This guide will show you How to Air Fry Scallops effortlessly. Large king scallops are cooked to juicy perfection without their shells for maximum flavour and ease. I’ll tell you all the tips and tricks to make delicious air fryer scallops including how to cook them straight from frozen.
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Scallops might seem like a bit of a luxury item but they’re actually pretty on par price wise with a lot of other fish and seafood. It is especially economical to buy them frozen. I tend to just have a smallish portion and mix them with some other fish like salmon or king prawns to bulk out the meal’s protein count. And I just like variety!
Scallops are also great for canapes or fancy starters – I’m a particular fan of serving some lovely simple seafood for a starter on Christmas day – its very rare that scallops don’t make an appearance. Now I own an air fryer, its my go-to way to cook them.
How to Serve
I do like to serve scallops hot – I don’t love them raw in the same way that I love to eat cold king prawns etc. So I always cook and serve them straight away.
I like them to be slightly translucent in the middle but if you prefer them more cooked, you can add an extra minute to the cooking time.
As for the actual type of meal I include scallops with, there are a few ways that I go. The first is with a tasty pea puree, a sprinkle of crispy bacon pieces (actual bacon, not that shop bought salad sprinkle stuff) and some kind of potatoes. Try these recipes to start:
The next is more Asian based – usually with rice or noodles and mostly brushed with something like a teriyaki sauce during cooking. I love these sorts of flavours with scallops – I created my Miso Scallop Fried Onigiri recipe for just this reason. Try mixing and matching these recipes:
One of my other favourite ways is to make a creamy pasta dish with a mix of seafood. I don’t have a recipe published but I keep it very simple – sauté some shallot and garlic, add a little wine then cream, stir in cooked pasta – I really like bucatini, throw in some peas, season and add scallops, prawns and salmon all cooked in the air fryer while the sauce was being made. Simple and delicious.
Scallops are a mollusc and the way that the different types are named varies around the world.
Here in the UK we usually keep it fairly simple by referring to the large ones like this post is focussed on as king scallops. The smaller ones which are around the size of a pound coin are smaller and called queen scallops.
In the US large scallops are called sea scallops and smaller ones are called bay scallops. Diver scallops is another term commonly used and although it refers to the method they’re caught, they are usually on the larger side. You also want to look for “dry packed” rather than “wet packed” scallops in the US as they don’t contain added water and preservatives like the wet type.
You can buy them ready prepared fresh or frozen. These usually come with the orange coral removed and without the shell. If buying from a fishmonger or more high end outlet, you may find they come on the shell and/or have the coral still attached.
I’m not a fan of cooking the scallops in the shell. For starters its difficult to fit many in an air fryer at one time. Secondly and most importantly, I find that the juices released from the scallops pool in the shell and the scallop boils in the liquid rather than getting crisp and coloured.
To combat this but not waste the shells, I do sometimes air fry the scallops per this recipe but clean the shells really well and use them as a serving dish.
If you want to cook the orange coral, leave it attached to the scallop and follow the recipe instructions below, they will still be perfectly cooked.
I use butter in these instructions to add a simple flavour to the scallops and to help in the crisping/colouring process. Butter has a lower smoking point than most fats so this gives the best chance of getting some colour and crisp in the very short cooking time.
If you prefer to use an olive or other vegetable oil, please do. This becomes even easier if you are using a seasoning rub or sauce as the smoking point becomes less important.
Try to match the flavour of the oil with the seasonings. For example olive oil with rosemary and lemon or vegetable oil with a drop of sesame oil for a Japanese inspired dish.
Again I’ve kept things very simple in these air fryer scallops instructions. Just butter and a little extra salt. You can use any other seasonings you like but you should make sure that it has a salty element whether that’s sea salt, soy sauce or similar.
This recipe is free from egg, gluten and nuts.
Dairy Free: This recipe includes butter and is therefore not dairy free. You can very easily either use a dairy free butter substitute or a neutral oil instead.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How to Air Fry Scallops From Frozen
Scallops cook in the same amount of time from frozen as they do from fresh. You could probably get away with adding another minute for a crispier outer.
When cooking from frozen, more moisture can be released. To combat this I recommend rinsing the scallops under some cold water to remove any surface frost. Dry the scallops really well then oil and season as usual.
If there looks to be a lot of surface moisture when you go to turn the scallops, you can use some folded kitchen paper to mop any of that off.
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
Scallops are so quick to cook that I would recommend trying to cook them just before eating. And also try to ensure that you’re only preparing the number that will realistically be eaten.
You can reheat scallops but they won’t be as great as when they are freshly cooked. Store any leftovers in a sealed container or bag – they will keep for around 2 days like this unless frozen.
To reheat, you can pan fry, microwave (for 30 seconds then 10 second bursts until hot) or pop back in the air fryer for around 3 minutes.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
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What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I use a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I’ve been using for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked does have a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori model has a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which most people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although some come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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How to Air Fry Scallops
- 6 Scallops - roughly 25-30g each
- 1 tbsp Salted Butter - see notes
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt Flakes - see notes
- If you are using a basket type fryer and are able to raise the cooking grid to be nearer the top, do this now. I use a small pyrex bowl. This helps to maximise the amount that the scallops will colour. If you have a choice of position in a different type of air fryer, choose the option nearest the element, eg. the top shelf.
- If your air fryer requires pre-heating, Start this setting going.
- Melt 1 tbsp Salted Butter in a small bowl. I do this in the microwave but you could use a small heatproof bowl in the air fryer if you like. The preheat setting will likely do the trick.
- Thoroughly dry 6 Scallops. Trim any bits of connective tissue if needed.
- Use a pastry brush to coat the scallops on all sides with the melted butter.
- Sprinkle over roughly ¼ tsp Sea Salt Flakes. Crush them between your fingers as your sprinkle for a thinner even coverage.
- Place the scallops into the air fryer. Leave a little space between them so the air can circulate. Be careful not to catch your hands on the side of the hot basket.
- Cook for 6 minutes at 200c/390f. Turn then cook for a further 3 minutes.
- Be careful removing the scallops from the fryer as they will be delicate. Serve hot straight away.
To Air Fry From Frozen
- Cook for 6 minutes at 200c/390f. Turn then cook for a further 3 minutes
- Butter – You can use an oil instead of butter but I do find that butter helps the fish skin crisp a little more and adds a nice flavour.
- Salt/Seasoning – You can use any seasoning mix or sauce instead of just salt but make sure that salt is included in the mix. You can also add a little citrus juice. If you use a sauce with a high sugar content, you may want to brush this on during the last 3 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t catch and burn.
- This recipe is tested in a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I can easily fit 9 to 12 scallops in the basket at one time. This gives plenty of room to allow air to circulate.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.