Baked Scallops are incredibly simple to make and taste like pure heaven. These buttery scallops are dipped in a mixture of butter and garlic first and then baked in Panko and Parmesan coating. It takes less than 30 minutes and a perfect dish for a special night or any time you want to treat yourself.
When it comes to seafood, I’m all in. I love just about anything that comes from that big, beautiful ocean. (And fresh water, of course.) Scallops though, that’s something very special for seafood lovers like me.
Scallops are tender and delicate with mild sweetness and as an added benefit, they are simple to prepare. I know so many home-cooks who are incredibly intimidated by them but there is nothing to fear. Scallops are low maintenance, cook quickly, and very easy to bake or sear.
I love scallops prepare every way possible, whether it’s baked, seared, grilled, in sauce, or crunchy, it’s all delicious. There are so many recipes is my head but I want to start by sharing the one I make more often. This simple combination of butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese goes very well with natural flavor of scallops. It doesn’t overpower the sweetness either.
Before we start cooking, it’s important to talk about how to buy scallops. I used to be overwhelmed by all the different labels and signs on the seafood. It can be overwhelming looking at five different trays of scallops at the seafood counter and not know what all those names mean. So let’s talk about some of the labels you will see and what they mean.
Many stores and packages will have a number next to the scallops and shrimp, for example 36/40 or 21/25. These numbers indicate the amount of scallops or shrimp you will get in 1 pound. So smaller number will mean that the size of scallops will be bigger, and bigger number will mean that the size will be smaller.
You may also see a label that states “U10” or “U15” and all that means is “under.” So there are under 10 scallops in a pound or under 15 scallops in a pound. That is also a size indication.
These are the big scallops and sometimes they are called “jumbo.” These big boys can be as big as 2 inches in diameter and as small as 1 inch. They are perfect for searing or baking.
They are smaller scallops that are found in shallow waters. These scallops can be as small as 1/2 inch in diameter and don’t get bigger than 3/4 inch. Because of the small size, they are not suited for searing because they cook fast and can easily be overcooked and turned rubbery.
These can range in size but are more expensive. Most scallops are picked but a boat that is dragging a net along the ocean floor but diver scallops are picked by hand. Divers will usually hand-pick the biggest, fully grown scallops and that’s reflected in the price.
These scallops have been soaked in a phosphate solution that whitens them. It makes them absorb more liquid and therefore, weigh more. So when you buy these scallops, you are paying more money for water. They also do not sear as well and give out a lot of liquid when bake. Try your best to stay away from “wet scallops” and look for “dry-packed” or “chemical free” labels.
Dry scallops have not been soaked in this chemical solution and therefore are slightly darker in color. They will have the best natural taste through, no excess liquid, and cook beautifully.
Fresh vs frozen
This is not as clear-cut as you might think. If you live on the coast, you may have bought frozen scallops straight from the fishermen. Most local fishermen flash-freeze seafood as soon as they catch it to preserve it. You will still get the freshest seafood this way.
When it comes to fresh, seafood is truly fresh when the market gets it within a day or two and you buy it right away. Otherwise, supermarkets may label it “fresh, never frozen” but it could be several days old. It all comes down to the reputation and the market that you trust.
If you have no way of getting fresh scallops, you can purchase it frozen. In this case, always thaw them slowly, overnight in the refrigerator. Cook them the next day after it’s thawed and do not re-freeze.
How do you know when scallops are done?
Scallops are cooked through when it turns opaque throughout. The key is to cook the just until they turn opaque and no longer so they don’t turn rubbery.
There is a little more flexibility in that when you bake them in sauce or butter, but you still don’t want to cook them too long. Exact baking time will depend on the size of scallops.
What should the temperature be of cooked scallops?
You are looking for scallops to be 125°-130° in the center when done, but take them off heat about 5 -10 degrees before that.
How long can I store cooked scallops?
Make sure to store cooked scallops in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.
Can I reheat cooked scallops?
Yes, but be careful not to overcook them. Reheat them just until warm enough either in the oven or on stove-top.
Why are my scallops chewy and rubbery?
As sad as it is, they are over-cooked. Scallops are very delicate and much like shrimp, turn chewy and rubbery when overcooked. When all the moisture and fat has been cooked out, there is nothing left to keep it tender.
WHAT GOES WITH BAKED SCALLOPS
MORE EASY SEAFOOD RECIPES
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Butter Parmesan Baked Scallops
- 1 lb sea scallops
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- 3 garlic cloves pressed
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese for topping
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Mix melted butter, salt, and pressed garlic in a small bowl and set it aside.
- Mix Panko bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese in another shallow bowl and set it aside.
- Take scallops out of the package and pat each one dry with a paper towel.
- Toss scallops in the melted butter mixture and then coat each one in Panko/Parmesan mixture on all sides.
- Place coated scallops in a baking dish that's large enough to hold them with some space in between each one.
- Carefully pour in remaining melted butter in between and around the scallops. (Don't pour on top.)
- Sprinkle each scallop with some Parmesan cheese and bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size.