If you are looking for a healthier way to make fried calamari, you'll love this recipe! This air fryer calamari is so crispy and it's made with a small amount of oil. You will save a ton of calories without sacrificing the taste. It's the perfect no-guilt appetizer that will keep people raving about it and asking when you'll make it again.
Fried calamari is one of the most popular appetizers on many restaurant menus, especially during happy hour.
It's usually garnished with lemon, parsley, and served with marinara sauce or garlic aioli dipping sauce.
Calamari cooks quickly and can turn tough and chewy if overcooked. In order to cook calamari to perfection, you can either cook it quickly over high heat or slow over low heat.
About this Air Fryer Calamari:
Today, you will learn how to cook crispy calamari in an Air fryer.
This air fryer calamari is made of calamari that includes tubes and tentacles.
These calamari rings are soaked in a buttermilk mixture. They are lightly battered with flour, breadcrumbs, and egg mixture then fried in the air fryer. So delicious, crispy but not greasy!
Why You'll Love this Air Fryer Calamari Recipe:
1. No oil splatter - less mess
It's the best way to fry food without getting oil splatters everywhere.
2. Lower calories
Cooking with oil does make food taste better, but it also adds extra fat and calories when using it.
This fried calamari is ultra-crispy, yet requires a very little amount of oil.
Frying food requires at least 1 cup of oil. That means you would expect to pay $1.70 or more on oil per recipe. After deep frying, you also need to drain excess oil with paper towels that will cause your total cost per recipe to add up.
Of course, eating calamari out at a restaurant would be many times more expensive than cooking it at home.
Calamari Vs Squid
Calamari and Squid are two different sea creatures. In comparison, calamari is more expensive, is tender, and has longer fins than squid.
Both calamari and squid can be prepared in so many ways from frying, sauteing, grilling, boiling, or braising.
I have noticed that people often mix them up or use them interchangeably. At the end of the day they are similar enough, but I do appreciate their differences (and think both are delicious!)
How to Tenderize Calamari before Frying
Marinating the calamari in buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour will add flavor, and create a light and crisp batter.
Buttermilk is a common ingredient used in fried food. The buttermilk contains enzymes that help tenderize the meat.
Air Fryer Calamari Ingredients and Variations
To make these crispy calamari strips, you will need buttermilk, flour, egg, panko breadcrumb, milk, paprika, old bay seasoning, and a small amount of salt and black pepper to taste.
Calamari: You can use fresh or frozen calamari tubes and tentacles. Calamari is available at any seafood market or from Amazon fresh for $9.99 per pound.
Panko breadcrumb: It's my favorite type of breadcrumb to use on any fried recipes. This Japanese breadcrumb has a light and airy texture that helps it crisp as it cooks. As a result, you will get crispier and crunchier food.
You can find panko breadcrumb at any grocery market or Amazon.com for around $1.88 - $2.49 per 8 oz box. If you can't find it in your area, feel free to substitute panko with traditional breadcrumb.
Old Bay Seasoning: This seasoning mix includes celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika. It's commonly used as a seasoning for seafood.
You can find Old Bay Seasoning at any grocery market for around $2.50 per 2 oz container. If you can't find it in your area, substitute Old Bay Seasoning with paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.
How to Cook Crispy Calamari in an Air Fryer
Step 1. Soak the Calamari in Buttermilk
- First, cut the calamari into ⅓ - ½ inch thick rings.
- In a large bowl, combine calamari strips and buttermilk. Marinade in the refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 2. Prepare the Breading
- Set up three dishes and put them in the right order.
- In a first bowl, add about ½ cup of all-purpose flour.
- In another bowl, beat an egg with milk.
- In the last bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs, oil, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, and a pinch of black pepper.
Step 4. Bread the Calamari Rings
- Remove the calamari from the buttermilk marinade. Allow the excess to drip off.
- Coat the calamari strips in the flour; shake off excess flour.
- Dip the calamari rings in the egg and milk mixture, allow the excess to drip off.
- Toss the calamari rings into the breadcrumb mixture; gently pressing to coat.
Step 5. Cook the Calamari in an Air Fryer
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Lightly grease the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place the calamari rings in a basket, in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan, work in multiple batches if needed.
Cook the calamari for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Please note, air fryer basket tends to cook foods a little faster than the air fryer oven. In this recipe, I cooked the calamari in my Gourmia 8Qt Air Fryer
FAQ and Cooking Tips
If you are planning to double this recipe, it is best to prepare the recipe one batch at a time to prevent wet and soggy breadcrumb.
Yes, you do. Thawing the frozen calamari will preserve the quality of the product, cut down the cooking time, and ensure it cooks properly and evenly.
You can defrost the calamari overnight in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can keep the calamari in the original packaging or place in an airtight plastic bag then thaw under cold running water for about 30 minutes per pound of calamari.
First, let the calamari strips cool down at room temperature. Transfer the leftover to an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.
To reheat frozen fried calamari in an Air Fryer: Cook in the preheated air fryer at 400°F for about 8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
To reheat in the oven: Preheat oven to 450°F. Place frozen calamari rings and tentacles on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Check Out More Air Fryer Recipes:
- Air Fryer Fish Sticks
- Air fryer tilapia
- How to cook perfectly crispy bacon in an air fryer
- How to air fry frozen fries
- Air fryer brussels sprouts
- Air fryer whole chicken
- How to cook bacon asparagus in an air fryer
- Air fried okra
- How to cook crispy zucchini fries in an air fryer
- Air fryer chicken thighs
Air Fryer Calamari
- 8 oz calamari tubes and tentacles, (cut the calamari into ⅓ - ½ inch thick rings, pat dry with paper towels)
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp regular milk
- 1 cup panko breadcrumb
- ½ tsp ground paprika
- 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 3 tbsp avocado, vegetable, or canola oil
- black pepper , (to taste)
- Put the panko breadcrumb in a large ziplock. Use a rolling pin to crush the breadcrumb until finely ground.
- In a large bowl, combine calamari strips and buttermilk. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Set up three dishes and put them in the right order.1st bowl: add all-purpose flour 2nd bowl: beat an egg with milk.3rd bowl: combine panko breadcrumbs, oil, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, and a pinch of black pepper.
- Remove the calamari from the buttermilk marinade. Allow the excess to drip off. Coat the calamari strips in the flour; shake off excess flour.
- Dip the calamari rings in the egg and milk mixture, allow the excess to drip off. Toss the calamari rings into the breadcrumb mixture; gently pressing to coat.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Lightly grease the air fryer basket and crisper tray with cooking spray.
- Place the calamari rings in a basket, in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan, work in multiple batches if needed. Cook the calamari for 8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, flipping halfway through.