Salt and Pepper Squid

A serving of salt and pepper squid served on a red check napkin with tartar sauce.

Ideal as finger food or appetizer, fresh squid is quickly deep-fried in this easy salt and pepper squid. The quick cooking shallow fry method results in a tender, crispy, and flavorful bite. The squid can be substituted with calamari or octopus if you like.

The seasoning process uses an egg white wash followed by a cornstarch base with salt and pepper. This simple and light seasoning doesn’t overpower the squid or create a heavy coating. The cornstarch helps create a crisp coating.

Make sure the oil stays at a hot temperature by cooking the squid in small batches. This will ensure the squid cooks quickly and doesn’t become greasy. The quick cook time creates a tender squid; if overcooked it can become rubbery.

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Close up of pieces of salt and pepper squid resting on paper towel before serving.
Resting the salt and pepper squid on a paper towel helps absorb any excess oil that may drain off.
Small batch of four pieces of squid being fried in a wok.
Cook the squid in small batches to not crowd the pan and take too much heat from the oil.
One piece of squid being dusted with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper mixture.
Gently dust the squid in the cornstarch, salt, and pepper mixture.
Looking down on a serving of salt and pepper squid with a tartar sauce accompaniment.
The salt and pepper coating complements the mild flavor of squid without overpowering it.
Three bowls containing the squid, egg whites, and salt and pepper mix.
The squid marinated in the lemon juice is then dipped in the egg white before being dusted with the salt, pepper, and cornstarch mixture.
A serving of salt and pepper squid served on a red check napkin with tartar sauce.
Serve the salt and pepper squid as an appetizer with tartar sauce or as a finger food to share.

Salt and Pepper Squid Recipe

A serving of salt and pepper squid served on a red check napkin with tartar sauce.
Ideal finger food or appetizer, fresh squid is quickly deep-fried to remain tender when creating this easy salt and pepper squid.
Preparation 25 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Ready in 40 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
MethodDeep Fry


  • 1 pound fresh squid
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • oil for deep frying
  • tartar sauce for dipping


  • 1 bowl
  • 2 shallow bowls
  • wok or skillet


  • Slice the squid so it lays flat then lightly score both sides in a crisscross pattern. Cut into bite-sized square pieces.
  • Place the squid along and lemon juice in a bowl. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes while you prepare the salt and pepper mix.
  • In a shallow bowl mix together the cornstarch, pepper, salt, and sugar.
  • In a separate shallow bowl lightly whisk the egg whites with a fork.
  • Dip the squid pieces in the egg mixture then gently toss through the salt and pepper mix, shaking off any excess.
  • Fill a wok, skillet, or pot with a maximum of ⅓ oil then heat to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  • In small batches, add the squid and cook for about 1 minute or until lightly browned. Remove and rest on a paper towel to drain. Serve with tartar sauce.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 461kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 22gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 265mgSodium: 1937mgPotassium: 496mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 94IUVitamin C: 63mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 2mg

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About Saffron Hodgson

Outdoor cooking has been Saffron’s passion since she was young, often choosing to go camping and cook hearty meals over fire rather than stay inside, watch TV, and eat take-out. Today she is the driving force of Bush Cooking bringing the skills of cooking outdoors to thousands of people.

Learn more about Saffron Hodgson
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