Air Fryer Scallops
on Dec 23, 2023, Updated Feb 18, 2024
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Air Fryer Scallops are made from one of our easy seafood recipes. This quick dinner is bursting with flavor from a lemon garlic butter sauce that the whole family goes crazy over!
Fast and easy, I will show you how to make scallops for dinner that are cooked to tender perfection in under 10 minutes!
Table of Contents
About these Air Fryer Scallops
Featuring one of my favorite things to eat, this easy air fryer recipe may be my new favorite way to make a quick meal the whole family enjoys!
As part of our collection of food you can make in an air fryer, this recipe for air fryer scallops (along with our air fryer salmon and air fryer rockfish) fits perfectly into my idea of the perfect seafood dinner. Like our air fryer bacon-wrapped scallops, you can also serve these as a delicious appetizer.
The first time I tried this quick version of making scallops, it was love at first bite. It is fast, easy, and so delicious!
This Air Fryer Scallops recipe thaws scallops, seasons them, and air fries them until golden brown. Next, a quick lemon garlic butter sauce is made while they cook. The scallops are served with the sauce, lemon juice, parsley, and lemon wedges.
If you’ve wondered how to make scallops in an air fryer, this easy scallop recipe is for you!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Simple Ingredients: You only need a handful of fresh ingredients for this dish.
Best Way to Cook Scallops: Air frying is the absolute best way to cook scallops. They come out perfectly tender and juicy on the inside with a beautiful golden brown sear on the outside.
Easy Air Fryer Scallops Recipe: This recipe is incredibly easy to follow, even for beginner cooks. With just a few steps and minimal prep time, you’ll have a restaurant-quality meal on the table in under 15 minutes.
Quick and Easy Dinner Solution: Weeknight dinners don’t get much easier than this. Throw the scallops in the air fryer while you whip up a side dish, and dinner is served! Main Course or Appetizer: This recipe is versatile enough to serve as a main course or an elegant appetizer.
Ingredients and Notes
Jumbo Scallops: Jumbo scallops (sometimes called diver scallops) serve as the star ingredient, providing a sweet and delicate flavor with a tender, succulent texture. Their natural sweetness usually intensifies during the air frying process.
When buying scallops in grocery stores, look for ones that are dry-packed. Avoid scallops that contain STP (Sodium Tripolyphosphate). This is a nasty high-salt preservative that will make the scallops suck in a lot of water which totally dilutes their flavor and over-inflates their actual weight. Of course, fresh scallops are always best if you can get them!
Fresh or frozen dry scallops work best for this easy recipe. Choose medium-sized to jumbo-sized scallops for even cooking.
You can buy scallops and other seafood from the Wild Alaskan Company. We love the quality of their products, which are delivered to your front door!
The Different Types of Scallops
|Largest (1 inch+ thick)
|Large (up to 2 inches)
|Small (about 0.5 inches)
|Deep, cold ocean waters
|Deep, cold ocean waters
|Shallow bays and estuaries
|Rich and sweet
|Rich and sweet
|Sweet and delicate
|Common Cooking Methods
|Ideal for searing
|Grilling, searing, baking
|Stir-fries, salads, pasta dishes
|Scallops Per Pound
Salt and Pepper: Salt enhances the natural flavors of the scallops, while pepper adds a subtle heat. I used Kosher salt for this recipe. If you prefer, you can use sea salt or experiment with flavored salts like smoked or truffle salt. Freshly ground black pepper is recommended, but you can use white pepper for a milder taste.
Old Bay Seasoning: Old Bay seasoning adds a savory and slightly spicy kick to the scallops. You can use cajun seasoning or make your own seasoning by combining paprika, celery salt, ground mustard, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantities to taste.
Olive Oil: Olive oil provides a light coating for the scallops to ensure even cooking. It also enhances the scallop’s natural flavors. Feel free to use oils like avocado oil, grapeseed or canola as substitutes.
Unsalted Butter: Butter enriches this dish with a creamy texture and a rich, luxurious flavor. I prefer using unsalted butter because it gives hou better control over this dish’s overall saltiness. Feel free to use clarified butter or a high-quality olive oil for a different flavor profile.
Garlic: Minced garlic adds depth and an aromatic flavor to the lemon butter sauce. It also complements the sweetness of the scallops. For a milder garlic flavor, you can roast the garlic before mincing or use garlic powder as a substitute.
Lemon Zest and Juice: Lemon zest provides a bright, citrusy aroma, while the juice adds acidity that cuts through the richness of the butter. If fresh lemons are not available, you can use bottled lemon juice. I highly recommend the juice of fresh lemons, though.
Parsley: Chopped parsley adds a vibrant green color to the scallops and serves as a garnish. Substitute with fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or use finely chopped green onions or chives for a similar effect.
How to Make Scallops in an Air Fryer
(Full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post.)
Start by turning your air fryer on at 400° F. You want the machine at this temperature before you put the scallops in it.
Start by allowing your scallops to thaw, then rinse them with running water. Pull the side muscle off the scallops (if present.)
After the scallops are thawed and rinsed, use a paper towel to gently pat them dry.
Add the scallops to a bowl and gently mix in the olive oil and seasoning.
Add the scallops to your air fryer in a single layer. Make sure the temperature is at 400° before you put them in. These scallops are coated with oil, so there’s no need to use cooking spray.
Be care not to overcrowd the air fryer basket. Instead, place scallops in a single layer for even airflow and browning. Overcrowding leads to steaming instead of browning.
I recommend aiming for 400°F (200°C) when cooking scallops. This ensures quick cooking. Keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook. Overcooking can make scallops rubbery.
How to know when the scallops are done
Making scallops in an air fryer takes between 7 and 10 minutes. You’ll want to flip these halfway through, so after about 4 minutes.
To ensure your scallops are done, look for an opaque white color throughout, slightly golden brown edges. Take them out of the air fryer when they reach an internal temperature of 120°. You’ll need a good instant-read thermometer to check on these.
You can make the garlic butter sauce while the scallops are in the air fryer. It’s as simple as combining the butter, garlic, parsley, and lemon zest, all in a small saucepan over medium heat.
When these air fryer scallops are finished cooking, it’s time to plate and garnish them. I always like to serve my seafood on a pre-warmed plate. This helps to keep the scallops hot because they cool down quickly.
Once they are on the plate, drizzle some golden lemony garlic butter over them and maybe a prince of fresh juice from a lemon wedge.
Substitutions and Variations
Like most other recipes, there is always room for a little give and take when you make scallops in the air fryer. Here are some substitutions and variations you can try for the air fryer scallops recipe:
- Substitution: If jumbo scallops are not available or you prefer something smaller, use sea scallops or bay scallops. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as smaller scallops will cook faster.
- Variation: For a different seafood flavor, try shrimp or cubed firm fish like cod or halibut as an alternative.
- Old Bay Seasoning:
- Substitution: If you don’t have Old Bay, create a mix of paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and celery salt for a similar flavor profile.
- Variation: Experiment with other seasoning blends like Cajun, Italian herbs, or a simple mix of garlic and onion powder for a different taste.
- Olive Oil:
- Substitution: Replace olive oil with avocado oil or melted coconut oil for a slightly different taste and higher smoke point.
- Variation: Use a flavored oil, like garlic or herb-infused oil, for an extra kick of flavor.
- Unsalted Butter:
- Substitution: Use ghee or clarified butter for a lactose-free option with a similar rich flavor.
- Variation: For a different taste, try mixing in a bit of sesame oil or truffle oil with the butter before tossing it with the scallops.
- Substitution: If fresh garlic isn’t available, garlic powder can work in a pinch, or use shallots for a milder flavor.
- Variation: Add ginger or lemongrass for an Asian twist.
- Lemon Zest and Juice:
- Substitution: Replace lemon with lime for a slightly different citrus note or orange for a sweeter touch.
- Variation: Add orange zest along with lemon for a more complex, citrusy flavor.
- Substitution: If parsley isn’t your favorite, try cilantro for a fresh taste or dill for a more aromatic option.
- Variation: Combine parsley with other herbs like thyme or basil for a more herbaceous flavor.
Make Breaded Scallops in the Air Fryer
Breading isn’t necessary though, but doing it can add a crispy coating. If you decide to bread the scallops, use light breading like panko bread crumbs to avoid overpowering the delicate scallop flavor. You can also dust the scallops in a shallow bowl with cornstarch for a light, crispy texture.
These substitutions and variations can help you tailor this seafood recipe to your taste preferences or adapt it based on what you have available in your pantry. Enjoy experimenting with your air fryer scallops recipe!
What to Serve with Scallops
Many sides go well with air fryer scallops. Favorite side dishes like roasted vegetables such as asparagus, wilted spinach, Brussels sprouts, or sweet potato fries are great options. You can also serve them over a bed of rice or quinoa, or with a simple salad.
You can pair scallops with dipping sauces like lemon garlic aioli, tangy cocktail sauce, chimichurri, or creamy tartar sauce.
These season scallops in the air fryer are the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or have a quiet dinner at home. Either way, they are one of the best recipes you can make in under 30 minutes!
Many people ask how long to cook scallops in air fryer. Air Fryer Scallops
Cooking time depends on the size of the scallops. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium to jumbo-sized scallops. Smaller scallops may cook faster, while larger ones may need an extra minute per side.
Cooking time depends on the size of the scallops. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium to jumbo-sized scallops. Smaller scallops may cook faster, while larger ones may need an extra minute per side
Yes, you can air fry breaded frozen scallops from the grocery store. All you need to do is follow the cooking instructions on the package. I recommend starting with a slightly shorter cooking time and then adjusting as needed.
Raw scallops can be stored in the fridge for 1 to 2 days while cooked leftover scallops can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Be sure to store them in an airtight container before refrigerating them.
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Air Fryer Scallops
- 10-20 raw jumbo scallops, thawed and patted dry with paper towels Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon, about 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 teaspoon minced parsley, plus extra for garnish 1 lemon, juiced
- Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F.
- Remove your frozen scallops from the plastic bag and place them in a medium bowl of cold water to thaw. After they thaw, rinse them under running water and remove the side muscle. Tip: The side muscle, sometimes called the "foot," is a small, tougher part on one side of a scallop. It looks like a little flap, has a different texture, and can be chewy. To remove it, just grab it with your fingers and pull it off.
- Pat the wet scallops dry using a paper towel and then place them in a small bowl. Add oil as well as seasonings to the bowl and gently combine until the scallops are well seasoned.
- Place the raw scallops in the air fryer basket in a single layer and air fry them for a cooking time of 7-10 minutes until the outside and edges start to turn a light golden brown, and the scallops are cooked through. Flip halfway through the cooking process. The scallops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 120-130 degrees F.
- While the scallops are cooking, combine melted butter, minced garlic, lemon zest, and parsley in a small saucepan or small skillet over medium heat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Once the scallops are done cooking, remove them from the air fryer basket and drizzle the lemon garlic butter sauce over the top. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the scallops for a burst of freshness.
- Garnish your delicious air-fried scallops with additional minced parsley, and lemon wedges for a pop of color. Serve your scallop dinner immediately while they are hot. The garlic herb butter adds a flavorful and aromatic touch to enhance the natural sweetness of the delicious scallops.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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