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This air fryer breaded sea scallops recipe is the best way to prepare healthy “fried scallops” from the comfort of your home. Fresh sea scallops coated in seasoned bread crumbs are air fried to perfection in under 20 minutes.
Air fryer breaded sea scallops are a great way to change up how you prepare scallops. When cooked correctly, fresh sea scallops are soft with a buttery, slightly sweet flavor which compliments the salty, crunchy breading perfectly.
The air fryer helps achieve a golden crisp outer-layer while the delicate sea scallops stay rich and juicy. This easy air fryer recipe is great to serve as a quick appetizer or as the main course with your favorite sides.
What are sea scallops?
Let’s first briefly discuss what sea scallops are and what they taste like. These saltwater-dwelling creatures thrive in deep, cold water all around the world. In the US, the majority of fresh sea scallops are harvested off the coast of New England.
Scallops are a type of saltwater fish called Bivalve Mollusks meaning they have two shells (like clams, mussels and oysters). The interior muscle surrounded by the two shells is the part we eat.
The meat tastes similar to lobster or crab. Perfectly cooked scallops are firm yet tender with a buttery, subtlety sweet flavor and a hint of saltiness.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Breading sea scallops before air frying is a unique way to cook and serve this protein-packed seafood.
- Fresh scallops are rich in protein and loaded with heart-healthy nutrients. They are low in calories and a great addition to your diet.
- The breading is seasoned just right, adding another dimension of flavor and texture to the already delicious scallop meat.
- The air fryer helps achieve the perfect golden brown crisp on the outside of the sea scallops without deep frying in calorie-dense oil.
What you’ll need to make this recipe.
- Fresh sea scallops can be found in seafood markets and grocer seafood departments. Select large, firm and dry scallops. Steer clear of any that are shiny or appear soft.
- Sea salt comes from evaporated seawater, so it just makes sense to use sea salt with seafood. It balances the delicate flavors of the fresh sea scallops.
- Ground black pepper adds more flavor to the breading. I prefer freshly ground black pepper because it lends more fresh peppery heat to the recipe than prepared black pepper.
- Olive oil lightly coats the sea scallops, giving the bread crumbs and seasonings something to adhere to.
- Garlic powder adds mild garlicky flavor to the breading without overpowering it.
- Onion powder adds a pleasant onion flavor (sweet and savory).
- Traditional bread crumbs are nothing more than crumbled bread yet they are great for adding crunch and a crispy coating to seafood, chicken, pork, etc.
- Old Bay seasoning is traditionally used to season seafood (specifically Maryland blue crabs). The blend itself consists of 18 different herbs and spices and is great sprinkled on way more than just seafood!
How to make this recipe
The least messy way to bread the scallops is by using 3 separate gallon sized resealable bags. Add olive oil to the first one, salt, pepper, garlic and onion power to the second one and the bread crumbs and Old Bay to the last. Now you’re ready to get started.
1 – In the first bag (with the olive oil) add the scallops, seal the bag and gently shake until the scallops are coated in oil. With tongs, gently transfer scallops to the second bag with the seasonings, seal the bag and then give the bag a good shake, coating the scallops in seasonings. To finish breading the sea scallops, transfer them to the bread crumb bag, seal and shake.
2 – Now it’s time to put the air fryer to work but first spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. In the air fryer basket, space out breaded scallops in a single-layer. Do not overcrowd the pieces in the basket. If necessary, work in batches.
3 – Cook at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your scallops.
4 – Using a meat thermometer check the internal temperature. The scallops are cooked through and safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
- If the side muscle of the scallop wasn’t already removed, simply pull it off with your fingers. The side muscle is consumable. It’s just tougher than the rest of the meat.
- Depending on the size of your sea scallops, plan on 4 to 6 scallops per serving.
- Lightly spray breaded scallops with cooking spray before air frying for maximum crispiness.
- If fresh sea scallops aren’t locally accessible, you can use frozen. Just be sure to thaw them out completely and pat dry with a paper towel before preparing.
- Switch up the spice. Old bay tastes more smoky than it does spicy. Craving more heat? Use your favorite Cajun seasoning blend instead.
- Add grated parmesan to the bread crumbs instead of Old Bay.
- Use panko breadcrumbs instead of traditional breadcrumbs. They serve the same purpose. Panko breadcrumbs just have larger flakes, so the texture of the breading will be slightly different.
- If scallops aren’t your thing, this recipe will also work with shrimp. Select extra large to jumbo peeled shrimp and follow the recipe as is.
Storing & Freezing
- Storing leftover scallops: Let scallops cool to temperature before placing in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezing leftover scallops: Place cooled scallops in a freezer safe container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
- Reheating leftover scallops: To reheat, place scallops in a single-layer in a 375 degree air fryer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the breading is once again golden brown and the internal temperature is at least 145 degrees. I do not recommend microwaving breaded scallops.
Are bay scallops the same as sea scallops? Bay scallops are much sweeter and much smaller than sea scallops. Sea scallops are great for pan searing and frying while bay scallops are more often used in soups and stews.
How many calories are in a serving (4 oz) of air fryer breaded sea scallops? There are approximately 189 calories in a 4 ounce serving.
Can I bake breaded sea scallops? No air fryer? That’s okay. To bake, place breaded sea scallops on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 16 to 20 minutes (flipping each piece halfway through).
What should I serve with breaded sea scallops? These scallops are great served with homemade french fries, coleslaw and a side of cocktail. For a lighter option, serve hot scallops over a bed of mixed greens with your favorite vinaigrette.
Calories per serving (approximately 4 oz): 189
- 12 oz fresh sea scallops, defrosted
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 cup traditional bread crumbs
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- Add olive oil to a large bowl, or resealable bag. Add scallops and coat thoroughly.
- Combine the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder to a second bowl, or bag. Transfer scallops from olive oil to seasonings and toss to coat.
- Combine bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning to third bowl, or bag. Transfer scallops from seasonings to bread crumb mix and toss to coat.
- Remove the basket from the air fryer and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Space out the scallops in the basket. You may need to cook scallops in a couple batches so they aren’t overcrowded.
- Cook at 400° for 12 minutes. Up to 15 minutes if the scallops are larger, reaching an internal tempertaure of 145°.
- Serving size is measured at 4 oz of sea scallops.
- Scallops are considered cooked through and safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
- Different air fryer brands may cook at different rates, so be sure to keep on eye on food.
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Habor 022 Meat Thermometer, Instant Read Thermometer Digital Cooking Thermometer, Candy Thermometer with Super Long Probe for Kitchen BBQ Grill Smoker Meat Oil Milk Yogurt Temperature
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (Set of 6) Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set - Easy To Clean, Nesting Bowls for Space Saving Storage, Great for Cooking, Baking, Prepping
New Star Foodservice 42917 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons and Measuring Cups Combo, Set of 8
Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 Quart
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 725mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 15g
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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