Octopus Salad (Ensalada de Pulpo)

If you are using frozen octopus, unwrap it and place it in a large rectangular dish filled with cold water to defrost.

If you buy a frozen octopus, it has already been cleaned. If you have an octopus fresh from the sea, there are a few steps you need to take to get it ready to cook, i.e. removing the beak, the eyes, and the ink sac. See this video or this blog post for good explanations on how to do that.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • One 2 pound octopus, cleaned
  • Salt
  • Several large sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Several large sprigs of fresh parsley
  • Several sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup seeded, chopped cucumber (peeled if the peels are thick and bitter, otherwise leave them on)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 green onions, sliced, including some of the darker green ends
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced (test for heat, if really hot, only use a small amount)
  • 1/2 cup (loose) chopped fresh cilantro, including tender stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes


1 Boil the octopus in salted water: Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the raw octopus in the boiling water, return the water to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Then remove the octopus from the pot and place to cool on a sheet pan. Discard the cooking water.

raw octopus boiling octopus using tongs to retrieve boiled octopus from pot boiled octopus on tray

2 Cut the octopus into large pieces, discard anything that doesn't look like meat (innards, beak, etc.) that somehow slipped by the cleaning process. Place the pieces of the octopus on the bed of herbs.

cutting boiled octopus

3 Bake: Prepare a bed of herbs (parsley, cilantro, fresh oregano) in a small Dutch oven or covered casserole. Place the octopus pieces on top of the herbs, cover and bake in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 1 3/4 hours, until tender (adjust cooking time for smaller or larger octopi).

bed of herbs in pot for octopus salad octopus pieces on herbs in pot baked octopus on herbs in pot

4 Prep the baked octopus pieces: Remove the pieces of octopus to a sheet pan to cool. When cool to touch, pull off any gelatinous bits that surround the pieces of the octopus that you don't want to eat. (It's a texture thing. If you don't mind the texture, don't worry about it, it tastes good.)

You may also notice small round pieces of meat that sort of look like eyeballs. They're not eyeballs, but pieces from the octopus' suction cups on the tentacles. They taste good too, just like the rest of the octopus.

Cut the meat into 1/2-inch pieces. You should have close to 2 cups of chopped octopus meat.

cooked chopped octopus pieces for octopus salad

5 Combine with remaining ingredients (except tomato) and chill:  Place the chopped octopus into a large, non-reactive bowl.  Add the cucumbers, red onion, scallions, cilantro, dried oregano, and jalapeño. Add the lime juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and stir to combine.  Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

6 To serve, stir in the chopped tomatoes.

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  • katz

    Recipe calls for jalapeno, description refers to chiles. You may prefer chiles.

    My first time with whole octopus. 2 lb frozen cleaned octopus becomes less than a cup by the time it’s done in the oven and cut up. Next time I will parboil and then cut it up. It was no more tender and less flavorful. Alternatively, prepared octopus from the Asian market is no more expensive and a lot less work.


  • Virginia

    Octopus is very expensive because they are hard to catch. I am Cuban and needed a different way of preparing. Like Michael Jackson’s album: This is it!

  • Kurt

    So good–I have salad in the fridge and so far, I like it. I went to PR grab and go place last month and had this for the first time….it was SOAKED in EVO —so greasy but good taste. The price was outrageous, $13 for about a cup. So–it got me thinking…I could do this…onion, octo, jalapeno, herbs, salt, pepper, EVO and vinegar (but way less).

    As I sit here waiting…..I’m wondering…..why not minced garlic? I don’t want to throw the flavors off..but does anyone else use garlic?


  • Cindy C.

    I decided to get out of my comfort zone and clean and cook fresh baby octopus for the first time. It was actually quite easy! After cleaning the octopus, I put the baby octopus in my electric pressure cooker for 13 minutes. They were done to perfection. Your salad recipe was so refreshing and delightful. I am so glad I got over my initial fear about preparing octopus. I will be trying a large octopus next time.


  • Janet

    I made this receipe as my boyfriend is Puerto Rican. I bought the Octopus at Whole Foods, fresh. It turned out great. Me t week fresh wild Salmon.


  • Judy

    Where do you buy octopus? I live in a small town in Wisconsin.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Judy, I can get it at my local Whole Foods and some other markets here in Sacramento. You might have to order it frozen if you can’t find it in a local market.

  • gerard guillemin

    I came on your page by mistake over here on crete I eat ocpotus all the time want to cook them in red wine very slow very nice thank u

  • Robert Allen

    Looks good! Living in Hawaii, we eat a lot of frsh caught Octopus. Ironically we call it Squid :P

    If you find you have a hard time getting your octopus tender, a great way to get in nice and tender, is to boil it in beer. If you want to get some of the slime off prior to cooking, put the octopus in a large bowl, add Hawaiian (rock) salt and massage and rub the the octopus repeatedly until slime is gone. rinse well to remove salt. Here in Hawaiian, you will often see people with a lot of octopus put it in a portable (well cleaned) cement mixer, as the pounding, spinning action also tenderizes the octopus :D

    If anyone is curious, i believe (aside from taste – octopus is a bit more…robust I think) the mian difference between Calamari and Octopus is – otopus has 8 legs, and Calamari has 10 ( the two extra long arms on the calamari. That and the head.

    great site, love the recipes !

  • Janet

    Hi Ellise,
    I want to make this, but I was just wondering; is there a particular reason why the oregano is dried when everything else is fresh?

    • Elise Bauer

      The flavor is more concentrated. You can use fresh if you want, just add a bit more.

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Always enjoy your posts, Elise! This salad looks really refreshing and perfect for summer. I would love to make this someday in the near future. Thank you so much for linking to my Japanese Octopus Salad recipe! xo :)

  • Connie

    Like Sandy S. I no longer eat octopus because of their intelligence/awareness level.

    • Elise Bauer

      Do you eat pork?

      • chieko

        Or veal, lamb, beef…

    • Debby

      Also, I cannot eat them. They are so wonderful and intelligent.

  • Magda

    Hi Elise. I’m so happy you found my instructions about preparing octopus useful. :) In Greece we cook and eat it all the time, especially during the summer when it’s at its best fresh.
    Your dish looks amazing, what a vibrant salad this is. I have to give it a try the next time I get my hands on some fresh octopus.
    Thank you!

  • Christine

    Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the best deals on octopus can be had at Asian markets. I purchased two big frozen octopuses (octopi is incorrect) at a Philipino grocery chain called Seafood City for $2.99 a pound.

    • Elise Bauer

      $2.99 a pound, that’s great! By the way, here’s what the Grammarist has to say on octopi vs octopuses.

    • Rita

      You also misspelled the word, Filipino – it’s not Philipino :)

      Great recipe, by the way, Elise! I love octopus in any way it’s prepared.

  • Chef Brian

    Fantastic Recipe. When I was cooking in Italy I was introduced to octopus and have loved it ever since. The key is to either cook for a short period of time or a very long time. Anything in between will be like rubber. Keep the great recipes coming.

  • Lisa Koh

    The Japanese have a salad that uses octopus and cucumber in a similar way but with the octopus and cucumber sliced like coins and garnished with myoga (a kind of ginger flower bulb). The combination of cucumber and octopus is supposed to cool the body down in the summer heat.

  • Fran

    Great recype, In Spain we call it Pipirrana, a very similar dish!

  • Monica

    Simply Delicioso! My grandma in puerto rico makes this dish when ever i visit nly thing she does’nt add is the jalapeño.

  • Carly

    This recipe looks very similar to the Salada de Polvo I eat in Portugal every summer, and it’s TO DIE FOR.

  • jenni

    this looks so good! does frozen octopus have a different texture from fresh octopus? i’ve never cooked with octopus before so the thought of cleaning a fresh one is a little scary.

  • IMHO

    [[There are a few steps you need to take to get it ready to cook, i.e. removing the beak, the eyes, and the ink sac.]]

    Even though this isn’t much different from prepping a chicken for cooking (I’ve pulled the innards out of many a bird), I’m going to take a pass on this recipe.

    • Elise Bauer

      Unless you are fishing for octopus in the ocean, any octopus you buy will likely already be cleaned and ready to cook.

    • chieko

      Cleaning a fresh octopus is so much easier than cleaning a fresh caught fish. A couple of things, an octopus has no blood, no gills, no bones. So easy and not much waste.

      • chieko

        Oh yeah…no scales!

  • Harrison

    Okra. Okra is slimier than Octopus.

  • Chris S.

    OK, Elise — if anyone could get me to try this, it’s you!! :)

  • Sandy S

    Oh my. I hope this post won’t get me banished from this website as I enjoy it and those who use it very much. But, here it goes. Octopus are pretty smart. Even the smaller ones. They can figure out how to open containers like jars and the larger ones can identify skin divers that they see from time to time. There is a movement in the Pac. NW to restrict killing of the larger ones in particular, as so many are being harvested for foreign trade. Just some info that can be looked into on the Internet for those who are interested.

    • KS

      I stopped eating octopus for that reason. They’re delicious but I feel sorry for them.

  • grace

    I like octopus and this look yummy. It’s just the cleaning it that’s creepy to me so I think I would buy it already cleaned and ready to go!!! I’d hope I could buy it like that!

    • Keith

      Shop rite on occasion. Ask manager

  • Jeno

    Octopus is definitely the most underrated of sea creatures. In Spain, we have it over slices of boiled potatoes then garnish with olive oil, a sprinkle of pimenton and flaky sea salt. The pictures are gorgeous!

    • James Langley

      Spent two weeks in Cadiz and Jerez last year, and could not bring myself to try pulpo. Wish I had skipped the Bacalao. Everything else was delicious. Ate at La Carbona in Jerez, which was wonderful. Been thinking about trying octopus here. We have one of the best Sushi bars in the country.

  • Diane Z.

    Do you think this method would would work in a slow cooker on high? It sounds yummy!