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Air Fryer Calamari (Crispy!)

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This Air Fryer Calamari recipe unlocks a world of flavor and texture just like traditionally deep fried calamari, but without the oil. Using your air fryer means you can enjoy a guilt-free version of this favorite appetizer.

air fryer calamari stacked on a plate with two lemon wedges.

Dreaming of that satisfying crunch of crispy calamari but dreading the unhealthy reality of deep frying? Now you can enjoy that same crispy, golden goodness using your air fryer.

If you’re not familiar with calamari, it’s the Italian word for squid. Calamari is most often served in Italian or seafood restaurants and is typically deep fried. It’s definitely one of my favorite appetizers and the air fryer is the best way to make calamari at home.

This air fryer calamari recipe uses a simple breadcrumb coating and hot air to achieve crispy perfection. The cooking process is simple with only 7 minutes cook time and less than10 minutes of prep time. This air fryer appetizer is ready to eat in under 20 minutes!

If you want more easy air fryer recipes, you’ll love this Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp recipe or these Air Fryer Salmon Bites.

Why You’ll Love Air Fryer Calamari

Better for You Than Deep Frying: Ditch the deep fryer and embrace the air fryer! This method uses significantly less oil, resulting in a lighter and healthier dish that won’t leave you feeling weighed down.

Crispy Crunch: Don’t be fooled by the air fryer! This recipe yields perfectly crispy calamari with a tender, melt-in-your-mouth center.

Quick and Easy: This recipe comes together in under 20 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights or a last-minute delicious appetizer for guests.

Customizable: Customize the basic breadcrumb coating with your favorite spices and herbs like garlic powder, onion powder, or even a sprinkle of classic Old Bay seasoning for endless flavor variations.

Kitchen Equipment Needed

  • Air Fryer
  • Shallow Bowls (3)
  • Paper Towels
  • Whisk or Fork
  • Tongs

Ingredients

CALAMARI RINGS: The type of squid you get can make all the difference in your air fryer calamari rings. If you’re buying fresh calamari, look for shiny, slightly translucent squid. You can also use frozen calamari rings from the grocery store.

BREADCRUMBS: Panko breadcrumbs offer a light and airy crunch. Feel free to use Italian Panko breadcrumbs or regular. Both taste delicious.

ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: The base for our crispy coating.

EGG: Binds the ingredients together.

SALT and BLACK PEPPER: Salt accentuates other flavors in this recipe and pepper adds a little kick of flavor when cooking air frying calamari.

air fryer calamari ingredients displayed on counter top.

How to Make Air Fryer Calamari

Prep the Calamari:

If using frozen calamari, let thaw to room temperature. Make sure your calamari rings are dry by thoroughly patting them with paper towels. No moisture means maximum crisp!

Set Up the Coating Stations:

In separate shallow bowls, prepare your flour mixture (flour, salt, pepper, and any desired spices), egg mixture (whisked egg), and breadcrumb mixture.

Add Breading:

Dredge each squid ring in the flour mixture (shake off excess flour), followed by the egg mixture, and finally, coat generously in the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure each ring is fully coated for even crisping.

Collage photo of coating the calamari. Top Left photo: calamari in flour. Top Right photo: flour coated calamari in whisked egg. Bottom Left: calamari in breadcrumbs. Bottom Right: coated calamari in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

 

Air Fry Calamari:

Arrange the breaded calamari rings in a single layer in the air fryer basket, avoiding overcrowding. Cook for 6-8 minutes at 360 degrees F or until golden brown and crispy.

Tip: Since we are not preheating the air fryer to start, you’ll need more time on the first batch and less cook time for the later batches, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Remove the calamari from the air fryer and let cool slightly before serving.

air fried calamari in the air fryer basket.

Serve:

Dunk them in your favorite dipping sauces like marinara sauce, cocktail sauce, or a simple squeeze of lemon juice.

Garnish with fresh lemon wedges and chopped parsley for that extra touch.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t overcrowd the basket. Place calamari in a single layer to ensure the air can circulate around evenly. Cook in small batches as needed.
  • You don’t need nonstick cooking spray for this recipe, but you’re welcome to use it. Just make sure to use one that has a high smoke point for high heat. Avocado oil spray is a great option. Simply add a light coating of nonstick cooking spray for an even crispier texture without extra oil.
  • Depending on the thickness of your squid rings and the power of your air fryer, the cooking time may need slight adjustments. Start checking for doneness at the 6-minute mark.

Variations

  • Spicy Calamari: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the breadcrumb mixture for a fiery kick.
  • Lemon Herb Calamari: Zest fresh lemon into the breadcrumb mixture and add a sprinkle of dried oregano or thyme for a bright and refreshing twist.
  • Gluten-Free Calamari: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed almond flour for a gluten-free alternative.

How do you Cook Calamari so it is Tender?

One way to avoid tough calamari is to cook it quickly at a high temperature, which we are doing in this air fryer recipe. Also, using fresh squid instead of frozen will ensure you get tender calamari.

How do I Know When the Calamari is Done?

The calamari is ready when it boasts a beautiful golden brown and crispy exterior, while remaining tender and opaque throughout.

Use a toothpick or small knife to pierce the thickest part of a ring; it should slide in easily with no resistance.

What is the Perfect Dipping Sauce?

Your favorite dipping sauce is always the best! Here are a few delicious sauces to go with crispy calamari:

  • Marinara sauce
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Experiment and find your favorite!

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover air fryer calamari in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

You can revive the crispness by reheating in the air fryer for a few minutes at 360°F.

More Air Fryer Appetizers

Air Fryer Pickles

Air Fryer Zucchini Fritters

Air Fryer Jerk Chicken Wings

This air fryer calamari recipe is a game-changer appetizer. Grab your air fryer and whip up a batch of these crispy, tender bites for your next gathering or a satisfying anytime snack. Remember, the beauty of this recipe lies in its adaptability, so feel free to experiment with different spices and flavors to create your own signature air fryer calamari appetizer.

Air Fryer Calamari

air fryer calamari stacked on a plate with two lemon wedges.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Calamari Rings
  • 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1/3 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pat dry the calamari rings with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  2. In a shallow bowl mix flour with salt and pepper (add other spices if you'd like)
  3. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg with a fork or whisk.
  4. In the third bowl add Panko breadcrumbs.
  5. Coat each squid ring in flour on all sides.
  6. Dip the calamari rings into the egg until completely covered.
  7. Next, completely coat the squid rings in the breadcrumbs.
  8. Transfer the rings to the air fryer basket, placing them in a single layer
  9. Air fry at 360 F for 6-8 minutes. After 6 minutes, open the air fryer to check that the breadcrumbs are not starting to burn. Subsequent batches will cook faster now that the air fryer is hot.
  10. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

See recipe post for tips, variations and dip ideas.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 159mgSodium: 590mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 18g

Nutritional values are estimates and not exact.

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I love easy recipes and delicious desserts and happy to share with you my favorite recipes. My favorite places are tropical, family always comes first and I'm a cocktail enthusiast for sure!
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