This post may contain affiliate links which help support Girls Can Grill.
Grilled octopus isn’t only reserved for fancy restaurants and special occasions. With a few simple steps, you can make delicious octopus right at home on your grill.
What is grilled octopus?
Octopus is meaty and tender and develops a nice crispy char when it’s cooked on the grill. It’s not fishy at all. It’s a very subtle meat, kind of like squid, and it will take on the flavors mixed with it.
Cooking octopus on a grill might sound complicated but trust me, it’s not.
It’s a super easy way to cook this underwater creature, resulting in super tender tentacles and irresistible flavor.
For this recipe, the octopus is boiled before grilled. This allows the meat to become nice and tender before grilling.
Then, the octopus is marinated to give it flavor and tenderize the meat even more. No one likes a chewy octopus.
Serve it up on top of a fennel salad, in a stir fry or on its own as a tasty appetizer. If you’re a seafood lover or feel like you want to try something new, give this grilled octopus a try. You won’t regret it.
There are two ways to make this recipe: the adventurous way with a whole fresh octopus, or the easy way with pre-steamed octopus tentacles.
- Octopus: You can use either a whole fresh octopus or cooked octopus tentacles.
- Steaming Liquid: If you steam a fresh octopus, you’ll add citrus, salt, peppercorns and wine to a pot.
- Wine Cork: Seams odd, but it supposedly helps make the meat more tender.
- Fennel: This fresh vegetable with a slight licorice flavor is the base for the optional salad. You’ll find fennel in the vegetable section of the grocery store. It’s usually near the celery or parsnips. It has a funny bulb shape with thin dark green fronds on top.
- Citrus Vinaigrette: The salad dressing includes citrus juice, olive oil, honey, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes.
Substitutions: You can make the salad with any type of greens and dressing. Octopus is great on arugula, spinach and frisée.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
You must pre-cook octopus before grilling it
If you were to throw raw octopus on the grill, it would be very chewy, so it’s very important that you steam or boil it first.
When shopping for octopus, you might be lucky enough to find it already cooked. If that’s the case, you can skip this step in the recipe and go straight to the marinade and the grill.
If you’re looking for a little more adventure, check your local Asian market for whole fresh octopus and follow the full recipe.
- STEP ONE: Fill a very large pot with water and heat it to a simmer.
- STEP TWO: To get the pretty, magical curls, hold the obstacle by its head. Then, dip the tentacles in the water and then lift it out and re-dip it a few times. As the meat reacts to the heat, the tentacles will curl right before your eyes.
- STEP THREE: Once you’re happy with the curls, place octopus in the water and flavor the water. Add fresh juice from an orange, lemon and lime along with salt, whole peppercorns and some white wine.
PRO TIP: Add a wine cork to the cooking liquid. This, for some magical reason, helps make it nice and tender.
- STEP FOUR: Cover the pot, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the octopus is tender when pierced with a fork or sharp knife.
How to grill octopus
Grilling octopus is super easy. Once you’ve reached this point, the octopus is already thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.
The grilling process is done to add texture and to create those crispy succulent bits. The oil in the vinaigrette will assist with that charring, as well.
You can cook this recipe on a charcoal or gas grill. You can also use a pellet grill set to about 400F degrees. Heat it to high with a direct heat setting. Then, cook it flipping occasionally, until it’s charred to your liking.
If you don’t have a grill, you can even use a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- STEP ONE: While the octopus is cooking, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Slice the fennel bulb into thin strips and save the fronds for garnish. Keep refrigerated until assembly.
PRO TIP: Be sure to rinse the fennel well, because sometimes sand and soil residue will be left inside (just like you find with leeks).
- STEP TWO: When the octopus is tender, remove it to a cutting board. Cut off the tentacles and discard the head. Pat the tentacles dry with a paper towel and place in the vinaigrette. Soak for 30 minutes to overnight.
- STEP THREE: Heat the grill to high. Place the tentacles on the hot grill and cook, until charred on all sides.
How to serve grilled octopus
Once you remove your octopus from the grill, you can serve it in a variety of ways. My favorite is atop a fresh fennel salad.
Toss the strips of fennel in the reserved vinaigrette and add them to a plate.
To assemble the octopus salad, place the charred grilled tentacles right on top. Pour any remaining vinaigrette on top and sprinkle with the fennel fronds.
Leftover grilled octopus can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 9 months.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- For tender octopus, you must buy it pre-cooked or steam or boil it yourself
- Allow the octopus to marinate for richer flavor
- Grill on high to create charred bits
- Serve on a fennel salad
Frequently Asked Questions
Grilled octopus has a texture similar to squid (calamari). It’s chewy, but is very bland. Even though octopus live in the ocean, the meat does not have a fishy flavor. By steaming the octopus before grilling it, the octopus will become more tender and less chewy.
Absolutely not. This grilled octopus recipe includes steps in case you do want to cook the whole octopus, but you can also purchase pre-steamed tentacles and grill them.
I have only found whole octopus at local Asian markets, like Seafood City. Tentacles are becoming more common. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. There are several seafood purveyors online that now sell cooked tentacles, as well.
Use any size octopus you like. Some options are medium, large and baby octopus.
Yes. Pressure cooking your octopus to tenderize it only takes around 15 minutes, making it the perfect option for those short on time.
Other unique foods to grill or smoke
More seafood recipes
Want even more great grilling recipes and tips? Subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my latest grilling adventures. If you make a recipe, I’d love for your to leave a comment and rating below. Thanks.
Grilled Octopus Salad
- 1 fresh octopus
- 1 large pot of water
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 wine cork
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 tbsp fennel fronds
- Steam: Heat a pot of water on a stove over medium-high heat. Holding the head of the octopus, dip the tentacles in the water for 10 seconds. Lift it back out. Repeat three times. This will cause the tentacles to curl. Drop the entire octopus in the water.
- Flavor Broth: Add the citrus juices, salt, pepper, wine and wine cork. Cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The tentacles should be tender when pierced with a knife.
- Prep Salad: While the octopus is cooking, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for later. Slice the fennel into thin strips. Refrigerate until assembly.
- Marinate: When the octopus is tender, remove it to a cutting board. Cut off the tentacles and discard the head. Pat the tentacles dry with a paper towel and place in the vinaigrette. Soak for 30 minutes to overnight.
- Grill: Heat the grill to high. Place the tentacles on the grill and cook, until charred on all sides.
- Assemble: Toss fennel strips in vinaigrette and add a mound to a plate. Top with 2-3 pieces of grilled octopus. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with fennel fronds for garnish.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.