What Does Squid Ink Taste Like? Why You NEED to Try it

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Last updated on April 13, 2022


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If you're curious about what squid ink tastes like, you're not alone. Many people are intrigued by this ingredient's unique flavor and appearance.

While it may seem daunting to cook with, squid ink is actually quite versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. 

Let's take a closer look at what squid ink tastes like, and why you should definitely check it out!

What is Squid Ink?


Squid ink is a dark black fluid that is extracted from squids.

The species known as cephalopods, include animals such as squid, cuttlefish and octopus. All these creatures produce cephalopod ink in their ink sac.

When cephalopods sense danger, they release the ink from the ink sac into the water. The ink will form a dark murky cloud to conceal their escape from the predator.

The main element of squid ink is melanin which gives the dark black, bluish color to the ink. This is similar to the melanin in humans that give us our hair, skin and eye color.

In general squid ink has a briny, slightly fishy flavor. Some would describe squid ink as tasting and smelling like the sea.

Depending on how it's prepared, the flavor profile of squid ink can vary; however one thing is for sure, the black color will not change.

Is it Safe to Eat Squid Ink?

Yes, squid ink is safe to eat. It is not poisonous despite its color!

However, please be aware of ingesting squid ink if you have a fish or shellfish food allergy. You may not be consuming the squid, cuttlefish or octopus directly but the ink can carry their allergens all the same.

Uses for Squid Ink in Food



In the world of Spanish tapas and Italian cuisine, squid ink pasta is very popular.

You can purchase squid ink pasta dry just like any other pasta. If you like fresh pasta and making your own at home, the ink is simply added to the eggs and kneaded into the dough to transform the color to black.

There is a slight saltiness to the squid ink, but once cooked into the pasta it's hardly noticeable. It still gives a small hint of the sea, which is why seafood fuses well with squid ink pasta.

Do you want to spice up a pasta dish for your dinner guests? Check out the recipes below for a tomato-based dish and a white cream-based dish for inspiration!

Squid Ink Linguine Pasta With Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes

Squid Ink Pasta Cream Sauce


In Valenica, Spain, a rice dish called arròs negre is a popular one made with squid ink, squid and shrimp.

Black rice is simmered in a sofrito, which is a sauce typically made with olive oil, onions, and garlic. The addition of squid ink not only gives the rice a deep black color but also a briny, umami flavor.

Check out this recipe!



Yes, there is squid ink bread! By now you should know there is no end to squid ink, another reason why you need to try it.

Unlike pasta and rice, squid ink in bread has very little significance in taste. There is a faint taste of the brininess but not much.

Since everyone loves butter on their bread, you will likely not taste the sea in this one. The squid ink is more of a coloring agent to turn the bread into a charcoal color. 

Check out this Black Burger Buns article and see if you can serve up some spooky sliders or burgers with this recipe!


Shifting gears over to Japan, there are a variety of soups that incorporate squid ink.

For example, a traditional Japanese dish originating from Okinawa called Ikasumi jiru, is a thick black soup served with chicken or pork and leafy greens.

The taste of the soup is strong of umami thanks to the squid ink. Squid ink is also used in ramen dishes.


Most of the dishes we covered so far have some sort of seafood paired with rice or pasta. This next dish is literally squid in its own ink.

Chipirones en su tinta is a traditional Spanish dish where the squids are stuffed with their own tentacles, seared, poached and then simmered in a squid ink sauce.

Now I know what you're thinking and how this dish may not be for, you but don't knock it til you try it!



Everyone loves tacos right? Here is a cool way to enhance your taco night: squid ink tortillas!

This is a rising trend where tacos are served with jet black tortillas. It helps make the colors of the taco pop and add bit of earthy flavor.

Check out this recipe on how to make your own squid ink tortillas!

Ice Cream


Ice cream is portrayed in every color possible, so why not black?

Popular mainly in Japan, you can make squid ink ice cream at home. Putting squid ink in ice cream is very simple process. 

It is usually applied after making the ice cream base.

Some have described the taste of squid ink ice cream as sweet, salty , a little fishy and a bit metallic. I believe finding the right ice cream flavor to pair with the ink is essential and comes down to personal preference.

Check out this link for malted squid ink ice cream with wasabi sprinkles!

Endless Applications


There are endless applications for squid ink, so if you don't find it appealing in food, you can check out these other items.

  • Medicines- squid ink has some antibacterial, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties to help with healing the body. That Japanese soup I mentioned earlier, was used to help people recover from sickness back in the day.
  • Cosmetics- because of its black-bluish hue, beauty items like mascara, eye shadow or hair dye are made with squid ink.
  • Ink- squid ink can be used for writing, art and painting.

Squid Ink Nutrition Facts


Like everything else in the world, doctors and researchers recommend that squid ink is not bad for you if consumed in rational quantities.

Squid ink is rich in iron, copper iodine and amino acids.

In addition, here are some other benefits of squid ink:

  • Antimicrobial - studies have shown that squid ink can fight against certain bacteria and viruses.
  • Antioxidant - this component in squid ink can protect your cells from free radical damage and oxidation like cancer or heart disease.
  • Immune system - squid ink can reduce hypertension and boost your immunity.

The only real risk of eating squid ink is if consumed when you have a fish or shellfish allergy.

How to Cook with Squid Ink

Typically squid ink is added while the food is cooking. Just think of food coloring. Most of the time food coloring is added during the mixing of liquids phase.

You should use the squid ink conservatively depending the serving size. Most of the recipes will call for about 1-2 tablespoons of squid ink.

How to Make Squid Ink Pasta


You would make squid ink pasta the same way you make regular pasta. The only added step is to blend the squid ink with the eggs and then apply that to your dry ingredients.

Check out this recipe to learn how to make homemade squid ink pasta.

If you would like to use pre-made dry squid ink pasta in your dishes, check out this recipe or scroll back up to our pasta segment!

Types of Squid Ink

Squid Ink - black and blue color

Cuttlefish Ink - a shade of brown

Where Can I Buy Squid Ink?


You can purchase squid ink on Amazon or seafood supermarkets. Many international markets that sell seafood also supply squid ink.

Check out Marky's shop where his squid ink is imported from Spain.

Where to Buy Squid Ink Pasta

You can purchase squid ink pasta on Amazon, or at Trader Joe's and World Market.

Sometimes small mom and pop grocery stores may have them or the international supermarkets.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does Squid Ink Pasta Taste Like?

Some say squid ink pasta taste like the sea, a little of the salty sea. Not fishy and not overpowering to any pasta dish.

What to Make with Squid Ink Pasta?

There are endless options. It is common to incorporate some sort of seafood into your dish, such as shrimp along with cherry tomatoes.

How to Make Black Pasta without Squid Ink?

You can make black pasta with charcoal powder, another popular cooking ingredient to color your food.

This type of charcoal has been treated by high levels of heat so that its surface expands and becomes porous.

What Sauce Goes Well with Squid Ink Pasta?

A white wine cream sauce goes will with squid ink pasta. A general rule is that the sauce shouldn't be too heavy, salty or too dark in color.

If the sauce is too dark in color, it can take away the performance of the squid ink noodles.


If you're looking for a way to add some intrigue and uniqueness to your cooking, or just want to experiment in the kitchen, squid ink may be the ingredient for you.

Squid ink is actually quite versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, so don't be intimidated by this unique addition to your cuisine. 

Check out the recipes we've included and let us know how it goes. Trust us, once you give it a go, you'll be hooked!


About the author, Amy

Amy spends her days changing diapers, creating chaos in the kitchen, hunting for bourbon and exploring breweries across the country with her husband and Baby Amelia! (She has been to more breweries than Amy ever did when she was a one year old!) Amy received her Bachelors Degree in Hospitality with a concentration in food & beverage at East Carolina University. She spent most of her hospitality career managing & guiding individuals to provide the best dining experience to guests through the creativity of the dishes & beverages