If you didn't think something could be buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and crispy at the same time, then you're in for a treat with these air fryer scallops! Crispy and seasoned on the outside and succulent and juicy on the inside and so easy to make for occasions big and small.
Scallops may very well be thought of as something you only order at fancy restaurants or seafood shacks but that is simply not the case. Don't get me wrong, they are delicious and deserve all the glory, however, despite their luxurious reputation, they are super simple to make at home. Whether they're pan-seared, grilled, or air fried, they're so easy you can have them for a casual dinner during the week too!
They're as elegant and impressive as they've always been and that's what makes this recipe so amazing. Scallops don't need a lot of fussing, they're slightly sweet and have a delicious taste all on their own. The seasoned breading enhances the flavor but more than that, it provides a crispy texture in every bite that sets them apart from any other way of preparing them.
You'll want to make these any chance you get. Whether as an appetizer for a party, an easy dinner, or a quick lunch. Scallops are no longer out of reach, they're super accessible and so easy, anyone can make them!
What are scallops?
Scallops look like the seafood version of a marshmallow! They're related to oysters, clams, and mussels and also live in large double shells at the bottom of the ocean. The part of the scallop that we consume is the muscle that is used to open and close the shell.
Why You'll Love this Sea Scallops Recipe
- The air fryer makes clean up easier than grease splatter and brown bits stuck to a pan! If you're an experienced air fryer user you'll know that most (if not all) air fryers are dishwasher safe and non-stick.
- This recipe keeps the signature texture of a buttery scallop with the added bonus of a crispy exterior. It's not deep-fried so it's still nice and light.
- Can be casual or fancy for any meal of the day any day of the week. Even for those who aren't big on seafood or are not a fan of "fishy" tastes, these scallops will change your mind!
- Customize the recipe to suit your tastes and use whatever seasonings you prefer. Keep reading for flavor inspiration.
- Sea scallops – You'll need about 16 (or 1 pound) of sea scallops. They are larger than Bay scallops (about 2”) which will give you more meat, they're more tender, and overall it is more bang for your buck.
- Salt & Pepper – A little seasoning is enough for the already flavorful scallop.
- Flour – Used for the first part of the dredging process. Keeps the surface of the scallop dry and helps with coating.
- Butter & Olive oil – Does what eggs normally do in most recipes that use a breadcrumb coating. They'll help the breadcrumbs stick but also add incredible buttery flavor.
- Breadcrumbs & Garlic powder – Together they add just the perfect amount of seasoning and texture.
- Lemon wedges – A squirt of lemon is the perfect way to finish the scallops as it is for most fish and seafood. Have some lemon wedges available so everyone can use as much lemon juice as they like.
How to Make Scallops in the Air Fryer
Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and spray the air fryer tray with cooking spray. While it preheats, rinse the scallops with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Make sure to remove as much water as possible.
Step 2: Add scallops to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss in some flour, making sure to coat each scallop completely.
Step 3: Set up 2 shallow bowls, the first with melted butter and olive oil, and the second, breadcrumbs and garlic powder.
Step 4: One scallop at a time, dip it into the butter mixture, allow the excess to drip down, and then roll it into the breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining scallops.
Step 5: Spray the air fryer if you haven't done that yet, and place each scallop in a single layer. Do not overlap, leave enough room between each one. This way the circulating heat will have access to all sides.
Step 6: Air fry that batch for 7-10 minutes (larger scallops will be closer to the 10-minute mark) until golden brown. Flip halfway.
Serve with a squirt of lemon and enjoy immediately!
Tasty Seasoning Variations
Switch up the seasonings from time to time to enjoy it differently! You can also completely omit the breadcrumbs and air-fry them with just the herbs and spices.
- Lemon pepper
- Cajun seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- Old Bay seasoning
- Parmesan cheese
- Chipotle powder
Frequently Asked Questions
When cooked through, scallops are opaque but when they're coated in bread crumbs it's a little harder to tell, so your best bet is to use a digital thermometer. They should have an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
Ideally, you want to use them the day you buy them, but they can last in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you don't think you're going to get around to cooking them right away, consider transferring them to the freezer. They freeze well.
You may notice the sour smell before you notice anything else if they're just starting to go off. Another way to tell is by how they look. Scallops that are slightly grey or slimy need to be thrown away.
If you have time, I suggest taking them out of the freezer and allowing them to thaw in the fridge overnight. You could also pull them out in the morning and they should be thawed by dinner time. They're small so they may only take a few hours.
Although this recipe doesn't require you to do this, it won't hurt if you decide you want to. Some people do this extra step because it helps to break down the scallop meat to tenderize it even more. It also helps to eliminate any existing fishy odors. You would still rinse it under cold water to get rid of any dirt or sand and then soak it in the milk.
Air Fryer Scallops
- Air Fryer
- 1 pound large sea scallops (about 16)
- salt and pepper, for seasoning
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- lemon wedges
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Rinse scallops with cold water, then dry completely with a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle salt and pepper onto the scallops. Add flour, and toss. Set up 2 shallow bowls to dredge the scallops. In the first bowl, mix together melted butter and olive oil. In the second bowl, add the breadcrumbs, garlic powder.
- Take one scallop and dip it into the butter mixture, take it out, letting any excess dip down. Then, roll it into the breadcrumb. Repeat for all scallops. Then, place the scallops on a greased tray of the air fryer basket, making sure they're not overlapping.
- Air fry for 7-10 minutes (depending on the size of your scallops), flipping halfway, until golden brown. Scallops are done when it is opaque all the way through or the internal temperature is 145°F.
- Make sure scallops are dried completely before starting so that the breadcrumb coating can stick on
- Leave enough room between each scallop so that the circulating heat will have access to all sides to crisp up