Air Fryer Scallops.

Sea scallops breaded in seasoned panko crumbs and “fried” in the air fryer until crispy and golden on the outside and tender and succulent on the inside. The scallops are served with melted butter and tartar sauce for dipping and lots of lemon wedges.

This easy scallop recipe is ready in minutes. These scallops will remind you of the deep fried scallops you can find at the best New England clam shacks. They are almost that good (though it is very hard to beat summertime fried seafood) – but are much lighter and better for you.

Because scallops are nautrally lean, you really need to add some fat to them to bring out their flavor and allow them to shine, so be sure to serve them with melted butter either for drizzling or for dipping.

An overhead image of air fried sea scallops in a white bowl

LET’S SHOW SCALLOPS SOME LOVE.

Scallops are one of my all-time favorite foods because of their taste, but also their ease of preparation. They are rich, slightly sweet, tender and taste just like the sea and they cook up in mere minutes, regardless of cooking method.

I love both the larger sea scallops (used in this recipe and available fresh here on the Cape year-round) and the smaller bay scallops (in season here from November-March-ish) equally. You can often (not always) use them interchangeably in recipes, but you need to adjust the cooking time, as the bay scallops are tiny.

I have not tried air frying bay scallops yet, but that’s on my list of recipes to test.

Also, side note: if you are new to cooking scallops and haven’t yet seared scallops on the stove-top, you 100% must do that – that’s the method where scallops truly shine – no other cooking method can make scallops taste more delicious than a brief pan sear with butter in a very hot pan. If you need tips on the best seared scallops, I gotcha covered in this post.

ARE SCALLOPS GOOD FOR YOU?

Yes! Scallops are also a nutrient rich food. They are packed with protein (all seafood is) and are packed with Vitamin B12, essential for brain function and red blood cell synthesis. They also contain selenium, important for a healthy immune system, and phosphorous, important for strenghtening teeth and bones.

An overhead image of air fryer scallops in a bowl with a side of tartar sauc and lemon wedges.

So. Let’s get cooking! Here’s what you’ll need to make these air fried scallops:

INGREDIENTS:

  • cornstarch
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • ground black pepper
  • kosher salt & sea salt
  • egg
  • Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • sea scallops
  • lemon wedges
  • melted butter
  • tarter sauce
  • parsley (optional)

HOW TO MAKE SCALLOPS IN THE AIR FRYER:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 390. Gather 3 medium-sized shallow bowls. Place cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and salt in one bowl. Add a beaten egg to the second bowl and panko crumbs to the third bowl.

An image of breading ingredients for air fryer scallops.

2. Pat the scallops very dry. Dredge each scallop through the cornstarch mixture (shaking off excess), egg and panko.

An image of breaded scallops before they go into the air fryer.

3. Wipe (or spray) your air fryer basket with high heat cooking oil (avocado, canola, safflower). Add scallops. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown on the outside and tender and opaque on the inside. Sprinkle with sea salt as soon as they come out of the air fryer.

4. Serve your air fried scallops with melted butter and tartar sauce for dipping and lemon wedges.

WHAT SHOULD YOU SERVE YOUR AIR FRIED SCALLOPS WITH?

Aside from serving these air fried scallops with melted butter, tartar sauce and lemon wedges, we like to round out this New England meal with:

  • Cole slaw or a fresh green salad
  • Fresh warm rolls or Cape Cod Potato Chips

RECIPE FAQs:

How do you know when the scallops are cooked through?

Scallops are cooked through when they are opaque throughout and feel slightly firm to the touch, but still tender. The outside of these air fryer scallops should be golden brown. Your best bet is to remove one of the scallops from the air fryer and check the internal temperature at 5 minutes, or remove the scallop, slice it in and half and test it for your desired doneness.

How long do the scallops take to cook in the air fryer?

This will vary depending on the size of your scallops, but they should take around 5-6 minutes for average size sea scallops (you’ll flip them halfway through cooking time). If you have larger sea scallops, they may take 1-2 minutes more. Smaller bay scallops will cook much more quickly, needing only 1-2 minutes per side.

Can you use frozen scallops?

Yes, in fact, I tested this recipe a handful of times and the majority of times I should frozen (thawed) scallops. Be sure to thaw them first, remove any ice crystals and pat them very dry. You can thaw them by placing the scallops in the fridge overnight. Or place them in a plastic bag in a bowl under cold running water and they should thaw in 15-20 minutes.

What should you look for when buying sea scallops?

If buying fresh, they should be the freshest you could possibly get your hands on. The scallops should smell sweet like the ocean. They should not smell fishy. Sea scallops naturally vary in color from pure white to creamy white to beige. Make sure you are purchasing “dry packed” scallops meaning nothing has been added to them to change their color or preserve them. Avoid “wet packed” scallops, as these have been treated with a solution that whitens and preserves them.

Can you cook these scallops from frozen?

No, because you will not be able to bread them properly and the texture will suffer.

How do you reheat these scallops?

These scallops are best fresh and hot out of the air fryer – they do not get better with time. If you have leftovers, you can heat them briefly in the air fryer at 390 degrees to reheat them.

Do you have to use panko crumbs?

Yes! I tested this recipe a few times with seasoned bread crumbs (not panko) and the results were no where as crispy. Stick with the panko crumbs.

 

An overhead image of air fried scallops in a white bowl with lemon wedges, surrounded by water glasses, tartar sauce and parsley.

Air fryer scallops

Sea scallops breaded in seasoned panko crumbs and “fried” in the air fryer until crispy and golden on the outside and tender and succulent on the inside. The scallops are served with melted butter and tartar sauce for dipping and lots of lemon wedges.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 193 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 air fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
  • 1 pound sea scallops patted very dry
  • sea salt
  • Melted butter
  • Tartar sauce
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • Parsley optional, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees.
  • Gather 3 shallow bowls. Place cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and salt in one bowl. Add the beaten egg to the second bowl and the panko to the third bowl.
  • Make sure you've dried your scallops well. Dip each scallop into the cornstarch mixture, then egg, then panko, shaking off excess in each bowl (especially the cornstarch).
  • Wipe your air fryer basket with high heat cooking oil.
  • Add scallops to basket, making sure not the crowd them, they should not touch each other. You may need to cook the scallops in batches if you have a small air fryer.
  • Cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of your scallops. Flip the scallops and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until scallops are opaque throughout. Scallops should be crisp and golden brown on the outside and just opaque and tender in the center. Don't overcook.
  • Remove scallops from air fryer, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately. Serve scallops with melted butter (a must!), tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 193kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 17gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 717mgPotassium: 322mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 89IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Air Fryer Scallops
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LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT SCALLOP RECIPES?

Baked Scallops with Panko

Scallop Tacos with Corn Salsa

Scallop Tostadas

Scallop Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

 

PIN this SCALLOPS IN THE AIR FRYER RECIPE for later:

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