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Air Fryer Scallops

Air fryer scallops come out perfectly in just minutes with a slightly seared exterior and tender bite. Served with a quick and simple chive, garlic and lemon butter sauce, it’s a restaurant quality dish you can easily make at home!

Perfectly cooked air fryer scallops with a chive garlic lemon butter sauce on a plate.

The first time I used my air fryer was last Thanksgiving when it was just Ulysses and I at home.

I made a rotisserie chicken and while it completely sold me on the relevance of an air fryer (it was the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had), my entire house smelled like KFC for a solid day.

I got smart after that and now place the air fryer on top of my stove so I can turn on the vent hood above it.

And though it definitely helps with lingering food smells, I was still hesitant about cooking any seafood in it.

So, I held out. Until now.

And I have to say, I’m quite glad I caved because these air fryer scallops are the most perfectly cooked, tender scallops I’ve ever eaten.

That’s two home runs for the air fryer: chicken and now scallops.

Fresh sea scallops on parchment paper with salt and pepper.

Besides the taste and texture, what makes air frying scallops even more of a win is the simplicity of this recipe.

In fact, it’s barely a recipe and more a method.

The scallops need nothing but a spritz of olive oil cooking spray and some salt and pepper.

The air fryer does the rest of the work.

I served the air fried scallops with a simple butter sauce using ghee, chives, garlic and lemon zest but they can be seasoned or sauced with anything you like.

Once you get the method of air frying scallops down, the possibilities are endless for serving.

Cooked sea scallops in the air fryer.

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE AIR FRYER SCALLOPS

To air fry the scallops all you’ll need is:

  • 8-10 large sea scallops (easily scaled up if cooking for more than two people)
  • extra virgin olive oil spray (or avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To make the butter sauce for serving the scallops:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or grass-fed butter)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced chives

DO I NEED TO REMOVE THE MUSCLE?

Sea scallops often come with a small muscle on the side. It’s edible but a little tougher than the rest of the scallop.

If you prefer to remove it, simply do so by pulling it off with your fingers. It detaches easily.

I seldom bother doing this and just eat it along with the rest of the scallop.

Air fryer sea scallops served with a butter chive garlic and lemon sauce, rice and green beans.

HOW TO COOK SCALLOPS IN THE AIR FRYER

Scallops are not only good in the air fryer, they turn out just as delicious as a pan-seared method without any of the mess on the stove-top.

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F while you prep the scallops.

Since it’s a short cook time, it’s best the air fryer is hot and ready to go.

Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel then spritz with the cooking spray and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place the scallops in the air fryer on the mesh trays (for oven models) or in the basket making sure there is plenty of space between each scallop.

Air fry for 8-10 minutes. The scallops should start to turn lightly golden brown around the edges and the flesh will be cooked through but tender when done.

While the scallops are in the air fryer, make the butter sauce for serving.

Combine the ghee, garlic, lemon zest and chives in a small skillet over medium heat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Remove the scallops from the air fryer and transfer to a serving plate.

Drizzle the sauce on top and serve with some lemon wedges.

The scallops are best enjoyed straight out of the air fryer while hot.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN SCALLOPS ARE COOKED?

I go by look and feel but if you’d rather a temperature to gauge by, the internal temperature of a cooked scallop should be 125-130°F.

Properly cooked scallops will look opaque when cooked through and have lost all the translucence they have when raw.

How to cooked scallops in the air fryer in just minutes.

PAN SEARING VS. AIR FRYING SCALLOPS

I do love pan seared scallops.

These lemony herb tomato scallops are one of the old school recipes on this site, a recipe I still make but now that I have this air fryer method up my sleeve, I might have to switch up the scallop cooking portion of that recipe.

It’s worth noting, air fried scallops won’t get that deep golden brown color that a pan-fried scallop will.

Don’t let that deter you though because their texture is perfectly on point.

Superior even, in my opinion, in the air fryer vs. a pan.

You can also always grill scallops but that takes careful attention to not overcook on grill heat which can be erratic.

SEA SCALLOPS VS. BAY SCALLOPS

This recipe is for air frying sea scallops.

Sea scallops are the large ones seen here whereas bay scallops are the small ones.

I love using bay scallops in salads like this Bay Scallop Baby Kale Corn Salad or, in this simple summer recipe – Grilled Basil Butter Bay Scallops with Summer Vegetables.

But when it comes to the star of the show for a fancy, restaurant quality type of meal, sea scallops are what you want.

Their meaty texture and presence make them a warranted centerpiece in their own right.

I likely wouldn’t try cooking bay scallops in an air fryer as they overcook very quickly.

Recipe for air fryer scallops served with a quick butter sauce, chives, garlic and lemon.

HOW TO THAW & AIR FRY FROZEN SCALLOPS

This recipe uses fresh sea scallops but if you have frozen scallops on hand you can air fry those too.

First, thaw the frozen scallops under refrigeration.

If you don’t have the time for that, place frozen scallops in a bowl with cold water. They will thaw in about 15-20 minutes.

Once thawed, it’s imperative to dry off the scallops completely so they’re not water logged.

After patting dry with a towel, follow the recipe to air fry as stated.

Perfectly tender air fryer scallops on a plate with green beans and rice.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH AIR FRYER SCALLOPS

Keep things simple and cook up some rice and green beans as I did here.

Drizzle the extra butter sauce over the rice and green beans as well to pull the dish all together.

Other side dishes that would go great with the scallops are roasted potatoes and asparagus or mashed purple sweet potatoes.

You can even make the sides in the air fryer with this air fryer frozen broccoli recipe or air fryer carrots to keep things simple in the kitchen.

STORING AIR FRIED SCALLOPS

It’s best to enjoy scallops immediately when they’re cooked.

They aren’t a food that reheat well and tend to overcook quickly in the microwave.

If you do have leftovers, store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

I suggest eating cold on a salad for leftovers rather than trying to reheat.

Overcooked scallops become rubbery and it’s really not an enjoyable texture.

MORE AIR FRYER RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

For more seafood inspired air fryer recipes, try these air fryer fish sticks or air fryer cod.

Air fryer tofu is one of my favorite plant based meals to create. It’s just so crispy!

And if you have a constant stash of Trader Joe’s frozen cauliflower gnocchi on hand like me, you have to try air fryer cauliflower gnocchi. It creates crispy little nuggets out of them and can be enjoyed as a fun appetizer!

Air fryer scallops

Air Fryer Scallops

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Scallops cooked in the air fryer come out perfectly in just minutes. This quick and simple recipe is the only one you'll need!

Ingredients

  • 8-10 large sea scallops
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil or avocado oil cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or butter)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  2. Pat the scallops dry using a paper towel then spritz with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the scallops in the air fryer on mesh trays for oven models or in the basket in a single layer.
  4. Air fry for 8-10 minutes until outside and edges start to turn a light golden brown and scallop is cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, combine ghee, garlic, lemon and chives in a small skillet over medium heat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  6. Remove the air fried scallops once done cooking and drizzle the sauce over top to serve. Enjoy while hot.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 582mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen

Amanda Wren-Grimwood

Friday 22nd of October 2021

I normally fry scallops but they really spit so this is the perfect way to cook them and still get a little sear too.

Alisa Infanti

Friday 22nd of October 2021

These were so easy to make and tasted amazing!

Natalie

Friday 22nd of October 2021

I will definitely give this a try. Scallops look amazing in the air fryer.

SHANIKA

Friday 22nd of October 2021

I definitely need to use my air fryer more! These scallops look perfectly crisp and are perfect for weeknight meals!

Jenn

Thursday 9th of September 2021

LOVE! Bookmarking this recipe for when I get my air fryer! Thanks!

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