Simple and Fresh: How to Cook Baby Squid in Olive Oil

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As a mom living on the beautiful island of Marinduque, I’m always looking for quick and easy seafood recipes to feed my family nutritious homecooked meals. Being far from the bigger cities, it can be a challenge to get ingredients, but we’re blessed with the freshest catch right from the waters surrounding our island.

One of my favorites is baby squid cooked super simply in olive oil. Squid is so good for you – low in calories and fat but high in protein and important minerals. It’s also incredibly versatile. The best part is how fast and easy it is to prepare. No fancy kitchen tools or ingredients needed – just squid, olive oil, garlic, laurel leaves, and some lemon or lime.

When shopping for squid, look for the tiny ones, about 2-3 inches long. These “baby” squid have very tender meat that remains delicately chewy after a quick cook. Larger squid can become tough if overcooked. Ask your local fishermen when they bring in their fresh catch – the smaller ones tend to sell out quickly!

How to buy squid and check for freshness

If you’re shopping in the big supermarket, look for clear, bright, and undamaged eyes. Cloudiness or discoloration may indicate age, and a lackluster appearance could be a sign that the squid is past its prime. Run your fingers along the surface of the squid. Fresh squid should feel firm and supple to the touch. Avoid those with a slimy or overly soft texture, as these are indicators of age and potential deterioration. A squid that retains its firmness promises a delightful, tender texture when cooked.

How to clean squid

To start, give your squid a good rinse under cold water. This helps remove any sand or grit that may be clinging to the bodies. Pat them dry with paper towels. Now comes the fun part – removing the shells!

Gently pull the pointed tip of the body out and discard. This should remove the pen (quill) easily in one piece. Next, grab the body just above the eyes and gently pull or push out the transparent quill and all of the entrails. Discard these too. Rinse the bodies under water again to remove any remaining bits.

I leave them whole since they tend to shrink when cooked but you can cut to whatever your preference is. Try to keep the rings as intact as possible so they remain tender after cooking.

How to cook baby squid in olive oil

Simple and Fresh: How to Cook Baby Squid in Olive Oil 1


  • 1 kilo baby squid
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1-2 pc laurel leaves
  • 1 tbsp liquid seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over slow to medium heat. Be careful with the heat range when cooking squid as cooking it in the wrong setting can make the squid rubbery. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cleaned squid in a single layer – don’t overcrowd the pan. Let them cook undisturbed for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms turn opaque white. The key here is a gentle sauté, allowing these cephalopods to absorb the essence of the olive oil without losing their innate tenderness.

While those are cooking, minced 3-5 cloves of garlic. When the squid has cooked for a bit, toss in the garlic. It will sizzle and become very fragrant. Add the laurel leaves. Continue cooking, flipping the squid pieces occasionally, for another 3-5 minutes until they are pink/orange and curled up a bit. Add a tablespoon of liquid seasoning and gently toss. Remove from heat and finish with a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some red pepper flakes for a little heat if you like. Remove laurel leaves before serving.

Serve warm as a Filipino appetizer (pulutan), side dish, or light meal over rice. It’s also delicious wrapped in lettuce or sandwich bread. The fresh, bright flavors of the olive oil, citrus, and briny squid are perfection on their own. A simple salad or steamy rice makes it a well-balanced meal.

The whole process from prep to plate takes less than 15 minutes. What’s great is any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Just warm them through in a skillet with a little olive oil before serving again.

I hope you give this baby squid in olive oil recipe a try. I love it so much that my mouth begins to water when I see them on the market. Fresh seafood is such a healthy option. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Thanks for reading. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to get new recipes and cooking tips delivered to your inbox each month.

Safe and easy cooking from this mom from the island of Marinduque!


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