Restaurant Style Fried Calamari

Hello and welcome! About a week ago I saw fresh calamari at the seafood counter at my local Publix. After I thought about what I might make with fresh squid for a day or so, I went back to the store to buy it. They were fresh out. But the lovely lady behind the fish counter offered to order some for me. So today, we have Restaurant Style Fried Calamari. You might not see fresh squid at your local grocery store, but they can certainly order it for you! So let’s do it!

Fried calamari is a common appetizer on the menu at all kinds of restaurants. When we see on a menu, we usually order it. Often at seafood or Italian restaurants it is served with a marinara dipping sauce. I wanted to do something a little different, so I am serving it with Asian flavors; we have a sweet chili dipping sauce with fried chili pepper rings and cilantro as a garnish.

First let’s prepare the dredging ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and salt. In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and pepper. Set these bowls aside and we will move on to prepping the squid.

Prep the Squid

This recipe and method is super easy. First we have to prep the squid. The 1 pound of squid I have is already trimmed a bit; the body is separated from the tentacles. But the tentacles need a little trim and I will cut the cylindrical bodies into rings.

These little squids often have a couple very long tentacles, so just trim the few long tentacles to match the length of the rest. Discard the long pieces after you’ve cut them. Repeat this with the rest of the squid. As you prep each squid, place the prepped pieces in the bowl of milk and salt.

Dredging the Squid

Before we begin dredging, set up a rimmed sheet pan with a wire rack placed inside; this will catch the breaded squid.

The dredge and breading is easy. All the prepped squid should be in the milk mixture at this point. Grab a handful of the prepped squid from the milk mixture (about half of the squid). Give it a shake to let the excess milk drip back into the bowl, then drop the squid into the flour mixture.

Toss the squid in the flour mixture to coat the squid. Be sure to get flour inside the calamari rings by opening each ring and shaking in the flour. When the squid is evenly coated in flour, shake off the excess flour and place each piece of squid in a single layer on the wire rack in the sheet tray. Repeat with the rest of the squid.

Now we want the squid to hydrate the flour to give a light crispy fried exterior in the end. So set this tray of breaded calamari aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (to keep the batches warm) and we will set up our frying station and get the oil heating to 350 degrees F.

Fry Station

Set up a Dutch oven or other large, heavy bottom pot on the bottom left burner. Pour 8 cups of canola or peanut oil into the pot and clip a candy thermometer to the side. Begin to heat the oil over high heat. Set up a second sheet tray with a wire rack on the right side of the pot. Lay 3 layers of paper towels on top of the wire rack. Place the tray with the breaded squid on the left side of the pot.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, a few pieces at a time, carefully drop half of the squid into the hot oil. Adjust the burner as needed to maintain the oil temperature.

The calamari needs only about 3 minutes in the hot oil. Gently stir with a spider skimmer periodically to keep the calamari from sticking together. After 3 minutes, and the calamari is lightly golden, transfer out of the oil and lay the fried calamari on the paper towel lined wire rack. Place the fried calamari in the warm oven to keep warm while we work through the last batch.

Let the oil come back up to 350 degrees. If you want to add fried chili peppers to the mix, slice 1-2 peppers into rings. When the oil is back up to temperature, repeat frying the calamari as before. Once all the calamari is in the oil, add the sliced chili pepper rings to the hot oil.

After 3 minutes of frying, the calamari should be lightly golden. Remove the first batch from the oven and transfer the second batch, along with the chili peppers, out of the oil and onto the paper towel lined sheet tray.

Restaurant Style Fried Calamari

We are ready to serve! I am going to serve the Fried Calamari simply; on a small sheet tray with two small dishes for the dipping sauces and a few lemon cheeks. Sprinkle cilantro leaves over the calamari and fried chili peppers.

This is a fantastic recipe! I wasn’t sure it would be so easy to prepare Restaurant Style Fried Calamari at home. The breading recipe is perfection – baking powder and flour created a light, crispy exterior while the salt and the enzymes in the milk tenderized the calamari. The result is a super tender calamari with a light crispy exterior, seasoned perfectly.

This is one of those big payoff/little effort recipes that will impress anyone in your house who likes to order this appetizer at a restaurant. Alex is a gigantic fan of fried calamari and he was super impressed by the results of this dish. Give it a go – you won’t be sorry! Another recipe like this that is sure to be a hit is Easy Popcorn Chicken. Give both a try! Take care and be well, xo Kelly

Key Equipment Used in This Recipe

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Restaurant Style Fried Calamari

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Appetizer American, Italian
By Cook's Illustrated Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: ~6 Minutes Total Time: ~35 Minutes

Lightly golden, crispy, crunchy Restaurant Style Fried Calamari served with fried red peppers, a sweet chili dipping sauce and cilantro.


  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1.5 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 lb. Squid, bodies sliced crosswise 3/4-inch thick, extra-long tentacles trimmed to match length of shorter ones
  • 2 qts. Vegetable or Peanut Oil, for frying
  • Optional
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Chili Pepper, sliced into rings
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Cilantro



Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet.


In a small bowl, whisk together milk and salt.


In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and pepper.


Add the prepped squid to the milk mixture and toss to coat.


Use your hands to transfer about half the squid to the flour mixture and toss to coat.


Shake off excess flour and place in a single layer on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining squid.


Set second rack in second sheet tray and line with triple layer of paper towels. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven to 350 degrees F.


Carefully add about half of the breaded squid to the hot oil and fry for three minutes, until the squid is lightly golden brown.


Use a spider skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the calamari out of the oil and onto the paper towel lined wire rack. Place the fried calamari in the oven to keep warm.


Let the oil come back up to 350 degrees F.


Repeat frying with the remaining squid. Add the chili pepper rings to the hot oil, if using.


Serve with lemon wedges, cilantro, and dipping sauce of choice.

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  • Terry
    May 18, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Yumm I love calamari. I just had it last week when I went to lunch with the cousins. I will most definitely make this such an easy recipe plus the fried peppers WOW!!! this is a keeper for me have a great Wednesday ❤️🤗mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 18, 2022 at 11:47 am

      Hi Mom, yes this was surprisingly easy and the results were so perfect! Let me know how it goes for you, xo Kelly

  • Eleonora
    May 18, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    È la prima volta che leggo di latte e lievito, qua in Italia di solito usiamo solo passare i calamari nella farina e saliamo dopo cotti.

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 18, 2022 at 2:14 pm

      Hello Eleanora! There isn’t any yeast, it’s baking powder – which is a leavening agent, also. I like to know how you do it in Italy, it sounds like a wonderfully simple preparation! Thank you! xo Kelly

  • Pauline Herlihy
    May 21, 2022 at 7:49 am

    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for this great recipe.
    Could you please go through the process of removing the ink sack from the squid?

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 21, 2022 at 7:57 am

      Hi Pauline, The squid I purchased already had the ink sack removed. I am sure this is how they receive it from their supplier. I personally have never done this, so I don’t have a good tutorial for this process. I bet you can find a video on YouTube showing the process. Thank you for stopping by! xo Kelly