Grilled Octopus -- Two Ways

Grilled octopus is surprisingly simple to make. The key is tenderizing the cephalopod before you grill. This recipe provides two methods: sous vide and braising. I walk you through the preparation step-by-step, including removing the beak, curling the tentacles and tenderizing. 


Braised method:

Sous vide method:


Prep the octopus:

If you buy frozen Spanish octopus they will be cleaned and ready to cook with the exception that the head and beak still need to be removed. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Slice off the head and remove the beak as shown in the headnotes of this recipe.

To curl the tentacles:

Both the sous vide method and the braising method start with curling the tentacles.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Thread the handle of a wooden spoon through the hole where the beak was. Lift the octopus over the pot and dip it into the boiling water for about 10 seconds. Pull it out and repeat two more times. The tentacles will curl up a bit after each dip.

To tenderize by braising:

  1. Heat a large pot to medium high. Add a glug of olive oil. Slice a lemon in half and cook cut side down to brown. Add garlic, onion, herbs and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. 
  2. Deglaze with wine. Add about a quart of water and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Lower the octopus into the boiling water and reduce heat to low. The octopus should be just covered with water. Simmer for an hour and a half. 

Note: if you want to add a clean copper penny do so when you add the water. This traditional method is supposed to aid in tenderizing and also give the octopus a deep red color.

To tenderize by sous vide:

  1. Bring a sous vide water bath to 180 degrees F. Place the octopus with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt in either a Ziplock baggie or a vacuum sealer bag. Remove the air and seal the bag using the displacement method if you are using a Ziplock bag or a vacuum sealer.
  2. Submerge the octopus bag in the water bath and sous vide for four hours. 

To sear:

  1. Remove the octopus from the braising pot or the sous vide bag, depending on which method you are using. The octopus will be covered with a gelatinous coating. Gently remove most of this by either rubbing with a paper towel or rinsing under the sink. Take care not to over remove this jelly and do not rub so hard you remove the suckers. The suckers will crisp up when you sear them and are delicious. 
  2. Thoroughly dry the octopus and brush with olive oil. Sear on a grill or in a cast iron pan for 2 -3 minutes on each side. Plate drizzle with good olive oil and squeezes of lemon.

Courses Dinner

Cuisine New American

Recipe by Something New For Dinner at