Simple Squid Tempura with Two Homemade Sauces

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tempura fried squid

What’s Up, Hungry People

Calamari is one of those dishes that always makes it to our table when we spot it on a restaurant menu. My boyfriend and I can’t resist the crispy, tender squid, especially when it’s served with some killer sauces. So, I figured it was about time I rolled up my sleeves and made my own restaurant-quality squid tempura at home.

Dipping Sauces First

I kicked things off by making not one, but two sauces to accompany my squid tempura. Picture this: a tangy cocktail sauce and a spicy ponzu mayo. Yep, that’s right, I’m talking double the dipping fun! The best part? I used everyday ingredients that were just chilling in my fridge door. I’m talking about good ol’ ketchup, mayonnaise, a dab of sriracha, and a dollop of hoisin sauce. So easy, yet so good.

ingredients for tempura squid and sauces

Here’s What You Need

  • Squid: The star of the dish, providing a tender, meaty texture. Sliced into rings for easy frying.
  • Vegetable Oil: Used for deep frying, it gives the squid its crispy, golden-brown exterior.
  • Tempura Mix: Offers a quick and easy way to create a light, crispy batter for the squid.
  • Ice Water: Mixed with the tempura mix to form the batter; helps keep the batter light and crispy.

Cocktail Sauce Ingredients

  • Ketchup: The base for the cocktail sauce, adding sweetness and tang.
  • Horseradish Sauce: Adds a spicy kick to the cocktail sauce, elevating its flavor.
  • Hoisin Sauce: Gives a complex, slightly sweet depth to the cocktail sauce.
  • Paprika: Adds color and mild spice to the cocktail sauce.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Increases the heat level of the cocktail sauce for a little extra kick.

Ponzu Mayo Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise: Forms the creamy base of the ponzu mayo sauce.
  • Soy Sauce: Adds saltiness and umami to the ponzu mayo, creating a well-rounded flavor.
  • Sriracha: Brings spiciness to the ponzu mayo, adding another layer of flavor.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds a touch of acidity to balance the creaminess of the mayo and the saltiness of the soy sauce.
raw squid

Squid Selection

Next up: the star of the show—squid! For this recipe, I went with fresh squid, but you know what? I’ve used frozen squid for similar dishes before, and they turned out great. So whether you catch it fresh or grab it from the freezer aisle, you’re good to go.

Crispy vs. Homemade Tempura Batter

For the tempura batter, I decided to cheat a bit. I used a store-bought tempura mix this time. I’ve made my own tempura batter in the past—like way, way back when this blog was just a baby. Surprisingly, this store-bought mix gave me a much crispier finish, which I really enjoyed compared to my thicker, homemade version. Sometimes convenience pays off, folks!

The Process: Whisk, Chill, Fry!

So how do you pull this all together? Easy peasy. Whisk together the ingredients for each sauce and let them chill in the fridge. While they’re getting cool, go ahead and prep your squid for battering and deep frying. Set your fryer to 375°F and let it heat up. After that, it’s all about that satisfying sizzle as you lower the battered squid into the hot oil.

Tips for the PERFECT Tempura Squid

  • Fresh vs Frozen Squid: Both work well, but fresh squid may offer a more tender texture. If using frozen, make sure to thaw it completely before cooking.
  • Chunky Batter: Don’t worry if your tempura batter looks chunky; it’s supposed to be that way for a crispy texture.
  • Oil Temperature: Maintaining a consistent oil temperature is crucial for optimal frying. Use a kitchen thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Fryer: Frying too many squid rings at once can lower the oil’s temperature and make your calamari less crispy.
  • Sauce Consistency: If your sauces are too thick, you can thin them out with a splash of water for the cocktail sauce and a bit more lemon juice for the ponzu mayo.
  • Spice Levels: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the cocktail sauce and sriracha in the ponzu mayo to suit your heat preferences.
  • Draining Excess Oil: Make sure to drain the fried squid on paper towels to remove excess oil; otherwise, they may turn soggy.
  • Serving Time: The dish is best enjoyed immediately after frying to maintain its crispiness.
  • Storing Leftovers: If you have any leftover sauces, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Reheating Calamari: If you need to reheat the squid, do so in an oven preheated to 350°F for best results. Avoid using a microwave as it can make the squid rubbery.


And there you have it! Squid tempura with cocktail sauce and ponzu mayo. All from the comfort of your own kitchen. Now you won’t have to wait for your next restaurant outing to satisfy that squid craving. Enjoy!

So, Hungry People, are you ready to make your own squid tempura with cocktail sauce and ponzu mayo? It’s easier than you think and twice as tasty. Let’s get cooking!


Squid Tempura with Cocktail Sauce & Ponzu Mayo

The Starving Chef
Looking to impress with minimal effort? This squid tempura recipe offers a crunchy, delicious appetizer complete with two unforgettable sauces.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Per Batch 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American, Asian, Quick & Easy
Servings 2





  • Whisk together the ketchup, horseradish sauce, hoisin sauce, paprika, and cayenne pepper to make the cocktail sauce. Chill until ready to serve.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, sriracha, and lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.
  • Preheat a deep fryer or pan filled with two inches of vegetable oil to 325°F. Use a sharp knife to cut the cleaned squid into rings.
  • Mix together the tempura mix and ice water. The batter will be a bit chunky, and that's okay. Dip each squid ring into the batter, then carefully toss into the fryer for 1-2 minutes or until the squid turns golden brown.
  • Transfer the fried squid rings from the fryer to a plate lined with paper towels to remove any excess oil.
  • Serve right away with the prepared sauces. Enjoy!


Keyword calamari, deep fried, seafood
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