Love calamari, hate the calories? Look no further than your air fryer! Air Fryer Calamari delivers the same delicious flavor and crunch as your favorite, deep-fried seafood appetizer, without all the grease!
With this recipe, you don’t have to worry about breading individual calamari rings or cooking never-ending batches in a single layer. It’s a quicker, easier method for air frying a classic restaurant treat at home!
Calamari is the Italian word for squid. You can either find squid in the seafood section of your grocery store or frozen calamari in the freezer section. The rings come from slicing the tube-shaped part of the body crosswise and the tentacles are often left whole or sliced in half.
THE BEST AIR FRYER CALAMARI
In this Air Fryer Calamari recipe, we aren’t using a panko batter, which means we can feel free the shake that air fryer basket, which ultimately means there’s no need to worry about frying in a single layer.
Those of you with a single chamber air fryer can now officially jump for joy.
There are two reasons for cooking air fryer food in a single layer: One is to keep the batter in place, the other is to allow for browning on all sides. Sometimes, this is necessary, but in the case of this Air Fried Calamari, luckily, it’s not.
We don’t have to worry about losing any of those crumbs! This dredge stays put and air fry’s some seriously crispy calamari.
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER CALAMARI
- Make the Wet Mix
- Make the Dry Mix
- Coat in Batter
- Spray With Oil
- Air Fry
MAKE THE WET MIX
Combine eggs and buttermilk in a bowl or shallow dish (like a pie plate) and set aside.
MAKE THE DRY MIX
For the dry mix, you’ll need all-purpose flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and onion powder. Add all of the ingredients to a gallon-sized ziptop bag, seal, and shake to combine.
COAT IN BATTER
Dredge your calamari rings and tentacles in two separate batches to make sure everything gets a nice thorough coating. Take half of the calamari and place it in the egg mixture.
Then, transfer it to the dry mix in the ziptop bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat the calamari once more. Repeat with the other half.
Note, it’s really important that you knock off any excess flour before moving on to the next step. Too heavy of a flour coating will make it difficult for your Air Fryer Calamari to develop that signature golden brown coloring!
SPRAY WITH OIL
Transfer the calamari to a large work surface (preferably a rimmed baking sheet) and spray generously with cooking spray. Turn the calamari over, and spray the other side generously as well.
Cook the squid in two separate batches. Add half of it to the basket of a preheated 400°F air fryer and cook for a total of 8 to 10 minutes.
Shake the basket every 3 minutes or so, and check the coloring of the dredge around the 6-minute mark.
If it has yet to turn a light golden brown at this point or you can see dry spots on the flour mix, spritz it with another light misting of cooking oil while still in the basket. Then, shake and return to cook for the remaining 2 to 4 minutes.
Serve lemon wedges and a dipping sauce such as marinara, cocktail sauce, garlic aioli, or our creamy chipotle sauce for a spicy kick!
WHY IS MY CALAMARI TOUGH?
Calamari does best cooked hot and fast. Unfortunately, it takes longer to cook to develop that gorgeous golden, crispy crust in the air fryer than it does in a pot of hot oil.
The key to perfectly cooked, crunchy Air Fried Calamari is to pull it as soon as the crust has developed some color.
AIR FRYER CALAMARI INGREDIENTS
Squid |If you are using frozen squid rings, you’ll want to set them in a bowl of water to thaw for about 30 to 45 minutes.
If you are preparing the calamari from fresh squid, you’ll need to take a few more steps before you can crank that air fryer up. If you need a little help in this arena, Wikihow has a great tutorial (with photos) on how this is done!
Dry Mix | You’ll need all-purpose flour for this Air Fryer Calamari recipe and the spices are pretty straightforward. All you need is garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper!
Buttermilk | Buttermilk is thicker and stickier than regular milk and, in combination with the egg, helps that flour coating to stay put!
Eggs | Ever gotten raw eggs on your hands? It’s sticky, and that’s exactly the purpose it serves in this buttermilk eggs wash! It helps the dry mix to stick to the food and stay put.
Cooking Spray | The oil is actually very important when it comes to air fryer recipes. You’ll need a cooking spray that can get you a solid, even mist all over the surface of the food.
Where there’s no oil, there’ll be no browning. No browning means no crunch! Our go-to bottle is Chosen Avocado Oil.
6 MORE AIR FRYER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Air Fryer Zucchini
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Air Fryer Onion Rings
- Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
- Air Fryer Shrimp
- Air Fryer Pickles
The best Air Fryer Calamari with a crispy, crunchy, seasoned batter and tender, perfectly cooked squid inside!
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pound squid, sliced into 1/4" rings and tentacles cut into bite-sized pieces
- Nonstick cooking spray (Avocado, canola, or vegetable oil preferably in an aerosol can), about 2 tablespoons
Preheat the air fryer to 400° for 5-10 minutes.
In a medium-sized bowl, deep-dish pie plate, or baking dish, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and set aside.
In a large gallon-sized, ziptop bag, add the all-purpose flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and onion powder. Seal and shake until well-combined.
Add the rings and tentacles to the egg mixture and toss until evenly coated. Shake off any excess and transfer half of the calamari to the ziptop bag with flour. Shake and until coated in the flour mixture, and before removing, shake any excess flour off and back into the bag. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or a large work surface.
Spray generously with cooking oil, turn, and spray again. Make sure not to leave any "dry spots" on the flour coating. You want the calamari to be somewhat wet-looking.
Transfer to the preheated air fryer basket and cook for 8-10 minutes, shaking the basket every 3 minutes or so.
Turn out cooked calamari on a serving platter and repeat once more with the remaining squid.