Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus - Perfect for seafood lovers!

Do you need a fancy recipe for date night?  A romantic dinner for two?  Are your in-laws or boss coming over for dinner, and you need to impress?  Periodically, Champagne Tastes will be featuring ‘Gourmet’ recipes.  These will still be budget friendly and relatively simple, but will help you confidently serve a gourmet meal without hiring a chef.

Are you feeling adventurous?  Let’s talk octopus.  That’s right, those eight-legged sea monsters that spend their days looking like they’ve escaped from a Jules Verne novel.  The spineless, fascinating creatures that can fit through any space they can squeeze their jaw bones through.  Well, my friends, those leggy beasts are also completely and utterly delicious.  The husband talked me into buying one on a Jungle Jim’s trip, and that’s how our invertebrate obsession began.  This recipe for Lemon Pepper Octopus is easy, and sure to leave you with a tender and flavor-packed meal.

In a hurry? Jump to the recipe! 

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Here’s the thing about octopus– it can either melt in your mouth, or taste like little bits of rubber if overcooked.  If you’ve ever had calamari, you’ve already eaten squid.  Octopus has a similar texture.  As with calamari, if your octopus is chewy, it’s probably been overcooked.  It should fall apart in your mouth.

Making Lemon Pepper Octopus

This octopus is cooked twice– once braised on the stove top in wine and water to tenderize it, and then cooked very quickly on a grill at high heat or quickly pan seared.  It should take anywhere from about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to prepare start to finish, but most of that is very hands-off.  I find it’s easier (if I’ve planned ahead), to braise it the day before, and then just grill or pan sear it quickly before dinner the next day.

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Either serve one octopus per person, or cut it into pieces and divide them up between plates.  This recipe is for 1 lb – 1 1/2 lbs of octopus and serves 2, but you can easily double the recipe as long as your pot is big enough.  This Lemon Pepper Octopus on its own probably won’t fill you up, but it’s incredibly flavorful.  Serve it quickly while it’s still piping hot with pasta tossed in a little cream and butter, or with Forbidden Rice*.  Dig in and enjoy your deliciously adventurous dinner.

Note: If you’re serving your octopus with a grain or legume that cooks in water or broth (like rice or lentils), save the liquid from braising the octopus and use that instead of the broth!  You might need to add a little salt to taste.  You could do this with pasta water too, but be aware that the dark octopus stock might dye your pasta a little darker (the dye-effect won’t be as noticeable with a dark grain or legume).

Also Note: When you search for octopus recipes, there will be lots of wives’ tales about putting corks or coins in the water with your octopus.  Go ahead and do it if you want, but mine has always turned out perfectly without doing any of that.

Want more seafood?  Try this:

Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with Ginger Soy Sauce

Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with Ginger Soy Sauce


Lemon Pepper Octopus
5 from 3 votes

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 362 kcal


  • ~1 1/2 lbs octopus (either 2 smaller or 1 larger octopus)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TB minced garlic
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • lemon or orange wedges for serving


  1. In a large heavy pot (such as a cast iron Dutch oven), place octopus, wine, peppercorns, lemon cut in half, salt, bay leaves, and garlic. Add water until octopus is covered with water by 1" (or try-- it will float).

  2. Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce to simmer, and cook octopus until tender. Cook time will depend on the size of your octopus- a half pound octopus should take about 40 minutes, and a 1 lb may take closer to 55 minutes. Octopus is done when you can pierce the skin easily with a fork or knife. Do NOT continue to cook- overcooked octopus becomes rubbery.
  4. Drain and allow octopus to come to room temperature, OR replace lid and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook (cook within a day).

To grill:

  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to high heat. Brush octopus with olive oil. Grill on very hot grill until browned- about 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon or orange wedges.

To pan sear:

  1. Heat olive oil on medium high heat until oil ripples. Sear octopus about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon or orange wedges.

Recipe Notes

*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal.  Calorie calculations do not include the wine, since the wine is poured out with the poaching liquids.  With wine included, the octopus has 450 kcals per serving.

Recipe adapted from: Serious Eats


53 thoughts on “Lemon Pepper Octopus

  1. Dawn @ Girl Heart Food says:

    I’ve had octopus before in restaurants, but haven’t cooked it much at home (just calamari maybe once). I heard that you either have to cook for a looong time so it’s tender or just a little. I bet this would be pretty impressive to serve to family and friends!

  2. Shelley says:

    Love it! I have a client who’s really in to octopus and this will be a nice change as I usually braise with tomatoes/olives/roasted red peppers.

  3. Amanda says:

    We love Octopus (not those people who get squeamish) But I’ve never tried making it. I know it can be finicky so it’s always made me nervous. This looks really simple though, so I can give it try! My hubby will be very happy!

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Yes try it! Just keep checking it when you braise it, and take it out as soon as it’s ready! It’ll be amazing 🙂

  4. Renz says:

    oh my. I’m usually just a calamari type of girl. Had it grilled one time on my salad and I actually liked it. Will def love to try this at some point.

  5. Lucy says:

    I love ordering octopus in restaurants, but I’ve always been too intimidated to try cooking it at home. Thanks for the tip to braise it and then cook it quickly over high heat! So that’s the secret 🙂

  6. Tamara says:

    What a lovely and intriguing dish! I cook regularly with calamari, and I do love octopus (though I’ve not cooked with it). I see it at the fish counter at my market, so maybe it’s time I give it a try in my own kitchen 🙂

    • champagne-tastes says:

      There’s a farmers market near me with a fish monger, but I’ve also seen it at international grocery stores (If you’re anywhere near Ohio- I love Jungle Jim’s seafood section). Really any place with a big frozen or fresh fish section! If you don’t see it- ask the person at your local grocers seafood counter. They might be able to order it 🙂

    • champagne-tastes says:

      You would probably do a better job than the restaurants, because it’s the only thing you’re cooking 🙂 they’re trying to multi-task! It’s super easy!

  7. Amanda Mason says:

    My daughter is allergic to shellfish….but I dont think octopus is shellfish. I’ve never had octopus before!! May have to give this one a try!

    • champagne-tastes says:

      It’s not!! If you aren’t sure I’d check with her Dr first, but they most definitely don’t have shells 🙂

  8. Kate says:

    Oh my goodness! Amazing! I haven’t been brave to take on Octopus. Maybe if you could stand hover over me the whole time and give encouragement… 🙂

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Lol! It is a little freaky looking when you pull it out of the package haha- I feel like a sea monster when I hold it LOL. Worth it though!!!

  9. Sarah says:

    Fancy in my budget? Love this! Because…well…”on a budget” is my middle name. And I like to keep it a secret haha! Can’t wait to try this…completely intrigued to have octopus for the first time! Woo!

  10. Brian Jones says:

    Oh wow, I love octopus, very difficult to get here in Hungary but we make a trip to the Dalmation coast in Croatia every so often and octopus is always one of the first things I order… It is fab sat at a beach restaurant watching folk fish for octopus whist tucking into to some 😀

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