This baked calamari recipe is a lightened up version of the ever-popular fried calamari, but it's just as delicious! These directions for how to cook calamari rings from frozen using your oven or air fryer are quick and easy. The result is crispy and crunchy, and fabulous as a light weeknight dinner or a game day appetizer!
If you are looking for a way to prepare calamari that's not fried, you need to check out this recipe.
- 👩🏻🍳 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 🥘 Ingredients Needed
- 🔪 Instructions
- ✔️ Benefits Of This Healthy Calamari Recipe
- 💭 Expert Tips and Tricks
- 😉 Additional Advice
- ⏲️ Make Ahead Instructions
- 📖 Substitutions and Variations
- 🥫 Storage and Reheating
- 🦐 More seafood recipes...
- 📋 Recipe Card
- 💬 Reviews and Comments
👩🏻🍳 Why You'll Love This Recipe
You may be thinking to yourself that squid is not really a family-friendly food. I thought that in the past as well! Prior to this recipe, I had not really been able to get my kids to eat squid. Depending on how it is cooked, it can have a texture that some kids will not like.
But, when you bake up these calamari rings, your kids will eat them up and then ask for more! It might seem fancy, but this recipe is actually really easy to make using frozen squid rings.
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- squid rings - I like to use frozen rings. I just thaw them in the fridge overnight, or place them in a zip-top plastic bag and submerge in cool water for a few minutes.
- all-purpose flour - forms the base of the calamari coating.
- salt/pepper - to season the flour base.
- eggs - to help the bread crumb/cornmeal mixture stick.
- Panko bread crumbs - these are the best bread crumbs to produce a crispy, crunchy breading!
- cornmeal - adds a nice earthy, slightly sweet taste.
- Old Bay spice - provides smoky, aromatic undertones to the flavor of the baked squid rings.
- cooking spray - just a little spritz, to help the calamari rings crisp up nicely.
Thaw the frozen calamari rings
If you are using frozen squid, place the package in the fridge the night before for easy thawing. If you forget, you can always dump the contents into a zip-top plastic bag, seal after squeezing out most of the air, and and place in cool water until the rings soften and are thoroughly thawed. Pat dry to remove excess liquid before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
Prepare the bowls
You need three separate bowls, since you will be dipping each ring three times: first in the flour combined with the salt and black pepper, then in the beaten eggs, then in the Panko/cornmeal/Old Bay mixture.
Coat the calamari rings
It's a little messy, but the process is worth it! I started out dipping each ring individually, but soon realized it was quicker to do about 5 at a time. If your kids are OK with the idea of eating squid, have them wash their hands and get them involved with the process of coating the calamari rings. It can actually be pretty fun!
Place the squid rings on a baking sheet
I used a sheet of parchment paper for easier cleanup, but that's totally optional. Position the rings on a baking sheet in a single layer, and then lightly mist with cooking spray before placing in the oven. In 20 more minutes, you will have fabulous baked squid rings to enjoy!
✔️ Benefits Of This Healthy Calamari Recipe
Maybe because they look a little like onion rings, my kids did not hesitate to try them (the first hurdle in introducing a new food). They are crispy and crunchy and have just the right amount of spice to make them flavorful but not overpowering.
Plus it is low in calories and high in protein!
Squid offers a lot of nutritional value, and is one of the safest types of seafood in terms of mercury content. Squid provides essential nutrients like phosphorous (which aids in calcium absorption), zinc, copper, selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, niacin (important for metabolism), vitamin B12 (important for red blood cell production and supporting the nervous system), and vitamin C.
Making these tender calamari rings without deep frying them is a delicious and healthy way for your family to enjoy seafood!
💭 Expert Tips and Tricks
- I recommend using frozen calamari rings. They easily keep in the freezer so you don't have to worry about cooking them within a certain time period before they spoil.
- If you prefer to use fresh calamari, go for it! See this Calamari 101 article for more information on handling fresh squid.
- If you use frozen squid rings, you need to thaw them first. Microwaving them is not recommended. The best way to thaw them quickly is to place them in a sealed plastic bag and submerge them in cool water. Work the bag gently with your hands from time to time to separate the frozen rings and help them to defrost. Pat dry any excess liquid with paper towels.
- Calamari cooks quickly, and it gets tough and rubbery when overcooked, so make sure to test your rings once you get to the 15 minute mark.
- You can customize the amount of flavor in this recipe by adjusting the spices. My family likes Old Bay spice a lot, so I tend to throw in an extra teaspoon or two. Try it out and take notes so you can remember to make changes for the next time!
- Serve with lemon wedges to drizzle lemon juice over the rings, or marinara sauce or tartar sauce for dipping.
😉 Additional Advice
This crispy calamari recipe is great because it combines finger-food fun and crunchiness without adding a ton of fat and calories that you get with frying. And it can be used as an entree or as an appetizer.
One thing to mention is that, while this is an EASY recipe, the prep does take a little bit of time just because of the coating process for the rings. But, it's totally worth it, and it cooks up fast so you still can get the meal on the table pretty quickly!
If you are making this recipe as an appetizer, you may also be interested in my Baked Brie with Jam recipe. It's really REALLY easy, and super tasty as well as elegant. Your guests will be SO impressed, especially if you serve this alongside those your crispy, crunchy calamari rings!
Or you could check out this delicious and lightened up variation of French fries, Baked Dill Fries. They make a hearty side dish for this calamari recipe, or a great appetizer for any meal!
Oven baked squid rings are a healthy and delicious snack or meal! This is a great recipe to use with frozen calamari rings. Keep a bag in your freezer to pull out at a moment's notice when you want to make something special without a lot of fuss and mess!
⏲️ Make Ahead Instructions
The best way to prep these ahead of time is to thaw the calamari rings and prepare the 3 bowls for dipping ahead of time. (Prepare the seasoned flour, cover, and set aside at room temperature. Beat the eggs, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Prepare the seasoned cornmeal mixture, cover, and set aside at room temperature.)
Then, when you are ready to cook, all the initial prep is already done and all you need to do is pat the rings dry, dip them in the flour, then egg, then cornmeal, and bake (or air fry).
📖 Substitutions and Variations
- Use seasoned bread crumbs instead of plain Panko for even more flavor.
- If you don't have Old Bay seasoning, use paprika instead. You can even use smoked paprika for even more flavor! Or for extra kick, use some cayenne pepper.
- If you don't have squid, use this coating method with strips of cod to create delicious, crispy fish sticks!
- To make this recipe gluten-free, skip the flour step. Then substitute almond flour for the Panko bread crumbs. Use the cornmeal and other ingredients as directed.
- To make air fried calamari, place the prepared rings in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 375 degrees F and air fry for about 15 minutes, flipping them half way through.
🥫 Storage and Reheating
Baked calamari is best eaten fresh from the oven, however if you have leftovers, store them in a covered container in the refrigerator, and then reheat in the oven or toaster oven. Microwaving is not recommended.
To reheat, set the oven to about 375 degrees F and place on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes until the rings are hot and crispy. If desired, spray them with a little cooking spray prior to baking for the maximum crispiness.
It is not recommended to freeze the leftovers, however it can be done. Place the leftovers in a zip-top freezer bag and squeeze out all the extra air prior to placing in the freezer. To reheat later, first thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in the oven using the above instructions.
🦐 More seafood recipes...
Easy Shrimp Stew is one of those quick and easy recipes that you can keep in your back pocket for a busy weeknight when whatever you had planned just isn't working out. All you need for this recipe is a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, a bag of frozen shrimp, a bag a frozen pepper strips, and some spices, and 20 minutes later you have a delicious home cooked seafood meal.
This recipe for Crab Cakes is incredibly quick and easy. They are so delicious that the first time I served them my husband was convinced that I had brought them home from a local restaurant.
Brazilian Fish Stew - so much flavor, so little effort. You have to give this recipe a try!
Looking for some additional calamari recipes?
You could try this 15-Minute Calamari Recipe with Champagne and Garlic-Lime Dill Sauce, it sounds delicious! Or how about this Pan-Seared Squid with Lemony Aioli and Greens? Yum!
How To Make Calamari Baked Not Fried
Serve with lemon wedges and/or marinara or tartar sauce for dipping. If using this as an entree, it works well alongside pasta, or a side salad, or both.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! Enjoy!
📋 Recipe Card
Baked Calamari Recipe
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.1 ½ pounds squid rings, Cooking spray
- Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs thoroughly.3 eggs
- In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, and Old Bay seasoning.1 cup Panko bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons Old Bay spice, 1 cup cornmeal
- First coat each squid ring with the flour mixture, then dip in the eggs, then coat with the crumb/cornmeal mixture.
- Place rings on the baking sheet. Mist the rings with cooking spray, then bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn over the rings, then bake for another 5-10 minutes. You don't want to overbake them, so begin to taste test them after 5 minutes and remove when ready but before they become tough.
- To make air fried calamari rings, set the air fryer to 375 degrees F. Place the breaded rings in a single layer in the air fryer basked. Air fry for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Be careful not to overcook as overcooked squid becomes tough and rubbery. I like to taste test a ring once the timer gts close to the 15 minute mark to see if additional cooking time might be needed.
- I always use frozen calamari rings. It's so easy to keep them in the freezer to pull out anytime we want to make this recipe. But fresh will work just as well!
- Frozen squid rings should be thawed before the coating process. If you need a quick way to thaw them, place them in a sealed plastic bag, squeeze out most of the air, and submerge the bag in cool water. Work the bag gently with your hands from time to time to separate the frozen rings and help them to defrost.
- This recipe was developed to use with kids who often don't like strong flavors. However as my kids got older I started to use extra Old Bay seasoning. You can also try seasoned bread crumbs for additional flavor!
- HINT: Taste the dry mix before starting to dip your calamari rings in it to make sure it is seasoned enough for you. Add additional salt, pepper, or Old Bay to suit your taste.
- Serve with marinara and/or lemon wedges.
Nutritional information is an estimate. The nutritional values for your final dish may vary based on measuring differences and products used.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in February 2013, republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in January 2019, and updated with additional helpful tips in July 2022.
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