What’s The Difference Between Octopus and Calamari?



Calamari and octopus are two of the most popular seafood delicacies around the world. These marine animals are similar in appearance but differ in texture, flavour, and preparation methods.  In this post, you’ll discover the key differences and similarities between calamari and octopus.




What Does Calamari Taste Like? 

Calamari is often sold cleaned and in rings or tubes. The meat is white and firm, with a slightly sweet and mild taste. Chewier


Calamari has a mild flavour with a slightly chewy texture.  I would say that calamari is more versatile compared to octopus. Calamari can be deep-fried, pan-fried, and grilled.  Calamari can be included in seafood dishes like pasta or risotto. But most commonly, calamari is seasoned, lightly floured, and deep fried and served as an appetizer with tzatziki dipping sauce.

What Does Octopus Taste Like? 

Octopus has a meatier texture and a more distinct flavour compared to calamari.  Octopus meat is white, but the exterior skin is a reddish/purple colour. The flavour and texture of octopus are delicate and tender.  Octopus gets its flavour from the liquids and spices you use to flavour it.  To enhance the flavour of octopus, it’s often boiled in white wine, olive oil, and white wine vinegar.



A whole octopus simmering in a large pot with white wine, olive oil, white wine vinegar, bay leaves, and peppercorns.


What Are The Key Differences Between Calamari and Octopus? 

While octopus and calamari have some similarities, there are some key differences.


  • Squid (calamari) is found in the deep water and open ocean. Octopuses prefer coral reefs or dark crevices.


  • A squid’s head is a triangular shape, whereas an octopus has a more round head.


  • Octopuses have eight arms that are covered with suckers and no tentacles.  Their arms have sucker rings.  Calamari also have eight arms with no sucker rinks but two long tentacles and a mantle.  Both octopuses and calamari have flexible arms.


  • Squid meat is firm and tender but can become rubbery if overcooked. Octopus meat is also tender slightly nutty flavor, but can become mushy if overcooked, especially if you’re boiling it.


What Are Some of The Similarities? 

  • From a biological point of view, calamari and squid are both cephalopods and are from the same category. Cephalopods are marine species of active predatory mollusks.


  • Calamari is a type of squid and belongs to the same family as octopus. The meat of octopus and calamari is tender which is why it’s so popular, and they are both found in oceans all over the world.


  • Both calamari and octopus are high in protein and low in fat (depending on how they are prepared). Deep-fried calamari will still have a high-fat content, but it’s so delicious and worth it!


  • If you’re a seafood lover, both octopus and calamari and nutritious and delicious! The choice is yours based on availability and preparation, depending on your taste buds.


  • Both would be delicious sautéed with tomato sauce and served with pasta!



Small pieces of Greek marinated octopus on black plates.

Where To Buy Calamari or Octopus? 

You can find octopus and calamari at your local seafood markets.  Many grocery stores, if they have a dedicated seafood section, usually carry both fresh and frozen calamari and octopus in their seafood section.  Various online seafood retailers also specialize in delivering fresh seafood, including calamari and octopus, straight to your doorstep.


If you’re looking to try octopus or calamari before cooking it at home, look for restaurants with calamari and octopus on their menu.  When purchasing calamari or octopus, it’s important to ensure it is fresh, properly handled and stored to avoid potential food safety issues.


Deep fried calamari served with salsa dipping sauce on a black plate.


How Are Calamari and Octopus Served? 

Calamari is usually served in small rings or strips (usually deep fried), often as an appetizer or included in a seafood dish.  Octopus can be served in a variety of ways, including grilled or roasted as a main dish, served cold in a salad, or stewed in tomato sauce and pasta.


Calamari can be fried or grilled quickly, whereas octopus can be cooked for a longer period of time.  Octopus can be boiled, grilled, or roasted.


Octopus is often sold whole and may need to be cleaned and prepared before cooking.  The eyes and ink sac likely have been removed if you buy whole octopus in a grocery store. It probably has also been tenderized and cleaned, but you can check with the employee in the seafood section.  However, it is still recommended to clean the octopus thoroughly with cold water, especially inside the hood, and check to ensure that the beak, eyes and ink sac have been removed.


Octopus is often boiled whole in a large pot with olive oil, vinegar, and white wine. Then allow it to cool and cut it into smaller pieces.  The cooked octopus is then stored in a marinade made with olive oil and white wine vinegar and is often served cold as an appetizer.  Octopus can be heavy, so it’s not always served as a main dish.


In conclusion, octopus and calamari may look similar, but they have distinct differences in anatomy, taste, culinary use, and texture.  While calamari has a firmer texture and milder flavor, octopus has a softer, more tender texture with a meatier taste.  Both octopus and calamari are delicious seafood options that are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.



Greek Appetizers

Date Published: March 27, 2023

Author: RIA mavrikos



What’s The Difference Between Octopus and Calamari?


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