Salt and Pepper Squid (Air-Fryer) also called Chinese-style Calamari is a perfectly crispy and crunchy appetizer, side dish, or snack recipe cooked in the air-fryer that seasons well with salt, pepper, and other seasonings and uses less cooking oil. It is delicious and enjoyable in every bite with or without sauce. It's perfect to please friends and family.
Made with frozen squid for more convenience and less hard in the kitchen. This crispy calamari is easy to make and ready in 10 minutes or less, thanks to the effeciency of the air fryer.
- Frozen Squid - I am using a frozen calamari squid ring that is already prepared and cleaned from the store. You can easily find them in the frozen section in most Asian Stores. Scroll below on how to clean whole squid to make calamari.
- Buttermilk - To tenderize the squid meat. You can make your own buttermilk at home with regular milk and a few splashes of acidic liquid such as lemon or vinegar. Let it set for a few minutes at room temperature to react and cause a curdle and thicken the milk.
- All-purpose flour and Cornstarch - For coating the squid ring. You can also use breadcrumbs to double-coat the squid ring.
- Seasonings - I use onion powder, garlic, powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper to season my air-fryer calamari. You can play around with your favorite herbs and spices to season them according to your taste.
How to clean whole squid to make calamari
- First, remove the head by holding the body with one hand and pulling the head away from the body with the other hand. The head should come off easily.
- Next, remove the skin. Start by pulling on the thin membrane that covers the body. The membrane should come off in one piece. Then rinse the body under cold running water to remove any remaining skin.
- Cut off the tentacles just below the eyes. Be sure to keep the tentacles intact.
- Remove the beak from the center of the tentacles. This is a small, hard, plastic-like piece that needs to be discarded.
- Finally, remove the clear quill, which is a long, transparent piece of cartilage running through the body. Simply grasp it and gently pull it out of the body.
- Sliced the squid tubes in ring sizes. Rinse with cold running water.
How to make air fryer calamari
Step 1. Marinate the prepared and cleaned squid in the buttermilk with a pinch of salt and pepper for a minimum of 30 minutes. Take it out and drain it from the marinade.
Step 2. In a shallow dish, whisk together flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Coat the squid with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess coating.
Step 4. Transfer them to the air fryer basket or tray. (Depending on your air-fryer brand, some of them need to be preheated). Spray the calamari with cooking spray.
Step 5. Cook the calamari at 400F (200C) in the air-fryer for 8-10 minutes. Flipping them halfway through cooking until they are crispy and golden brown. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
Cooking times may vary depending on the size and thickness of your calamari. Always check the doneness of your food before serving. Air-fryer calamari should look golden brown with a crispy texture.
Helpful Tip: Do not overcrowd the air-fryer. Do them in batches. This will prevent them from sticking together and achieve a crispy and crunchy texture.
Reheat calamari in air-fryer
- Place the leftover calamari in the air-fryer basket. It's okay if the pieces are touching, but make sure they're not stacked on top of each other.
- Reheat the calamari for 3-5 minutes to 375F (190C), flipping the pieces over halfway through the cooking time.
- Check the calamari to see if it's heated through and crispy. If not, continue cooking for another minute or two.
- Once the calamari is heated through and crispy, remove it from the air-fryer and serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce. Try my 5-ingredient sweet and sour sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Squid are normally tough and chewy but there are ways to tenderize them before cooking. After cleaning and cutting the squid into rings, marinate them in buttermilk, salt, and pepper for a minimum of 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Drain them out from the marinade and proceed to the next step.
Yes, you can use frozen calamari in the air fryer. Check and follow the instructions at the back of the frozen package to see if you need to thaw it first or to air-fry it while frozen.
It depends on the brand of your air-fryer, the temperature, and the sizes of the calamari. Check out the recipe card below for more helpful notes.
Spraying the basket with oil before adding the calamari may prevent the calamari from sticking to the air fryer basket. It is crucial to not overcrowd the air fryer basket with calamari. You can do a few batches to make sure they don't stick and they will get crispy.
Some popular and favorite dipping sauces to go with calamari are ketchup, marinara sauce, aioli, tartar sauce, barbeque sauce, and sweet and sour sauce.
Yes, you can! Transfer raw squid to a freezer-friendly container in the freezer for up to 3 months. To prevent freezer burn, get rid of as much air as you can if you are using a ziplock bag.
Salt and Pepper Calamari (Air-Fryer)
- ½ pound calamari ring
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- cooking spray
- Marinate the calamari in buttermilk, a pinch of salt, and pepper for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is to tenderize the squid and it is optional.
- In a shallow dish, mix together, flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Coat the marinated squid with the mixture and transfer them into the air-fryer basket or tray. Spray with cooking oil.
- Air-fry at 400F (200)C for 8-10 minutes. Flip halfway to cook both sides until crispy and golden brown.
- Serve immediately with your favorite sauce.
- Cooking times may vary depending on the size and thickness of your calamari. Always check the doneness of your food before serving. Air-fryer calamari should look golden brown with a crispy texture.
- Double up this recipe if you are feeding more people or if you wanted to freeze some.
- Do not overcrowd the air-fryer. This will prevent them from sticking together and achieve a crispy and crunchy texture.