Deep-Fried Scallops

Deep-fried scallops in a white serving bowl

The Spruce

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Health-conscious it may not be, but most everything tastes better fried—including scallops. The deep fryer is an excellent way to cook scallops, and it takes out some of the trepidation you might feel if cooking scallops feels intimidating. After all, they're not the cheapest seafood you can buy, so the fear of messing them up is a common one. Scallops are succulent, and luckily, they are especially good when deep-fried.

These deep-fried scallops are first dipped in a seasoned flour mixture, then they are dipped in egg batter and dry bread crumbs. It's a slightly messy process, but it's not difficult. Once you make them, they can be drained on a baking sheet rimmed with paper towels. They're best eaten the day you make them.

1:20

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Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable oil (or amount needed for deep frying)
  • 2 cups sea scallops
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk (or water)
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (fine dry)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather ingredients.

    Deep fried scallops ingredients
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  2. If scallops are quite large, cut them so the sizes are fairly uniform.

    Scallops cut into smaller sizes with scissors
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  3. Rinse the scallops under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Remove the tough white side muscle if not already removed.

    Wash and dry scallops
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  4. Heat about 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy cast iron skillet, saucepan, or deep fryer to 350 F.

    Oil heating in a cast iron skillet
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  5. Line a baking pan or baking sheet with two or three thicknesses of paper towels and set aside.

    Baking sheet lined with paper towels
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  6. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, paprika, and black pepper.

    Flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in bowl
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  7. In another bowl, whisk eggs with the milk.

    Eggs and milk whisked in a bowl
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  8. Put the fine breadcrumbs in a third bowl.

    Breadcrumbs in a white bowl
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  9. Dip a few of the scallops in the seasoned flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat with the remaining scallops.

    Dip scallops in flour mixture, egg and milk mixture, and breadcrumbs
    The Spruce
  10. Once the oil has reached the temperature (350 F), add several scallops―about 6 to 10 depending on the pan size―to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Take care not to overcook. They should be warm in the middle, but still moist.

    Add scallops to oil and fry until golden brown
    The Spruce
  11. Remove them from the oil with a metal slotted spoon and transfer them to the paper-towel-lined pan. Shake the pan gently for a few seconds so the scallops roll around and excess oil is absorbed.

    Add fried scallops to towel lined baking pan
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  12. Repeat with subsequent batches.

    Cooked scallops draining on a towel lined baking pan
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  13. Serve immediately with your choice of cocktail sauce, remoulade sauce, or tartar sauce. Enjoy!

    Finished scallops with tartar sauce in a bowl
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Tips

  • Don't crowd the scallops in the pan. Crowding will make the oil cool down significantly, and the breadcrumb coating will end up absorbing more oil.
  • Make a quick homemade tartar sauce by combining 2/3 cup of mayonnaise with 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet bread and butter pickles and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cover and chill until serving time.

Variations

  • Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning to replace the salt and paprika.
  • Spice the scallops up with a pinch of cayenne pepper, or reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon and add about 1 teaspoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning.
  • Use fine dry bread crumbs seasoned with garlic for the coating.

How to Store Deep-Fried Scallops

Like most fried foods, and especially fish and shellfish, scallops are best eaten right after they've been made. But you can reheat them if you have leftovers.

Take the scallops out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the scallops have reached room temperature put them on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.