Can You Freeze Scallops?

It’s terrific to hand-dive for your scallops or buy some at the food market. They’re delicious raw or cooked, and make a meal extra-special. But what happens if you’ve got more scallops than you can eat? Seafood has a very short shelf life. Can you freeze scallops?

Scallops freeze very well, either fresh or cooked, for three months. Freeze scallops in a freezer-proof container or Ziplock bag with as little air inside as possible to prevent spoilage. Seal well and place the scallops in the coldest part of the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Having a bag of scallops in the freezer is handy for unexpected guests or a surprise treat.

How do you freeze scallops to extend their shelf life? Can you freeze both cooked and fresh scallops? Let’s look at how to freeze scallops.

Can You Freeze Fresh Scallops?

You can freeze fresh scallops very successfully. Freezing is the best way to preserve fresh seafood.

It is always best to eat scallops on the day you buy them.

However, if you aren’t going to eat your fresh scallops within three days of buying them, it is best to store the shellfish in the freezer rather than the fridge to extend their lifespan. 

Place your scallops in the freezer when you get home from the store or market.

How To Freeze Scallops

Always freeze fresh scallops shucked or without their shells. 

Even if you buy fresh scallops in their shells, you cannot freeze them as they are – they are still alive, and the cold will kill them. Shuck and clean the scallops before freezing. 

Rinse the scallops with cold water to remove any sand and grit. Dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.

Divide the scallops into meal-sized portions so that you can thaw only as much as you need.

Seal your fresh scallops by vacuum-packing, or place them in a freezer-proof container, Ziplock bag, or tightly wrapped in plastic cling film.

If you can, separate the scallops and freeze them individually. 

Squeeze as much air out of the wrapping as possible to prevent the scallops from drying out and spoilage by freezer burn or bacteria.

Exposing your seafood to air will ruin the scallops.

Label the package of scallops with the date and contents.

Store your fresh or already frozen scallops in the coldest part of the freezer, as far from the door as possible, ideally at under 32⁰F (0⁰C).

How Long Can You Freeze Scallops?

You can freeze fresh scallops for three months. 

Many supermarkets sell frozen scallops. It’s handy to keep a packet in the freezer. You can freeze these scallops for three to six months. However, after three months, the texture and taste of the scallops may deteriorate.

Avoid buying frozen scallops that have torn or crushed packaging or frost or ice crystals on them – the scallops have probably thawed and refrozen, making it dangerous to eat them.

How To Thaw Frozen Scallops

To thaw frozen, uncooked scallops, remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator overnight or 24 hours.

Allow the scallops to remain cold and defrost slowly.

Never thaw frozen scallops at room temperature as this risks spoilage and food poisoning.

The safest and easiest way to thaw scallops is to remove them from their packaging, then put the frozen shellfish in a bowl in the refrigerator.

Cover the bowl tightly with cling film to prevent the scallops from absorbing aromas from the fridge.

You can thaw the scallops more quickly if necessary.

Place the still sealed bag or container of scallops in a large bowl and fill it with cold water.

Submerge the scallops in the water.

Replace the water every 15 minutes until the scallops have thawed.

This process will take a couple of hours.

Do not use hot water when thawing scallops as it may begin cooking them.

Using a microwave to thaw frozen scallops will also heat the scallops unevenly.

It may cook some sections – thaw scallops in the microwave only as a last resort, and ensure that you cook them immediately.

Thawed scallops will be soft and cool, with no hard, frozen bits. 

Thaw only as many scallops as you will cook immediately. You can keep the thawed scallops in the fridge for a day at the longest.

Do not leave thawed scallops at room temperature, as the thawed scallops will spoil.

You can’t refreeze thawed scallops as this will ruin their texture and taste, and you will risk food poisoning.

Ensure that the scallops have thawed entirely before cooking – if you cook partially frozen scallops, they will be chewy and rubbery.

Cook the thawed scallops as you would cook fresh scallops. You cannot eat frozen and thawed scallops raw.

Frozen stock ingredient, Japanese scallop from Hokkaido prefecture

Can You Freeze Cooked Scallops?

You can freeze cooked scallops. 

Freeze the cooked scallops on the day you cook them.

How To Freeze Cooked Scallops

If you are planning to freeze your cooked scallops, the best cooking method is poaching. 

However, you cook the scallops, allow them to cool to room temperature before freezing – this will take about an hour.

If you package warm scallops in a Ziplock bag or freezer-proof container, their steam will cause freezer burn. 

Freeze scallops in their cooking stock or sauce. You can freeze scallops cooked in their shells.

Place the scallops in freezer-proof plastic containers or freezer-proof Ziplock bags. Try to remove all the air from the packet and see that the scallops are airtight to prevent spoilage.

Label the package of cooked scallops with the date and contents.

Keep scallops in the coldest part of the freezer, as far from the door as possible.

How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Scallops?

You can freeze cooked scallops for three to six months.

How To Thaw Frozen Scallops

To thaw frozen, cooked scallops, remove them from the freezer and defrost them in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours.

Never thaw frozen scallops at room temperature as this risks spoilage and food poisoning.

Eat the thawed cooked scallops on the day of thawing if possible. Keep any thawed cooked scallops in the fridge for two days at the most.

Reheat the scallops gently by poaching in their stock or sauce or a little butter in a warm frying pan. Take care not to overcook the scallops – they are already cooked and only need to be heated through. 

Overcooking scallops will make them chewy and rubbery. At the same time, make sure the scallops are heated adequately as bacteria thrive in warm, not hot, temperatures – the interior of the scallops must reach 145⁰F (63⁰C).

Avoid reheating the scallops in the microwave as you can easily overcook them.

Once you have reheated frozen, cooked scallops, eat them as soon as possible. Do not put them back in the fridge or reheat them a second time. Reheating can cause food poisoning.

Do not refreeze and thaw scallops that you have cooked, frozen, and reheated. This process can also lead to food poisoning.

Discard any frozen, thawed, and reheated scallops that you don’t eat on the day of reheating.

Conclusion

Scallops freeze well, whether they are fresh or cooked.

Freeze fresh scallops as soon as possible after buying them to extend their lifespan.

Freeze cooked scallops once they have cooled to room temperature.

Place the scallops in a freezer-proof container or Ziplock bag and seal well.

You can keep frozen fresh or cooked scallops for three months.

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.