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Fried Calamari - Traditional Christmas Eve Recipe

Updated on September 10, 2014
Available for purchase below.
Available for purchase below. | Source

Easy recipe for making delicious fried calamari at home

On Christmas Eve at our house we enjoy a traditional seafood dinner.  The menu changes from year to year depending on how many guests we are having and what the family budget looks like but the one dish that has been present every single Christmas Eve for the past twenty five years is Fried Calamari.

Fried calamari, also known as fried squid, or Calamari Fritti in Italian, is a delicious treat that is very economical to make.

Although we are becoming more and more health conscious and try to limit the amount of fried food we eat during the year, at Christmas we loosen up a bit and enjoy these "Italian Potato Chips" without guilt.

Of course you can use this recipe all year round but for my family, it wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the fried calamari.

Give your Squid a Milk Bath

I learned this trick from the chef at a favorite restaurant of mine.

Soaking the squid in milk prior to frying will keep the squid tender.

Fried Calamari Recipe

Recipe for Fried Squid

Here's my recipe for delicious tender-on-the-inside crispy-on-the-outside fried calamari. The secret to keeping your calamari tender is the milk bath!


2 pounds squid - properly cleaned and sliced into 1/4 inch rings

Milk (enough to cover your calamari rings)

1 cup all-purpose flour

Olive oil for frying - to cut costs use vegetable or Canola oil


1 lemon - sliced into wedges

Marinara sauce - optional


I always start with fresh pre-cleaned squid purchased at the fish market. You can clean your own but for me it's just not worth the extra time and trouble.

Slice the body section of the squidcrosswise into 1/4 inch rings.

Wash the squid, place it into a bowl and cover with milk.

Let the squid marinate in the milk for several hours before cooking.

When it's time to cook the squid, drain the milk.

Dip the squid rings into flour to coat evenly.

Discard unused flour.

Pour Olive oil to a depth of 1 inch in a large frying pan and heat until hot.

Add the squid rings a few at a time and fry until golden brown.

Remove the fried calamari using a slotted spoon and drain on clean paper towels.

Sprinkle with salt and place fried calamari onto a platter accompanied by sliced lemon wedges and a bowl of warm marinara sauce.

Company's Coming for Christmas Eve - You'll need more calamari and a bigger skillet!

And I've found a real beauty of a 12 inch skillet for you from Innova!

Imagine a non-stick fry pan that's tough enough to use your favorite metal utensils with. It even comes with a 25 year warranty. Now that's what I call a good fried calamari frying pan!

It may cost a little bit more but you get what you pay for!

Traditional Seafood Dinner on Christmas Eve - Feast of the Seven Fishes

Christmas Eve Seafood Cookbook - The Eve of Seven Fishes: Christmas Cooking In The Peasant Tradition

Buy at

Why We Eat Fish on Christmas Eve

The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the medieval Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence-in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products-on Fridays and specific holy days. As no meat or butter could be used, observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil.

There are many hypotheses for what the number "7" relates to, one being the number of Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. Another theory is that seven is a number representing perfection: the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven, represents God on Earth, or Jesus Christ.

The "Feast of the Seven Fishes" started in Italy. A dinner on Christmas Eve is celebrated with meals of fish and seafood, but there may be seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is Baccalà (salted cod fish). Reasons for celebrating with such a simple fish as Baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried Smelts, calamari, and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years, and sensationalized with the American version of "The Seven Fishes."


Christmas Chip and Dip Platter - Perfect for serving Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce

This pretty Christmas Chip and Dip set works double duty as a perfect server for your Fried Calamari with a side of marinara sauce,

Buy two and use the second one for serving Shrimp Cocktail!

Beautiful Christmas Platters - Perfect for serving your Christmas eve Fried Calamari

Click the product links to learn more about these beautiful Christmas platters available for you direct from from

Do you serve a traditional seafood dinner, including fried calamari, on Christmas Eve?

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    • profile image

      MiaMusement 5 years ago

      Believe it or not, I'm 56 and this was the first year I'd heard about the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" (maybe because I'm not Catholic?) and that was only because a restaurant near me in San Francisco was doing a promotion. I've never tried calamari at home, but if I do I'll be sure to remember your "soak in milk" tip. Thanks!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      My Dad used to attend the Christmas Eve fish dinner at his mother's when I was little. Back then I didn't eat fish. Now I would gladly eat fried calamari.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Hi! I didn't know that the squids-calamari can be a delicatessen for Christmas, but I like your lens and I feature yours in my squid-fun-and-knowledge lens I just published.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      It sounds good. I'll try to let everybody here know how good it was. By the way I've been trying those recipes from big shot celebrities and none became as good as those in the sports bars.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      I use to when my parents were alive, but 7 fishes are a bit much for one person. Lol I added you to my Zeppole lens under "It's an Italian Thing" featured lenses; I unlocked a Squid Ad this week. Happy New Year!

    • Violin-Student profile image

      Violin-Student 6 years ago

      No, but after reading this I'm tempted. I love fried calamari, but have never made it!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Wow this is so completely different to our family traditions for Christmas Eve, but I think it's wonderful. Calamari is a lot lighter to eat than many things, and so leaves you more room for the heavy rich Christmas Dinner.

    • profile image

      fishwholesalers 7 years ago

      thanks for sharing that info about the milk on calamari....i had always trouble with calamari because it won't come out tender and my dad usually puts egg with the flour so it tasted more like fried egg than fried squid. i'll definitely try your recipe. thank you so much!i enjoyed reading through your's very interesting and learned so much from it. the freshest fish and seafoods from your trusted fish wholesalers

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Fried Calamari -- yum.... Can I come over Christmas Eve? :).Interesting to read about seafood being a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. I wasn't aware of the history behind that, but many, many years ago we began having a shrimp stir fry with rice meal on Christmas Eve and it has now become our 'family tradition'! Lensrolled to my Reflections of the Sea Christmas lens and leaving behind a ~~sprinkling of Angel Dust~~

    • profile image

      sandralynnsparks 7 years ago

      Robin, I have always loved calamari - never thought about having it for Christmas Eve. Nice lens!