Can you fry calamari in olive oil?

Fried calamari is a delicious and popular appetizer, but can it be made with olive oil? Learn more about the best oils for frying calamari and how to make perfect fried calamari at home
Can you fry calamari with olive oil?

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Can You Fry Calamari In Olive Oil?

Are you hesitant to fry calamari in olive oil, thinking it's not quite the right fit?

In the world of culinary delights, olive oil has often been sidelined for frying due to misconceptions about its suitability. But what if I told you that not only can you fry calamari in olive oil, but it might also be one of the best choices you'll ever make for this seafood delicacy?

In this blog, we're diving into the healthful world of olive oil, exploring why it can be your go-to option for frying calamari.

Alongside, we'll share an irresistible calamari recipe, suggest alternative cooking methods, and offer tips to ensure your dish is a crowd-pleaser. Here we go!

Key Takeaways

  • Olive oil is also an excellent choice for frying calamari, offering heat stability and a few additional benefits that we will learn about.
  • Tips on how to tenderize, fry and and reheat calamari/ alternative cooking methods insights.
  • Calamari can be prepared in various ways, including frying, grilling, baking, sautéing, and more.
  • Easy Mediterranean calamari recipe to replicate.

Can You Fry Calamari in Olive Oil?

Let's start with a quick fun fact: the word calamari actually comes from the Italian word for “squid”. Everything sounds better in Italian, am I right? I digress…

When it comes to frying calamari, many people wonder if they can use olive oil, so let's explore this idea.

There are a couple reasons why people doubt olive oil’s capabilities. One reason is many have been led to believe olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils but according to recent studies heat stability is more important than smoke point for frying oils.

In fact, some oils often associated with high smoke points: peanut oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil can still break down and become unstable during cooking, even BEFORE reaching the smoke point?

So the surprising contender is Olive Oil as it has great heat stability!

What does heat stability mean: well according to recent studies it’s the critical attribute in preserving both the nutritional integrity and health benefits of an oil when exposed to high temperatures.

Beyond the compatibility with high heat, olive oil brings a bounty of health benefits to your seafood dishes, one of which is the presence of Hydroxytyrosol.

This potent polyphenol contained in olive oil is celebrated for its health-promoting properties.

Hydroxytyrosol is a potent antioxidant that effectively reduces the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids AKA PUFAs and the generation of aldehydes in deep-fat fried seafood.

Hydroxytyrosol is a potent antioxidant in olive oil that reduces oxidation during frying

The presence of hydroxytyrosol in the frying medium offers additional protection from the PUFAs within the seafood, slowing down lipid oxidation and preserving the quality of the seafood during frying.

On the other hand, other seed oils like canola or vegetable oil can break down under high heat, leading to the loss of beneficial omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, yet olive oil’s antioxidants actively work to inhibit these detrimental reactions.

Hydroxytyrosol keeps fried seafood fresh, tasty, and odor free

This means that when you are frying calamari in olive oil, not only are you ensuring a more stable cooking process, but you are also preserving the heart-healthy omega-3s during cooking. Therefore, do not hesitate, olive oil can be one of the best options out there to choose from!

Effects on the flavor and texture of the calamari

Frying calamari in olive oil can have a positive impact on the flavor and texture of the dish. Olive oil adds a distinct taste that complements the natural sweetness of the calamari.

It also helps to enhance the crispy exterior, creating a delightful contrast with the tender meat inside. The high heat of frying in olive oil allows for quick cooking, resulting in a moist and succulent outcome.

How to tenderize calamari before frying

Getting calamari ready for frying needs some work. Here, I'm going to tell you how to make your calamari soft before you fry it.

  • Start with fresh or thawed calamari. Keep the temperature cool. Fresh is best, but if not possible, make sure frozen calamari is thawed right.
  • Clean the calamari well. Remove the skin and insides. Leave only the white part.
  • Cut the body into rings. Make each ring about half an inch wide.
  • Now we tenderize! Beat it lightly with a meat mallet. But be careful! Hitting hard can tear it.
  • Let it soak in milk for one or two hours in the fridge. The lactic acid in milk helps soften the meat.
  • Drain off all of the milk well before preparing your batter and breading.
  • Do not overcook on your stove! Cook time should be short (no more than three minutes).

How do you make calamari crispy again?

You guessed it…olive oil can easily make your calamari crispy again. Whether you are making it from scratch or reheating it, simply pour some olive oil on your pan, and it will create or repurpose that crispy crunch you are craving.

Tips for the Best Crispy Fried Calamari Recipe

Drying the calamari properly

To create the perfect crispy fried calamari, it's important to dry the calamari properly. After cleaning and slicing the calamari into rings or strips, I like to lay them out on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

Tip to pat dry calamari- pat dry with a paper towel

Then, using another towel or paper towels, gently pat them dry. This step helps remove excess moisture from the calamari and prevents splattering when frying. It also allows the batter or breading to adhere better to the calamari, resulting in a crispier coating.

So before you start frying your calamari, make sure you take the time to dry it properly for that crunchy texture we all love.

Using a fryer or deep pan

To achieve the perfect crispy fried calamari, using a fryer or deep pan is essential. The key is to have enough oil to fully submerge the calamari rings for even cooking and browning.

Make sure to heat the oil to the right temperature, around 350°F (175°C), so that the calamari cooks quickly and doesn't become greasy. Gently lower small batches of breaded or battered calamari into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Fry them for about 2-3 minutes until they turn golden brown and crispy. Then, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on paper towels to drain any excess oil before serving.

Cooking the calamari in batches

To ensure the best results when frying calamari, it's important to cook it in batches. This allows each piece to cook evenly and helps maintain the crispy texture. When overcrowding the pan, the calamari can become soggy and won't get as crispy as desired. By cooking in batches, you give each piece enough room to fry properly and achieve that perfect golden brown color. So be patient and take your time to cook your calamari in batches for that deliciously crispy outcome!

Quick and Easy Mediterranean recipe for your use:

quick and easy calamari recipe


1 lb (450g) fresh calamari, cleaned and sliced into rings

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika (optional, for a touch of warmth and color)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, for a bit of heat)

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Olive oil, for frying


1. Prepare the Calamari:

If not already done, clean the calamari by removing the heads, inward parts, and transparent backbone. Rinse under cold water and slice the bodies into 1/2-inch rings.

2. Season the Flour:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sea salt, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Mix well to distribute the spices evenly.

3. Heat the Olive Oil:

Pour olive oil into a large frying pan until it's about an inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). You can check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer or test it by sprinkling a bit of flour into the oil. If it sizzles without smoking, it's ready.

4. Dredge the Calamari:

Pat the calamari rings dry with paper towels. Toss them in the seasoned flour until they are well-coated. Shake off any excess flour.

5. Fry the Calamari:

Working in batches, carefully place the floured calamari rings into the hot oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Do not overcrowd the pan to maintain the oil's temperature.

6. Drain:

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried calamari onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

7. Serve Immediately:

Sprinkle the fried calamari with a bit more sea salt and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the calamari.

This recipe is straightforward yet delicious, embodying the Mediterranean tradition of using simple, fresh ingredients. Enjoy your homemade fried calamari with a squeeze of lemon and perhaps a side of aioli or marinara sauce for dipping.

Alternative Cooking Methods for Calamari

Some alternative cooking methods for calamari include grilling, baking, using the air fryer, and exploring other tasty ways to enjoy this delicious seafood dish.

Grilling calamari

grilled calamari

Grilling calamari is a delicious and healthy alternative to frying.

Here are some tips for grilling :

  • Clean the calamari by removing the tentacles and pulling out any remaining entrails.
  • Preheat your grill to medium - high heat.
  • Season the calamari with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs or spices.
  • Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the calamari to prevent sticking.
  • Place the calamari directly on the grill grates and cook for 2 - 3 minutes per side until it turns opaque and has charred grill marks.
  • Be careful not to overcook the calamari as it can become rubbery.
  • Remove from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Baking calamari

Baking calamari is an easy and healthier alternative to frying.

Here's how to bake calamari in the oven:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius).
  • Rinse the calamari and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Cut the calamari into rings or strips, whichever you prefer.
  • In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and your favorite seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
  • Dip each piece of calamari into beaten eggs, then coat them with the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Place the breaded calamari on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the top of the calamari for extra crispiness.
  • Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy, flipping halfway through cooking time.

Using the air fryer

Air frying calamari

I love using the because it gives it a delicious crispy texture without all the extra oil.

Here are some tips for using the air fryer to cook calamari:

  • Preheat your air fryer to around 400°F (200°C) for about five minutes.
  • While the air fryer is preheating, make sure the calamari is patted dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
  • Coat the calamari in a light batter or breading of your choice, making sure all sides are evenly coated.
  • Place the coated calamari in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not touching each other.
  • Cook the calamari in the air fryer for about 8 - 10 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time for even crispiness.
  • Keep an eye on them while they cook to avoid overcooking and ensure they reach a golden brown color.
  • Once cooked, remove the calamari from the air fryer and let them cool slightly before serving.


In summary, the prospect of frying calamari in olive oil not only is feasible but also comes with backed assurances regarding its high smoke point—a detail that overturns a common misconception. Furthermore, we cannot overlook the retention of Omega 3’s in the calamari due to hydroxytyrosol contained in olive oil which is invaluable to our health.

Lastly, we hope you enjoyed, the tips, recipes and alternative methods for frying calamari.

After reading this blog, I hope you are encouraged to go out and fry some calamari in olive oil, which you probably already have sitting in your kitchen cabinet!


Can you fry calamari in olive oil?

Yes, you can fry calamari in olive oil. Olive oil adds a delicious flavor to the dish and has a wide array of health benefits, most importantly the powerful polyphenol hydroxytyrosol which preserves Omega 3’s.

Is it better to use extra virgin olive oil for frying calamari?

Yes, it is recommended to use extra virgin olive oil for frying calamari, as stated by the North American Olive Oil association before in the arctic, EVOO has a high smoking point contrary to popular belief, and will give your calamari that perfect crispness.

How long should I fry calamari in olive oil?

Calamari should be fried for about 2-4 minutes or until it turns golden brown and crispy.

What temperature should I heat the olive oil to when frying calamari?

Heat the olive oil to around 350°F (175°C) before adding the calamari rings or tentacles for frying.

Can I reuse the leftover olive oil after frying calamari?

Yes, you can but it would be optimal to simply re-coat your pan in some fresh new olive oil and reheat your calamari this way.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. 


"The Inhibitory Effects of Hydroxytyrosol, a-Tocopherol and Ascorbyl Palmitate on Lipid Peroxidation in Deep-Fat Fried Seafood." Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 2023.

Date Accessed: 11/25/2023

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