How to Cook Frozen Scallops in a Few Easy Steps

There are a few steps to follow to cook frozen scallops.
Image Credit: Julia Mueller

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 maybe some butter. This is one seafood feast that doesn't hinge on having a fresh catch; a bag of frozen scallops from your grocery store's freezer section will thaw and cook beautifully. Once you get the hang of cooking scallops on the stovetop, you can get creative with flavors and sauces, or try bacon-wrapped scallops to take your seafood experience to the next level.

Things You'll Need

  • 12-ounce bag frozen sea scallops

  • Cooking oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Paper towel

Tip

If using freshly thawed sea scallops, skip to Step 2.

Step 1: Thaw the Frozen Scallops

Before cooking frozen scallops, be sure they are thawed all the way through. There are two easy ways to thaw frozen 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. Place it in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, or until scallops are completely thawed.

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 Oil and Prep Scallops

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Use enough oil to generously coat the surface of the skillet. While the oil is heating, pat both sides of each scallop with a paper towel. 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. Crowding the scallops prevents them from searing and browning properly, so cook them in small batches if necessary to give each scallop plenty of space. 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.

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

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.

Step 4: Serve Finished Scallops

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 or roasted vegetables.

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