Fancy Baked Sea Scallops

This easy scallop appetizer will “wow” your guests and be your go-to baked sea scallops recipe because it’s easy to make and can be prepared in advance.  Baked sea scallops in their shell make an impressive starter to a special meal.

If you’ve spent any time poking around this site, you’ll know that I have an affinity for seafood.  Fresh fish kebabs, shrimp tacos, crab cakes, conch fritters, oysters on the half shell, grilled octopus, clam chowder, crayfish etpuffée, calamari appetizerConnecticut lobster roll, seared diver scallops — you name it.  I’m ALL IN. And you’ll be all in for these fancy baked sea scallops. They’re easy to assemble and make an eye-popping scallop appetizer.

U-12 sea scallops on a platter.

Ingredients for baked scallops:

  • Sea Scallops – Look for large sea scallops – U10 to U15.
  • Pancetta – cured but unsmoked Italian bacon.
  • Shallots – A cross between onion and garlic, they add an aromatic flavor to the baked sea scallops.
  • Butter – for sweating the shallots and to add richness.
  • Dry White Wine – use a drinkable chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
  • Dry Vermouth – a fortified wine that adds distinctive flavor to the dish.
  • Sourdough Bread Crumbs – or a good sturdy bread (like a country loaf).
  • Parsley – I used Italian flat-leaf parsley.

Choosing sea scallops 

For these baked sea scallops – try to get the largest, freshest scallops you can.  I always prefer dry scallops over wet scallops when I’m searing them — because it’s the only way to achieve a golden brown crust.  That’s  not what I’m going for with this healthy baked scallop recipe, so wet sea scallops are fine. Just make sure they’re BIG — U10-15 is about right.

steps for making pancetta breadcrumb topping.

Making the pancetta crumb topping for baked sea scallops

  1. Start by making the savory breadcrumb topping. Crisp up some finely diced pancetta and transfer it to a dish lined with paper towels to soak up the grease.  
  2. Discard all but one teaspoon of the rendered fat and use it to sauté the shallots with a knob of butter.
  3. Add the vermouth and reduce it down to a syrup, then toss in the fresh breadcrumbs, parsley and crispy pancetta.  
Placing one scallop into individual scallop shells.

Presentation matters 

I like to use scallop shells to bake the sea scallops in. It makes a beautiful and fancy presentation as an appetizer for a special dinner.

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If you’re using the scallop shells for baking:

  1. Arrange the scallop shells on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Place one scallop each in the scallop shells.
  3. Top with the pancetta mixture.

If you don’t have scallop shells, you can also use a small, shallow baking dish.

  1. Spray the baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Arrange the scallops in the dish so they aren’t touching and have about 1-2″ of space between them.
  3. Top each scallop with the pancetta mixture.
Making buttered breadcrumbs for the topping.

This is the first breadcrumb layer – it’s full of flavor and gives dimension to this baked sea scallop appetizer.

The second layer of crumbs is the one that will get a bit crispy-crusty with a topping of buttered breadcrumbs.

To make them add more bread to the food processor and add a teaspoon or so of butter. Pulse several times. The crumbs will be coated with the butter and will enhance browning.

I do this double hit of bread crumb topping because the first layer of crumbs is the flavor layer and because they’ve been tossed in the vermouth reduction, they won’t brown the way I like.

Topping the sea scallops with breadcrumb pancetta topping.

The second layer of buttered breadcrumb is the remedy for that.  It’s the golden crust layer that gives these baked sea scallops an irresistibly light crunch.

The scallops after baking.

Make sea scallops in advance and bake at the last minute

Baking the sea scallops in the oven is an easy way to get this appetizer on the table without any fuss.  You can prep most of this in advance and just bake them off at the last minute without slaving away in the kitchen while your company has all the fun.

A simple, elegant appetizer

This healthy baked scallop recipe is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party! It’s not to heavy and is just enough to rev up the appetite for a bigger course. If you’re using large scallops one to two per person is just the right amount to start off a nice meal.  Serve the fancy baked sea scallops with a chilled sparkling wine to make the occasion even more festive.

A display of baked sea scallops in their shells.

For a main course

If you want to make this more of a main course, plan on 3-5 scallops per person (depending on their size) and serve in mini gratin dishes.  They’d go great with some silky vegetable pureé and a piece of crusty bread. Don’t forget a simple green salad to cleanse the palate. 

Serving baked sea scallops in their shells.

More easy seafood recipes you might like: 

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Baked sea scallops with crunchy breadcrumbs.
Print Pin
4.58 from 21 votes

Baked Sea Scallops

An easy, elegant appetizer that’s ready in about thirty minutes.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword baked scallops, scallop appetizer, sea scallops
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • 1 pound sea scallops (U-10 to U-15)
  • 4 ounces pancetta finely diced
  • 1 large shallot minced
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter divided
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
  • 3 slices rustic sourdough bread crusts trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped + more for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 400°. If you have scallop shells for baking, spritz them with some vegetable spray, place on a baking sheet and set aside.  If you’re not using scallop shells, use a ceramic baking dish that will fit the scallops in a single layer without crowding and lightly spray with vegetable spray.  Set aside.
  • Tear the sourdough bread into chunks and add it to the bowl of a mini prep food processor.  Pulse several times until you have breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  •  Heat a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisped and fat has rendered.  Transfer the pancetta to a dish lined with paper towels. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the rendered fat and discard the rest. Add the shallots and 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Saute until the shallots are softened and translucent.  Add the white wine and vermouth and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, pancetta and parsley to the shallot mixture and toss to coat.
  • Place 1-2 scallops in each of the scallop shells or lay them in the baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the scallops.
  • Add one teaspoon of butter to the remaining breadcrumbs in the food processor and pulse 3-4 times until butter is incorporated with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the buttered breadcrumbs over the scallops.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the scallops are cooked to desired doneness. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 587mg | Potassium: 240mg | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1.6mg

“Pin It” For Later!

Have you baked scallops in their shell? Fancy baked sea scallops will impress your guests & this easy scallop appetizer w/crumb topping is ready in minutes. #seascallops #appetizer #seafoodappetizer #bakedscallops #bakedseascallops #pescatarian #scallopsinshell #healthybakedscallopsrecipe #scallopappetizer

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  1. I would like to prep these ahead of time. Do you assemble them through the entire recipe and bake later?

    1. Yes, you can assemble ahead and bake later — you may want to add a last-minute sprinkle of extra breadcrumbs just before baking to give it a golden crunch.

  2. Martha E. Rice says:

    I am a seafood lover, especially scallops. This recipe is wonderful!!!!!!!! I haven’t made the scallops yet but will this week, it will be a keeper. My only question is “can the vermouth be eliminated? Thank you.

    1. Yes, you can omit the vermouth, but it really does add a wonderful flavor to the dish. If you can get it, I’d advise using it.

  3. These sound delicious and I can’t wait to try out the recipe. I was wondering if I could substitute store bought bread crumbs in place of making my own with the sour dough bread?

    1. Store bought would probably be too dry — the fresh breadcrumbs are crispy, but not crunchy.

  4. 5 stars
    Did this for the entree portion for Feast of the Seven Fishes this past Christmas Eve. Such a simple preparation for such a delicious beginning! The only complaint from the family was that there were not more.

    1. I’m so happy to know that you and your family enjoyed it! I’ve always wanted to do a Feast of the Seven Fishes… Maybe next year!

  5. I am a big fan of scallops and have had something similar to this in a restaurant which I keep meaning to recreate as it was so good. Looks fantastic!

    1. Thank you, Caroline! What I liked about this dish — aside from the fact that it was delicious — was how simple it was to put together — all you need is a food processor.

  6. 5 stars
    First of all, I love love love love scallops, so you pretty much had me at the title here. Secondly, I can’t believe that I’ve never really thought about baking scallops! I’m always pan-searing them, but this looks absolutely incredible. Gotta love that crumbly, flavourful little topping too. It’s especially impressive served in the half-shell. I’m going to have to give this a try to change up my scallop game!

  7. 5 stars
    Oh man, Lisa. These. Are. Heaven. I get why people obsess over perfectly pan-seared scallops (they’re amazing), but baked scallops are also fabulous and need more attention. I’m a big fan of serving them up on a shell, too. So fancy! This would be great for a summer dinner party.

  8. Marisa Franca says:

    5 stars
    A beautiful presentation and I’m with you — we love our seafood and eat it several times a week. I do have some adorable shells that I use for making Oysters Rockefeller. They would work well for this scallops. Will be making this soon!!

  9. 5 stars
    WOW what a show stopping appetizer!! And I can’t believe how easy they are to make. My husband loooves scallops so I will be pinning this recipe.

  10. 5 stars
    I love scallops but I rarely eat it at home because I’m always worried how difficult it may be. You make it seem so easy! I think I’ll have to make it this week. They look so effortless but still gorgeous.

  11. 5 stars
    You know, I just found our scallop shells in one of our cabinets last week and reminded myself to pull them out for the next time I buy scallops at the seafood market. Such an easy way to dress up a summer classic, and it’s a presentation that guests always swoon over!

  12. 5 stars
    I love that you can do so much prep work in advance and then finish it all up in the oven! So easy!! Of course I need to get me some cute scallop dishes!

    1. Those are actual scallop shells, Pam. Get them on Amazon.

  13. 5 stars
    I wish I lived that close to the ocean again. We don’t really have fresh seafood here so it’s always a treat when I travel. I agree about the shells enhancing the presentation, I would totally do that too. The double breadcrumb layer is genius, it’s the best of both worlds. I’m going to have to remember that. Saving this!

  14. 5 stars
    Now these so look fancy….and DELICIOUS. We are seafood lovers too. I would devour a couple of these. In fact, if I was at your house for dinner, I would likely steal hubby’s too. I will have to give these a try. I have some scallops in the freezer that need to be eaten.

    1. I have a feeling if a bunch of food bloggers got together to make a meal — it would be epic.

  15. 5 stars
    I love how easy these look! I love the pancetta, it’s a great addition

  16. 5 stars
    These are gorgeous! And I’m totally drooling over that buttery breadcrumb topping!

    1. Thanks, Jen – you can never have enough crumb topping as far as I’m concerned!

  17. 5 stars
    SO gorgeous in the shells! I love all seafood too. 🙂 Saving this one!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! Scallops are one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy it too!

  18. 5 stars
    A wow presentation for a perfect seafood morsel! Beautiful, Lisa! But more importantly, delicious!

    1. Glad you approve! I think you gave me those scallop shells – so thanks for that!