How to Cook Frozen Scallops in a Few Easy Steps

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You don't need to pay an arm and a leg at a fancy restaurant in order to enjoy sea scallops. Scallops can be prepared easily at home using nothing more than a sturdy skillet, cooking oil, sea salt, a little garlic, and perhaps some butter. In addition, you don't need to have access to fresh seafood in order to make a delicious scallop meal - simply go to the freezer section of your local grocery store and pick up a bag of frozen scallops. Once you get the hang of cooking scallops on the stovetop, you can get creative with flavors and sauces, and/or try bacon-wrapped scallops in order to take your seafood experience to the next level.

How to cook frozen sea scallops on the stove top
How to cook frozen sea scallops on the stove top (Image: Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 12-ounce bag frozen sea scallops, (1)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
cook frozen sea scallops on the stove top
cook frozen sea scallops on the stove top (Image: Julia Mueller)

Tip

  • If using fresh, thawed sea scallops, skip to Step 2.

Step 1: Thaw the Scallops

Before cooking scallops, be sure they are thawed all the way through. There are two easy ways to thaw scallops, but first, remove the scallops from their outer packaging. If you have a good deal of time before you need to cook the scallops, you can place the vacuum-sealed package of scallops in a pan or bowl, and place it in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, or until scallops are thawed all the way through.

Thaw scallops in the refrigerator
Thaw scallops in the refrigerator (Image: Julia Mueller)

As an alternative, if you're under a time crunch, place the vacuum-sealed package of scallops in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Thaw for 30 to 45 minutes, or until scallops are thawed-through. Flip the package after 20 minutes to ensure all of the scallops thaw.

Tip

  • Do not thaw scallops at room temperature.

Step 2: Heat the Oil in a Skillet

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet (or enough oil to generously coat the surface of the skillet).

Heat skillet over medium-high
Heat skillet over medium-high (Image: Julia Mueller)

While the oil is heating, season the scallops with salt, pepper, and/or paprika.

Tip

  • You can also cook scallops in butter with fresh garlic, spices, and/or fresh herbs.

Step 3: Cook the Scallops

Once the oil is completely hot (but not smoking), place the scallops on the hot surface, leaving them a generous amount of room to ensure they cook evenly. Cook for 1 ½ minutes, until the scallops are golden-brown and crispy on one side.

Tip

  • Cover the skillet with a splatter screen in order to avoid oil splatter.

Sear scallops for 1 minute
Sear scallops for 1 minute (Image: Julia Mueller)

Carefully flip the scallops and cook on the other side for 1 to 1 ½ minutes.

Flip the scallops
Flip the scallops (Image: Julia Mueller)

The scallops are finished cooking when they have about ¼-inch of golden-brown crust on each side with a translucent center. You can also cook scallops all the way through by cooking them for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Cook until golden-brown on each side
Cook until golden-brown on each side (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 4: Serve!

Once the scallops are cooked through, add fresh garlic, and/or your choice of fresh herbs to the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Serve the scallops alongside your favorite side dishes, such as rice, and steamed or roasted vegetables.

Add fresh herbs
Add fresh herbs (Image: Julia Mueller)

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