What Is The Best Oil To Cook Scallops?

A scallop recipe is a simple yet elegant dish that will charm your family members or a special dinner date. Scallops cook within minutes -once you master preparing them, they’ll become your favorite go-to. Selecting the appropriate cooking oil is a critical part of perfecting pan-seared scallops.

The best oil to cook scallops in is light oils with a high smoke point and neutral flavor profile. First, reach for canola (rapeseed) oil, grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil. Slightly pricier but healthier and equally effective oils include avocado oil, safflower oil, and refined olive oil.

Many people have different virtues on the best cooking oils. So, we’re giving the 6 top-rated oils used among master chefs and home cooks alike.

What Is The Best Cooking Oil For Scallops?

The best oil to cook scallops in entails three specific characteristics; the oil needs to be:

  • Light
  • Neutral
  • High Smoke Point

The most popular light and neutral oils with a high smoke point are:

  • Canola Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Refined Olive Oil

What Is A Light Oil?

Whenever a recipe calls for light oil, you want to revert to simple thinking -“light” oil refers to the color, then taste and aroma.

Light cooking oils are pure with light to transparent color. They also barely impart a taste or odor into the food you’re preparing.

Light cooking oils are generally excellent for sautéing and frying food due to their high smoking and low melting points. 

What Is A Neutral Oil?

While some recipes call for a flavorful oil to impart a distinct taste, the extra flavors can muddle up the harmony and composition of a simplistic recipe like pan-seared scallops.

The simplistic term “neutral” oil refers to an oil with a neutral and non-distinctive flavor and aroma. SO, a neutral oil won’t add any residual flavors and aromas to your dish.

We prefer cooking scallops in neutral oil to allow the subtle buttery, briny, and sweet flavors to truly shine. Conversely, non-neutral or flavorful oil will overpower the recipe’s delicate notes and intended flavors.

So, stay far away from sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil to avoid the intense aromas and flavors overpowering your dish.

Why Are Smoke Points Important For Cooking Oil?

Have you ever left a pan with oil over high heat to find it billowing with smoke? This is because every oil has a smoking point -the temperature at which the oil stops simmering and instead sends out serious smoke signals.

Cooking oil breaks down once it exceeds its smoke point, releasing chemicals and bitter flavors that make it unfit for consumption.

Manufacturers use refining processes, including bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating, to eliminate enzymes, minerals, and other compounds. As a result, refining the oil produces a neutral-flavor oil and a higher smoke point.

The moral of the story -higher smoke points equal a more comprehensive array of cooking methods.

The key to perfectly cooked scallops is high heat. So, cooking oils with high smoke points are essential for searing or frying scallops.

6 Best Oils For Cooking Scallops

Selecting the best type to prepare scallops with the long and daunting shelf of various cooking oils can become confusing. So, we’re providing the six top oils for cooking scallops to save time and ease your culinary education.

Nope, there isn’t a right or wrong when selecting one of these cooking oils:

Cook Scallops In Canola (Rapeseed) Oil

Canola oil or rapeseed oil is a popular vegetable oil derived from the canola plant. It is also a favorite cooking oil considered healthy as it’s high in monounsaturated (healthy) fat and low in saturated (unhealthy) fat.

Canola oil has a light, neutral taste and smoke point of 400 to 450°F. Therefore, it is a popular option to use when cooking scallops.

Cook Scallops In Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is manufactured from -you guessed right -tiny grape seeds. The seeds are pressed, extracting the oil we use in everyday cooking.

Grapeseed oil is primarily a winemaking byproduct; this is a brilliant and innovative idea for using “useless” byproducts. However, this byproduct tastes nothing like its grape and wine counterparts.

Grapeseed oil has a surprisingly neutral taste. Its uncomplicated, clean flavors and medium-high smoke point of 400°F make it ideal for cooking scallops.

Cook Scallops In Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oils are generally a blend of oils extracted from the seeds and other fruit parts, including soybean, sunflower, saffron, corn, palm, cottonseed, and palm kernel.

Vegetable oil is a generic and inexpensive oil that many people use for everyday cooking. The tricky thing about vegetable oil is that you’re less likely to know which plants were used and how the oil was processed. In addition, it contains varying healthy and unhealthy fat ratios depending on the blend. 

Depending on the blend, vegetable oil generally has a smoke point of 400 to 450°F. Its high smoke point and light, neutral profile make it perfect for cooking scallops.

Cook Scallops In Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is made from the beloved green gems that fell off the trees and would otherwise go to waste. So instead, farmers gather the avos off the orchard floor and send them away to be pressed for oil.

Avocado oil is applauded for its array of health benefits and versatility. However, this versatile cooking oil has a mild taste and one of the highest smoke points ranging up to 520°F.

Avocado oil shines in sautéing, baking, frying, grilling, basting, searing, etc. Therefore, it’s a healthy option for cooking scallops.  

Cook Scallops In Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is made by pressing the plant’s kernels into an oil.

Refined safflower oil contains the highest concentration of polyunsaturated fats among all cooking oils. In addition, it has a high smoke point of around 450°F and lacks a distinct flavor.

Safflower oil, especially the high-oleic version, is ideal for cooking scallops.

Cook Scallops In Refined Olive Oil

Olive oil is made from freshly harvested green or black olives, crushed into a paste, and separated from the olive pulp. Then, refined or light olive oil undergoes a refining process through heat or chemicals to mask rich flavors and deliver purer oil with a higher smoke point.

Light, refined olive oil has a smoke point of 465°F compared to the 350°F of its virgin counterpart.

You can use light and mild olive oil for cooking scallops.

shutterstock 2142269353

Best Infused Oils For Cooking Scallops

If you’re looking for an infused oil to zest up your scallop dish, we’re willing to help.

You can either cook your scallops in the oil or drizzle it on afterward to take your dish to a whole new level.

Our favorite infused cooking oils include:

  • Lime-infused oil
  • Basil-infused oil
  • Garlic-infused oil
  • Oregano-infused oil
  • Chili-infused oil


We trust you’re well-equipped to whip out those scallops and sear them in the pan with our comprehensive list of the best oils to cook scallops.

Remember to lean towards light and neutral cooking oils with high smoke points to place full focus on the juicy scallop flavors.

Happy cooking!