Air Fryer Scallops

Quick, tender, and succulent – this recipe for Air Fryer Scallops is as impressive as it is simple. An easy lemon butter sauce is the perfect compliment to these delicate bites.

Quick, tender, and succulent this recipe for Air Fryer Scallops is as impressive as it is simple. An easy lemon butter sauce is the perfect compliment to these delicate bites.

I’m not one to turn down a perfectly seared scallop. In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to prepare scallops. But I have recently become a fan of using my air fryer to make a very quick, perfectly cooked scallop dinner. And with a delicious buttery lemon sauce, I hardly miss the sear. Hardly :)

What Scallops to Choose

I know it can be a little confusing when it comes to buying scallops. What size? Bay scallops or sea scallops? Fresh or frozen? Here’s a quick primer:

Scallop Sizes

Much like shrimp, scallops are rated by one of two size designators. The first is a range of numbers per pound. If you see a 20/30, you can expect between 20 to 30 scallops per pound. The smaller the range, the larger the scallops.

The second is a designator of U/10 or U/15. The “U” stands for “under” indicating that there are under 10 or 15 respectively per pound. In this example, U/10 would be the largest scallops.

Types of Scallops

Bay Scallops are the smallest of the scallops. They typically range between 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch and are designated by size between 70 to 120 scallops per pound. Because they’re smaller and more delicate, they’re best suited for poaching or a quick sauté.

Sea Scallops, on the other hand, are much larger. The size of these scallops is between 1 1/2-inches to 2-inches in diameter and are designated by size between 10 to 40 per pound or bigger. You’ll often see them designated as U/10 or U/15. Because they are larger, they are perfect for searing or cooking in the air fryer.

Fresh or Frozen

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you have access to a fish monger you trust, then by all means, purchase fresh scallops.

If, however, you don’t live near a coast or know a reputable seafood guy, buy the IQF (individually quick frozen) scallops. There’re some really great options in grocery stores now.

If you’re using frozen scallops, I recommend thawing them in the refrigerator overnight. I think that they are have better taste than if you “force” thaw them.

In a pinch, you can place the scallops in a resealable plastic bag. Place a large bowl in the sink and put the plastic bag in the bowl.  Fill the bowl with cold tap water. The best temperature is about 50˚F. Any higher and you run the risk of changing the texture of the scallops.

I’ve seen posts that recommend thawing scallops in the microwave. I strongly suggest that you don’t do that. It’s just too risky in my opinion. The last thing that you want is rubbery scallops.

To summarize, use sea scallops between U/10 and U/15. Choose either fresh or frozen depending upon your location and access to a reputable seafood retailer.

How to Cook Scallops in the Air Fryer

It’s important to remove the scallops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking them. This will ensure that they cook properly all the way through.

Pat them dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Then brush all sides with melted butter.

Preheating the air fryer helps to get some color on the exterior of the scallops and ensures that they cook quickly, keeping them tender. Don’t expect them to have the same crisp crust as a seared scallop. Spray the basket with cooking oil and follow your manufacturer’s recommendation for preheating. Preheat to 400˚F. I have a Power Fryer XL and the manual recommends 2 -3 minutes of preheating time.

Once the air fryer has been preheated, carefully place the scallops in the basket of the air fryer without crowding them. Cook them for 3 minutes at 400˚F and then turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes. Because there isn’t an indication of color, I always use my instant read thermometer to make sure the proper internal temperature has been reached. I like my scallops rare which is 125˚F. If you prefer medium-rare, cook them to 140˚F. I truly think that if they are cooked any more, they get rubbery, but if you must, you could cook them to 150˚F. But please, don’t go any higher than that. Please.

Because they have very little color on them, I like to serve a sauce over the top of them to give the dish a little bit of vibrancy. A simple lemon butter with chopped parsley is perfect.

What to Serve with Air Fryer Scallops

I like to serve scallops with simple sides like roasted asparagus or steamed peas. But mashed potatoes or my Instant Pot risotto also make fabulous sides for this dish.

More Air Fryer Seafood Recipes

Happy Air Frying!

Christine xo



Air Fryer Scallops

  • Author: Leigh Olson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


Quick, tender, and succulent – this recipe for Air Fryer Scallops is as impressive as it is simple. An easy lemon butter sauce is the perfect compliment to these delicate bites.


Lemon Butter Sauce (optional)

  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder


  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 16 large frozen or fresh scallops
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • cooking spray


For Lemon Butter Sauce

  1. Zest the lemon.
  2. Juice half of the lemon and slice the other half into 1/2 rounds.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic powder. Set aside

For Scallops

  1. If using frozen scallops, thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Remove scallops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
  3. Pat scallops dry.
  4. Pour 4 tablespoons of butter into a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to brush melted butter on all sides of the scallops. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray.
  6. Pre-heat the air fryer to 400˚F. (Refer to your owner’s manual to determine the recommended amount of time to preheat. My Power Fryer XL manual recommends 2 -3 minutes to preheat.)
  7. Place scallops in the basket of the air fryer without crowding and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the scallops over and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 125˚F for rare, or 140˚F for medium.
  8. Remove to serving plate. If using lemon butter sauce, drizzle over the scallops and serve with lemon slices.
Air Fryer Scallops

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