Easy grilled octopus recipe: make this delicious and impressive but deceptively simple traditional Mediterranean staple at home. It requires few ingredients and mostly hands-off time to transform octopus into something tender and unexpected.
Not enough people venture into cooking octopus at home, reserving this delicious seafood preparation for special occasions in restaurants. The truth is that octopus is incredibly easy to make. This easy grilled octopus recipe is a traditional Mediterranean preparation that makes for a lovely appetizer, dinner, or cold lunchtime salad.
Serve with a classic Risotto as a starter or on the side or garlicky smashed potatoes like in my traditional Croatian Blitva Recipe.
Octopus is quite lovely done in numerous ways. This is how my mother usually made it.
- Top Tip
- Food safety
- Aromatics (Carrot, Celery, Onion, Bay Leaf, Parsley)
- Sea Salt
See the recipe card for quantities.
- First, you blanch the octopus in boiling salted water for a brief time. The water is then discarded.
2. Then it is steamed or braised in the oven for a few hours on a bed of aromatics.
The biggest challenge with octopus is getting the flesh to an appropriately tender state which is why it needs to be braised for several hours on low heat.
You can also try steaming but I personally prefer braising and using a bed of chopped onions, carrots, celery, parsley, and bay leaf.
The octopus is laid on top of this bed of aromatics in a heavy pot or pan and slowly allowed to braise in its own juices.
Something I hear said is that a frozen octopus is already tender and simply needs quick steam before grilling. I tried this once and ended up with tough and stringy meat — something that octopus should never be.
You will likely be purchasing a frozen or pre-frozen octopus, and yes, it is true that the freezing process has done some of the work of tenderization but it is not enough.
3. Lastly, the octopus is finished off on a hot grill (or smoker) for a few minutes for those appealing (and delicious) charred bits.
The taste of octopus is mild and sweet, never fishy. The flesh is firm and substantial but tender, never chewy. The quick cursory grilling at the end imparts that satisfying crispiness and char to the edges. This is an easy grilled octopus recipe that is mostly hands-off while looking very impressive when served.
That’s truly all there is to it. Most of the preparation time is hands-off.
Octopus is best done with simple preparation methods which allows the natural sweetness of the flesh to shine. This is why this easy grilled octopus recipe is ideal. Taste-wise, the octopus can be similar to a scallop, but the meat is more solid. It’s a creature that lives in all the oceans and seas, and many species live very deep, reaching incomprehensible size.
Different aromatics can be freely used: bay leaf, onion, garlic, rosemary, dill, parsley, carrots, lovage.
Use whatever you hand on hand really. Or even nothing at all.
Have you ever tried pomegranate molasses or syrup? It is a lovely thing and I teach you how to make it here.
You can also buy it at most Middle Eastern grocers.
Drizzled on top of the grilled octopus, the tangy sweet-sour taste of the pomegranate molasses works beautifully.
- Oven-safe, deep-sided, heavy pan or pot large enough to hold your aromatics and the whole octopus for the braising period.
- Grill (Or smoker)
Octopus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. It can be frozen for 2 months.
Wrap it tightly before storing.
You can braise the octopus ahead of time, and store it in the fridge for a day or two before bringing it back to room temperature and grilling right before serving.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
For more information, please see more information about How to cook octopus on the grill