How to Reheat Calamari in an Air Fryer


Calamari dish

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One of the most important things to consider when cooking calamari is how you are going to reheat it. There are many options for reheating, but if you want your dish to be crunchy, then an air fryer is the best choice. In this blog post, we will discuss exactly how to do that!

To reheat the dish, put the calamari in the air fryer and space the rings out. Set the temperature to 350 degrees F. Let it fry for 3-4 minutes. The short bursts of time prevent overcooking and added chewiness. There is no need to add oil to the air fryer since the squid contains some oil already.

What is Calamari?

Maybe you already know what it is and you just want to get on with the article. But it could be that your Italian grandmother just got an air fryer and she asks you if the calamari from last night can be reheated with the contraption.

So yes, calamari is the Italian word for squid. The general consensus is that there will never be any calamari leftover to reheat. The people that eat it love it. 

In the US, calamari is seen mostly as a battered and deep-fried appetizer.

The more you travel the world, the more you find calamari added to soups and pasta. You’ll find squid served as kebabs with bell peppers and onions if you visit Portugal. 

If you visit Korea, you’ll find deep-fried squid with chili sauce or mustard wrapped in lettuce leaves. 

On the plate, the different varieties of squid look and taste the same. The biggest difference made by the species is the specific parts of the animal that are used and what they are served with.  

Grilled Calamari
Grilled Calamari

There’s the main body of the squid called the mantle, which is usually smooth. The mantle can be sliced really thin and it can also be served as a steak after being pounded. Often it is cut into rings or left whole and stuffed with other foods. 

The tentacles and the arms are the parts we most often associate with calamari, but they’re hardly the only parts. The arms are hollow and tube-like and can be served as a sort of meaty macaroni. 

So more often than not, calamari is served fried. And like a lot of fried foods, people generally don’t put much faith in the reheat-value of the stuff. 

When it comes to cooking calamari, it’s prey to the same pitfalls as all other forms of seafood. Namely, too much or too little heat.  Once it’s properly cooked, more heat in the reheating process doesn’t do it any favors. Another reason why you don’t see it reheated very often. 

The flavor is described as somewhat nutty. When cooked properly, the texture is crispy. Too much or too little heat will result in chewy meat. 

Can You Store Leftover Calamari?

Yes, but there are certain ways to go about it. You can’t just shove it in any storage container and hope for the best when you take it back out. 

As long as the temperature of the refrigerator is at 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) or below, calamari can be stored quite well for 3 or 4 days. It is strongly recommended to use airtight containers instead of plastic wrap. 

If you’re planning on freezing your leftover calamari, then storage can be extended for up to 3 months, so long as the freezer temperature is not set to higher than 0 degrees F. 

Is it Safe to Reheat Calamari?

The more area the calamari has to spread out in the storage container, the better. This is especially true when it comes to reheating it. 

It should be noted at this point that reheating calamari in a way that retains its crispiness is actually cooking it a second time. 

Calamari is very safe to reheat provided that it has been stored properly. After that, the only concern is whether it has been stored with a view to being palatable when it’s reheated. 

Calamari will reheat best if it has been allowed to reach room temperature before being put in storage. The same is true for taking it out to reheat it. 

It will reheat best if it’s allowed to reach room temperature before going in the air fryer. 

How do you use the air fryer on Calamari?

Freshly fried calamari is crispy and crunchy, and many methods of reheating will suddenly turn it chewy. This is why leftovers will end up being thrown away. 

The good news is that air fryers have the advantage of keeping crispy foods crispy. 

The very first cook on calamari is usually done at 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) in bursts of 4 minutes. It’s this process that will reheat and recook the calamari so that it’s not too squishy. 

Other Methods of Reheating Calamari

It’s possible to reheat calamari in the microwave, but it certainly isn’t recommended. The microwave is the fastest ticket to the squishiness and chewiness that we’re trying to avoid. 

The next best method of reheating calamari is in the traditional convection oven. 

Make sure that the calamari has reached room temperature before putting it in the oven. You will want to spread it out as thin as possible, not stacking it up on the pan you want to reheat it in.

You will also want to spread it out over parchment paper, but you can also use foil if this isn’t available. 

450 degrees F (232 degrees C) at 4-7 minutes should do the job. It is going to be chewier than it was, so there are some ways of making this and making it more tolerable. Be sure to turn the calamari at some point so that both sides are exposed to the heat. 

This can be done with lemon slices to squeeze over it. You can also mask the chewiness with a zesty marinara sauce. 

You’ll notice that all the instructions are for reheating the calamari in short bursts of time. This is so that the calamari is not cooked a degree further and the chewiness is kept to a minimum. It is possible to render calamari inedible with chewiness. 

What Else Can I do With Leftover Calamari?

Calamari is a lot like wine. There are ways to make it taste alright as a leftover, but it’s just not quite the same. So there are ways to repurpose, rather than simply reheat this leftover appetizer. 

You can try removing the breading and then chop it up into small pieces. Add the pieces to a crab or salmon cake. After that, all that’s required is a little browning in a frying pan, since all the ingredients are already cooked and ready to eat. 

The leftover calamari is also an excellent ingredient to add to certain soups and sauces. It will blend nicely with a garlic/butter pasta. It’s even worth trying in a minestrone. The key is to put it inside, not on top. If you leave the breading on, it will soak up some of the sauce and the flavors will blend wonderfully. 

If you’re in a hurry and not in a position to cook with the leftover calamari, you can add it to sandwiches instead. The absorption properties of the soggy coating are your friend, and it will blend nicely with any oil, vinegar, or mayonnaise.

Flavors aside, the textures are also enjoyable between the crunches of any veggies plus the chewiness of the calamari and other things. 

Not all breading on calamari is created equal, and you have even more options if the calamari has a cornmeal breading or another sort of thick crust. You can restore crispiness to the breading without cooking the calamari itself using either the oven, grill, or a lightly oiled pan. 

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can go with a calamari puree. Give this recipe a try:

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8oz heavy cream
  • 16oz feta cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic

Make sure that the calamari you puree has the breading removed first. You’re aiming to get the puree as smooth as possible. 

Fry the garlic in olive oil after it’s been crushed. Then add the other ingredients and treat it like you would treat a pasta sauce. 

This will be a wonderful addition to any spinach fettuccine or spinach pasta. 

Final Notes and Summary

Calamari shares a trait with sushi, coffee, and wine. It can be made palatable as a leftover, but it will never be the same as it was when it was prepared fresh.

So whether you reheat your calamari with an air fryer, a conventional oven, or some other means, it’s not going to be as epic as it was when it was first cooked and the extra chewiness will be palpable. 

So rather than eliminating the chewiness, it’s more practical to be creative and mask over it. This could mean removing the breading and preparing the calamari with other dishes or ingredients that have strong flavors, such as soups, sandwiches, and even some stir fry recipes. The leftover calamari can be added to sauces if you have a way of turning it into a puree. 

If you’re determined to reheat your calamari and get it as close to being good as possible, then reheat it in short bursts of time to avoid cooking it further. 

Find methods of cooking that can restore crispiness to the outer breading, which can be as simple as cooking or baking with a little bit of oil. 

Chef Rooney

I like to cook. It makes me happy, and I know it does the same for others. If you ever want to learn how to make a great dish, just ask!

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