air fryer calamari

Salt & Pepper Air Fryer Calamari

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 entertaining with friends.

Air fryer calamari with salt and pepper seasoning

Creating the perfect crispy calamari, minus the deep-fryer is easily achievable with your air fryer. 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?

Air fryer calamari squid rings

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 them fresh. If you can’t find rings, squid tubes cut into rings will work perfectly too.
  • For your crumb, 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs. 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.

And then to add your ingredient combinations into 2 medium bowls, and let the calamari dipping begin!

Air fried salt and pepper calamari

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.

Can I store air-fried calamari?

Well, you can. If you want to make ahead and reheat, you can keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge. But I don’t recommend it.

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.

Calamari in the air fryer recipe

Dipping sauces for calamari

While salt and pepper calamari in the air fryer tastes great on its own, 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:

  • Aioli
  • Seafood sauce
  • Tartare sauce
  • Sweet chilli sauce

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.

Check out these air fryer recipes too:

air fryer calamari

Air Fryer Calamari

Yield: 40-50
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

Enjoy your favourite salt and pepper calamari in the air fryer. No more deep fryer, with the perfect crunch.


  • 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


  1. Combine buttermilk and egg in a medium-sized bowl and mix well.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and flour in a second bowl. 
  3. Dip squid rings into buttermilk mixture then roll in breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Layer coated calamari along the bottom of the air fryer basket, in a single layer.
  5. Cook for 10-12 minutes on 200 degrees Celcius (400F) or until golden brown.
  6. Repeat as necessary with remaining calamari rings. 
  7. 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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