How To Cook Scallops Perfectly, 3 Ways

seared bay scallops with garlic butter soy sauce

How To Cook Scallops Perfectly, 3 Ways

Are you a fan of seafood? Do you love eating oysters and clams? Another favorite seafood to eat is scallops! This type of food can be full of flavor and quite delicious. However, the key is knowing how to cook scallops perfectly. When you perfect the different cooking methods of these tasty treats, you will want to cook them again and again! 

Scallops are best when utilizing fast cooking methods. These methods include pan-searing, grilling, and broiling. All of these methods use high heat to achieve the crispy brown outside of the scallop and the caramelized and juicy, tender inside. While cooking scallops may initially feel intimidating, you can learn the best cooking methods for perfection with practice! In the end, you will be able to enjoy a mild yet sweetly flavored scallop. One of the best characteristics of a scallop is that it has a mild flavor! This gives you the ability to adapt the recipes and play around with many different flavors.

What are Scallops?

Scallops are very similar to mussels and oysters. They have two shells and are a bivalve mollusk. The specific muscle between the shells is the adductor muscle, the scallop part we eat. Additionally, there is another part of the scallop, and that is the carol. It is orange, and we do not consume this part often, although it can be eaten. 

When it comes to scallops, there are two different ones. They are the bay and sea scallops. Both of these kinds will vary in flavor and size. 

Scallops are white and round, and they are sweet and salty. The bay scallops are smaller than the sea scallops. They are also more delicate. 

The sea scallops are found in the oceans, all around the world. The bay scallops live in shallow bays or estuaries. Furthermore, the scallops' appearance is quite interesting. Along their two shells are up to 100 blue eyes! Scallops can also swim very quickly. 

How to Cook Scallops Perfectly

Scallops can be pretty tasty. They are tender and juicy, yet their flavor will vary depending on whether you are eating a bay or sea scallop. If you are looking to sear scallops, opt for sea scallops. They tend to be chewier and larger. A bay scallop will do well with sauteeing or broiling. 

What to Keep in Mind

First, it is important to pat dry scallops before cooking them. Drying them will allow scallops to brown the way they need to. Also, if you use frozen scallops, you must thaw them first. Do this by placing them in the refrigerator; do not thaw them at room temperature. 

Also, scallops are sweet and tender. However, their flavor is not very strong. Using your favorite seasoning or marinade will give your scallops a stronger taste. Using butter or oil while cooking your scallops is also a good idea. 

Lastly, scallops are best when cooked quickly. This keeps the moisture and juiciness while stopping them from drying out. 

Now, let's look at a few of the best ways to cook scallops perfectly. 

How to Pan-Sear Scallops

Searing scallops is one of the most popular cooking methods. One of the reasons for this is that searing is a fast method. Searing scallops quickly allow the outside to brown and the inside to caramelize. 


  • Scallops (sea scallops are best for searing)
  • Seasoning, salt, and pepper work great
  • Olive oil


  • Cast iron skillet
  • Stovetop
  • Tongs or spatula


Using a heavy cast iron skillet will allow you to heat the scallops on high heat and caramelize and brown them to perfection. 

The first step is to make sure the scallops are de-thawed if frozen. Pat dry the de-thawed or fresh scallops until the moisture is gone. Season the scallops with your preferred seasoning. Salt and pepper are great options.

Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until ready. You will know the skillet is hot enough when you can roll a drop of water around the skillet. 

Next, remove the skillet from the heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. 

Then, place back on the stovetop and add the scallops, leaving plenty of room for each scallop to cook through. 

Cook each scallop for two minutes on each side. The outside will brown, and the inside will be juicy and tender. 

Enjoy the scallops alone or with a tasty vegetable or side! 

Panned Seared Scallops in Broth Ready to Eat
Pan seared scallops are delicious and versatile! It is one of the easiest ways to cook scallops because it is a quick cooking method.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Seared Scallops Recipe

How to Broil Scallops

Another popular method of cooking scallops is by broiling. This quick method lends well to a crispy outer layer and a juicy inside. 


  • Scallops (bay scallops are excellent for broiling)
  • Butter
  • Lemon juice
  • Seasoning


  • Baking pan
  • Broiler 


The first step is preheating the broiler to high heat. 

Next, rinse the scallops and then pat them dry. Afterward, put the scallops into a baking pan.

Melt two tablespoons of butter and pour over the scallops. Then add one to two tablespoons of lemon juice and the seasoning to the scallops.

Place the scallops into the broiler and cook at high heat for at least six minutes.

You will know the scallops are done when they are golden brown on the outside. 

Remove from the broiler and enjoy with a sauce of your choice! 

Broiled jumo Scallops, Japanese food.
Broiling scallops is an excellent method of cooking because it utilizes high heat. This allows the scallops to brown on the outside and caramelize on the inside.


Broiled Scallops Recipes

How to Grill Scallops

Scallops also cook well on the grill. This is because it is another quick cooking method. One of the best ways to grill scallops is to put them on skewers after marinating them in your favorite sauce! 


  • Scallops 
  • Olive oil
  • Your choice of marinade
  • Seasoning


  • Skewers 
  • Grill
  • Grill brush 


First, put together the marinade for your scallops. This can be your favorite sauce or a combination of different sauces. 

Then, pat the scallops dry, removing extra moisture and seasoning with your favorite seasonings. This can be salt and pepper, garlic or onion powder, or whatever you like! 

Next, marinate the scallops for up to one hour in the refrigerator.

After the scallops have been marinated, place four to five scallops on each skewer. The colder the scallops are, the easier it is to grill them! 

Brush oil onto the grill with a brush, then place the scallop skewers onto the grill. Each side needs to cook for two to three minutes. The result will be deliciously crispy outside and juicy inside! 

Grilled sea scallop on three skewers with lemon and spices on a wooden board. Wooden blue background.
Using skewers to grill scallops is a great way to grill them! This allows you to use the unique method of grilling while easily moving around the scallops.

©Axel Mel/Shutterstock.com

One Last Note

Although scallops can be intimidating to cook because of their high price tag and origin, they don't have to be! There are many ways to cook scallops, from broiling to searing in a pan. The key to cooking the perfect scallop is to do it quickly! This will allow the outside to brown in a delicious way while still keeping the inside juicy, tender, and caramelized. Cooking quickly is preferred because scallops tend to dry out and become tough.

The flavor of scallops is mild. The mild flavor allows you to play around with flavors in marinade and seasoning. Some great flavors that pair well with scallops include lemon, butter, and honey. No matter what flavor you prefer, scallops make an excellent meal and can easily be made at home, whether frozen or fresh! 

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