Squid and Calamari Selection and Storage

Raw Squid/Calamari

The Spruce

If you are making calamari, paella, or another dish, squid can be purchased fresh, frozen, whole, or cut up for cooking. Learn how to select squid and how to store it for future recipes or after creating your dish.

Selecting Fresh Squid

Finding fresh squid that has not been previously frozen may be difficult if you aren't at or near a seaport where it is harvested. You are more likely to find thawed, previously-frozen whole squid at a market such as Whole Foods, a fish market, or a specialty grocery.

Buying squid whole allows you to clean it yourself and harvest the squid ink to use in recipes. If you buy cleaned squid, it will already have the skin, ink, entrails, cuttlebone, and beak removed.

If you want to cook your food quickly, choose smaller squid with clear eyes and moist flesh. Smaller squid is more tender than the larger ones. The aroma of the seafood should be clean like the ocean with no strong, fishy smell. For previously-frozen squid, avoid it if there are too many ice crystals or other signs of freezer burn; if it wasn't frozen properly, it might have a reddish tinge.

Frozen Squid

You can find frozen squid in most supermarkets and specialty markets. You can choose squid tubes, which are the bodies, cut rings, and tentacles. These are typically already cleaned and ready to use. You will probably end up having to buy two to three pounds at a time.

Before you are going to use frozen squid, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. Do not leave it out at room temperature to thaw. You can also thaw it under cold running water, or in cold water in a bowl; just change the water out every half hour. If you are going to use it immediately, you can thaw it in the microwave.

Squid and Calamari Storage

After buying fresh or thawed squid, cover the squid tightly and store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator or on a bed of ice. Fresh or previously frozen and thawed squid should be used within two days. For food safety, you should never refreeze previously frozen seafood, so it is important to cook it. You can, if necessary, then freeze the cooked squid.

If you bought fresh squid, it can be cleaned and frozen immediately for later use. To freeze uncooked squid, place the cleaned squid in plastic freezer bags, being sure to squeeze out all the air, and seal tightly. Use it within two months.

Cooked squid may be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for two to three days or frozen for two months.

Be sure to keep any raw seafood away from salad ingredients and other food that you will not be cooking before it is eaten. Don't use the same utensils, cutting boards, or plates for raw seafood and other foods. Wash your hands well after handling raw seafood.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Seafood Health Facts. Guide to selecting seafood. Accessed January 2022.

  2. Hicks D. Seafood safety and quality: the consumer’s roleFoods. 2016;5(4):71. doi:10.3390/foods5040071

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely. October 28, 2021.