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Easy breaded cajun Air Fryer Scallops are the most delicious way to cook scallops! They're coated in a cajun-breadcrumb mixture, then fried in the air fryer so that they're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Helloooooo air fryer scallops!
They’re coated in a cajun seasoning/breadcrumb mixture, then air fried so they’re perfectly crispy without being dry. …what’s not to love?
- Ready in about 20 minutes from start to finish
- Seasoned with cajun seasoning, which makes them incredibly flavorful
- Crispy on the outside, perfectly soft on the inside
- Scallops: Fresh or frozen; I tested this recipe with both, and both turned out great. The key is patting them dry. Also, if you’re using frozen scallops, try to remember to thaw them in the refrigerator ahead of time.
- Cajun seasoning: I adore cajun seasoning, so I opted to use it to flavor the scallops; feel free to use your favorite fish seasoning if cajun isn’t your thing.
- Breadcrumbs: Plain or whole wheat, regular or gluten free; I would NOT recommend seasoned breadcrumbs as it’ll alter the flavor too much.
Step 1: Remove side muscle. This is the first step in any good scallop recipe. Trace your finger along the side of the scallop and you should feel a small rectangular “tag” -- that’s the side muscle. Simply pull it off and discard it.
Step 2: Pat dry. Once all of the side muscles are removed, place the scallops in a bowl or on a plate, then use a paper towel to pat them dry. You want the scallops to be dry so that they crisp up in the air fryer (otherwise, they could get soggy).
Next, drizzle them with olive oil and stir so that they’re coated.
Step 3: Make the seasoning. In this case, that’s a mixture of cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs. Stir them together in a bowl then set it aside.
Step 4: Season the scallops. Transfer the scallops into the bowl with the breadcrumbs and stir so that they’re completely coated.
Step 5: Air fry. Line your air fryer with a piece of foil, then place the scallops in your air fryer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to cook them in batches.
Air fry the scallops at 400° for 8-10 minutes, shaking the basket half way through.
Tips and tricks
-Always remove the side muscle. It's a step that takes 2-3 minutes and improves the overall texture of the finished dish. You can read this article from The Kitchn on why it's important to remove the side muscle from scallops.
-Don't overlap the scallops in the air fryer; it’s ok if the ends touch a bit, but if in order to get them to all fit they have to overlap, then cook them in batches.
-Make sure to line your air fryer with a piece of foil, which will make the clean-up process a lot easier.
-Though it may be tempting to cook the scallops for longer so they’re even crispier, I wouldn’t. Over-cooking scallops results in a chewy and somewhat dry texture that’s less than ideal. Instead, stick to the recommended 8-10 minute cook time.
What size scallops should I use?
I used the frozen wild-caught 10-12 scallops per pound from Trader Joe's.
Can I air fry frozen scallops?
Yes, but for this recipe, I do recommend thawing them first, rather than putting them directly from the freezer into your air fryer. Once they’re thaw, make sure to pat them dry, which will ensure that they’re nice and crispy.
- Refrigerator: Store scallops in a sealed container, or cover with foil, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Reheat cooked scallops in the microwave, or in the oven at 350° until just warm. You want to be careful to not cook the scallops any more, or they’ll become dry.
More seafood recipes:
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Air Fryer Scallops
- 1 lb. scallops thawed, large (10-20 per pound)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs plain or whole wheat (regular or gluten free)
- 2 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- olive oil/avocado oil spray
- Run your finger along the side of each scallop and remove the side muscle; discard it. Place scallops on a plate then pat them dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the scallops with the olive oil.
- Next, combine the breadcrumbs, cajun seasoning and salt in a bowl, then transfer the scallops to that bowl and stir so that the scallops are coated.
- Line your air fryer with foil, then place the scallops into it, making sure they're not overlapping. If they don't all fit, you'll have to cook them in batches. Spray the scallops with a little olive oil/avocado oil spray (optional, but makes them a little crispier).
- Air fry the scallops at 400° for 8-10 minutes, shaking the basket half way through.