How to Cook Scallops Like a Pro

Discover how to cook scallops and you’ll want to make them often. Are you a seafood enthusiast, always on the lookout for new amazing seafood recipes to try out? Once you know how to cook scallops and you will be able to rustle up a great meal.

I have got something you will love. In this post, I’m going to be showing you five great ways to prepare a scallop dish.

Scallops are bivalve shellfish with two scalloped shells that are abundantly present in the world’s oceans with a flat, fan-shaped bottom shell and a dome-shaped top shell.

The edible portion of the scallop is the white abductor muscle with a naturally mild sweet, soft fleshy and delicate of flavor. You can try a combination of the male (grey-pink) and the female (orange) for a tasteful delicacy that got a lot of aesthetic appeal as well. 

Types of Scallops

Discover more about this seafood and you will be way ahead knowing how to cook scallops. There are different varieties of scallops but, in the US, only three out of the myriad of species are popular and edible.

They are:

  • sea scallops
  • calico scallops
  • bay scallops

Learn more about each of these so you discover how to cook scallops and which ones to choose each time.

  • Sea Scallops: The sea scallops are the largest of the scallops with some growing to over one and half to two inches in diameter. They are free living and are often found in the open waters
  • Calico scallops: These ones are found around Southern Atlantic coasts and the US gulf. They are inherently different from the sea and bay scallops in that their shells are tightly closed and can only be steamed opened before preparation.
  • Bay Scallops: Though smaller than the sea scallops, some enthusiast think they are sweeter than sea scallops.

How to Cook Scallops: Availability

Scallops are available all year round. The season for the bay scallop is between Octobers through to March, while the big open water scallops are available from December through May.

How to Cook Scallops: Where to Buy Them

You can get them pre-packed from your local grocery store as either a “wet” scallop or ‘dry’ scallops. ‘Dry’ scallops are creamy or sometimes you’d find some that are fawn in color these ones are unprocessed.

For ‘wet’ scallops they are most times very white, and this is because they have been processed with phosphates to keep them fleshy and fresh.

The thing with processed scallops is that, the additive used in the treatment could make them absorb excess moisture, which most times are as much as 50 percent of their weight, hence ballooning how much they weigh. Since they are sold by weight, you’d be paying higher for them. Knowing how to buy them is as important as learning how to cook scallops.

About Frozen Scallops: Are They Any Good?

You might find yourself purchasing frozen scallops, well, the thing is, and they could be a great value. However, when thawing, it is better to slowly defrost so as to retain their plumpness.

To do this, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight without bringing them out of the bag and in a situation where you are pressed for time – and you need to thaw them quickly – run them under a stream of cold water until they are thawed.

How to Cook Scallops: How to Store Them Fresh 

It is ideal to use the scallops the same day you purchased them, but if you must store them, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Scallops store well in temperatures well below 38 degrees F (3.5 degrees C). So, if you keep your refrigerator above this temperature, you’d have to make some adjustments.
  • Prepare this setup for storing the scallops: get a container, preferably a plastic container, with holes at the bottom and place in a deeper plastic container.
  • Place ice in the perforated container and spread the scallops on it. Tightly cover with a damp paper towel, and store in the coolest part of the refrigerator.
  • Even with this precaution, you should use them within a day or two. 

General Tips on Cooking Scallops

A rule of thumb when preparing scallops is to undercook rather than overcook. Serving scallops half-cooked is safe and you’d surely enjoy the delectable plump delicacy.  

Another reason for chomping servings of undercooked scallop is because when overcooked it gets tough and rubbery and that wouldn’t give you the best culinary experience. Good to know when you learn how to cook scallops.

In case, you are planning on using a dry-heating method to cook your scallops, it’s important you remember to purchase a dry pack scallops. Do you know why? A wet pack is more likely to steam in all the excess water it gives off, that it would overcook even before having the chance to caramelize.

Nutritional Contents of Scallops

Are scallops healthy? Well, seafood is generally packed full with proteins, vitamins, and minerals so are scallops. But, what makes them even more desirable is that they are not only chock-full with these health enhancing contents but also has little mercury content which is a major concern with eating seafood.

To get an idea of what you’d be getting when you eat scallops; here’s a run down of the nutritional content:

Scallops are a rich source of lean protein, and according to the US Food and Drug Administration, Scallops are rich in calcium, sodium, vitamin C and A, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and zinc. So you see you’d be topping up on essential nutrients needed for a healthy living.

How to Cook Scallops: Their Health Benefits

Scallops are packed with a magnificent health benefits due to the array of vital nutrients they contain.

  • Rich source of lean protein: Protein as we know is a vital nutrient required by the body to maintain a balanced metabolic process. The amino acids from protein are utilized in building up and maintaining muscle mass, repair worn-out tissues, and replenishing deplete body fluids.
  • They prevent stroke: Scallops have a high content of antioxidants and minerals which eliminates blood clotting, improves blood circulation and help maintain a healthy supply of blood to the brain.
  • They promote cardiovascular health: Scallops are chuck-full with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, and antioxidants, which help keep the blood cholesterol level down, enhance red blood count and keep the heart going strong.

The Prep Work

Scallops are incredibly easy to prepare before cooking. Simply wash and pat them dry, then check on the sides to see if there’s any strand of muscle still attached to it and remove either by cutting with a knife or pulling them out with your fingers.

If you cook the scallop without removing the muscles, they feel tougher and chewy than the rest of the scallop, so it’s best to just get rid of them.

How to Tell when Scallops are Done

Overcooking scallops is bad – you know this already, right? But, you might not be aware of the tell-tale signs that show they are done. So, I’m going to tell you.

Remember scallops are primarily protein, and proteins often turn from translucent to opaque when cooked. Think of eggs, recall how egg-whites turn from clear translucent color to opaque white – that’s basically the same thing that happens to scallops when cooked.

But, please, don’t ever walk away when cooking them – keep watchful eyes over them. Scallops cook incredibly fast – so a small distraction and before you know it, they are overcooked. Yep, another very important tip on how to cook scallops.

Another foolproof method to know when they are done is to cut open a small opening to check for ‘doneness’. With time you wouldn’t have to do this, since you would have known how long it takes to cook and by merely looking at them will know whether it is done or not.

how to cook scallops

5 Must-Try Methods to Cook Scallops

So you want to learn how to cook scallops? Let’s get started. There are several ways to cook your seafood. You can either sear or grill them. You can also opt to sauté, poach or stir-fry this versatile seafood. There’s practically so much you can do with scallops, tap into your creativity and come up with a dish that will leave your taste buds tingling.

Now, I can imagine you are itching to get your hands on these delectable recipes on how to prepare a delicious dish of scallop. But, before going onto the recipes – I believe you’d want to know how prep for the cooking and when to know when they are cooked.

Sear Them to Golden Heaven

The secret to getting a deep brown to golden color on both sides of the scallop is figuring out a way to remove the water content in the seafood even before ever attempting to cook them or better still, purchasing the fresh ‘dry’ scallops.

Now, you really need to get this part of ‘how to cook scallops’ just right, or you would watch as your scallop steam and cook without ever turning into that desired golden color.

So, let’s say, you’ve decided to prepare a meal of scallop and you intend to sear them. Follow this direction to get the best possible result with your effort:

Definition of terms:

Searing is a form of cooking that involves using blistering hot heat to seal in juices by forming a delicious golden-brown crust.


Seared Scallops Recipe

This simple recipe shows you how to cook and sear scallops in oil. One of the easiest methods of cooking scallops, this foolproof dish pairs beautifully with your favorite salad or vegetable sides.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Main Dish


  • 1 1/4 pounds (570g) fresh dry North Atlantic scallops
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Kosher salt


  1. Wash, and tap out the moisture from the scallops’ surface with a paper towel.
  2. Select a cast iron or stainless steel skillet.
  3. Brush in some oil (depending on what you’d prefer, some people use butter or olive oil. You can just use a plain veggie or canola oil, they will still do).
  4. Set over high heat until you start seeing smoke lightly coming off the oil
  5. Gently drop the scallops in the scorching hot pan and leave them.
  6. Don’t touch or try to flip them until you see them brown out.
  7. Allow to cook for about one minute.
  8. Flip them to sear the underbelly.
  9. Allow to rest for a minute and then transfer to a paper towel-covered plate to wick off any extra oil.


Serve immediately with a side salad, pasta or your favorite risotto dish.

Photo by Aimee Plesa, on Flickr

Grilling Scallops for the Weekend

Its weekend and you have some friends coming over for some fun and a bit to eat. Give them a treat to remember with this grilled scallop recipe. Easy to prep, fast to cook – you wouldn’t break a sweat doing this once you follow the steps outlined here. And I bet your friends will really thank you for this.

Buying Tips

Go for the biggest plump scallops you could find. The large sized scallops are able to withstand the heat more than the smaller ones and they wouldn’t turn bouncy rubbery on you as fast as the small sized scallops would do.

Pick the jumbo pack which contains about ten scallops per pound.


Grilled Scallops Recipe

Grilling scallops gives them a wonderful smoky flavor, and you can pair this recipe with any other preferred barbecue sides. In just a few minutes you will be rewarded with perfect grilled scallops.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • Grape seed or canola oil for the grill
  • 20 large dry-packed sea scallops
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Lettuce, to serve
  • Vinaigrette, to serve


  • Skewers (pre-soak in warm water for about 45 minutes if wooden)


  1. Brush a coating of canola or grape seed oil on the grill grates to avoid getting them all messy when you start grilling, and also to avoid the scallops sticking to them.
  2. Pat the scallops with a paper towel to keep them dry, then thread them on skewers.
  3. Season with salt and pepper just before placing them on the heated grill grates.
  4. Allow the scallops to cook for about 4 minutes on one side to get the appetizing grill marks.
  5. Use a thin-edge spatula to flip the skewers and allow to cook just until the turn opaque.
  6. Glaze the scallops with oil at the last minute before removing from the heat.
  7. Top the lettuce with the scallops and drizzle your favorite vinaigrette on top.
  8. Serve immediately, and eat while still hot.

Photo by Stu_Spivack, on Flickr

Scallop Stir Fry Recipe

Are you thinking of what to do with the extra scallops left over? Or perhaps you need a quick meal recipe to celebrate with your family. This easy to prepare, fast to cook scallop recipe is what you need and sure enough it is very tasty!


Scallops Stir Fry Recipe

Check out this combo of soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and rice vinegar, all tossed and stir-fried with scallops. Stir frying quickly over a high heat is a great way to cook this seafood.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • 20 large dry-packed sea scallops
  • ¼ cup (60ml) rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1 cup (180g) raw long grain white rice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, quartered and cut into 1½ inch (3½cm) lengths
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 bunches scallions (spring onions), sliced with the white and green parts separated


  1. Bring 1½ cups (375ml) water to a boil.
  2. Add the rice, stir and return to the boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cook for about 15 minutes until rice becomes tender.
  4. Remove from heat, and allow to steam for about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make a sauce by tossing and whisking together the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl, and then set aside.
  6. In a large non-stick frying pan, set heat to medium-high and heat up vegetable oil. Toss in bell pepper, carrots, ginger, and scallion whites.
  7. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes until the carrots are tender.
  8. Toss in the scallops and scallion greens.
  9. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the scallops are done.
  10. Stir the sauce briefly, and add to the frying pan.
  11. Cook for 1 minute until thickened.
  12. Serve the scallop stir-fry over the hot rice.

Photo by The Marmot, on Flickr

Baked Scallops Recipe

So, some of your friends are coming over for the Friday night party and you’ve worried your heart out on what meal to make for the night? You’d prefer something that’s easy to make, take less time and would still leave a great impression.

Here’s a quick recipe you can try and I promise it wouldn’t take you more than 25 minutes to prep and get the dish ready and I assure you, your guests are going to love it.


Easy Yummy Baked Scallops

Here we are flavoring baked scallops with rich flavors like paprika, parsley and cheese. You can serve these with your favorite greens and perhaps treat yourself to some hot fries on the side too.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 pound (450g) scallops (could be either bay or sea)
  • 1 cup (85g) crushed Ritz crackers
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • ¼ cup (30g) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 minced garlic cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Toss the crushed Ritz crackers, onion powder, paprika, parsley, and cheese in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Mix in the scallops with some of the cracker blend, and toss to complete the coating.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat.
  5. Toss in garlic and allow to cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  6. Empty melted garlic topped butter into a glass oven dish and place scallops on top, pour the remaining cracker blend on top.
  7. Place inside the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with a wedge of lime.


Try serving these in scallop shells for an extra fancy dish!

Photo by Garrett Ziegler, on Flickr

Poached Scallops with Leeks and Carrots

This is really a super-fast recipe for those moments when you’re pinched for time. Discover how to cook scallops via poaching.


How to Poach Scallops

Scallops can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here they are poached in white wine. Veggies like carrots and leeks are added, along with garlic and parsley for a subtle, classic flavor in every bite.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium-sized carrots, cut into fine strips
  • 2 leeks (light green and white), cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup (125ml) dry white wine
  • pounds (675g) large sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup (25g) fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pine nuts


  1. Heat half the oil in a medium saucepan and heat over high heat.
  2. Toss carrots, leeks, and stir in well.
  3. Allow to cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the wine and ½ cup (125ml) of water and allow to boil.
  5. Add seasonings to the scallops and place on top the vegetables.
  6. Allow to simmer over a low heat until scallops are done.
  7. Simmer for about 6 minutes.
  8. Toss in the parsley, garlic, pine nuts, and remaining oil.
  9. Mix the veggies and broth and stir well. Serve with the scallops.

Photo by Stu_Spivack, on Flickr

How to Cook Scallops: Wrapping It Up

Scallops are versatile seafood you can prepare in a number of ways. I hope these cooking methods and recipes in this post give you the kick to try it for yourself.

Once you are familiar with how to cook scallops, you will want to try all these delicious recipes! If you want to try something else, maybe check out this baked scallop pasta recipe. It’s really good comfort food.