Air fryer salt and pepper calamari are perfectly crispy, delicious, and easy! It is the best-breaded calamari you will ever make, and it will change your life by providing a healthier and tastier alternative to traditional calamari.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari
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Air Fryer Calamari

Fry some calamari in the air fryer with salt and pepper until it’s crispy, and you’ll be glad you did. Breaded calamari is so good you’ll be smacking your lips and begging for more! To make this easy air fryer calamari, you can forego the deep fat fryer to save some calories. It’s excellent as an appetizer or side dish with your favorite dipping sauce for a quick meal or casual get-together.

It’s no secret we LOVE our air fryer! Be sure to try out some of my other popular air fryer appetizers. Here are a few to get you started: Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts, Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Tots, and Air Fryer Stromboli.

Seafood is important. It’s a great source of protein, and some varieties are filled with good fats. It also hits most marks and is safe for gluten-free, low-carb, and other diets.

Why You’ll Love Calamari In The Air Fryer

  • Only 5 minutes of prep time
  • Breaded calamari is delicious
  • Impresses seafood lovers
  • Only 5 ingredients
  • Party appetizer
  • Fancy, but simple!

Air Fried Calamari Ingredients

Dive into a lighter version of a classic seafood delight with this Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Calamari. Perfectly seasoned and crispy, this dish offers all the flavor and texture you love without guilt associated with deep frying.

Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Calamari

Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.

  • Squid: Calamari Rings: Tender and mild in flavor, calamari rings are the star of this dish, offering a wonderful texture that crisps up beautifully in the air fryer.
  • All-Purpose Flour: This flour provides a light coating that helps achieve a golden and crispy exterior on the calamari without being too heavy.
  • Salt: Enhances the natural flavors of the calamari, ensuring each bite is perfectly seasoned.
  • Black Pepper: Adds a simple, spicy kick that complements the mild taste of calamari, giving the dish its characteristic warmth.
  • Egg: Acts as a binding agent, helping the flour and cornstarch mixture stick to the calamari rings for an even coating.
  • Optional: Lemon Wedges (for serving): A squeeze of fresh lemon juice right before serving brightens the dish with acidity, balancing the flavors and adding a zesty freshness.
  • Optional: Fresh Parsley (for garnish): Chopped parsley adds a pop of color and a fresh, herbal note that perfectly complements the calamari.

How To Make Salt and Pepper Calamari Air Fryer

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make air-fried salt and pepper calamari.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari

Step 1: Prepare the breading

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari

Step 2: Coat calamari

Beat an egg in a bowl. Dip the calamari into the egg, shaking off excess. Then, dip the calamari into the flour mixture.

Step 3: Air fry breaded calamari

Place the calamari in the air fryer and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until crispy.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari

Perfecting calamari in the air fryer can elevate this classic appetizer to new heights, combining ease of preparation with delicious results. Here are some pro tips to ensure your air fryer calamari turns out crispy, tender, and full of flavor every time:

  • Dry the Calamari Thoroughly: Before coating, make sure the calamari is completely dry. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This step is crucial for achieving a crispy coating.
  • Achieve the Perfect Coating: Combine flour and cornstarch in your coating mixture. The cornstarch is a game-changer, making the calamari extra crispy without deep frying.
  • Season Well: Don’t be shy about seasoning. Salt and pepper are essentials, but garlic powder, smoked paprika, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper can elevate the flavor profile of your calamari.
  • Preheat Your Air Fryer: Always start with a preheated air fryer for the best results. A preheated air fryer ensures immediate cooking on contact, which helps seal the juices and crisp up the coating.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Cook in batches to prevent overcrowding in the air fryer basket. Overcrowding can cause the calamari to steam instead of fry, making it soggy.
  • Spray with Oil: Lightly spray the coated calamari with cooking oil before air-frying. This little trick helps achieve a golden, crispy exterior reminiscent of deep frying.
  • Flip Halfway Through: Flip the calamari rings halfway through the cooking time for even cooking and browning. This ensures that both sides get nicely crisped.
  • Don’t Overcook: Calamari cooks quickly and can become rubbery if overcooked. Monitor the cooking time and check for doneness a minute or two before the suggested time is up.
  • Serve Immediately: Calamari is best served hot and fresh from the air fryer. To add a bright flavor, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top before serving.
  • Experiment with Dips: While calamari is delicious, serving it with various dips can enhance the experience. Consider classic marinara, aioli, or a spicy tartar sauce for dipping.
  • Reheating Leftovers: If you have leftovers, reheat them in the air fryer for a few minutes to restore the calamari’s crispy texture. Avoid microwaving, as it can make them rubbery.

Incorporating these pro tips into your air fryer calamari preparation will help you achieve a dish that’s impressively crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, making it a hit for any occasion.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari


Do I have to use homemade breading? Nope! You can buy any fish breading you like, which will work perfectly with this air-fried calamari!

Do I need fresh or frozen squid? This salt and pepper calamari is excellent whether you use fresh or frozen squid. If you live where you can buy wonderful fresh seafood, that is my preference. Otherwise, you can head to the freezer aisle and buy a bag. Frozen calamari is already cut into rings, too! You will need to defrost it before making air-fried calamari with it.

Can I use an air fryer oven? Absolutely! The air-fried calamari comes out the same regardless of whether it is used in a regular or oven air fryer. You may have to adjust the cooking time because each device is different.

What kind of dipping sauce can I use? This salt-and-pepper calamari is so good with a variety of sauces. My favorites are sweet chili sauce, cocktail sauce, and tartar sauce. Try out different sauces to see what you like best.

How do I prevent the calamari from becoming rubbery? Avoid overcooking the calamari, as it quickly becomes rubbery if cooked too long. Follow the recipe’s cooking time closely and start checking for doneness a minute or two early, especially if your calamari rings are thinner.

Is it necessary to flip the calamari rings during cooking? Flipping the calamari halfway through cooking ensures that both sides get evenly crispy and browned. Use tongs or a spatula for easy flipping.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Absolutely! Replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free version. Ensure all other ingredients, like cornstarch and any seasoning blends, are certified gluten-free.

What’s the best way to serve air-fried calamari? For the best texture, serve immediately after cooking, accompanied by lemon wedges for squeezing and your choice of dipping sauces, like marinara or aioli.

Can I add other spices to the flour mixture? Definitely! You can experiment with different spices according to your taste preferences. Paprika, garlic powder, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper can add extra flavor to your calamari.

How do I store leftovers? Leftover calamari can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It should be reheated in the air fryer for a few minutes to crisp up before serving.

Can I cook the calamari without coating it in flour and cornstarch? While the coating helps achieve a crispy exterior, you can cook calamari in the air fryer without it for a lighter version. However, the texture and flavor will be different.

How long should I preheat the air fryer? Preheat the air fryer for about 3-5 minutes at the cooking temperature specified in the recipe. This ensures the calamari starts cooking immediately for the crispiest results.

Can I overcrowd the air fryer basket with calamari? It’s best to avoid overcrowding. If necessary, cooking the calamari in batches allows for better air circulation and even cooking, ensuring each piece becomes nicely crispy.

air fryer salt and pepper calamari

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air fryer salt and pepper calamari

Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Calamari

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings


Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Calamari is perfectly crispy, delicious, and incredibly easy! Made with fresh squid and coated in breading, it's so good!


  • 1 pound squid, diced into rings
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 egg


  • Start by mixing the flour with the salt and pepper. While you are working preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F.
  • In one bowl, beat the egg. Then dip the calamari into the egg, shake off the excess.
  • Then dip the calamari/squid into the flour mixture, and as you coat them, place them on the air fryer basket or tray (sprayed with olive oil, so they don’t stick)
  • Set the temperature to 350 degrees F for 5 minutes, (air fryer mode) after 5 minutes, flip the calamari with tongs, for an air fryer tray, or shake the basket if you have an air fryer tray. 
  • Add another 3 minutes to the timer.
  • Plate, serve, and enjoy!


  • Air Fryer
  • Cooking Spray
  • Parchment Paper, optional


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 151kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 20gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 305mgSodium: 1229mgPotassium: 316mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 102IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 1mg

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