Appetizers

February 3, 2021

Air Fryer Calamari with Easy Aioli Dip

air fryer calamari

One of my favourite things to order when I'm out at a restaurant is definitely fried calamari. But let's be honest, deep frying (although delicious) is kinda intimidating when you're doing it at home. Never mind the potential for flames to erupt from deep frying, it's also kind of a pain in the butt to set it all up. Enter, the air fryer and these air fryer calamari! Crispy, easy, way less oil and absolutely delicious. And now it's easy to enjoy calamari right at home!

Ingredients

One of the biggest things I love about making air fryer calamari is the minimal amount of ingredients you need. With just nine ingredients (including salt and pepper) you can enjoy some delicious crispy calamari rings in 10 minutes. Here's what you'll need to make them:

ingredients laid out

Calamari

Fresh calamari is fairly inexpensive and easy to work with. I like buying fresh at my local seafood spot, but you can also find it frozen as well. You'll need about 1 lb. of fresh calamari.

Milk

To help tenderize the squid, milk is recommended. I used regular milk to soak the squid, but you can also try using a dairy-free milk (and a squeeze of lemon juice) if you need. The other great thing about using milk, is that once it's done tenderizing and ready to fry, it can just go directly in the flour mixture.

All Purpose Flour

I use all purpose flour for this air fryer calamari. I tested this with two other gluten-free flours (almond and rice) and both weren't as good as all-purpose. A gluten-free all purpose flour would work just as well, so feel free to use that.

I'd recommend this one from Bob's Red Mill.

Arrowroot Flour/Cornstarch

To help get the squid nice and crispy in your air fryer, you'll want to use some arrowroot flour (or cornstarch).

Smoked Paprika

Adding a little hint of smoked paprika brings some flavour to this crispy calamari.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is a great addition to this air fryer calamari.

Avocado Oil Spray

One of the tricks to getting this calamari crispy in your air fryer is to use some avocado oil spray. You'll need a spritz on the air fryer bottom and then once you put the squid in, a spray on top of those rings as well.

air fryer calamari

How to Make Calamari in Your Air Fryer

Making this air fryer calamari really couldn't be easier. So if you enjoy calamari, don't be intimidated to make it yourself at home. Here's how you can make it!

Soak your Calamari

First, you'll want to soak the calamari rings in some milk. This helps to tenderize the rings, as the lactic acid in the milk tenderizes the muscle fibers of the calamari. You can try using almond milk with a squeeze of lemon juice to make a dairy-free buttermilk. I think this will work as well. Let that sit for at least one hour (longer if you have time).

calamari soaking in milk

Get Your Breading Station Ready

Once that's done, it's time to get your breading station ready. In a large bowl, add your flour, arrowroot and spices, salt and pepper and mix well to combine.

breading station for calamari

Preheat your air fryer to 375ºF for a few minutes so it's nice and hot.

Now, take one calamari ring from the milk and shake off any excess.

calamari rings taken out of milk

Next, coat the calamari in the flour mixture and tap any excess flour from the ring. This is important so that you don't have any flour residue on the calamari rings.

dipping calamari ring into flour

Last, place on a plate. Repeat with all remaining rings until all are coated.

rings coated in flour sitting on a plate
calamari in flour on a plate

Time to Air Fry!

When your air fryer is ready, spray some oil on the bottom. Add the calamari rings and spray oil on the rings. Bake at 375ºF for four to five minutes.

calamari in air fryer

Flip them over, spray again with oil and fry for four to five minutes longer.

air fryer calamari

Don't be afraid to open and check on them to ensure they aren't burning.

Work in batches so that the rings aren't touching. This will help to make sure they can all get crispy.

air fryer calamari

How Long to Cook Fresh Calamari in the Air Fryer?

Each and every air fryer is different, I've learned! So what works for me in my air fryer may be slightly different for you.

I have found that a lower temperature is needed to ensure that you don't end up with burnt calamari rings. For this reason, I recommend cooking your squid at 375ºF for about 9 to 10 minutes total.

The great thing about using an air fryer, is you can easily open the door and see how they're coming along.

air fryer calamari

Which Air Fryer Do I Use and Recommend

The air fryer I use and really enjoy and recommend is this T-Fal Easy Air Fryer. I like the size of it for cooking for 1 to 2 people. Plus, I think it's fairly affordable as well and doesn't take up too much room.

Because all air fryers differ in terms of cook time, it's important to note that for any air fryer recipe, there may be slight variations. They can take some trial and error to navigate and nail down the temperatures and timing.

air fryer calamari

Easy Lemon-Sumac Aioli

This aioli is easy to make and tastes delicious with the air fried calamari. The lemon and sumac help to brighten the flavour of the dish, and complement the fried taste from the squid. If you don't have sumac, feel free to omit it, although it is a nice spice to have on hand!

All you need is some mayo, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and sumac!

How to Store Air Fryer Calamari

These air fryer calamari are best served immediately after making them. Once they're fried, they will lose their crispiness the longer they sit out. For this reason, I wouldn't suggest storing them after frying. You can keep them hot in your oven on a low temperature while you fry all batches separately.

air fryer calamari

Can I make this Calamari Gluten-Free?

Absolutely, feel free to use any gluten-free all purpose flour, or white rice flour as well. I tried with almond flour, and the coating didn't stay on, so I wouldn't suggest that one.

I like this gluten-free flour from Bob's Red Mill.

Tips and Substitutions

To make these the best air fryer calamari, follow these tips:

  • Don't overcrowd: it's best to work in batches to ensure that the rings aren't touching each other. This will help tp ensure they get crispy.
  • Shake off excess flour: this will help to remove any excess flour from the calamari rings after you're done air frying. You can see the flour on a few rings, because I didn't shake off excess. They still taste great, but for appearance, you'll want to ensure you shake off the flour before placing in your air fryer.
  • Don't be afraid to open the air fryer while cooking: take a peek inside to ensure that your calamari isn't browning too quickly. If needed, reduce the heat, or lessen the time needed to fry.
  • Tenderize the rings: soaking in milk does help in this regard, so I wouldn't recommend skipping it. If you can't have dairy, use a dairy-free milk and squeeze some lemon juice in it.
air fryer calamari

If you make this air fryer calamari, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to tag me on Instagram, and/or leave a comment, rating or review below.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services I have personally used and love. Disclosure here.

LIKE THIS RECIPE? HERE ARE MORE SEAFOOD RECIPES TO TRY:

Air Fryer Calamari with Easy Aioli Dip

Calamari is such a nice treat and is fairly easy to make at home too. Try this air fryer calamari the next time you re craving fried squid.

Prep:
10
min
cook:
24
min
total:
35
min
servings:
6
Author:

Jaclyn

Ingredients


For the Aioli

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice plus zest from half the lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac ground, optional
  • pinch salt and pepper to taste
Instructions


  1. In a large bowl soak the calamari rings in some milk, use enough milk to cover the rings. Soak for at least one hour, up to four to five hours if you have the time.
  2. In a large bowl, add your flour, arrowroot and spices and salt and mix well to combine.
  3. Preheat your air fryer to 375ºF for a few minutes so it's nice and hot.
  4. Take one calamari ring from the milk mixture and toss in the flour. Tap any excess flour off of the rings. Place on a large plate until all are done.
  5. When your air fryer is ready, spray some oil on the bottom. Add the calamari rings (working in batches to ensure they aren't touching) and spray oil on the rings. Bake at 375ºF for four to five minutes. Flip them over, spray again with oil and fry for four to five minutes longer.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the aioli.
  7. Keep them stored in the oven on a low temperature while you cook all the calamari rings.

Notes

Don’t be afraid to open and check on them to ensure they aren’t burning. turn down the heat, or lessen the time if needed.

You don’t want to overcook the calamari as they will turn rubbery. They shouldn’t take longer than 10 to 12 minutes total.

Work in batches so that the rings aren’t touching. This will help to make sure they can all get crispy.

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