Seared scallops on a plate
Seared scallops on a plate

Your Guide to Cooking Frozen Weathervane Scallops

September 1st, 2021

Knowing how to cook frozen scallops is clutch when you need quick and easy options for an effortless appetizer or a full-on seafood meal. That’s because cooking scallops takes very little prep, aside from the time it takes to defrost them, and is ready to eat in a matter of minutes. 

Frozen Scallops or Fresh Scallops?

Fresh Weathervane Scallops, shucked right off the boat, are sweet, succulent, and rich in flavor — but since having that kind of immediate access all the time is rare (like on a week-night, for example), flash-frozen scallops are ideal — and you can always have stashed in your freezer to use at your convenience. 

If you’re not lucky enough to enjoy scallops that have been harvested steps from your door, you’re going to get the best quality product when you purchase flash-frozen scallops. Like other shellfish, shucked scallops are highly perishable. Flash-freezing them, as done in Alaskan fisheries, preserves them at the peak of freshness. 

More important than whether you’re buying frozen or fresh scallops, however, is to find out if they are “wet” or “dry” scallops. Wet scallops, also known as wet pack scallops, are usually treated with chemical preservatives that extend their shelf life and force them to retain water, plumping them up with water weight. The preservatives can leave behind a rubbery texture to the scallops, and the excess moisture makes them nearly impossible to sear. 

Dry scallops are pure and unadulterated. When processed efficiently, dry scallops retain their natural moisture content and tender texture. They also sear like a dream, requiring little cook time and kitchen gear — you only need a hot pan and a few minutes to get that golden crust to form.

How to Thaw Weathervane Scallops

Before you get to cooking Weathervane  Scallops, you’ll want to master the thaw. Learning how to thaw scallops the right way ensures that you’re not compromising the texture and flavor of high-quality catch. 

The refrigerator

The best way to thaw scallops, especially when they’re packed as a block of frozen seafood, is to defrost them in the refrigerator. Another benefit of thawing scallops in the refrigerator is that it is safe to immediately refreeze whatever you don’t plan to use. 

You will need:

  • A plate or tray

  • Paper towels or a tea towel

First, remove their plastic packaging. Then, set the frozen scallops on a plate or tray lined with a tea towel or paper towel. Allow them to defrost overnight in the refrigerator, where they will defrost evenly and safely. The tea towel or paper towel will absorb any excess moisture from the scallops as they thaw.

Simply wait until the frozen block of scallops has thawed just enough to split apart, then wrap the portion you’d like to refreeze in a freezer-safe bag to use at another time. Continue to thaw the remainder as you normally would in the refrigerator. 

Cold water

If you’re planning on cooking all of the scallops as soon as they’re defrosted, you can quickly thaw scallops in cold water. The total time it takes to thaw scallops in cold water depends on the density of your block of frozen scallops, but generally it will take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. 

You will need:

  • A bowl

  • Cool water

To quickly thaw frozen scallops, submerge them in a bowl of cool water so that they aren’t exposed to warmer room temperatures. The bowl should be large enough to hold all of the seafood you’ll be defrosting, and the water should be cool to the touch. You can weigh the scallops down with another bowl or object if needed so that they stay fully submerged.

Check on the scallops after about a half hour so that you can refresh the bowl with cool water, as the scallops will have made the water in the bowl colder than it needs to be. Do not use warm water to thaw scallops, as this can create an ecosystem where bacteria can thrive. 

After removing from the bowl, take special care to pat these thawed scallops dry before cooking, as they will have picked up some excess water in the process — and when you add wet scallops to a hot pan, even when it’s preheated, the scallops will steam rather than sear.

The Microwave

It’s possible to use the microwave to defrost scallops. However, we highly discourage this, as it ruins the texture of good quality, fresh seafood. If you must microwave the scallops though, keep a close eye on them as they defrost so that they don’t begin to cook. Scallops that have been microwaved are best used in chowders, casseroles, or pies as they won’t be optimal for pan-searing or any other preparation where scallops are the star of the dish. 

You will need:

  • A microwave

  • A bowl

  • Paper towels or a tea towel

Remove the scallops from any plastic packaging. Place the frozen block of scallops in the bowl, then cover the bowl with paper towels or a tea towel. Using the defrost setting on your microwave, or 30 percent power, thaw the scallops for 30 seconds. Poke a set of tongs into the bowl to see if the scallops are still frozen. If so, microwave at this setting for another 30 seconds. Continue until fully thawed. Pat dry to remove any excess moisture, then cook immediately. 

Best Ways to Cook Weathervane Scallops 

If you’re new to scallops, get familiar with how to cook using quick and easy cooking methods like searing, grilling and baking. 

Each of these methods will have your scallops perfectly cooked in under ten minutes; if you’re not sure about the timing, err on the side of underdone so that you don’t end up with rubbery, overcooked seafood. 

Seared Weathervane Scallops

Perfectly seared weathervane  scallops need just two things: A hot and heavy pan, and the right fat. With those two things, you’ll be able to turn out the best golden scallops without breaking a sweat. 

A heavy pan, like a cast-iron skillet, is ideal for making pan-seared scallops. Non-stick pans won’t produce as good of a sear, but they are fine to use as long as they have a heavy bottom so that your scallops will cook evenly. By the way, you won’t have to worry about the scallops sticking to the pan as long as you prep everything properly.

You will need:

A heavy-bottomed skillet

A high-heat cooking fat (vegetable oil, canola oil, or ghee are good options)

Weathervane Scallops

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

  1. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat, adding just enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan. 

  2. Meanwhile, pat your scallops dry, removing any excess liquid from the surface with a tea towel or paper towel. Moisture on the surface of the scallops will inhibit searing and cause your scallops to steam instead. Season scallops with salt and pepper.

  3. Once your cooking fat has begun to shimmer, arrange your scallops in the skillet, leaving an inch or so of space around each to ensure that they can expel a bit of moisture without steaming one another. For best results, do this in batches rather than crowding the pan. Leave the scallops undisturbed as they cook, allowing the first side to sear until the scallops have developed a golden brown crust. 

  4. After about two minutes, peek at the seared side of one of the scallops to see if it’s had enough time to properly sear. If ready to flip, start turning your scallops with either a spatula or tongs, starting with the ones that you first put into the pan. Cook for another minute or so until scallops have just cooked through (smaller scallops will just need a minute, while larger ones should cook for another 2 minutes), then serve immediately.

Grilled Weathervane Scallops

To grill scallops, we suggest threading them onto a pair of skewers for easy handling on a grill. Make sure your grill grates are clean, lightly oiled, and seriously hot in order to get gorgeous grill marks on the scallops.

You will need:

Skewers (soak wooden skewers in water for about an hour prior to grilling)

Weathervane Scallops

A high-heat cooking oil (vegetable oil or canola oil)

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Condiment of your choice: melted butter and minced garlic, chimichurri, a fruity salsa

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. 

  2. Meanwhile, pat your scallops dry, removing any excess liquid from the surface with a tea towel or paper towel. Moisture on the surface of the scallops will inhibit searing and cause your scallops to steam instead. 

  3. Thread 4 or 5 scallops onto a pair of skewers, using the pair of skewers to help orient the scallops so that they can lay flat against the grill grates; they tend to spin around if only on one skewer. Continue threading the remaining scallops onto pairs of skewers, then season with salt and pepper.

  4. Lightly brush grill grates as well as the scallops with oil, then place scallops onto the grill and allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes.

  5. After 2 minutes, or when scallops have seared enough to release easily from the grates, carefully flip them. It’s best to use a fish spatula to coax them from the grates in order to flip them to the other side. Cook for another minute or so until just opaque in the center. Serve while hot with a condiment of your choice. 

Baked Weathervane Scallops

One incredibly low-maintenance way to cook scallops is to bake them in the oven. It’s an especially easy way to prepare a large quantity of scallops as a main dish. 

Since baking cooks the scallops with indirect heat, they won’t pick up the golden crust that they develop on the grill or in a skillet. Consider topping the scallops with breadcrumbs after you’ve tossed them in a garlic butter sauce to give them an element of texture.

You will need:

Weathervane Scallops

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

A baking dish

Melted butter

Minced garlic


White wine

Panko breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. 

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat with a teaspoon or two of minced garlic until fragrant. Add about a cup of breadcrumbs (enough to generously cover the scallops) and toast until lightly golden.

  3. Meanwhile, pat the scallops dry, then toss in enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish large enough to just fit the scallops. Squeeze half a lemon over the scallops. 

  4. Top scallops with garlicky breadcrumbs, then place on middle rack in oven. Cook until scallops have just cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

Weathervane Scallops Health Benefits

Despite their rich, sweet flavor, weathervane scallops are a lean source of clean protein, low in fat and carbohydrates. And though they contain well under 1 gram of fat per 3-ounce serving, much of this fat comes in the form of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids — about 300 milligrams. Like many other varieties of fish and shellfish, scallops are rich in vitamin B12, iodine, and phosphorus.

This nutritional profile makes scallops a great food to integrate into a variety of diets that help to reduce blood cholesterol levels, support health and maintain a healthy weight — all of which may help to lower the incidence of chronic illnesses. 

More Ways to Eat Weathervane Scallops

The sweetness of scallops lends itself well to a variety of easy recipes, making them a seafood option that integrates nicely into some of your favorite dishes. Here are some ideas for weathervane scallop recipes:

  • Serve scallops with spaghetti topped with fresh lemon, toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan, and an excellent olive oil.

  • With perfectly seared scallops, recipes can be as simple as building a sandwich: Try serving them on a buttered roll with your favorite aioli for a high-style lunch that requires little prep time.

  • Use scallops as a decadent filling for a savory, creamy seafood pie.

Wild-Caught Seafood Delivered Monthly

Signing up for a Wild Alaskan Company seafood membership gives you access to wild, sustainably harvested weathervane scallops, which are some of the sweetest scallops in the sea. Frozen at the peak of freshness, wild Alaskan weathervane scallops are available seasonally in a wild seafood subscription box, delivered straight to your doorstep each month. To become a member of Wild Alaskan Company, swim on over to our homepage to learn more about how this fish membership works.