5 Best Cooking Methods for Frozen Scallops

by Ella

Scallops, with their delicate texture and sweet, briny flavor, are a seafood delicacy enjoyed worldwide. Cooking frozen scallops can be a challenge, but with the right techniques, they can be transformed into a gourmet dish that rivals fresh scallops. This comprehensive guide will cover the best methods for cooking frozen scallops, including thawing, searing, baking, grilling, and more. We’ll also explore tips for selecting the best frozen scallops, seasoning options, and pairing suggestions to help you create an unforgettable meal.

Selecting the Best Frozen Scallops

Types of Scallops

There are two main types of scallops you will encounter: sea scallops and bay scallops. Sea scallops are larger, with a diameter ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches, while bay scallops are smaller, typically about half an inch in diameter. Both types can be found frozen and are suitable for different cooking methods.


Identifying Quality

When selecting frozen scallops, look for the following indicators of quality:


Uniform Size: Ensure the scallops are uniform in size for even cooking.


Minimal Ice Crystals: Excessive ice crystals can indicate freezer burn, which affects texture and flavor.


Dry-Packed: Opt for dry-packed scallops rather than wet-packed. Dry-packed scallops are not treated with phosphates, which can affect flavor and texture.

Packaging Integrity: Check that the packaging is intact and free from tears or holes.


Store frozen scallops in the freezer at a consistent temperature of 0°F (-18°C) or lower. Properly stored, they can maintain their best quality for up to three months.

Thawing Frozen Scallops

Properly thawing scallops is crucial for achieving the best texture and flavor. Here are the best methods:

Refrigerator Thawing


  • Place the frozen scallops in a bowl or container.
  • Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator.
  • Allow the scallops to thaw overnight (8-12 hours).


  • Maintains the best texture and flavor.
  • Minimizes the risk of bacterial growth.

Cold Water Thawing


  • Place the frozen scallops in a resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • Submerge the bag in a bowl of cold water.
  • Change the water every 30 minutes until the scallops are thawed (usually takes about 1-2 hours).


  • Faster than refrigerator thawing.
  • Maintains good texture and flavor.

See Also: How to Clean Scallops 

Avoid These Thawing Methods

Microwave Thawing: Can lead to uneven thawing and partial cooking.

Room Temperature Thawing: Increases the risk of bacterial growth.

5 Cooking Methods for Frozen Scallops

1. Searing

Searing is one of the most popular and effective ways to cook scallops, producing a flavorful crust while keeping the interior tender.


  • 1 pound thawed sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • Fresh herbs like parsley or thyme (optional)


Pat Dry: Thoroughly pat the scallops dry with paper towels to ensure a good sear.

Season: Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper.

Heat Pan: Heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add olive oil or clarified butter.

Sear Scallops: Place the scallops in the pan, leaving space between them to avoid overcrowding. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until a golden-brown crust forms.

Optional Butter Basting: Add a tablespoon of butter, garlic, and herbs to the pan during the last minute of cooking. Spoon the melted butter over the scallops for extra flavor.

Serve: Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Ensure the pan is hot enough before adding the scallops to achieve a proper sear.

Do not move the scallops once they are in the pan until it’s time to flip them.

2. Baking

Baking is a gentle cooking method that is ideal for bay scallops or when cooking a larger quantity.


  • 1 pound thawed scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh herbs like parsley or dill


Preheat Oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Prepare Baking Dish: Lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Arrange Scallops: Place the scallops in a single layer in the baking dish.

Season: Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Bake: Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the scallops are opaque and just cooked through.

Garnish and Serve: Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.


Monitor the scallops closely to avoid overcooking.

Use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 125°F (52°C) for perfectly cooked scallops.

3. Grilling

Grilling adds a smoky flavor to scallops, making it an excellent choice for summer cookouts.


  • 1 pound thawed sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh herbs like basil or cilantro
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Preheat Grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates to prevent sticking.

Pat Dry and Season: Pat the scallops dry and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Skewer: Thread the scallops onto skewers to make grilling easier (optional).

Grill: Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until grill marks form and the scallops are opaque.

Serve: Remove from the grill, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve with lemon wedges.


Avoid overcooking; scallops should be slightly translucent in the center when removed from the grill.

Use skewers or a grill basket to prevent small scallops from falling through the grates.

4. Broiling

Broiling is a quick and effective way to cook scallops, giving them a nice crust similar to searing.


  • 1 pound thawed sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Preheat Broiler: Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.

Prepare Baking Sheet: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with olive oil or butter.

Pat Dry and Season: Pat the scallops dry and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil or melted butter.

Broil: Place the scallops on the baking sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve: Remove from the oven, garnish with minced garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon wedges, and serve immediately.


Watch the scallops closely as they broil to avoid burning.

Rotate the baking sheet halfway through cooking for even browning.

5. Poaching

Poaching is a gentle method that keeps scallops tender and juicy, perfect for delicate bay scallops.


  • 1 pound thawed scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups seafood stock or water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh herbs like dill or parsley


Heat Liquid: In a large skillet or saucepan, combine seafood stock or water, white wine, lemon slices, and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add Scallops: Add the scallops to the simmering liquid, ensuring they are fully submerged.

Poach: Poach the scallops for 3-5 minutes until they are opaque and cooked through.

Serve: Remove scallops with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.


Do not let the liquid boil, as this can make the scallops tough.

Enhance the poaching liquid with aromatics like garlic, shallots, or bay leaves for added flavor.

See Also: 3 Best Cooking Methods for Sea Scallops

Seasoning and Flavoring Scallops

Basic Seasoning

For a simple and classic preparation, season scallops with salt and pepper. This allows the natural flavor of the scallops to shine.


Marinating scallops can infuse them with additional flavors. Here are a few marinade ideas:

Lemon-Garlic Marinade: Combine lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Marinate the scallops for 15-30 minutes before cooking.

Asian-Inspired Marinade: Mix soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and a touch of honey. Marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Herb and Olive Oil Marinade: Blend olive oil, minced garlic, fresh basil, parsley, and thyme. Marinate for 15-30 minutes.


Enhance your scallops with a variety of sauces:

Lemon Butter Sauce: Melt butter and mix with lemon juice, garlic, and fresh parsley.

White Wine Sauce: Sauté shallots and garlic in butter, deglaze with white wine, and reduce. Finish with cream and fresh herbs.

Soy-Ginger Glaze: Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and honey. Simmer until slightly thickened.

See Also: 20 Sauces That Pair Perfectly with Scallops

Pairing Scallops with Sides and Beverages


Scallops pair well with a variety of sides, including:

Vegetable Medley: Roasted or sautéed vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, or green beans.

Grain-Based Sides: Risotto, quinoa, or couscous.

Salads: Fresh green salads or citrus salads.


Complement your scallop dish with the right beverage:

White Wine: Crisp, light white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Champagne: A sparkling wine can enhance the delicate flavor of scallops.

Beer: Light lagers or wheat beers pair well with seafood.

See Also: Cooked Scalloped Potatoes: Freezing, Thawing & Reheating


Cooking frozen scallops can be a rewarding culinary experience when done correctly. Whether you choose to sear, bake, grill, broil, or poach them, the key is to handle them with care and pay attention to the cooking times to avoid overcooking. With the right seasoning, marinades, and sides, you can turn frozen scallops into a gourmet meal that impresses your family and friends. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll master the art of cooking frozen scallops and enjoy their delicious, tender texture and sweet, briny flavor.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023