How To Soften Overcooked Squid

Everyone has overcooked squid and been disappointed over it at some point in life. When squid is overcooked, it becomes rubbery and chewy. That’s not how squid is supposed to taste. But what can you do when it is already overcooked? Let’s find out how to soften squid!

Perfectly cooked squid is tender, soft, and flavorful, but overcooked squid is tough and rubbery. To soften overcooked squid, you cannot do much but keep cooking it until it is tender. The squid will become tender again when cooked on low heat for thirty minutes or longer.

Squid has a reputation for being rubbery and chewy when overcooked. This article looks at the best ways to cook squid and how to soften it again once it is overcooked.

How to Soften Overcooked Squid

Squid, shrimp, and fish muscles contract when cooked, and squid tend to do that more than other seafood. That’s why it becomes quickly rubbery when cooked for too long. When squid is overcooked, the only way to re-tenderize is to cook it long so the muscles can relax again. 

You can soften overcooked squid by cooking it for 30 minutes or longer on low heat. The only way squid becomes soft after overcooking is with long, slow continuous cooking. 

How to Cook Squid Perfectly

Squid is perfect with several flavors: chili, spicy, sweet, sour, or plain salty. You can grill, boil or fry it any way you prefer; squid is a tasty sustainable source of protein.

Cooking squid requires little effort once you know the rules. The secret to cooking squid to a soft, tender texture is to cook it very quickly over high heat or very long and slow over low heat.

Cooking squid is more challenging than cooking other seafood or fish. For squid to be tasty and tender, you need to cook it for two minutes or less on very high heat.

It will become tough and rubbery if you cook squid for longer than 2 minutes. As soon as the squid changes to white, you must directly remove it from the heat.

Before you add the squid to a dish, taste it before serving. That’s the only way you would find out if it is overcooked.  If it is tough, just place it back on the stove, cook for around half an hour, and test again to see if the squid becomes soft.

Squid Cooking and Tenderizing

Here are a few tips on how to prepare, tenderize and refrigerate squid correctly.

Select the Best

When you buy squid from the supermarket or fish market, make sure you choose shiny, firm white bodies with a pleasant salty smell and slightly translucent appearance. Never buy squid with a purple or pink color or smells like anything other than the ocean. Any ammonia kind of smell clearly indicates squid is past its freshness date.

Small squid is typically more tender, so choose smaller bodies that will be soft and tender when cooked correctly.

Pound the Squid

If you cannot find small squid, you could tenderize them by gently pounding them on each side with a mallet to make them softer; make sure you don’t beat them too hard so as not to tear the flesh.

Slice it

Once you have tenderized the squid, slice them crosswise into desired thickness strips or rings before cooking. To slice squid correctly, cut along the seam on the length of the body, and then open and slice it into rings or strips.


Squid are generally sold already cleaned. Give the squid a good rinse with cold water and quickly dry with paper towels or a dishcloth before cooking. Slice them evenly so they cook quickly.

Tenderize and Marinating Tips

To tenderize squid and remove some chewiness before cooking, you can soak them in lemon juice for 30 minutes. The acidity of the lemon juice helps to break down the toughness.

Another way to tenderize squid is to soak the squid in Kiwi fruit juice for half an hour or soak squid overnight in milk in the refrigerator.

Baking soda also helps to tenderize squid; dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda per one pound of squid in just enough water to cover the squid and leave for 15 minutes and rinse very well and dry before cooking.

Wait until the squid is at room temperature and dry it well with a dishcloth or a paper towel before cooking. If the squid is wet and cold, it will steam and become tough.

Cook it Quick

The best temperature to cook squid is a very high heat, fast and quick, for 30 seconds to 2 minutes for the best results. Cooking squid for over half an hour will make it soft, but most people prefer to cook it quickly and fast for the best results.


To fry squid, heat the oil to 350- or 365 degrees F before frying for best results. The biggest problem when frying squid is that the oil temperature is often too low and will cause the squid to become tough and chewy when cooked too long.

Add the squid into rapidly boiling water for a different cooking method, parboil it for no more than one minute, and place it directly into ice water to stop cooking. Drain the water and cut as desired or marinate it in a dressing. 

Refrigerate Well

Squid can be sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator on ice for one day. You can freeze squid and keep it airtight in the freezer for up to one month. To thaw, rinse the sealed calamari under cool running water while it is still in the bag.


Squid typically provides one standard serving of 6 ounces of cleaned squid. A 6-inch squid weighs around 4 ounces and is a perfect serving, excluding the tentacles.

Marinate Recipes for Cooking Squid

Marinate the squid in lemon juice, olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper for thirty minutes. Gently remove the squid from the marinade before cooking. Never pour the marinade on the squid while cooking; it will become tough.

Marinate the squid in lime juice, sweet chili sauce, lemongrass, soy sauce, and palm sugar before frying. This marinade works well for pan-fried squid or on the barbecue.

Marinate the squid in chili sauce, chopped spring onions, garlic, fish sauce, and ginger before cooking.

To fry the squid, cover it in a light tempura batter and deep fry it for two minutes in sunflower oil. Serve the cooked squid with lemon juice, wasabi, or flavored mayonnaise.

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Tasty Squid Recipes

Sauteed Squid with Green Beans


  • 150g smoked ham/pancetta or bacon, cut into small pieces.
  • 400g squid, cleaned, scored, and cut into small pieces.
  • 150g green beans, sliced into pieces.
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil.
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, preferably a Merlot.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley for serving.


  • Before you start, wait until the squid is at room temperature and dried well.
  • Sauté the ham/pancetta or bacon, whichever you choose, on low heat for three minutes to render some of the fat.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds, then add the green beans and sauté for 1 minute while stirring. Let it rest and set aside.
  • Heat a frying pan until very hot, add the squid with three tablespoons of the olive oil and cook for one minute while stirring quickly.
  • Mix the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil with the red wine vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Arrange the beans and ham, pancetta, or bacon on a plate and serve the squid with a drizzle of red wine vinegar garnished with the chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Quick Salt and Pepper Squid

Serve this tasty recipe in under two minutes on the stove as a light starter.


  • 400g squid.
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder.
  • 2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Coriander to serve.
  • Sweet chili sauce.
  • Sesame oil to serve.


  • Ensure the squid is cleaned properly; cut the body and open out. Rinse well and thoroughly dry the squid. If it is a large squid, slice the squid into four square portions. If the squid is small, just open them.
  • Take a sharp knife and score the top in a crisscross motion. Use a pastry brush to brush the squid with the extra virgin oil and set it aside.
  • Combine the Chinese five-spice, 1 tsp ground black pepper, and 2 tsp salt. Season both sides of the squid before cooking.
  • Heat the frying pan to searing hot and sauté for 1 min on each side. Serve the squid on a serving plate, drizzle with sesame oil, and garnish with coriander leaves; add a small bowl of chili sauce as a dip. Enjoy!

Spicy Barbecued Squid with Caper and Lemon Dressing

This barbecued squid with caper and lemon dressing recipe is fast and easy to prepare. It tastes scrumptious and is the perfect starter to any meal. The charred lemon and caper dressing compliments the fresh squid very well.


  • 800g squid.
  • 2 tbsp capers, plus 2 tsp whole capers
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper. 
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 6 tbsp of Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Honey.
  • 1 halved lemon.
  • 1 finely chopped shallot.
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil.
  • Smoked paprika – pinch
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped flat-leaf parsley.


  • Chargrill the Jalapeño pepper, gently remove the stalk and seeds, and chop finely.
  • Chargrill the lemon halves until they become caramelized.
  • Season the squid with salt and pepper, add the sesame oil, and set aside.
  • Blitz 2 tablespoons of capers in a blender.
  • Combine the blended capers and the 2 tablespoons of whole capers with the charred lemon juice, garlic, charred pepper, honey, olive oil, chopped shallot, a pinch of smoked paprika, and chopped leaf parsley in a bowl.
  • Heat the frying pan to searing hot.
  • Cook the squid for about 2 minutes over high heat.
  • Add the cooked squid to the bowl of dressing and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Thai Basil Squid Recipe

This delicious recipe is tasty and bursting with flavor. The spicy Thai basil squid recipe is quick and easy to prepare. The secret to this recipe is the layering of flavors and not overcooking any ingredients.


  • 1-pound cleaned squid sliced into rounds.
  • 6 cloves garlic minced.  
  • 2 shallots sliced.
  • 3 Thai chili peppers minced – you can use less chili if you prefer.
  • 3.5 ounces of maitake mushrooms.
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying.
  • ⅓ cup water.
  • Thai basil leaves stem removed.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Cooked white rice.
  • Minced scallion to serve.


  • Heat two teaspoons of oil in a frying pan on medium-high and add the shallot and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until softened and golden brown.
  • Add the chili peppers and garlic to the frying pan and sauté for 1 minute. Make sure you don’t burn the garlic.  Transfer the ingredients to a bowl and set aside.
  • Heat some more oil in the frying pan and add the mushrooms.
  •  Cook the mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to the bowl with the shallots, chili, and garlic and season with salt.
  • Dry the squid well and add salt and pepper.
  • Heat some oil in the frying pan until very hot, and add half of the squid.
  • Sauté for 3 minutes until cooked.
  • Add the squid to the bowl with the shallot, garlic, mushrooms, and chili.
  • Use the remaining squid and sauté it the same way as the first squid for 3 minutes and add it to the bowl.
  • Mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Turn the heat down to medium. Add the water and sauce and bring to a boil.
  • Add the cooked squid, mushrooms, shallot, garlic, and chili to the sauce and mix.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Break the Thai basil leaves in half and add to the frying pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring until the leaves are wilted.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Serve over cooked rice and garnish with minced scallion. Enjoy!


Squid is tasty and tender when cooked correctly on very high heat for two minutes or less. If you accidentally overcook the squid, it will become tough and rubbery. If the squid turns out chewy and tough, you can soften the squid again by cooking it on low heat for thirty minutes or more.

We hope you found this article informative and use these tips and delicious recipes for cooking squid perfectly.