Learn how to make keto calamari! This air fryer calamari no batter recipe uses coconut flour to keep things low carb. Learn how long to cook air fryer calamari without breading, the health benefits of homemade calamari, and more! This healthy squid recipe is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo. You’ll love that you only need 5 ingredients to make this keto “fried” calamari.
Is calamari good for keto? Well, it depends.
Squid rings are a low carb food. However, most fried and baked calamari recipes use breading or batter that drives up the carbs. (Take this Air Fryer Calamari recipe, for example.)
That said, cooking fresh squid in the air fryer can definitely be keto friendly. Coconut flour, almond flour, and pork panko are some of our low carb options to make crispy keto calamari. These high fat ingredients can also help keep the calamari moist when air frying.
One major issue with fresh calamari in the air fryer is it can be tough and chewy if overcooked. When cooking calamari, it’s best fried quickly with high heat or slow cooked with low heat. Air fried calamari can go from tender to rubbery very quickly.
In this recipe, we’re protecting our calamari starter with a light dusting of coconut flour. Then we’re going to air fry keto calamari quickly. 5-6 minutes is all you need to get tender squid rings in the air fryer.
There are some other tricks you can use to help tenderize calamari before cooking. Some suggest that soaking squid in buttermilk overnight will make it more tender. I never bother, but it’s something to try if you want to make calamari less tough.
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Air Fryer Calamari (No Batter) Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Calamari No Batter
- ️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🌡️ Leftovers
- 🦑 Dipping Sauce for Keto Calamari
- 🥗 Side Dishes for Keto Calamari
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Seafood Recipes Without Batter
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
Why make Air Fryer Calamari with no batter? Here are some benefits of air frying keto squid rings:
- Healthy: These calamari have been baked, not fried like most squid recipes. This results in tasty calamari that are a little crisp on the outside but not greasy.
- Lean protein: Calamari is a low calorie and low-fat lean protein option. If you’ve been looking to increase your seafood intake, squid rings are a super choice.
- Cheap: Squid tend to be one of the less expensive fresh seafood options in the United States. Additionally, you don’t have to buy a bunch of oil for deep frying with this air fryer recipe.
- Easy: This no batter calamari recipe is simple, only requiring 5 ingredients. Cleanup is easy, as there’s no messy oil to clean from frying.
- Keto-friendly: With only about 5 grams of net carbs per serving, this is a very low carb main course. Aside from being keto, this is also a Paleo, dairy-free, and gluten-free calamari.
- Versatile: Use this as a calamari starter, main dish, snack, or Spanish tapas. You can enjoy Paleo calamari while watching the game (or your favorite TV show, like Squid Game).
- Delicious: A lot of people think calamari tastes good! If you’ve never tried it before, why not let this easy air fryer recipe be your introduction?
🥘 Air Fryer Calamari (No Batter) Ingredients
What do you need to make low carb calamari in an air fryer? Here’s your shopping list:
- Small squid rings
- Coconut flour
- Salt and black pepper
- Cooking oil spray (non-aerosol)
If you can’t find cut small or medium squid rings at the store, get clean whole squid tubes. They’re easy to cut into rings yourself. Squid is often sold frozen, so you will need to defrost the package in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
I kept the seasoning simple here. Feel free to enhance your salt and pepper calamari with garlic and ginger. You could also add some Old Bay seasoning, or some red pepper flakes if you want some heat.
Specific quantities of ingredients are located in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Here’s the kitchen equipment you need for keto calamari:
- Paper Towels
- Gallon-size Food-Safe Baggie
- Air Fryer
We need to get the squid very dry for this recipe, so the paper towels are important. The baggie will be used to shake the squid rings with the other ingredients. A zip-top plastic bag can help prevent mess.
I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Air Fryer Oven. The Ninja Foodi, Philips, Nuwave, Pampered Chef, Actifry, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, Breville, can be used to cook calamari. You may need to make adjustments to the cooking time depending on your air fryer.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Calamari No Batter
Let’s air fry calamari with no batter! Frozen calamari should be thawed in the fridge overnight, or follow the package directions for thawing.
Next, make sure the calamari rings are very dry. Lay the thawed calamari out on paper towels, and pat dry with more paper towels.
Put the coconut flour, salt, and pepper in a gallon-size Ziplock bag. Put the dry calamari in the bag, close the bag, and shake well. The squid rings should be lightly and evenly dusted with coconut flour.
Spray an air fryer basket or air fryer tray with cooking oil spray. Put half of the keto calamari on the tray in a single layer. Mist the calamari with more nonstick cooking spray.
I recommend cooking the squid in two batches. (Note: if your air fryer is very small, you may need to cook squid in more batches.) If you have an air fryer oven, put the tray with the calamari in the top rack position.
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long do you air fry calamari with no batter? What temperature to air fry keto calamari? It takes a total of 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C) to cook calamari in the air fryer. You don't even need to flip them!
The squid rings without batter should be tender on the inside with a slightly crisp (not super crispy) outside. Serve with your favorite calamari dipping sauce (see suggestions below) and fresh lemon slices.
You can also pan fry calamari in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Put some oil in the skillet and fry the rings for about 2 minutes per side. I don’t recommend oven baking these squid rings, as it takes longer than air frying.
Keto calamari will keep for 1-2 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. For the best texture, freshly made calamari is best.
The packaging of my calamari says not to refreeze it. So, pop those squid leftovers in the fridge only, not the freezer.
How to repurpose leftover fried calamari? Remove any breading from the squid and chop it up. Use it in a seafood pasta salad or seafood chowder (don’t add until the end of cooking).
🦑 Dipping Sauce for Keto Calamari
IMVHO, the best sauce for calamari is sweet chili sauce. G Hughes makes a sugar-free sweet chili sauce with only 2 grams net carbs per serving. You can get it on Amazon here.
Here are a few more sauce and dip ideas for keto calamari:
- Garlic aioli
- Keto cocktail sauce or tartar sauce
- Garlic butter sauce
- Sugar-free marinara sauce
- Spicy mayo-based dipping sauce
Some lemon wedges on the side are a nice touch too. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice really brightens the flavor of calamari.
🥗 Side Dishes for Keto Calamari
What goes with fried calamari? Here are a few ideas for calamari side dishes:
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of air fryer calamari no batter has 157 calories, 5.4 grams net carbs, and 22.5 grams protein. This nutrition information does not include any dipping sauces you choose to add.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Calamari is a lean and low calorie protein that is a good choice for weight loss. The coconut flour used in this recipe only adds 30 calories per serving.
Shellfish (think squid, shrimp, scallops, and clams) are actually some of the leanest sources of high-quality protein around. What often happens though, is we bread or batter them, and then we fry them. (Or perhaps we make them into a lovely chowder with a cream-based broth.)
Flour provides 110 calories per ¼ cup, oil provides 120 calories per tablespoon, and cream provides 50 calories per tablespoon. These additions take a serving of calamari (that would otherwise be about 100 calories) and turn it into a high calorie entrée. And that’s without the dipping sauce, which is typically high in added sugar or fat.
When we choose air fryer calamari without batter, we’re skipping all the oil from frying, and the white flour batter. This leaves us with a low-calorie, healthy calamari that may help support a goal to lose weight. It also makes our entrée low carb, which may help diabetics trying to better control their blood sugar.
If you want a higher energy meal, serve the calamari with a high fat dip (garlic aioli is a yummy choice). You can also add some energy-dense side dishes, such as bread or rice, if you’re not on keto.
No, calamari is not plant-based because it is another name for squid, a type of sea animal. To make vegan calamari, try using slices of canned hearts of palm. Though you will be missing out on protein, the briny flavor and smooth texture of this veggie makes a good vegan squid.
To make this recipe, you should thaw frozen calamari. You could try air frying frozen calamari at 400F (200C) until just defrosted (It should only take a minute or two.) Then proceed with the recipe as described below.
Reheat calamari in an air fryer very carefully so it doesn’t get tough and rubbery. Try reheating calamari in the air fryer at 350F (177C) for 2-4 minutes, just until heated through.
Grilled calamari is keto as long as it hasn’t been breaded or battered with high-carb ingredients. This could include white flour, bread crumbs, or Japanese panko. Keto grilled calamari should be served with a dip with no sugar added.
Depending on your source, completely plain calamari with no batter or breading has zero carbs to 2.6 grams net carbs. How’s that for a low carb friendly entrée?
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Seafood Recipes Without Batter
Want more no batter seafood recipes for the air fryer? I’m on it! Try these low carb friendly air fryer recipes next:
- Air Fryer Scallops
- Air Fryer Tilapia (Frozen or Fresh Fish Fillets!)
- Frozen Salmon in Air Fryer
- Frozen Shrimp in Air Fryer
Don’t miss my other Air Fryer Recipes as well!
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Calamari No Batter (Keto)
- Frozen calamari should be thawed in the fridge overnight, or follow the package directions for thawing.
- Lay the thawed calamari out on paper towels, and pat dry with more paper towels. They need to be very dry for this recipe.
- Put the coconut flour, salt, and pepper in a gallon-size Ziplock bag. Put the dry calamari in the bag, close the bag, and shake well. The squid rings should be lightly and evenly dusted with coconut flour.
- Spray an air fryer basket or air fryer tray with cooking oil spray. Put half of the keto calamari on the tray in a single layer. Mist the calamari with more nonstick cooking spray. (You will be cooking the squid in two batches.)
- Air fry each batch for 5-6 minutes at 400°F (200°C). (Use the top rack position if you have an air fryer oven.) You don't even need to flip them!
- Serve with your favorite calamari dipping sauce and lemon wedges, if desired.