Air Fryer Scallops

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If you didn’t think something could be buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and crispy simultaneously, you’re in for a treat with these Air Fryer Scallops! Crispy, seasoned on the outside, 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 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!

plate of air fryer scallops.

They’re as elegant and impressive as they’ve always been, making this recipe so amazing. Scallops don’t need much 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 that 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 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 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.
  • It 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.

Ingredients Needed

ingredients needed for air fryer scallops.
  • 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. It keeps the surface of the scallop dry and helps with coating.
  • Butter & Olive Oil – This is 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 and Garlic Powder – 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.

Please scroll ⬇️ to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions.

How to Make Scallops in the Air Fryer

process of drying scallops and seasoning.
process of dredging scallops in butter and panko breadcrumbs and air frying.

Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 400°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 with breadcrumbs and garlic powder.

Step 4: Dip one scallop at a time into the butter mixture, allow the excess to drip down, and then roll it into the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the 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. Spray the top with more cooking oil if needed.

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!

serving plate of air fryer scallops.

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

How do you tell if scallops are done?

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.

How long can you keep scallops in the fridge before cooking?

Ideally, you want to use them the day you buy them, but they can last up to 2 days in the fridge. If you don’t think you’ll get around to cooking them right away, consider transferring them to the freezer. They freeze well.

How do you know when raw scallops are bad?

You may notice the sour smell before you notice anything else if they’re 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.

How do you thaw frozen scallops?

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.

What does soaking scallops in milk do?


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 rinse it under cold water to remove dirt or sand and then soak it in the milk.

What to serve this with

This can totally be served by itself! But you can make it a complete dinner by adding veggies such as asparagus, Asian garlic bean fries, or cucumber salad.

RECIPE

plate of air fried scallops with lemon wedges.

Air Fryer Scallops

Quynh Nguyen
These homemade air fryer scallops are super easy to make! Using a handful of ingredients, you can make these in less than 15 minutes!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 102 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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. Spray the top with cooking oil if needed.
  • 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.

Notes

  • Make sure scallops are dried completely before starting so that the breadcrumb coating can stick on and doesn’t get soggy.
  • Leave enough room between each scallop so that the circulating heat will have access to all sides to crisp up.

Nutrition

Calories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 574mgPotassium: 139mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 45IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
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