How To Cook Calamari

Calamari is one of the best and most popular squid dishes, and it can make for a delicious and fancy meal whether you’re eating out or cooking it at home.

Calamari is the Italian word for “squid.” Here in the U.S., the term calamari typically refers to deep-fried battered sliced squid that you find served in bars and restaurants. Sometimes, you will see squid referred to as calamari even if it’s not deep-fried, and that’s completely accurate, too.

Calamari is popular in countries all over the Mediterranean, but you’ll find lots of delicious calamari recipes in Asia as well. In Italy and Spain, it’s common for chefs and home cooks to add squid to risotto, paella, pasta dishes, and soups. In Portugal, squid is grilled with onion and bell pepper.

There are so many different ways to cook calamari: fried calamari, grilled calamari, spicy calamari, crispy fried calamari, etc. At the bottom we share our favorite calamari recipe. Just add a little lemon juice or lemon wedge and you’re in business. Delicious!

It is popular in many different countries, and it can be cooked in many different ways with different variations of the dish. 

Seafood is often known for being tricky to cook, as it’s hard to get it just right. Calamari might therefore be quite an intimidating challenge in the kitchen, as you might not even know where to start with it. 

How to Cook Calamari

Calamari, also known as squid, is a delicious and versatile seafood option that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. With its tender texture and mild flavor, it pairs well with an array of seasonings and sauces. Learning how to cook calamari properly is the key to enjoying this delightful ingredient.

The most common methods of cooking calamari include frying, grilling, and sautéing. Each method provides a unique taste and texture to the dish, bringing out the best attributes of the seafood. To ensure a perfect result, it is crucial to understand the appropriate cooking times and techniques for each method.

However, cooking calamari is not as hard as it seems, and it can easily be done at home with excellent results. Plus, cooking calamari for your family or friends will be a great surprise that is sure to impress them! 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about cooking calamari and give you step by step guides to ensure you know exactly what to do! 

Things to do before you cook the calamari: 

Before you can cook the calamari, you need to get some! If you’ve never cooked calamari before, then you’ve probably never bought it either, so we thought you could maybe do with some tips! 

The first choice you will come across is whether you should buy fresh or frozen calamari. This ultimately depends on your own preference and on the source of the calamari itself, but here is our opinion on both: 

Fresh calamari:

A lot of people will say that fresh calamari is the best and most authentic way to do things. And in a way, they’re right. Freshly caught calamari will taste the best.

However, you only really get fresh calamari if you live by the sea, and even then, the amount of freshness of the calamari might be questionable. Unless you 100% know that the calamari is fresh and of good quality, it isn’t worth the risk.

Especially as there can be many issues caused by ‘fresh’ calamari that doesn’t turn out to be so fresh. 

Frozen calamari: 

Frozen calamari can taste just as good, especially as it will have been frozen not long after being caught.

The best thing about frozen calamari is that it is convenient and easy to buy. It will come with the date when it was frozen, and you’re guaranteed not to have any issues with it. 

Another thing you should know before you buy the calamari is the amount of it that you need. How many people are you cooking for?

Take into account that calamari will be smaller once it is defrosted and that it will reduce in size when cooked due to it being soft-bodied. If you’re in doubt, we recommend you buy more calamari rather than less. 

The next step, before cooking the calamari, is to actually prepare it. If you’ve bought frozen calamari, it will usually come pre cut into pieces, which makes things a lot easier.

If you need to cut it yourself, then you need to cut each tentacle off at the base, and then into smaller pieces. 

With frozen calamari, you will need to defrost it before cooking. 

To defrost the calamari: 

  1. You can thaw it in the refrigerator for around 8 hours (we recommend you just leave it to defrost overnight) 
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put the calamari in for around 15 minutes until it’s defrosted. 

Once your calamari is defrosted and cut up into pieces, you’re ready to cook it! So let’s move on to the step by step section! 

Step by step guide on how to cook the calamari: 

Calamari can be cooked in a great many ways, and the traditional dish will vary from place to place. You can also experiment to create new unique calamari combinations, playing around with the flavoring and with added ingredients. 

However, as this might be your first time attempting to cook calamari, we will keep things simple.

Here are a few of the most common ways in which you can cook calamari: 

Boiling the calamari:

This is perhaps the easiest way to cook calamari and it requires very little effort.

It isn’t the tastiest result, but a lot of people like to cook it like this before finishing it off with a different method to add the flavor. 

Here is how to do it: 

  1.  Fill a pot of water (size depending on the amount of calamari you are cooking), and bring to a boil. 
  2.  Insert the pieces of calamari into the pot and cover it with the lid. 
  3.  Boil the calamari for around 30 to 45 minutes. You should test the calamari with a fork every 15 minutes or so, to monitor the progress. 
  4.  When the calamari becomes tender and can be easily poked with the fork, it’s ready to serve! 
  5. Optional:  Keep the leftover water to use as seafood stock! 

Grilling the calamari: 

This is a great way to cook calamari as it will add plenty of flavor to it!

However, it’s recommended that you pre-cook the calamari first, so that it doesn’t go too hard or dry. (You could boil it, and then grill it for the finishing flavor). 

Here is how to do it: 

  1. Pre-cook the calamari by boiling it. 
  2.  Coat the boiled calamari in olive oil and the seasonings of your choice, (salt and pepper are recommended). 
  3.  Place the calamari on a grill and cook for around 5 minutes, flipping it over once. 
  4.  The calamari is ready to serve! 

Poaching the calamari: 

This is a very popular way of cooking calamari, and it can make for a great seafood dish.

It’s also very easy and you can add the ingredients of your choosing to make it unique! 

Here is how to do it: 

  1.  Fill a pot of water, making sure it’s enough to cover the calamari and any other ingredients you might add. 
  2.  Bring the water to a boil and add the calamari. 
  3.  Add any other ingredients of your choosing, such as onions, carrots, garlic, lemon, or others. 
  4.  Add plenty of seasoning and spices of your choosing for flavoring. 
  5.  Leave to simmer for around 50 to 95 minutes. 
  6.  Serve and enjoy! 

If you want to try something other than the three methods listed above, we recommend you try out one of our favorite recipes for calamari:  Sauteed Chilli Calamari.

How to Cook Calamari: Sautéed Chili Calamari

Easy and tasty recipe for cooking calamari at home!
4.92 from 57 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people
Calories 563 kcal


  • Oven
  • frying pan
  • stove


  • 2 lb. Calamari Frozen
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Onion chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic minced
  • ½ tsp Sweet Paprika
  • ¼ tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • cup White Wine
  • ½ Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • ½ Yellow Bell Pepper chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add the frozen calamari (no need to defrost beforehand) into the oven.
  • Cook for approximately 15 minutes. Once the calamari begins to release its juices, remove it from the oven.
  • In a frying pan, add chopped onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add chopped peppers, paprika, and cayenne to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Make sure you are stirring regularly. You can also add some white wine.
  • Add the calamari to the pan, to cook it with the rest of the ingredients over high heat. Add plenty of seasoning to ensure flavor.
  • Cook for around 5 minutes, then flip the calamari over and cook for another 5 min.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 68gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 217mgSodium: 1049mgPotassium: 1781mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2010IUVitamin C: 118.2mgCalcium: 252mgIron: 24.5mg
Keyword Chilli Calamari, How to Cook Calamari, Sauteed Calamari, Sauteed Chilli Calamari
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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.
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