Fried Calamari is a crispy and delicious appetizer recipe that is surprisingly easy to make at home. Lightly coated and fried to golden brown perfection!
This is definitely a favorite to order at Italian restaurants, but making it at home is even better. Serve it as an appetizer, followed by a main course of homemade pasta and alfredo sauce, and go the extra mile with homemade cannolis for dessert!
I have to admit, calamari is one of those foods I never quite fell in love with until well into adulthood. I could never get past those little tentacles in order to find out how delicious it really was.
Fortunately, my growing love of sushi has expanded my willingness to eat little creatures that don't always look the most appetizing.
You'll find that this recipe is super easy to make. No messy batter, just a light dusting of seasoned flour before deep frying to perfection.
Is calamari octopus?
Nope. Not octopus.
Octopus is commonly confused with calamari. Many people think calamari dishes are made from octopus, when in fact calamari is actually made from a type of squid.
Although the two Cephalopods are very similar, they are in fact different creatures.
Is calamari shellfish?
If someone is allergic to shellfish, they'll be asking this question before diving into a nice hot platter of golden fried calamari.
A shellfish allergy is an abnormal response by the body's immune system to proteins in certain marine animals. Marine animals in the shellfish category include crustaceans and mollusks, such as shrimp, crab, lobster, squid, oysters, scallops and others.
So, if someone has a shellfish allergy, they may or may not be allergic to calamari depending on how severe their typical reaction is. That being said, I would not consume calamari if you have a shellfish allergy.
What is calamari?
In a nutshell, a calamari recipe is a recipe prepared with squid.
In the US, we typically think of calamari squid exactly as I have shown in this post - deep fried. In reality, squid, or calamari, is used in a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine. This includes anything from paella, soups, pasta, etc.
Where do you get squid for this fried calamari recipe?
Because I'm a bit of a fried calamari making novice, I wasn't quite sure either.
I started at my local grocery store and went up to the counter where all of the fresh fish was sold. I was certain this is where I'd find it, and you might likely be able to find it at your local store. Alas, they didn't have any at the counter, but the store did carry it!
You see, my store had a perfect one pound package of cut and cleaned calamari all ready to go. I didn't want to use a calamari steak. I wanted those cute little tubes and tentacles. This package had exactly what I needed, and all of the pieces were already cut!
How easy is that?
How to make fried calamari:
Instead of a batter, I opted to make this recipe even easier by only lightly coating the calamari pieces with a simple mixture of flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Start by heating the oil. You're deep frying, so be sure to have the level at least an inch or two. I like to use a heavy bottom dutch oven. Use a thermometer to track the temperature as you'll need to maintain a temperature of about 350 degrees in order to get that perfectly golden, non-oily calamari that tastes oh-so-good.
- If you have someone who can help in the kitchen, one person can coat the calamari and the other can fry (that's what I did). If not, coat all the calamari first and then do the frying second since it cooks so fast. Just be sure to shake off any excess flour before cooking.
- Working in small batches, fry the calamari until it's golden brown. Then, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Continue until everything has been cooked.
- You can keep the cooked calamari warm by loosely tenting with foil and you can even set it in a warm oven to keep it piping hot.
That's it! Just coat with a bit of salt and pepper to taste and serve with lemon wedges.
What about the sauce?
There are a wide variety of sauces served with calamari depending on region, however I just like a simple warm marinara sauce for dipping.
RECIPE VIDEO WILL AUTOPLAY
- Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
- 1 pound clean squid with tentacles (bodies cut into 1/4 inch-thick rings)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 lemons (cut into wedges)
- 1 cup tomato sauce (use your favorite jarred marinara sauce)
- Pour enough oil into a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 1-2 inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees F.
- Mix the flour, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Working in small batches, toss the squid into the flour mixture to coat. Shake off as much excess flour as you can and set breaded calamari pieces on a plate.
- Carefully add the squid to the oil and fry until crisp and very pale golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. You may have to do this in several batches and add oil in between batches, as necessary. Do your best to maintain an oil temp around 350 degrees F.
- Place the fried calamari and lemon wedges on a clean plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with the marinara sauce.
My favorite Italian dinner recipes:
If you're wondering what to serve with your homemade fried calamari appetizer, these are my favorites:
- Homemade Pasta
- Cheesy Baked Rigatoni
- Dozen Veggie Pasta Primavera
- Cheesy Sausage Pasta Bake
- Creamy Meyer Lemon Pasta
- Four Cheese Ravioli
- Meat and Cheese Ravioli
- Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
- Stuffed Shells
- Easy Bolognese Sauce
- Granny's Classic Homemade Lasagna
- Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
- Baked Italian Meatballs
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Loaded Grilled Italian Sandwich