Grilled Calamari: Quick and Tasty Recipe for Seafood Lovers

Are you ready to embark on a delicious culinary adventure featuring grilled calamari that will transport you to a warm summer holiday by the sea? Freshly grilled calamari is an irresistible treat for seafood lovers, and it’s easier to prepare at home than you might think. Transforming a whole calamari into a delectable dish doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, you’ll find that the satisfaction of preparing your own fresh seafood is worth the effort.

This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the process of getting your hands on fresh calamari, preparing it from scratch, and crafting an unforgettable meal using both Greek and Italian-inspired recipes. Not only will you become the master of cooking grilled calamari, but you’ll also gain confidence in your seafood cooking skills overall.

Key Takeaways

  • Fresh grilled calamari is a delightful and accessible dish to make at home.
  • Mastering the art of preparing calamari from scratch is simple with the right guidance.
  • Experimenting with various grilled calamari recipes will expand your culinary horizons and confidence in cooking seafood.

Grilled Calamari

You might not realize it, but you’ve probably enjoyed grilled calamari before. It’s actually the culinary name for squid, a popular ingredient in various global cuisines. In some countries, calamari also refers to octopus, but in Europe and the Mediterranean, it’s widely known as squid.

Grilled calamari is often found in different forms, such as:

  • Appetizers – Grilled or deep-fried calamari rings served with a dipping sauce.
  • Main Courses – Grilled calamari featured as the star of the dish.
  • Street Food – In Asia, calamari is served deep-fried with salt and pepper as a tasty on-the-go snack.

Even in Australia and New Zealand, you’ll find fried calamari served with chips. There’s just something special about the taste and texture of fresh calamari cooked on the grill.

Now, you might be hesitant to try cooking calamari due to its cost. It’s true that some seafood can be expensive, largely due to overfishing and the inability to farm squid like other meats. However, not all seafood is pricey—just think about the affordability of sardines!

Splurging on fresh squid for a grilled calamari dish is truly worth it. Not only will you enjoy the delicious taste, but you’ll also benefit from the nutrients it offers. So go ahead and treat yourself to some delicious grilled calamari—you won’t be disappointed!

Where and How to Buy Calamari

When buying calamari, remember that quality matters, so visit your local fishmonger or fish market for the best options. There are three sizes to choose from:

  • Small: tiny tentacle-like ones
  • Medium: around 30 cm in length and 5 – 10 mm in flesh thickness. This is the best option for grilled calamari recipes!
  • Large: thick flesh, might require more tenderizing and could end up rubbery.

Aim for a medium-sized calamari with an 80:20 body to tentacle ratio. Inspect the flesh by running your finger along it—look for silky smooth texture. Don’t forget to use your nose; if it smells of ammonia, it’s bad quality.

As a last resort, you may purchase frozen calamari. Deep-frying them is highly recommended in this case. Remember, always aim for quality when selecting calamari to ensure a delicious outcome.

How to Prepare Calamari

To begin with, grab a knife and a barbecue. Gently detach the head from the body of the calamari. There are tough, cartilage-like parts within its body that need to be removed and discarded. Cut off the tentacles and set them aside for marinating.

Next, use a fish knife to cut off the “wings.” Remove the hard part that runs along the wing and discard it. Save the wings for marinating as well. Make an incision down the body, flatten it on a chopping board in one even layer, and remove the digestive system. Scrape everything off and take away any membrane.

Lastly, make crisscross cuts over the body, which prevents warping during cooking and helps the marinade penetrate the flesh for extra flavor. Cut the calamari into smaller pieces.

For the marinade, consider using paprika, honey, and oregano. Alternatively, create a lime and chili marinade. Seafood marinades typically feature lemon, which tenderizes the squid. Allow the calamari to marinate for 24 hours or overnight, but know that it can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days if you forget.

When you’re ready to cook, place the marinated calamari on a hot barbecue and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until caramelized. This results in beautiful, smoky calamari without excess oil.

To maintain a healthy dish, pair your calamari with a Greek Salad. Enjoy!

Grilled Calamari – Greek-style

For a delicious, Greek-style grilled calamari, try using a honey and oregano marinade. To enhance flavor, marinate the squid overnight or up to a full day. If short on time, marinating for a few hours will do. Enjoy this high-protein, low-calorie dish and consider pairing it with a small Greek salad for a balanced and delightful meal.

Grilled Calamari Recipe – Italian

Enhance your grilled calamari with lemon and rosemary for a true Italian flair. Complement the dish with roasted artichoke hearts and freshly cut fennel to elevate the Mediterranean experience. Enjoy the exquisite flavors!

Grilled Calamari Salad


In this delightful grilled calamari salad, here’s what you can expect in terms of nutrition:

  • Calories: 137
  • Fat: 1.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.7 g
  • Protein: 25 g

Enjoy this healthy and delicious meal with a lovely glass of fruity white wine, a vibrant rosé, or even Prosecco. Remember to marinate your calamari overnight and grill to perfection. Happy eating!

Grilled Calamari

Easy and tasty grilled calamari recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 5
Calories 204 kcal


  • 1 lb. fresh calamari cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  • Place the calamari rings in a large bowl and pour the marinade over them. Toss to coat evenly.
  • Thread the calamari rings onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece.
  • Grill the calamari skewers for 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly charred and cooked through.
  • Serve the grilled calamari skewers with lemon wedges on the side.


Calories: 204kcal
Keyword grilled calamari
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a simple Mediterranean calamari recipe?

To make a simple Mediterranean calamari recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh or frozen calamari, cleaned
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Pat the calamari dry with paper towels, and then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Season the calamari with salt, pepper, and chopped parsley.
  4. Place the calamari on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until firm and slightly charred.
  5. Serve immediately with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of parsley.

How does Jamie Oliver prepare grilled calamari?

Jamie Oliver’s grilled calamari recipe includes marinating the calamari in a flavorful mixture with chili, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. The calamari is then grilled to perfection and served with a fresh salad and crusty bread. You can find Jamie Oliver’s full recipe here.

Which Italian seasonings work best for grilled calamari?

The following Italian seasonings work well for enhancing the flavor of grilled calamari:

  • Dried oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Garlic powder or minced garlic
  • Red pepper flakes (for a spicy kick)
  • Paprika
  • Salt and black pepper

Combine your choice of seasonings with olive oil and lemon juice to create a simple marinade for the calamari.

How do I make a Portuguese-style grilled calamari?

To make a Portuguese-style grilled calamari, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the calamari and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Prepare a marinade by mixing olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Marinate the calamari for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and then grill the marinated calamari for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with a side of Portuguese-style rice or potatoes and garnish with fresh parsley.

What’s a delicious grilled calamari salad?

A delicious grilled calamari salad can be made by combining the following ingredients:

  • Grilled calamari, sliced into rings
  • Mixed greens (such as arugula, spinach, and romaine lettuce)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kalamata olives
  • Feta cheese (optional)
  • Lemon vinaigrette dressing (made with lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper)

Toss the ingredients together and serve as a light and flavorful meal or appetizer.

What is the best technique to cook calamari on the grill?

The best technique for grilling calamari involves:

  1. Cleaning and patting the calamari dry with paper towels.
  2. Marinating the calamari in a flavorful mixture (such as olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings) for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheating the grill to medium-high heat and ensuring the grates are clean and well-oiled.
  4. Placing the calamari on the grill and cooking for 2-3 minutes per side, until the calamari is firm and slightly charred.
  5. Removing the calamari from the grill promptly to prevent overcooking and rubbery texture.
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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