The first time I tried calamari, I was a bit reluctant. I’m an adventurous eater, but squid was outside my comfort zone. Of course, once I had that first bite, I fell in love.
Good calamari can be hard to find, and I’ve tried lots of recipes over the years. If you’ve never tried calamari, or you are looking for a new spin on an old favorite, you’ll find the best calamari recipes here.
1. Sauteed Calamari with Spanish Romesco Sauce
This recipe uses sauteed calamari, along with some other star ingredients. These include raddicio, pancetta, and black Moroccan olives.
If you love authentic Spanish flavor, you’ll love this dish. The sauce includes bell peppers, garlic, fresh tomato, and red wine vinegar.
It is a bit labor intensive, requiring you to grill the veggies before making the sauce and calamari. However, it’s well worth the extra effort. It’s delicious and elegant. It’s also unique, so you can wow friends or family with a recipe they probably aren’t familiar with.
The dish can be made in about 30 minutes, if you work on things simultaneously. It serves 4, but could easily be doubled for a dinner party.
2. Garlic Sauteed Calamari
If you are looking for an easy sauteed calamari recipe, this is the one for you. It’s a very fast and easy dish to make. You can use squid rings or squid tubes.
It takes 20 minutes or preparation, but only 3-4 minutes to cook.
Squid picks up the flavors of the other items it’s cooked in very easily, so you don’t need a lot of ingredients for great flavor. You just need the right ingredients!
Garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and fresh parsley give this recipe a light but enticing flavor.
The simplicity of the recipe also allows the flavor of the squid itself to shine through. It’s certainly the focal point of the dish. Even though its easy to make, it is elegant. Serve it for a Sunday dinner, or at a cocktail party.
3. Marinated Grilled Calarmi
There’s something about grilled seafood that makes it incredible. At first glance, it can seem that calamari doesn’t belong on the grill. After you try this recipe, you’ll change your mind.
You’ll need 1 hour and 30 minutes to make this dish. Most of this time is simply marinating, the cooking process goes fairly quickly.
You’ll want both tubes and tentacles for this recipe. They should be separated, but whole.
The marinade is very simple, but it imparts a bold flavor to the calamari. You’ll need red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Allow the calamari to sit in the fridge marinating for at least one hour, and up to five.
The tubes and tentacles only take 3-4 minutes on the grill. You’ll also need a bread, like a ciabatta. Spread the marinade on the bread and place it on the grill for 3 minutes before cooking the calamari.
4. Easy Fried Calamari
When you think of calamari, do you picture a basket of lightly fried rings? It may seem intimidating, but frying calamari is pretty simple. Particularly with this recipe.
You’ll start with milk or buttermilk, and salt. You’ll need tubes and tentacles. Cut the tubes, and then add them and the tentacles to the milk mixture.
You’ll need to allow it to soak for at least five minutes, and up to an hour. The breading consists of flour, paprika, black pepper, corn starch and baking powder. This creates a light breading that allows the calamari to shine through.
It can be fried in a large skillet or dutch oven. No deep fryer required.
5. Whole Squid Fried Calamari
If you want to try your hand at using a whole squid, this is the recipe for you. It gives you step-by-step instructions for cleaning and cutting the calamari, as well as frying.
You’ll need to slice the head from the tentacles and remove the beak. You’ll also remove the innards. The body is sliced into rings.
The calamari is soaked in buttermilk. This helps tenderize and flavor it and tenderizes it as well. The seasoned flour mixture provides a crispy coating.
It makes an excellent appetizer for any occasion. You’ll need about an hour to make the dish, from start to finish, including marinating time. If you’ve never cleaned calamari before, this part may be a bit more time-consuming.
6. Grilled Stuffed Calamari
Grilled calamari is typically a bit casual, but this recipe takes it to the next level. You’ll need about 8 1/2 pound squid bodies with the tentacles removed.
The stuffing consists of tomatoes, frisse, capers, olive oil, lime juice and zest. You’ll stuff the squid, and then brush with remaining olive oil.
Then they are grilled for 5-7 minutes. Be sure to turn them frequently when grilling to ensure they get done evenly on each side.
This type of calamari is perfect for any occasion where your goal is to impress. It’s simple to make, yet looks sophisticated and complex. The stuffing and calamri create a fresh taste that will have everyone coming back for more.
7. Boiled Miso Calamari
This is a Japanese dish that can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. It’s relatively simple to make, requiring 25 minutes including prep and cooking time.
You’ll start with two whole spear squid. For the squid, all you need is scallions and sea salt. The miso sauce is made with miso, rice vinegar, sugar, mirin, and Japanese hot mustard.
You’ll need to clean the squid, and remove the head and tentacles. Don’t worry, the recipe guides you through the process.
You’ll slice the body and tentacles, and then boil for 3-5 minutes. Then place it in ice water to stop it from cooking further.
Serve with green onions and miso sauce. The squid can be room temperature or chilled.
8. Gourmet Calamari Salad
If you are planning an elegant dinner, this is the perfect first course. The light salad allows the calarmi to shine.
It takes ten minutes to prep and ten to cook, so it’s a great choice if you are pressed for time. You can add shrimp or mussels, but truly, it’s better with squid alone.
It serves 2-4 as a first course or an appetizer. This makes it perfect for intimate dinners and get togethers.
You’ll start with a cleaned squid that is sliced into rings, or you can begin with squid rings. It should be boiled with lemon peppercorn, salt, and a bay leaf for 2-3 minutes.
The salad includes celery, red pepper, olives, and scallions. Red wine vinegar and olive oil make the dressing.
9. Squid Ink Pasta Calamari
Squid ink pasta calamari is a sophisticated dish that is sure to impress. Serve it at your next dinner party or other special occasions for a gourmet treat.
Squid ink pasta is pasta made with squid ink. This gives it a deep black color and a slight briny flavor that complements the squid itself perfectly.
First, you’ll cook the pasta according to the package directions. Next, you’ll saute squid rings for about 2 minutes in olive oil.
Other ingredients you’ll need include white wine, cherry tomatoes, diced tomatoes, garlic, and shallots.
The dish is unique, satisfying, and delicious. Your guests are unlikely to forget the memorable experience.
10. Oven Fried Calamari
Love fried calamari, but don’t like the extra calories? This is the recipe you’ve been searching for. It has all the flavor and crunch you get from deep frying, with a lighter calorie count.
Sometimes baking instead of means sacrificing taste or texture. However, that’s not a problem with this recipe.
You’ll need potato flakes and seasoned bread crumbs for the coating. Flour, eggs, and milk are also required ingredients.
This recipe begins with whole squid, but it doesn’t provide instructions for cleaning. If you are new to working with whole squid or are pressed for time, you can substitute squid rings or tentacles.
11. Roasted Calamari with New Potatoes
This is an interesting take on calamari. It’s the only recipe I’ve encountered that combines calamari, potatoes, and chickpeas. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical until I tried it. Now, I’m hooked.
The recipe is relatively simplistic, but cosmopolitan. The short ingredients list brings out the elegance of the dish, and proves that you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to create a gourmet meal.
You’ll need 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of calamari bodies, rinsed and drained. New potatoes and chickpeas are the other main ingredients. Green olives, fresh oregano, garlic, and cumin seeds provide plenty of flavor.
The dish is baked in the oven. A rustic bread topping is added midway through the cooking time.
12. Lemon Baked Calamari Rings
If you want something delicious, healthy, and very simple to make, this is the perfect recipe. This recipe begins with frozen squid or squid rings.
You can opt for fresh squid, but using squid rings allows you to make the dish in no time. It takes 15 minutes to prep, and 20 minutes to cook.
This recipe is perfect to serve as an appetizer or main course at a casual event, or when hanging out with friends. It serves 4.
The calamari is marinated in lemon juice, black pepper, and olive oil for ten minutes before cooking. You’ll add lemon zest and fresh parsley to preferably homemade bread crumbs.
Bread the calamari, bake, and serve.
13. Mediterranean Calamari With Garlic Lime Sauce
This version of sauteed calamari is light and refreshing. Instead of the traditional lemon, it uses lime and white wine. It only takes 15 minutes to make.
It’s easy, while still providing a tangy, elegant flavor that makes it a great choice for nearly any occasion.
You’ll start with calamari rings. You can make them yourself, from squid tubes, or purchase calamari rings. If they are frozen, be sure to thaw them in the fridge before cooking.
You’ll saute garlic in olive oil, then add the calamari. Add white wine and lime juice. You can add salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne if desired. Lastly, top with fresh dill before serving.
14. Calamari Stew
Surprised to find calamari in a stew? I must admit, I was when I stumbled on this recipe. I’ve since learned that calamari is best cooked very fast, or very slowly. You can saute it for a few minutes, or allow it to simmer. This recipe is a perfect example of the latter method.
This recipe recommends purchasing calamari tubes and cutting them into rings. If you happen to have rings on hand, that’s ok as well.
The veggies in the stew include capers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. You can adjust the vegetables if you wish, but this version turns out very well. Olives are also added. Black olives are recommended, but green olives can work as well.
The other main ingredient is chili peppers. This can be adjusted to fit your heat preferences. Use one seeded chili pepper for a milder stew, and add more with the seeds if you like it hot.
15. Venetian Calamari
This recipe calls for polenta, which takes longer to make than the calmari. The calamari takes 20 minutes to make, while the polenta takes 45 minutes.
Of course, you can substitute pasta or even garlic bread for the polenta if desired. However, polenta is relatively simple, and certainly adds to the character of the dish.
It recommends fresh calamari, but frozen will do as well. If using whole calamari, you’ll begin by slicing the tube and tentacles into rings (for the tube) and small pieces (for the tentacles). Ingredients include white wine, mint, marjoram, scallions, red pepper flakes, and plenty of garlic.
Calamari Cooking Tips
Before you try your hand at cooking calamari, check out these helpful tips. This is particularly important if you are new to calamari dishes.
Squid vs Calamari
You can think of squid as the sirloin steak of the sea. It’s inexpensive but tougher than its counterpart, calamari. Calarmi, on the other hand, is like filet minion. It’s more tender and more expensive.
Squid is typically Nototodarus gouldi. Calamari is from the genus Sepioteuthis. Squid has shorter arrow-shaped fins. Calamari fins are significantly longer.
Avoiding Rubbery Calamari
Calamari isn’t difficult to cook, but it is not forgiving. It must be cooked for a very short time, or a long time. If you are sauteing or quick cooking it, it only requires a few minutes over very high heat.
Dishes that require longer cooking times should cook the calmari for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Anything in between will give you rubbery and disappointing calamari.
Portions and Serving Size
A standard serving is 12 ounces of whole squid or calamari. Cleaning reduces the weight by half, so 6 ounces of cleaned calamari is one serving.
A six inch squid weighs about 4 ounces. If you plan to quick cook the calamari, you’ll need them to be 5 inches or shorter, excluding the tentacles. If you plan to use a long cooking time recipe, the squid should be longer than five inches.
Smaller pieces, or those weighing less than 10 ounces, are the most tender. Again, this is similar to beef. Veal is more tender than mature cuts of meat.
If you want ink from the squid, you’ll need squid that is 5 inches or longer.
The Milk Method
A few of the recipes listed above mention soaking the calamari in milk. There’s a good reason for this. The milk helps tenderize the squid. This is particularly helpful if you purchase squid, instead of calamari.
Another option is to use lemon or kiwi juice. The acidity in the juices help to tenderize it, and add a citrus flavor. However, you may need to reduce the cooking time, particularly if you use lemon juice.
Choosing Good Squid or Calamari
You are at a fish market or your local seafood counter. How do you know if the squid or calamari you are about to purchase is fresh and safe to eat?
Fresh squid is shiny and smooth. It should have a mild fish smell. If it’s dull, wrinkled, or has a strong fish odor, you don’t want it.
If you are unsure about purchasing fresh squid, you can opt for frozen. You may lose a small amount of flavor, but the difference is negligible when the squid is thawed properly in the fridge.