If you don’t have a thermometer, please consider getting one! It is one of the most essential tools for the kitchen.

Some people like having a dedicated deep fry thermometer, but I just use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature.

How to Make Fried Calamari:

To get started with the calamari, cut the squid into tubes, then soak in lemon juice for 30 minutes:

Sliced Calamari Tubes and Tentacles in Stainless Steel Bowl

This tenderizes the squid and adds flavor.

Next, mix flour with cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt:

Flour, Spices, and Salt in Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

Split this between two bowls, then add buttermilk or milk to a third bowl.

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

Remove the squid from the lemon juice, then dredge in the flour:

Calamari Slices Coated In Flour Mixture in Bowl

Then into the buttermilk or milk:

Dipping the Calamari Rings Into Buttermilk

Then into the second duplicate bowl of flour:

Dipping the Calamari Rings Again Into Flour

Then deep fry the calamari in batches, for 2-3 minutes:

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

The calamari should be golden brown and crispy! Drain on a paper towel, and immediately salt the calamari so the seasoning sticks:

Fried Calamari Draining on Paper Towels in Bowl

Serve plain, with marinara sauce, lemon wedges, or aioli:

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

What to do with the used cooking oil?

One benefit of using tallow instead of fats like soybean oil or peanut oil, is it’s stable enough that it can be reused again and again. I simply filter it to remove the crumbs and sediment from the cheese sticks, then use it for another deep fried recipe, such as Homemade Mozzarella SticksHomemade Corn Dogs, or Potato Croquettes. Enjoy!

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

Fried Calamari

Crispy Fried Calamari is a lot easier to make at home than you might think! This recipe has a super crispy batter, fried to a golden brown crunch.

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  • 1 lb cleaned calamari tubes cut into rings, and tentacles left whole
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
  • tallow for deep frying
  • marinara sauce, lemon wedges, or aioli, for serving, optional


  • Place the calamari into a bowl with the lemon juice, and let sit for 30 minutes. This will tenderize the calamari.
  • Preheat the tallow or your frying oil of choice to 375 degrees F, either in a deep fryer or a large cast iron pot, no more than 1/2 full.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cayenne, paprika, and salt. Add half of this mixture to another medium bowl. Place the buttermilk or milk in a third bowl. Place the three bowls on the counter in the following order: spiced flour, buttermilk, and spiced flour.
  • Remove the calamari from the lemon juice, then dredge each piece in the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the buttermilk, shaking off the excess, then back into the second bowl of flour. Repeat this process with all the calamari.
  • Fry the calamari in batches for about 2-3 minutes total, until golden brown. Then drain on a paper towel and immediately salt the calamari generously so the salt sticks. Serve with marinara sauce and lemon wedges, if desired. Enjoy!


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

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in November 2018. Originally published February 2016.