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Enjoy your favourite crispy salt & pepper calamari in the air fryer. Skip the deep fryer and switch out your usual breadcrumbs for panko breadcrumbs in this simple air fryer calamari recipe. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce, perfect for a light lunch or when entertaining friends.
Air fryer calamari is a healthier, more delicious way to eat this classic appetiser or light meal and this is truly the best air fryer calamari recipe that you need in your life!
Creating the perfect crispy calamari, minus the deep-fryer is easily achievable with your air fryer.
The benefits of eating squid are many! Calamari is low in calories, high in protein and it contains a good amount of Vitamin B12 that your body needs. It also has vitamin C, iron and calcium, and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Just like my oven-baked squid recipe, this is a lighter alternative to the traditional deep-fried calamari.
This air fryer calamari recipe gives a crispy, salt and pepper finish that is great for sharing.
If you aren’t keen on creating your own crispy batter, you can easily cook pre-battered frozen calamari in the air fryer too, but where’s the fun in that?
The Perfect Air Fryer Calamari
Baking salt and pepper calamari in the air fryer is easy to do, although a tad messy. You are going to get your hands dirty in the process, but it is totally worth it!
Let’s check out the ingredients for making crispy air fryer squid:
- You will need your main ingredient, a 500-gram bag of frozen squid rings, defrosted. Many supermarkets or seafood shops will also sell fresh squid rings or calamari tubes. Fresh squid tubes cut into rings will work perfectly.
- For your crumb, combine 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs and 1 cup of all purpose flour. You can use standard breadcrumbs, however, I like the light, flakey texture of panko breadcrumbs. Although, since this is an air fryer recipe, there is less concern with breadcrumbs absorbing oil anyway.
- A cup of buttermilk to help get your breadcrumbs sticking. Buttermilk is thicker than standard milk due to being slightly curdled. Sounds kinda gross but it’s also healthier for you as it’s lower in fat.
- You will also need 1 egg, beaten into your buttermilk.
- For the seasoning, you will need 2 tablespoons each of salt and cracked pepper. Finer pepper is fine too. It won’t have as strong of a flavour compared to cracked pepper though.
If you are looking for side dishes to serve with seafood, check out these fish side dishes that will pair perfectly!
The printable recipe card with a FULL ingredients list and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
How To Make Homemade Calamari In The Air Fryer
This recipe is far easier than you might expect and one that takes very little time to prepare. If you are cooking for a larger group or for entertaining, you are best to do your cooking process in batches to ensure your squid pieces are all cooked perfectly!
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg.
- In a large bowl, create your panko mixture by combining the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and flour.
- Dip each squid ring into the buttermilk egg mixture and then roll in the breadcrumb mixture.
- Spray a light layer of nonstick cooking spray in your airfryer basket (optional). Place the coated calamari in a single layer along the bottom of the air fryer basket.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes on 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) or until golden brown.
- Repeat in batches with the remaining calamari rings.
- Serve with your lemon wedges and your favourite dipping sauce. Enjoy!
How Are Panko Breadcrumbs Different?
The main difference between panko breadcrumbs and standard breadcrumbs is that this Japanese style of breadcrumb does not use the crust.
They are both made from white bread, however, no crusts mean a coarser, flakier breadcrumb that absorbs less oil, making panko breadcrumbs lighter overall.
Check out these easy air fryer recipes for beginners if you are a new air fryer owner or are ready to try some new inspiration in the kitchen!
Tips For The Perfect Air Fried Calamari
While this calamari air fryer recipe is simple and straightforward, there are a few tips and tricks that will help you to make the perfect dish.
- Cook the calamari in small batches so that the basket of the air fryer is not overcrowded. This will ensure each individual calamari ring is cooked evenly.
- Be sure to pat the calamari dry on paper towel before rolling in the buttermilk and panko mixture. This will help to create a crisp outer layer by removing excess moisture.
- Shake off the excess flour and breadcrumbs mixture before cooking.
- Do not overcook the calamari or it will become tough and rubbery.
- You can sprinkle with sea salt once cooked if you prefer an extra salty flavour.
- For other variations, you can also add other seasonings to your flour mixture, such as Old Bay Seasoning or paprika.
Can I Store Air-Fried Calamari For Later?
Well, you can. If you want to make them ahead and reheat, you can keep your crumbed calamari stored in an airtight container in the fridge. But it won’t be quite the same as eating freshly cooked from your air fryer.
If you reheat your calamari, it won’t have the same crispy texture. They will be soggy and soft instead and likely a bit chewy after reheating.
Calamari is best eaten hot, straight out of the air fryer.
If you do want to end up making too much or want to eat your crumbed squid at a later time, make sure you reheat it well before consuming it!
FAQs & Substitutions
Can I Substitute Buttermilk For Other Milk?
Yes, you can substitute for full cream regular milk or low-fat milk if preferred.
Can I Substitute Panko Breadcrumbs For Other Breadcrumbs?
Yes, panko breadcrumbs can be substituted, however, the panko breadcrumbs will create a crispier crumb as they are flakier.
Can I Use An Air Fryer Oven?
Yes, this recipe works in an air fryer or an air fryer oven although note that cooking time may vary depending on the size and quality of your air fryer. Also, air fryers with baskets tend to cook faster than air fry ovens, so cooking time may need to be slightly adjusted.
Can I Use Different Types Of Pepper?
Yes, you can substitute cracked pepper for white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper or other pepper of your preference. Adjust the quantity to suit your taste preferences. You can also add paprika or red pepper flakes for extra spice.
Why Is My Calamari Chewy?
Cooking at a high temperature will help keep your calamari tender and help you to avoid tough calamari.
Dipping Sauces For Calamari
While salt and pepper calamari in the air fryer tastes great on its own, or with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice over the top, however, I do love having one or two dipping sauces with mine to add an extra flavour burst. There are a few go-to favourites I have:
- Seafood sauce
- Tartar sauce
- Sweet chilli sauce
- Garlic sauce
- Marinara sauce
- Cocktail sauce
- Tzaziki sauce (try my homemade Tzaziki recipe)
Or make your own light dipping sauce, such as the one I share in my air fryer sweet potato fries recipe, mixing Greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, French mustard and salt. This is a simple dipping sauce that pairs well with crispy savoury dishes.
This is an air fryer recipe the whole family will enjoy and a great way to save money on dining out when you can enjoy the same flavours at home as part of your regular family meal plan.
If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment below or a rating and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram. I would love to see!
Check out these air fryer recipes too:
- Air fryer onion rings
- Pizza rolls in the air fryer
- Air fryer sweet potato fries
- Stuffed air fryer sweet potato
- Air fryer beef gyros
- Air fryer chicken caesar wrap
- Garlic chicken kiev balls
- 500g squid rings
- 1 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp cracked pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Combine buttermilk and egg in a medium-sized bowl and mix well.
- Combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and flour in a second bowl.
- Dip squid rings into buttermilk mixture then roll in breadcrumb mixture.
- Layer coated calamari along the bottom of the air fryer basket, in a single layer.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes on 200 degrees Celsius (400F) or until golden brown.
- Repeat as necessary with remaining calamari rings.
- Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Adjust the level of seasoning to your taste preferences.
The panko breadcrumbs can make a mess of the air fryer so you may wish to give the inside a light spray with non-stick cooking spray or layer on baking paper inside the basket to minimise the cleanup.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 50 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 39Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 326mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g