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How to cook scallops easily and perfectly: a step-by-step guide

To cook your scallops perfectly, you don’t need complicated techniques or specialized equipment. Just follow this easy step-by-step guide!

I’ve always loved grilled scallops, but I’ve never been able to cook them as well as they do it in restaurants.

And yet, grilling a scallop should be easy, right?

Grilled scallop

Indeed, as long as you have the right cooking method and follow the tips I give you in this article!

Since I’ve been following these steps, my grilled scallops are a success every time and only need a little bit of fleur de sel as a seasoning.

Here’s how to get perfectly grilled scallops every time.

Scallops : how to buy, store and cook them

A grilled scallop, like a chef!

But first, here is some useful information on how to choose and store your scallops.

How to select scallops at the store

Scallops are sold frozen or fresh, usually without the shell. Fresh or thawed scallops should be firm and springy, slightly shiny and should not have an unpleasant odour.

When frozen, avoid scallops that have signs of frost burn or packages with ice crystals.

How and how long can you store scallops?

Fresh and cooked scallops can be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator for one to two days.  In the freezer, they can be kept for up to 4 months.

How do you thaw scallops?

Just let them thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Alternatively, a quicker method is to put them in an airtight bag and then immerse the bag in a bowl of very cold water.

Make sure you do not leave the scallops at room temperature once they are thawed.

Techniques culinaires - cuisson des pétoncles

How do you clean and prepare the scallops?

Remove the muscle: Using a small paring knife, or simply with your fingers, remove the small muscle on the side of the scallop. This is the attachment of the nut to the shell. Note that this part is not always present.

Although the muscle is edible, we prefer to remove it because this part is a bit tougher. You can feel it when you touch it as the muscle is harder and firmer.

Rinse and dry the scallops: Before cooking the scallops, rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove any sand and other particles that may be there. Drain them and pat them dry with a paper towel. This step is important to prevent the scallops from emitting water during cooking.

The technique to grill scallops like a chef!

Here's how to grill scallops like a chef, with just a few simple steps

Now for the most important step: cooking the scallops!

Fortunately, cooking your scallops to perfection doesn’t require complicated techniques or specialized equipment. Just follow these steps and you’ll be successful every time.

4 basic rules:

  1. Focus on the freshness of the scallops and always use fresh or fully thawed scallops.
  2. Avoid overcrowding your pan and leave space between the scallops so they don’t touch each other during cooking.
  3. Only grill scallops in a VERY hot pan (when the butter or oil slightly starts to smoke).
  4. Use cooking butter (clarified butter) or neutral oil (canola or grapeseed oil) and if possible a cast iron pan. The taste will be so much better!

To know when to flip the scallops, observe the progression of the color change on the side of the scallops.

As they cook, the scallops become more and more opaque white. This change in opacity occurs from the base of the scallop upwards. When it’s almost halfway through the scallops, turn them over.

How do you know if a scallop is cooked? Scallops are cooked when the flesh is opaque and the center is still somewhat transparent.

Scallops only need a few minutes of cooking (depending on their size) because overcooking makes them rubbery and less tender.


What you’ll need for this recipe


The easy steps to cook scallops perfectly

The easy steps to cook scallops perfectly

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Scallops
  • Salt, pepper

For cooking

  • Neutral cooking oil OR clarified butter

Instructions

Remove the small muscle on the side of the scallops (this small attachment is not always present).

Rinse the scallops in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Personally, I only season them at the very end, but you can also salt and pepper them at this stage.

In a skillet, preferably cast iron, heat neutral cooking oil OR cooking butter (you can be generous with the quantity).

When the pan is very hot and starts to smoke slightly, put your scallops in. Avoid overloading your pan and leave some space between the scallops so they don't touch.

Do not turn down the heat at this stage. Grill the scallops for a few minutes.

To know when to turn them over, watch the progression of the color change on the side of the scallops. As they cook, the scallops become more and more opaque white. This change in opacity occurs from the base of the scallop to the top. When almost halfway through the scallops, turn them over.

Immediately turn off the oven and remove the pan from the heat. Wait about a minute to let the cooking continue. The important thing is to have at least one side well seared and not to overcook the scallops.

Remove any excess butter or oil from the scallops by placing them on paper towels.

Season with a little fleur de sel and enjoy immediately!

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