The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat octopus. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What octopus etiquette is

Octopus etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat octopus. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve octopus to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat octopus at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat octopus

What you should know about octopus

Octopuses are a type of cephalopod mollusk, which means they are in the same family as squids and cuttlefish.

Octopuses have a distinctive appearance with their bulbous heads and eight long, flexible tentacles that are covered in suction cups. They come in a range of colors including red, brown, and white, and their texture is firm and slightly rubbery. As for flavor, the octopus has a mild, slightly sweet taste that is often compared to that of scallops.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat octopus

1) How to store octopus

The ideal temperature to store octopus is between 32°F and 39°F (0°C to 4°C). Keep octopus in the pantry only if you are going to consume it within a few hours. It is best to keep the octopus frozen until ready to use. In the fridge, the octopus can last for up to three days if stored properly in an airtight container. In the freezer, the octopus can last for up to six months if stored properly in a freezer-safe bag or container.

Sliced or cooked octopus should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and can last for up to three days.

2) How to clean octopus

To clean the octopus, remove the head from the tentacles and discard the internal organs. Rinse the tentacles under cold running water and use a sharp knife to remove the skin. There are no significant risks associated with cleaning octopus, but it is important to use a sharp knife to avoid injury.

You can tell when an octopus has gone bad by looking for signs of discoloration, a sour or fishy smell, or a slimy texture. If any of these signs are present, it is best to discard the octopus.

3) How to prepare & cook octopus

Octopus can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare octopus for cooking, it’s important to first tenderize the meat by simmering it in water for about 45 minutes to an hour. After that, you can cook it in a variety of ways, including grilling, sautéing, or boiling. Common utensils and appliances to prepare octopus include a knife, cutting board, pot, and grill. Some popular ways to cook octopus include grilled octopus, octopus stew, and octopus salad.

Octopus is commonly used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine and is often found in dishes such as octopus salad, grilled octopus, and octopus stew. It can also be used in sandwiches and sushi rolls.

Octopus is generally okay for guests on a vegan, keto, or paleo diet, but it is not suitable for those with seafood allergies. There are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating octopus.

4) How to serve & present octopus

Octopus can be served at both formal and informal meals and can be served as a side dish, main course, or appetizer. It is not typically eaten for breakfast, brunch, or as a snack.

Octopus should be served at room temperature and can be presented on a plate or in a bowl. Common serving tools include tongs or a fork, and it’s not necessary to use any specific serving tools.

Octopus pairs well with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, including lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs like parsley and oregano.

5) Food and wine to pair octopus with

Octopus pairs well with a variety of vegetables and fruits, including tomatoes, bell peppers, and olives. It should be avoided with vegetables or fruits that are too sweet or overpowering in flavor.

Octopus can pair well with certain types of cheese and dairy, such as feta, goat cheese, and ricotta. It is best to avoid pairing octopus with heavy or strong-tasting cheeses, such as blue cheese or cheddar.

Octopus can pair well with certain types of meat, such as cured pork meat. It also pairs well with certain types of fish, such as shrimp, scallops, and squid. It is best to avoid pairing octopus with strong-tasting fish, such as mackerel or sardines.

For red wine pairings, lighter-bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais pair well with octopus. Heavier red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah may overpower the delicate flavors of octopus. For white wine pairings, crisp, acidic whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño pair well with octopus. Sweeter or oakier white wines may not pair as well. Some recommended wines include Muscadet, Vermentino, and Txakolina. Octopus can also pair well with Rosé wine, sparkling wine, beer, and spirits.

6) How to eat octopus

The most polite etiquette to eat octopus is to use chopsticks or a fork and knife. It is not polite to eat octopus with your fingers. When eating a whole octopus, it is customary to remove the head and tentacles from the body and discard the internal organs.

Octopus etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common octopus etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not removing the internal organs.
  • 5/10. Cutting octopus incorrectly.
  • 5/10. Not serving octopus at the proper temperature.

Additional information for properly serving octopus

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Octopus contains approximately 140-200 calories per 100 grams, depending on the preparation method. A single octopus contains approximately 300-500 calories.

How to buy the best octopus

A crucial factor in octopus etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Octopus is available all year round, but it is best to buy it during its peak season, which is typically from late fall to early spring.

Choose the best

Octopus can be found fresh, canned, frozen, and dried in commerce.

Some popular varieties of octopus include the Common octopus, Atlantic Pygmy octopus, and Mimic octopus. The most prized variety is the Japanese octopus, which is known for its tender texture and sweet flavor.

When buying octopus, look for firm, shiny skin and a fresh, ocean smell. The tentacles should be plump and without any visible damage. Avoid buying octopus that has a slimy texture, dull skin, or a strong fishy odor.

Alternatives to octopus

Some common alternatives to octopus include squid, cuttlefish, and other types of seafood like shrimp or scallops. Vegetarian alternatives include mushroom and tofu dishes that mimic the texture of octopus.


  • Growth, feed efficiency and condition of common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) fed on two formulated moist diets: