Air fryer calamari is an easy and perfect seafood appetizer! It is deliciously crisp and never greasy when cooked in an air fryer. Calamari makes for a memorable dish in different regional cuisines. It is sure to be a fan favorite at any gathering and can be served with lemon wedges and your favorite marinara sauce.
What is calamari?
Calamari is a type of squid. Squid is a sea creature in the cephalopod family. There are two parts of the squid that can be eaten, the tube and the tentacles. Calamari has a mild flavor and is tender, not tough, and never rubbery, to eat when cooked properly.
You will see it most often as a fried appetizer although there are many other ways to prepare and cook calamari. It is very versatile and popular in many different regional cuisines. You can find calamari at your local seafood market, or frozen at your grocery store and it will be cleaned and ready to cook. Some people confuse calamari dishes with octopus, but calamari is a type of squid and is much more tender than octopus.
How healthy is calamari?
Calamari is very nutritious. It is full of copper, protein, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B and C
Ingredients used in air fryer calamari:
- Buttermilk, a common ingredient in fried food. It contains enzymes that help tenderize the calamari.
- Flour (either coconut flour or all purpose flour)
- Oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne
- Cooking oil spray
- Lemon wedges and your favorite marinara sauce for serving
What temp do you use to cook calamari in an air fryer?
Calamari cooks best at a high temperature in an air fryer, or 400 degrees F for 4 minutes on each side and should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
How do you cook calamari in an air fryer?
Place calamari in a bowl and add buttermilk to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour to tenderize the calamari. In a shallow bowl o plate combine flour, cornstarch, and seasonings. Take the calamari out of the buttermilk, shake off excess, and place in the flour mixture. Cover completely all sides of the calamari with the flour mixture. Place calamari in the air fryer basket (single layer) and spray the tops with a light layer of cooking oil. Air fry for 8 minutes, flipping and spraying the tops in cooking oil at the halfway point. Serve with lemon wedges and marinara sauce.
How do you know when calamari is done?
Calamari is done after cooking for 7-8 minutes total cooking time at 400 degrees F. In an air fryer. Calamari should be flipped to the other side once during cooking. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
Does calamari stay tender when cooked in an air fryer?
Calamari will stay tender when cooked properly in an air fryer. It should be cooked at 400 degrees F for 4 minutes, then flipped to the other side for 3-4 more minutes. It is easy to overcook calamari since the rings are so small, so be careful to check when cooking. When it is overcooked, calamari can become tough.
Why is my air fried calamari tough?
The small rings of calamari cook fairly quickly and can easily become tough if overcooked.
Can you use frozen calamari to cook in an air fryer?
You can use frozen (or fresh) calamari when cooking and it is available at seafood markets. Thaw the frozen calamari before cooking to preserve the quality of the calamari. Thawing will also help it cook evenly and will shorten the total cooking time.
Is it safe to eat rare or undercooked calamari?
Rare or undercooked calamari can cause food illness. Symptoms of calamari food poisoning include nausea and diarrhea and usually occurs within 24 hours.
Can you freeze calamari after cooking in an air fryer?
You may freeze air fried calamari. Place it on a plate in the freezer until it has frozen solid. Then put the frozen calamari in airtight freezer bags and it can stay in the freezer safely for up to 2 months.
How long can you safely store calamari in the refrigerator after cooking?
Let the cooked calamari cool down to room temperature. Place the cooked and cooled calamari on a paper towel in an airtight container in a single layer, and it can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.
How do you reheat calamari in an air fryer?
It tastes best to thaw frozen cooked calamari first before reheating in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and cook for about 7-8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
What sauces go well with calamari?
- Marinara sauce
- Garlic aioli dipping sauce
- Ranch dressing
Air Fryer Calamari
- 1 lb calamari rings if using frozen, thaw first
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1½ cups coconut or all purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper fresh ground
- ½ tsp paprika sweet or smoked
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- Cooking oil spray
- Lemon wedges
- Marinara sauce
- Coat calamari with buttermilk in a large bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Combine cornstarch, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in a shallow bowl or plate.
- Remove calamari rings from buttermilk and shake off excess buttermilk.
- Place the calamari a handful at a time in the flour mixture making sure to coat each calamari ring completely with the flour mixture.
- Arrange calamari in the air fryer basket in a single layer (cook in batches if need be).
- Spray the tops with cooking spray.
- Air fry for 8 minutes at 400˚F, flipping and spraying with oil halfway.
- Serve with lemon wedges and marinara.
- This recipe can easily be made gluten-free just by substituting a gluten-free flour for the regular flour.
- Try adding a 3rd bowl of a small amount Panko breadcrumbs and dip the calamari into it just before placing in the air fryer basket to add even more crunchiness.
- Let the buttermilk-coated calamari sit for a few minutes before dredging in the flour mixture. This helps the flour mixture stick to the calamari.
- Plan ahead your total cooking time since calamari needs to be cooked in a single layer, in batches.
- If you need to double this recipe, prepare the whole recipe one batch at a time so the flour mixture does not become soggy.