Air Fryer Cook

Fried Squid Tentacles: Use the Air Fryer for Best Results!

Fried squid tentacles are our family’s favorite appetizer. Deep-frying them in hot oil is the best way to achieve that crunchy texture.

However, I am not a fan of oil splatters, and getting the temperature of the oil right can be tricky. That’s why I switched to air-frying them.

Air-fried squid tentacles are a great alternative to deep-fried ones. They are just as good but easier to cook. Air-frying gives you crispy squid tentacles without oil, and once they’re done, I don’t need to clean my whole kitchen.

This air-fried squid tentacles recipe is seasoned with Miso flavor and coated in golden brown panko breadcrumbs. Yum right? So, let’s see how to make them!

Fried Squid Tentacles

Key Takeaways for air-fried squid tentacles

  • Air frying is a quicker and more convenient way of making fried squid tentacles. The air fryer used in this recipe is the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer.
  • Little to no oil is needed for this recipe.
  • No need for a flour mixture.

Air-Fried Squid Tentacles Key Ingredients

Is Squid the same as Calamari?

Squid and calamari are often used interchangeably, but I often wonder whether there is even a difference. From what I can tell, calamari, an Italian word, usually refers to a cut of the squid tubes. For example, I often see calamari rings, which are squid tubes cut into rings.

Then, I would see squid at the fish markets, which refers to the whole squid.

Therefore, you can use squid or calamari in this recipe. For crispy fried calamari rings, refer to my air-fried calamari rings recipe.

Squid tentacles

Squid tentacles are the chewiest part of the squid. It’s because squid tentacles are made of muscle fiber and are used to catch food. So, this appetizer is meant to be chewy and crunchy.

If you want soft squid tentacles, you can use frozen ones or tenderize them before air frying.

I love the chewy and crunchy texture of squid tentacles. So, I bought a fresh whole squid from the fish market and cut off the tentacles for this recipe. However, although they are a little chewy, I still get tender squid tentacles from my Ninja Foodi air fryer.

Air Fried Squid Tentacles

Panko breadcrumbs

Panko breadcrumbs are the star ingredient in achieving that irresistible crunch. They are lighter and airier than traditional breadcrumbs, providing a crispy coating for the squid tentacles.

As wet flour mixture does not cook well in the air fryer, this dry panko coating is a great alternative for that crunch.

Red miso paste

For a burst of umami flavor, red miso paste is a fantastic addition to the marinade.

Red miso paste, made from fermented soybean, enhances the natural flavors of the squid tentacles. Its savory, slightly sweet profile pairs beautifully with the subtle taste of the squid.

How to make Air-Fried Squid Tentacles

These simple steps make creating perfectly crispy and delicious air-fried squid tentacles easy. Here’s a quick summary of the full recipe using my Ninja Foodi Air Fryer:

1. Prepare the Squid Tentacles

Clean and cut the squid tentacles. If using frozen squid tentacles, ensure they are fully thawed.

2. Marinade

Mix red miso paste with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and honey in a bowl to create an unami-flavored marinade. Add squid tentacles to the bowl, ensuring they are well-coated. Let them marinate for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.

3. Coat with Panko Breadcrumbs

After marinating, roll the squid tentacles in Panko breadcrumbs, pressing gently to ensure an even coating.

4. Air fry the squid tentacles

Preheat the air fryer and arrange the squid in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook for 9 minutes.

5. Serve the squid tentacles

Remove the squid tentacles from the air fryer and serve immediately. Pair them with a side of garlic mayonnaise for a delicious dipping sauce that perfectly complements their crispy texture and savory flavor.

Preparing the Squid Tentacles

Cleaning the Whole Squid

Here are some steps to follow to clean and cut up your squid tentacles:

1. Remove the head

Begin by rinsing the whole squid under cold water. Lay it on a cutting board and hold the body firmly. With the other hand, grasp the head and gently pull it away from the body. This should also pull out the innards.

2. Remove the innards

Reach into the body cavity and remove any remaining innards. Be sure to remove the transparent quill (a long, plastic-like structure) and ink sac from inside the body.

3. Remove the beak

Cut just below the eyes to separate the tentacles from the head. You will see a beak in the middle of the tentacles. Cut out this beak.

4. Cut the tentacles

Hold each tentacle and use your fingertips to squeeze or a knife to scrape off the teeth inside the suction cups. Rinse the tentacles in cold water to wash off the loose teeth. Then cut each tentacle off.

Squid Tentacles

Frozen Squid Tentacles

Opting for frozen squid tentacles saves some time, and the tentacles are less chewy because of the freezing process. However, I find the squid taste is not as detectable as that of fresh squid tentacles.

Here are the quick and easy steps to follow to prepare them:

1. Thaw the Squid Tentacles

Begin by thawing the frozen squid tentacles. The best method is to place them in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re short on time, place the sealed package in bowl of cold water for quicker thawing.

2. Rinsing

Rinse the squid tentacles under cold running water to remove any ice crystals and surface impurities once thawed.

3. Drying

Pat the tentacles dry with paper towels.

4. Inspecting

Inspect the tentacles for any remaining debris or parts that need to be removed, such as the beak located at the center of the tentacles. If the beak is still present, cut it out.

5. Slicing the Tentacles

If the frozen tentacles are attached, slice them into individual tentacles. This will make it easier to lay in the air fryer.

Do I need to tenderize my squid tentacles?

My air fryer manages to cook the squid tentacles just right, so they are a little chewy but not tough. That’s why I don’t tenderize my squid tentacles.

But if you need the tentacles to be tender and soft, the easiest way is to add lemon juice to the marinade. Alternatively, use frozen squid tentacles.

Coating with Panko Breadcrumbs

I use Panko breadcrumbs to get a crisp, golden-brown finish on your squid tentacles.

In a shallow bowl, prepare a coating mixture of Panko breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt, and garlic powder for added flavor. After marinating the squid tentacles, roll them in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to ensure an even coating.

The Panko breadcrumbs provide a light, airy texture that crisps up beautifully in the air fryer, while the garlic powder adds a subtle, savory note.

Fried Calamari

Air Fryer Tips for Fried Squid Tentacles

Here are a few tips that I found handy after using my air fryer almost every day:

  • Preheat the air fryer: My Ninja Foodi air fryer automatically preheats the air fryer before cooking. I can turn it off manually, but preheating reduces the risk of overcooking my food. So, I leave it on. I would recommend preheating your air fryer at 356°F (180°C), especially if you have a large air fryer.
  • Sticking prevention: I prefer using perforated parchment paper to help prevent the squid tentacles from sticking to the air fryer basket. However, you can lightly spray the air fryer basket with avocado or olive oil cooking spray as an alternative.
  • Extra crisp: When I spray my coated squid tentacles with cooking oil spray, the coating crisps better with a golden brown color.
  • Single layer in air fryer basket: Arranging the squid tentacles in a single layer and ensuring they have some gaps between them allows the hot air to crisp all sides for even cooking.
  • Don’t Flip or Shake: The Panko breadcrumbs are delicate and easily fall off, so I do not recommend flipping or shaking the squid tentacles.

What to serve with air-fried squid tentacles?

Air-fried squid tentacles make a fantastic appetizer or main course, but pairing them with the right accompaniments can elevate your dining experience.

Here are some ideas for sauces and complementary dishes that perfectly match the crispy, flavorful tentacles.


  1. Garlic Mayonnaise: A creamy, garlicky contrast to the crispy tentacles.
  2. Japanese Mayonnaise: Complements the squid flavor with a sweet and creamy taste.
  3. Spicy Aioli: Add a bit of heat to the dish.
  4. Fresh Lemon Juice: A simple squeeze adds zesty brightness.

Complementary Dishes

  1. Crisp Green Salad: With a citrus vinaigrette for a refreshing contrast.
  2. Udon noodles in soup: Creates a complete Japanese cuisine.
  3. Air Fried Broccolini: Provides a balanced and flavorful side.
squid tentacles

Panko Air-Fried Squid Tentacles Recipe

Claire Baker
Try this Air-Fried Squid Tentacles recipe if you have a tastebud for Japanese flavors. Its light crispy Panko coating infused with umami flavors turns this dish into a Japanese delight.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Cleaning and Marinating Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 4 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 2


  • 1 Air Fryer (Air Fryer used is Ninja Foodi Air Fryer)


  • 1 whole squid

Panko mixture

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Miso Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon red miso paste
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional for zest)


Prepare the Squid Tentacles

  • If fresh squid tentacles are used, clean and cut them into individual tentacles.
  • If using frozen tentacles, ensure they are fully thawed and dried.

Marinade the tentacles

  • In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, red miso paste, and honey together.
  • Add squid tentacles to the marinade and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the Panko Mixture

  • In a shallow bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs with garlic powder.

Coat the Tentacles

  • Roll each squid tentacle in the Panko mixture, pressing gently to ensure an even coating.

Prepare the Air Fryer

  • Arrange the coated tentacles in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
  • Avoid overcrowding and leave a small gap between the squid tentacles for even cooking.
  • Lightly spray the tentacles with olive oil cooking spray to help them crisp up.
  • Cook for 9 minutes


  • Remove the tentacles from the air fryer and serve immediately.
  • Pair with your favorite dipping sauces like garlic mayonnaise, spicy aioli, or tangy cocktail sauce.
Keyword air-fried squid tentacles, fried squid tentacles, light meals

Try our Grilled Squid Recipe

If you enjoyed our Air-Fried Squid Tentacles recipe and love squid, try our Grilled Squid Tubes recipe.

This is another easy and healthy recipe that can be made in the air fryer. You will get tender and juicy squid tubes infused with Italian flavors in just a few minutes.

Scroll to Top