How to Clean Your Squid at Home

Squid, or calamari, is a delicious type of seafood. Most notably, a fried version of this prehistoric seafarer have a regular spot on the menus of Italian, Spanish and other Mediterranean cuisines. Many cold seafood salads have this fish in it because of how well it holds together, and how long it keeps after being cooked. Grilled squid, and stuffed squid are also a popular way of preparation.

Here, we will learn how to clean a squid so you can take one home and enjoy the freshness of a squid without having to buy frozen tubes and tentacles. You may also be able to get your fishmonger to clean your squid for you, but be advised, tell them you want all of the edible parts of your squid like the wings!

Nice fresh squid will be very elastic, and will have very glassy eyes.


  • First step to cleaning your squid is to gently remove the head and tentacles by pulling from the tube. Set aside. Pull the wings upwards, and pinch between the tube and the wings. They should separate easily. Usually this is when I peel the skin off of the tube. Also peel the skin off of the wings.
  • Take the “pen” out of the squid, this is the part inside of the squid that looks like plastic. This is the skeleton of the squid. Sometimes the pen breaks into a few sections so make sure you feel for the whole thing. If there is a piece wedged in the very top, just poke it through the point of the squids meat.
  • Lay your squid tubes flat on the cutting board and use the blunt side of your knife’s blade to squeeze the guts out of the squid (like you would a tube of toothpaste). Rinse the inside of the tubes with cold water and make sure to squeeze out any ink, and remnants of guts.
Guts, Ink, and the “pen” are a sign that you have properly cleaned your squid on the inside.
  • Now take the head section with the eyes and the tentacles. Cut the squid just below the eyeballs, making sure to keep the section of the squid that hold the tentacles intact. I also cut the two longer tentacles to the same length as the others; if they are still intact. This makes it look nicer for presentation. Remove the beak of the squid, yes, the beak. This is a small, sharp pair teeth the squid uses to hunt and eat, and it should be right in the center of the tentacles at the top near your cut. Squeeze from the tentacles up, and the beak should pop right out.
  • Rinse every part of the squid thoroughly, and enjoy the preparation of your choice!
The beak is the small but you may be able to notice the small bulge in the center of the tentacles. Squeeze from the tentacles up, and you will pop the beak right out.
Left to Right: Cleaned squid wings, Cleaned Tentacles, Cleaned Tubes

Hopefully you will try cleaning squid at home next time you find it fresh in the fish market!

Published by Filet To Table

Answering all of your most curious questions about seafood fare, and giving you a new confidence or curiosity about culinary flavors from our ocean.

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