Scallop Sizes and Uses

Scallops have long been cherished by chefs and home cooks alike for their sweet flavor and pillowy texture. The sizes of scallops can impact the optimal cooking methods for your recipe. For example, larger scallops are an ideal size for grilling or searing and make great entrées, while smaller scallops shine when rapidly sautéed or used in pasta dishes.

Scallop sizes are measured by the number of shucked scallops per pound. You will typically see a range indicating the minimum and maximum count, just as shown in the scallop size chart above. For instance, “10-20” means there are between 10 and 20 scallops in a pound. The lower the number range, the larger the individual scallops since fewer are needed to make up a pound.

Scallops (U-10)

The “U” stands for “under,” denoting that these are the largest scallops available, with under 10 count per pound. Their large surface areas allow easy grilling or searing that gives these scallops a perfect crust.

For a quick stovetop preparation, we recommend heating oil or butter over medium-high heat, sprinkling salt and pepper (to taste) over the scallops, and searing them for 2 minutes per side or until they achieve that perfect, golden crust. On the grill, these scallops cook perfectly on high heat for 4 minutes, flipping them halfway.

Scallops (U-15 and 10/20’s)

Ranging from 10 to 20 scallops per pound, these are prized for their buttery texture and balance of sweet brininess.

For quick stovetop cooking, we recommend heating oil or butter over medium-high heat, seasoning the scallops with salt and pepper (to taste), then searing for 1-2 minutes per side until a golden crust forms. You can achieve great results on the grill by cooking them for 1-2 minutes per side over medium-high heat as well.

Scallops (20/30)

While smaller than U-10, U-15 or 10/20’s they still deliver a tender and creamy texture when cooked properly, along with a subtle sweetness. You can enjoy several of these scallops as a featured protein in your meal or pair just a few per serving with complementary proteins like shrimp or bacon.

Because scallops shrink when cooking, these may become difficult to manage on a grill. Because of this, we recommend pan-searing them for about 1 minute per side in an oiled pan over medium-high heat and not grilling them.

Bay Scallops (40-60)

With 40-60 in a pound and up to 11 in a single serving, bay scallops provide a sweet, delicate bite that’s perfect for enjoying whole. They can be seared, broiled, stir-fried, or skewered for kabobs.

For quick cooking, we recommend sautéing over medium-high heat with oil or butter for 1 minute per side until just opaque throughout.

Reaching just over an inch in diameter, these tiny bay scallops are considered the sweetest of all. Typically grown in the shallow, cold bays of the Atlantic, small and extra-small scallops excel in raw preparations like ceviche’s that cure the meat while preserving their texture. Small and extra small bay scallops are also a hit in pastas, stir-fries, and soups.

Why do my scallops seem smaller after cooking?

Like all seafood, scallops will shrink in size when they are cooked due to water weight loss. Scallops and seafood without preservatives like Joe’s will shrink less because the preservatives often cause the product to retain excess moisture which is released during the cooking process.