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The Kitchn: The secret to making crispy-tender fried calamari every time

Christine Gallary, on

When cooked properly, fried calamari is the perfect appetizer: crisp and tender, perfect for popping into your mouth all on its own, with a spritz of lemon, or dipped into marinara sauce. On the other hand, fried calamari can easily become sad and soggy, chewy to the point of being rubbery, or — worst-case scenario — both of the above.

Luckily, there are two key steps that guarantee crispy-tender fried calamari to rival anything you’ll find at your favorite fried seafood joint. First, make sure to give the calamari a quick marinade in buttermilk; this helps tenderize it and also adds flavor. Next, after you drain off the buttermilk, toss the calamari pieces in a mixture of all-purpose and rice flour. The rice flour (regular not sweet!) helps create a delicate coating that shatters when you bite into it.

What’s the best oil for frying calamari?

Any high-smoke-point oil — like vegetable, canola, or peanut oil — will work for frying calamari. I recommend an oil with a very mild flavor so that the delicate calamari flavor shines through.

How do you make sure fried calamari is not chewy?

In addition to soaking the calamari in buttermilk before frying, avoid frying the calamari for too long. Pull the calamari out of the oil when it’s light golden-brown.


More tips for frying calamari

Fried Calamari

Serves 4

1 pound cleaned squid or calamari (see Recipe Notes if buying whole squid)


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