My father’s first experience with scallops was with this baked scallop dish prepared by his friends Fred and Patricia. He was so inspired by these scallops he spent the better part of a month experimenting trying to recreate them! These delicious baked scallops are the result.
What I love about this recipe is that it’s so easy to make and it cooks up so quickly. The scallops are essentially baked in a white sauce of butter, white wine, and flour, with a breadcrumb topping.
Sea Scallops vs. Bay Scallops
When it comes to scallops, you have a choice between sea scallops and bay scallops. We use the larger sea scallops for this version, but my father remembers Patricia using bay scallops when she made them for him.
Sea scallops are fairly large — the diameter of a quarter or larger — while bay scallops are quite small, maybe just an inch across or even smaller. Sea scallops are usually more common (and less expensive), so these are most likely what you’ll find at the store.
Their size obviously affects how quickly they cook, so if you end up using bay scallops, be sure to shorten the overall cooking time.
Fresh scallops are best for this recipe if you can find them, but frozen scallops are also fine to use. Thaw frozen scallops before making the recipe according to package instructions.
How to Tell when Scallops are Done
Scallops are cooked when they are just barely opaque all the way through. The texture should still be quite soft; if they’re very firm or tough, that means they’re overcooked. Err on the side of undercooking them. You can always heat them a minute or two longer if they need more cooking.
This recipe has a longer cooking time than most scallop recipes, but the scallops are cooked very gently — first with a little wine on the stovetop, and then nestled in baking dish in the oven. Follow the timing in the recipe and you should be just fine.
What to Serve with These Scallops
Serve these scallops on their own with a squeeze of lemon. A simple side salad and a hunk of crusty bread round out the meal.
You could also spoon the scallops and their sauce over some pasta or rice. This would be great for a dinner party or a date night in.
More Easy Seafood Recipes!
Baked Scallops Recipe
Look for "dry packed" not soaked, wet, or treated scallops. Dry packed scallops taste better and haven't been artificially plumped up with water.
- 2 pounds sea scallops (about 4 cups), fresh or thawed if frozen, dry-packed
- 1 cup dry white wine (such as a Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Simmer the scallops on the stovetop: Place scallops in a medium sauté pan. Add the wine and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 4 minutes, no longer.
Transfer the scallops to a 1 1/2-quart casserole baking dish using a spatula and arrange in a single layer. It's ok if they're a little crowded or if a few overlap. Pour off the cooking liquid to a separate container and reserve.
3 Cook the onions: Heat 3 tablespoons butter in the sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, a couple minutes.
4 Make the sauce: Slowly sprinkle the flour over the butter onion mixture and stir to combine. Let cook for a minute or two. Then add the cooking liquid over the butter onion mixture, whisking vigorously while you do so.
As soon as the sauce is thickened, add it to the scallops in the casserole baking dish. Stir gently to fully incorporate the scallops into the sauce.
5 Bake: Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the scallops and dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Bake in the oven at 400°F until bubbly and brown, approximately 15 minutes.
Serve with lemon slices.
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