Can you air fry scallops? Yes! Learn the secret to make the most tender and succulent air fryer scallops even seafood haters enjoy! This recipe for air fried sea scallops cooks in 10 minutes and has 3.2 grams net carbs per serving. They’re low carb, keto friendly, and involve bacon! You’ll love how easy it is to air fry scallops wrapped in bacon.
I have a confession to make. I haven’t eaten scallops in a very long time, because my husband dislikes them. When he said he liked my air fryer bacon wrapped scallops, I knew I had a winning recipe.
I’m convinced that air frying is the best way to cook fresh scallops. In about the time it takes to preheat an oven, you can air fry scallops and bacon. The bacon keeps scallops from drying out.
And that’s the thing with cooking scallops in the air fryer- they can get dried out easily. It’s super important not to overcook them to keep them tender and delicious. Some added fat (from bacon and a sultry garlic butter drizzle) really puts things over the top.
Scallops are a lean protein, but this is not a lean way to cook them. Instead, my aim was to bring some former scallop haters over into the scallop lovers club with this recipe.
Good scallops don’t come cheap. If you’re spending the money, I think it’s wise to make them into a special and appreciated meal. (Or a special appetizer, your call!)
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of Air Fryer Scallops (3 wrapped scallops) has 329 calories, 3.2 grams net carbs, and 23.2 grams protein. The macronutrient profile makes it a good fit for most low carb diets.
Why make this air fryer scallop recipe? Here are a few reasons you’re going to want to save this recipe:
- High Protein: Scallops are rich in lean, high-quality protein (note: this scallops recipe is not low fat). You’re getting over 23 grams of protein with each serving of these scallops. I would consider scallops to be a nutrient-dense food. They’re particularly rich in vitamin B12.
- Keto, Low Carb, Gluten Free: If you’re following a special diet, these air fried scallops may be a good fit. They are GF, keto, soy-free, and lchf.
- Quick: The scallops themselves are done after only 6 minutes in the air fryer. When you need a last-minute appetizer, these are a great option. (Maybe hang on to this one for your next holiday party or other celebration!)
- Succulent and Tender: Scallops are light but become rich and decadent in this recipe. If you’ve only experienced dry scallops, you’ll be amazed at how good a perfectly cooked scallop is. They’re tender, buttery, and delicious.
- Loved by Everyone: While no recipe can truly be loved by everyone, I think this recipe has a good chance of coming close. As long as you don’t have medical or personal reasons to exclude the ingredients in this recipe from your diet, why not give it a go?
What do you need to make air fryer scallops? Here's your shopping list:
- Fresh sea scallops (dry scallops, not wet scallops, if possible)
- Pork bacon (no sugar added, not thick-sliced)
- Old Bay seasoning
- Cooking oil spray
- Fresh minced garlic
- Fresh lemons (for lemon zest and lemon juice)
- Black pepper
- Fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)
The size of your scallops will impact the cooking times in the air fryer. Scallops are sometimes sold with two numbers indicating how many scallops per pound. For example, with “8/12” scallops you get 8-12 scallops per pound.
There are no enforced grade designations for scallop size. Weights generally refer to the edible portion of the scallop. Here's a chart with how scallops are typically named:
|Scallop Name||Scallop Count|
You may also see colossal, jumbo, or extra large scallops. These are typically U/12 (under 12 per pound).
Scallops are also classified as “bay scallops,” “sea scallops,” and “diver scallops.” Bay scallops are often medium-sized while sea scallops are large. Diver scallops come in variable sizes.
This is a recipe for air fryer sea scallops. The scallops I used had 12 per pound, the perfect amount to fit on an air fryer tray.
You cannot use this recipe to make air fryer bay scallops. Smaller scallops have a shorter cooking time.
One more thing to know about scallops is that they can be dry or wet. Unlike wet scallops, dry scallops don’t have the preservative sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) added to them.
STPP can impact the taste and texture of the scallop. Though dry scallops are harder to find and usually more expensive, they are worth seeking out from a knowledgeable fishmonger.
I used dry scallops that are hand-shucked and individually quick frozen. (Get them here!)
The two main things you need for this recipe are toothpicks and an air fryer. A meat thermometer is also handy to ensure your scallops are a safe temperature after cooking.
I air fry scallops in my 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. You can use a Ninja Foodi, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Cosori, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, etc. or another fryer if that’s what you have. Keep in mind that cooking times may vary a bit based on the air fryer you use.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Scallops
Let’s learn how to air fry scallops wrapped in bacon! The first thing we need to do is partially cook the bacon. We are not cooking it until crispy because we need it to be flexible enough to wrap around our scallops.
Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C) for 5 minutes. Place the bacon on a hot air fryer tray in a single layer. Air fry it for 4 minutes in the top rack position of the air fryer oven.
I was able to cook 4 bacon strips at a time. You’ll likely need to cook them in batches too. Air fry one strip of bacon per scallop.
Some scallops come with a tough side muscle attached that many prefer to remove. Mine did not, so I was able to skip this step. This little muscle is tough, but it is edible if you forget to remove it.
Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Spray your air fryer tray or air fryer basket with cooking spray.
Wrap each scallop around its circumference with a partially cooked piece of bacon. Secure the bacon ends to the scallop with a toothpick. (Check out the recipe video in the recipe card below if you need visuals!)
Put the wrapped scallops in a single layer on your prepared air fryer tray. Mist the scallops with cooking oil and sprinkle them with Old Bay seasoning. Time to cook!
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long should scallops be cooked? What temp to air fry scallops? Large raw scallops should be air fried for a total of 6 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C).
I cook them in the top rack position of the air fryer. Flip them after 3 minutes (i.e., halfway through cooking time). You can sprinkle them with more Old Bay after you flip them.
While they are air frying, make a quick garlic butter. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan with garlic over medium heat. Be careful not to brown the butter, but you can let it get a little bubbly.
Check the cooked scallops to ensure they reached a minimum safe internal temperature of 145F (63C). When the scallops are done air frying, drizzle them with that decadent garlic butter. Sprinkle them with some lemon zest, black pepper, and fresh parsley (if desired).
Don’t forget to serve fresh lemon wedges on the side! A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds brightness to the dish and is the perfect finishing touch.
How long will scallops last in the fridge? After thawing scallops in the refrigerator, you really want to use them within 24 hours. It's best to only make what you need; leftovers are not as good as freshly made.
If you do have leftovers, store them covered in the fridge for up to one day. Reheat in an air fryer set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190C) for 2-3 minutes.
🧂 Seasonings and Dips for Scallops
What are some dressings for scallops? This air fryer scallop recipe comes with a garlic lemon butter sauce and doesn’t need anything else. If you’re looking to jazz up some plain scallops with sauces or seasonings, here are some things to try:
- Lemon caper sauce
- Lemon herb sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Make curried scallops with a coconut milk-based curry sauce
- Make cheesy scallops (try this cheese sauce)
- Cajun seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- Lemon pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
🥗 Side Dishes
What to serve with air fried scallops? If you're not using them as an appetizer, serve airfryer scallops as the protein in my Butcher Block Dinner formula. Good stuff!
Here are some other ideas for side dishes that go with scallops:
- Air Fryer Frozen French Fries
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Brown Rice or Wild Rice
- Kale Apple Slaw
- Chop Salad Bowl
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Plain scallops are a lean, low calorie protein. However, when you load them up with bacon and butter, you’re packing on the calories and fat.
I created this recipe in an attempt to win over the scallop haters. I think these yummy scallops might be helpful to certain people who are trying to increase their seafood intake. That said, that doesn’t mean this is a light recipe.
This tasty appetizer contains more calories from bacon (600 calories) than from scallops (400 calories). There are also nearly as many calories from the butter (300 calories) as we’re getting from scallops.
I’m totally cool with using bacon and butter for flavor. (Hello, delicious!) However, if you’re trying to lose some weight, it’s good to remember these are energy-dense foods. That means they provide a lot of calories in a relatively small volume.
One tip if you’re trying to lose weight but not making progress is to look at your intake of added fats. Butter, bacon, and all added oils (including healthy olive oil) add lots of calories to foods quickly. If you’re using a heavy hand adding these to light dishes (roasted veggies, seafood, salad, etc.), it may impede the calorie deficit you need for fat loss.
On the other hand, if you just want to wow people with an indulgent and delicious appetizer, this is a good option. It’s low effort but impressive, perfect for a celebratory gathering!
You can air fry frozen scallops, though this recipe requires thawed scallops. Try air frying large frozen scallops at 400F (200C) for 7-8 minutes, brushing with butter or oil often. The exact air frying time will depend on the size of the scallops you start with.
Yes, you can make air fryer breaded scallops as well. I recommend using a high fat breading such as pork panko, almond flour, or coconut flour. This will help keep your scallops from becoming too dry, similar to the role of the bacon in this recipe.
There’s no need to soak dry scallops. Here are directions for soaking wet scallops prior to using them in recipes.
According to the USDA website, scallops should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63C). FoodSafety.gov recommends that shellfish like scallops be cooked until “flesh is pearly or white, and opaque.”
Yes, scallops freeze well. If you buy fresh scallops and will not be using them within a day, put them in the freezer. To freeze, shuck them (if needed) and put them in a sealed freezer bag with the air pressed out.
Do vegans eat scallops? No, scallops are a sea animal, not a plant, so not compatible with the vegan diet.
IMVHO, scallops have a texture that is similar to lobster with a fresh, slightly sweet taste that is similar to crab. Like crab and lobster, they’re perfect paired with butter for drizzling or dipping.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Shellfish Recipes
Are you looking for more air fryer recipes using shellfish? I've got you! Try these next:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Scallops
- 1 lb sea scallops (454 grams; I used 12 of these dry scallops)
- 12 strips bacon (pork bacon with no sugar added, not thick-cut bacon, use one strip bacon per scallop)
- cooking oil spray (non-aerosol)
- ¼-½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- lemon zest, ground black pepper, fresh parsley (to taste)
- 1 quartered fresh lemon (for serving)
- Note: The article above contains important information on the ingredients! I highly recommend reading it before you begin.
- Partially air fry one strip of bacon per scallop you're using. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for 5 minutes. Place the bacon on a hot air fryer tray in a single layer. Air fry the bacon for 4 minutes in the top rack position of the air fryer oven. I was able to cook 4 bacon strips at a time, so I cooked them in batches.
- If your scallops have a tough side muscle, gently remove it (if you wish). Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel.
- Spray your air fryer tray or air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- Wrap a partially cooked piece of bacon around each scallop. Secure the bacon ends to the scallop with a toothpick.
- Put the wrapped scallops in a single layer on your prepared air fryer tray. Mist the scallops with cooking oil and sprinkle them with Old Bay seasoning.
- Air fry your bacon-wrapped scallops for 6 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 400°F (200°C). Use the top rack position of the air fryer. Flip the scallops halfway through cooking time (i.e., after 3 minutes) and sprinkle more Old Bay on them.
- While the scallops cook, melt the butter in a small sauce pan with garlic over medium heat. Be careful not to brown the butter, but you can let it get a little bubbly.
- Check the scallops with a meat thermometer to ensure they've reached a the safe minimum internal temp of 145°F (63°C).
- Once the scallops are fully cooked, drizzle them with garlic butter and sprinkle with lemon zest, black pepper, and fresh parsley (if desired).
- Don't forget the fresh lemon wedges on the side! A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds brightness to the dish and is the perfect finishing touch.