This article was updated on 6th July 2023 for clarity.
Calamari is a delicate dish, and when you’re reheating it, you have to find the right balance between getting a crispy coating and not overcooking the squid. (no one likes tough squid).
I personally experimented with several different calamari reheating methods, with the aim of finding the method that delivers the best crunch and the least tough bite. In a rush?
The best way to reheat calamari is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 370°F (190°C) and spread the calamari out on a wire rack. Spray the calamari with a light coating of oil and heat them for around 10 minutes, or until they’re hot to the touch.
How I tested reheating calamari
I ordered some calamari from my local Italian restaurant (did you know it originates from Italy?) and left it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I tested reheating it in four different ways.
The reheating methods were:
- In the oven: Best overall.
- In the air fryer: Super crunchy.
- In the microwave: Please never do this.
- By re-frying: A bit too oily.
For each method, I considered how easy it was, how crispy the calamari was after reheating, and most importantly how fresh (i.e. not tough) the calamari felt to eat.
How to reheat calamari in the oven (or toaster oven)
Time: 10 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 370°F (190°C) or 450°F (230°C) for frozen calamari
- Spread your calamari rings out on a wire rack*.
- Spray the calamari rings with a light coating of oil (optional).
- Put the calamari in the oven and heat for 10 minutes, or until they’re piping hot. If you have a toaster oven, check the calamari after 5 minutes.
The idea behind using a wire rack is that it allows airflow around the whole calamari ring, so the coating will crisp up evenly.
If you don’t have a wire rack, preheat a baking tray along with the oven and spread the calamari out on that, then turn the rings halfway through cooking.
The oil spray isn’t a necessity, but I include it because I think it adds an extra crunch to the rings. I use an oil spritzer to ensure a light coating. Pouring the oil isn’t a good idea because you’ll definitely add too much and create greasy patches.
Results: The gentle heat of the oven is great for reheating calamari rings. The calamari came out nice and crispy, and the squid wasn’t overcooked or chewy. I would definitely use this method again, especially for bigger portions where the air fryer is too small.
How to reheat calamari in the air fryer
Time: 5 minutes
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C) or 400°F (200°C) for frozen calamari.
- Place the calamari in the air fryer basket.
- Spray the calamari with a light coating of oil (optional).
- Heat the calamari for 3-5 minutes (or 6-9 minutes for frozen calamari).
Related: Calamari rings are very similar to onion rings. Find out How To Reheat Onion Rings In An Air Fryer.
Make sure not to overcrowd the air fryer with your calamari because this can lead to soggy batter. If you have a lot of calamari to reheat, it’s best to do them in several batches.
The oil is totally optional. The batter should have enough residual oil in it to crisp up the calamari, but an extra spritz or two won’t hurt!
Results: The air fryer produced the crispiest results (although the oven wasn’t far behind) and took the least amount of time. But I realize not everyone has an air fryer (seriously, you need one), so I put it after the oven method.
How to reheat calamari in the microwave
I don’t recommend it, but in a real bind, you can zap the calamari in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to reheat it.
Don’t expect crispy batter though. Calamari rings reheating in the microwave will be floppy, tough, and soggy.
And you’ll need to eat them quickly. Because as the microwaved calamari starts to cool, the batter will turn from soggy to cardboard-like.
Fried foods and microwaves just don’t mix!
Results: I didn’t even want to taste the calamari after it came out of the microwave. It looked that unappetizing. But for the sake of this experiment, I sucked it up and took a bite. It tasted exactly how it looked, limp, soggy, and old.
Re-frying is often suggested as a method because it will give you a very crispy exterior.
The problem with re-frying is that it’s a very harsh reheating method and squid is a delicate fish. Frying your calamari twice will almost certainly result in overcooked, rubbery squid rings. And this is precisely what I got in my tests.
The calamari had a nice crispy outside, but the squid inside was noticeably tougher than the other reheating methods. And I only fried the calamari for 5 seconds!
When you’re reheating calamari, you want to use a gentle method that heats the rings rather than re-cooks them. Anything that re-cooks the calamari will ruin them.
Psst… you could re-batter the rings with egg wash and panko breadcrumbs to give the squid more protection, but this would mess up the squid-to-batter ratio.
Related: How To Reheat Steamed Clams
How to store calamari
To store leftover calamari, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Arrange the calamari in a single layer so it’s not touching and separate any subsequent layers with a paper towel. The paper towel will soak up any excess moisture and help keep the calamari crunchy.
You could also lay the calamari out on a cookie sheet and cover it with plastic wrap. It’s best to keep the calamari separate (not touching), otherwise, the batter can become soggy. Or another neat trick to keep breaded calamari crispy is to store it submerged in dry breadcrumbs. The dry breadcrumbs will soak up any moisture, preserving the texture of the fried ones.
However you store it, always wait until the calamari is completely cool before you cover it. If it’s still hot, you’ll get condensation, which can drip down and ruin the batter.
General advice around leftovers is to make sure you refrigerate them within 2 hours, but with calamari (and fish in general) I’m overly cautious and would throw it away if it’s been left out for more than an hour.
Fish and shellfish can accumulate bacteria very quickly at room temperature, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Can you freeze calamari?
Homemade calamari that has only been cooked once will freeze okay, but pre-cooked calamari you’re freezing for a second time won’t freeze as well. The freeze-thaw cycle is a harsh one, and each time you freeze calamari you’ll lose some crunch in the breading and the squid will become less tender.
To freeze calamari, lay it out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and flash-freeze it for one hour. After an hour, transfer the calamari to a heavy-duty freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. You can keep calamari in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Flash-freezing the calamari means it won’t stick together in the freezer bag, so you can easily take a handful out instead of having to reheat the whole lot.
The main problem with freezing calamari is freezer burn. The best way to avoid freezer burn is to minimize the amount of air in contact with your calamari, which is why I suggest a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out as the best container.
I use a straw to suck as much of the air out as I can. I find it works much better than just squeezing!
If you have a vacuum sealer, using this will be even better. Then you can be 100% sure your calamari won’t be affected by freezer burn.
To reheat the calamari from frozen, set the oven to 400°F (200°C), spread the calamari out on a wire rack or pre-heated baking tray, and heat the rings for 10 minutes. If you’re using a baking tray, flip the calamari halfway through cooking to crisp up both sides.
How To Reheat Calamari [Tested Methods]
- Wire rack
- 1 portion calamari
- 1 spray olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 370°F (190°C) or 450°F (230°C) for frozen calamari.
- Spread your calamari out on a wire rack*.
- Spray the calamari rings with a light coating of oil (optional).
- Put the calamari in the oven and heat for 10 minutes or until they’re piping hot.
- Serve immediately.