Cooking Small Scallops Perfectly: A Beginner’s Guide

If you are a beginner when it comes to cooking seafood, small scallops can be an excellent starting point. They are versatile, easy-to-cook, and make a great addition to any seafood dish. But how do you ensure that you cook them perfectly every time? In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about cooking small scallops to perfection.

Cooking Small Scallops Perfectly: A Beginner's Guide | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Small Scallops Perfectly: A Beginner’s Guide

What are Small Scallops

If you are a seafood lover, you might have heard of scallops. Small scallops, also known as bay scallops, are a smaller variety of scallops that come from a different part of the scallop shell. They are usually about 1 to 2 inches in size and are prized for their sweet and delicate taste. In comparison, large sea scallops can be up to 4 inches in size.

What Makes Small Scallops unique

Small scallops have an irresistible sweet taste and a delicate texture that makes them a popular choice among seafood enthusiasts. They are tender and easy to prepare, and their rich and delicate flavor complements a wide range of dishes. Small scallops are also versatile and can be cooked in many ways, such as sautéed, fried, grilled, broiled, baked, or stews.

Where to Buy Small Scallops

Small scallops can be found in a variety of places, including seafood markets, grocery stores, and online seafood retailers. Here are a few places to look:

Local Seafood Markets:

Your local seafood market is likely to carry fresh small scallops. These markets often source their seafood directly from local fishermen, ensuring that you get the freshest product possible. Check with your market to see when they receive their seafood shipments so you can purchase the scallops when they are at their freshest.

Grocery Stores:

Most large grocery stores carry small scallops in their seafood department. Check the label to ensure that the scallops are fresh and have not been treated with preservatives. Frozen small scallops are also available in the frozen foods section of your grocery store. These scallops can be just as tasty as fresh scallops when cooked correctly.

Online Seafood Retailers:

If you’re unable to find small scallops at your local market or grocery store, you can always look online. Many seafood retailers offer fresh or frozen small scallops that can be shipped directly to your door. Before purchasing, read reviews of the retailer to ensure that they have a good reputation for quality seafood products.

How to Prepare Small Scallops

Small scallops are not just delicious, but they are also a great source of protein and vitamin B12. Before cooking, it’s essential to know how to prepare them properly. Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to clean and prepare small scallops.

Washing Small Scallops

The first step in preparing small scallops is to wash them properly. Rinse them under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand. Use your hands to gently rub the scallops to remove any impurities. If the scallops are still not clean, you can soak them in cold water for a few minutes before washing them again.

Removing the Tough Muscle

Small scallops have a small, tough muscle on the side that needs to be removed before cooking. Use your fingers or a small knife to locate the muscle and peel it off. It’s important not to overdo it as you might end up destroying the scallop flesh. This step is essential as it can ruin the taste and texture of the scallops if not removed.

Thawing Small Scallops

If you are using frozen scallops, it’s important to thaw them properly before cooking. To thaw small scallops, take them out of the freezer the night before and place them in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, you can also thaw them by placing them in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Never thaw scallops in hot water as it can ruin their texture and taste.

What are the Different Cooking Methods for Small Scallops

If you’re looking to cook small scallops for the first time, you may be wondering what cooking methods are available to you. Fortunately, scallops can be prepared in various ways to suit your taste and preference. Here are some cooking methods that you can try:


Searing is a high-heat cooking method that is perfect for small scallops. To sear scallops, you need to rinse them first and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add oil or butter, and swirl the pan to coat it evenly. Once the oil or butter is hot, add the scallops to the pan in a single layer, making sure that they are not touching. Cook for about 2–3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.


Grilling is another great way to cook small scallops. Start by rinsing and patting them dry. Then, skewer the scallops and brush them with your favorite marinade. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Once the grill is hot, place the skewered scallops on the grill and cook for about 2–3 minutes on each side or until they turn opaque. Serve hot with a sprinkle of chopped herbs on top.


You can also bake small scallops in the oven. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Rinse and pat dry the scallops and place them in a baking dish. Drizzle them with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10–15 minutes or until the scallops are firm and opaque. Serve hot with a side of vegetables or salad.


Sautéing is another popular way to cook small scallops. Start by rinsing and patting dry the scallops. Then, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add some oil or butter, and swirl the pan to coat it evenly. Once the skillet is hot, add the scallops and cook for about 2–3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. Add some minced garlic and chopped herbs to the skillet and toss everything together for a minute or so. Serve hot with a garnish of lemon wedges.

How to Cook Small Scallops Perfectly

Scallops are a delicious and healthy seafood option that can be enjoyed alone or added to your favorite pasta dishes. However, it can be challenging to cook them perfectly, especially when you’re a beginner in the kitchen. Here’s a beginner’s guide to cooking small scallops perfectly!

1. Choose the Right Oil

The first step to perfectly cooked small scallops is to choose the right oil. You want to use high-quality oil that can withstand high heat, such as canola oil or grapeseed oil. Avoid butter and olive oil as they have a low smoke point that can result in a burnt taste.

2. Seasoning is Everything

Seasoning is everything when it comes to small scallops. Start by seasoning them with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add your favorite herbs and spices such as garlic, thyme, or paprika. Remember to use the herbs and spices sparingly, so as not to overpower the delicate taste of the scallops.

3. Get the Right Cookware

When it comes to cooking scallops, the right cookware can make all the difference. A non-stick skillet or cast-iron skillet is perfect for cooking small scallops. Avoid using a stainless steel skillet as it can result in sticking.

4. Don’t Overcook Your Scallops

Small scallops should only be cooked for a few minutes on each side. Overcooking your scallops can result in a rubbery texture that’s unappetizing. The best way to tell when your scallops are done is to look for the opaque white color, and they should be no longer translucent.

5. The Perfect Recipe

If you’re looking for the perfect scallop recipe, look no further than this simple yet delicious recipe:

  • Ingredients: Small scallops, salt, pepper, lemon, butter or oil
  • Instructions: Rinse your scallops then season them with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a non-stick or cast-iron skillet over high heat with butter or oil. Add your scallops to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until they’re no longer translucent. Squeeze lemon over the scallops and serve immediately.

Remember that cooking small scallops perfectly only takes a few minutes, so it’s essential to keep a close eye on them as they cook. With the right ingredients, cookware, and seasonings, you can create a delicious meal that’s sure to impress your family and friends!

What Are Some Common Dishes to Make with Small Scallops

Small scallops are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some common dishes that you can make with this seafood:

1. Seafood Chowder

If you’re looking for a hearty and flavorful soup, seafood chowder is the way to go. Small scallops can be used as a key ingredient in this dish, along with clams, shrimp, and fish. With the addition of cream, potatoes, and other vegetables, seafood chowder is a filling meal that’s perfect for colder days.

2. Pasta

Small scallops can also be paired with pasta to create a delicious and easy-to-make meal. You can sauté the scallops with garlic and butter and add them to your favorite pasta dish, such as linguine or fettuccine alfredo. Alternatively, you can create a simple but delicious spaghetti aglio e olio with added small scallops.

3. Stuffed Mushrooms

If you’re looking for an elegant appetizer or side dish, try stuffing mushrooms with small scallops. Simply sauté the scallops with garlic and bread crumbs, then stuff them into mushroom caps and bake them until golden brown. The result is a savory and satisfying bite that’s perfect for entertaining.

4. Toppings for Pizzas

If you’re a fan of pizza, consider adding small scallops to your toppings. They add a seafood flavor to the dish and pair well with other ingredients like garlic, onions and basil. Alternatively, you can create a seafood pizza with scallops, shrimp, and crab meat with your choice of herbs and spices.

5. Salad Toppings

Small scallops can also be used to add an extra protein boost to your salads. You can sauté them with some spices and then add them on top of a bed of fresh greens. Drizzle your favorite salad dressing and sprinkle some croutons to enhance its taste.

6. Scallops Wraps

One of the best ways to enjoy small scallops is to use them as a protein in wraps. Combine small scallops with a layer of lettuce, tomatoes and your favorite vegetables and drizzle with a simple sauce or mayo to drape the flavor.

Happy Cooking and Thanks for Reading!

Cooking small scallops can be a bit tricky, but with these tips, you can ensure that they turn out perfectly every time. Always start by choosing fresh, high-quality scallops and avoid overcooking to prevent them from becoming tough and chewy. Whether you prefer searing, baking, or sautéing, you can try experimenting with different seasonings and ingredients to create your own unique scallop recipe. We hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to cooking small scallops and can’t wait to see you again on our site!

Cooking Small Scallops Perfectly: A Beginner's Guide | Eat Urban Garden

Cooking Small Scallops Perfectly: A Beginner's Guide

Learn how to cook small scallops perfectly every time with this beginner's guide. From choosing the freshest scallops to searing, baking, or sautéing, we provide tips to create delicious scallop dishes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Seafood
Servings 4 servings
Calories 200 kcal


  • 1 pound of small scallops
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley


  • Rinse the scallops in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Remove any connective tissue or side muscles.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and garlic. Add the scallops and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the scallops in a baking dish. Melt the butter and mix it with garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. Pour the mixture over the scallops and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and garlic. Add the scallops and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Keyword small scallops, cooking scallops, seafood recipes, beginner's guide, scallop tips

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