Skip to Content

Wet vs Dry Scallops: What’s the Difference?

Summary of key points

The primary difference between wet and dry scallops is how they are processed after being harvested. Wet scallops have been soaked in a phosphate solution, which increases their weight and gives them a whiter appearance but can also affect their flavor and texture. Dry scallops are not treated with any additives, retaining their natural color and offering a superior taste and searing capability.

Ever wondered about the secret lives of scallops? Why some are practically soaking wet and others as dry as a summer in Arizona?

Trust me, it’s a thing. And it’s a big deal.

We’ve all been there. Staring down at our plate, thinking, “Is this scallop supposed to look like that?”

Turns out, there’s a whole saga behind wet vs. dry scallops that we never knew we needed.

We’re about to get into the nitty-gritty of it. My first encounter? A cooking disaster, scallops swimming in more water than flavor.

Yup, I was duped by the wet ones.

Now, armed with knowledge and a hint of saltiness (not just for taste), we’re taking you on a deep dive.

This isn’t just scallop 101. It’s a revolution.

Forget everything you thought you knew. Because we’re cracking open the scallop code.

What are Scallops?

The exquisite scallop, with its round shape and scrumptious flavor, is a mollusk found in both fresh and salt water.

It has two hinged shells that guard its delicate flesh.

Due to its versatility and nutrients, it is highly sought after.

Rather than swimming like other sea creatures, scallops propel themselves through the water with fast-clapping motions of their shells.

This amazing movement allows them to move gracefully.

Scallops come in different sizes, ranging from small bay scallops to larger sea scallops.

The larger ones are often preferred by chefs due to their juicy taste and texture.

Depending on the species, their flesh may be creamy white or slightly orange-colored.

When cooking them, there are two types available: wet and dry.

Wet scallops have been treated with chemicals, like sodium tripolyphosphate (STP), to keep their moisture and extend shelf life.

Dry scallops have no additives and are favored by culinary pros for their natural sweetness and mild flavor.

They also develop a golden crust when seared.

It is important to note that both wet and dry scallops can be used in many recipes.

However, dry scallops are recommended for dishes that require browning or caramelization since they sear better without releasing liquid.

Wet Scallops: What They Are and How They’re Processed

Scallops are a seafood favorite. There are two types: wet and dry.

Wet scallops have been treated with a preservative solution called STP.

This solution helps retain moisture, making them appear larger and juicier.

But the processing can alter the taste and texture.

Wet scallops soak in a water and STP solution.

This helps keep them moist during transportation and storage.

They also absorb more water, increasing their size.

Dry scallops come without any chemicals or solutions.

They don’t absorb extra water, so they have a firmer texture and a true sea taste when cooked.

When you cook wet scallops, they may release too much moisture.

This can affect how you prepare them.

Dry scallops, on the other hand, caramelize perfectly when seared because they contain less moisture.

Dry Scallops: What They Are and How They’re Processed

Dry scallops are different from wet scallops. How? Through a process called “dry packing”.

The scallops are shucked on the boat and packed into containers without water or preservatives.

This method keeps the natural flavor and texture and lets them sear nicely.

Also, dry scallops have a longer shelf life due to less moisture, which stops bacteria growth.

On the other hand, wet-packed scallops are processed with added water and sometimes chemicals.

These additives can ruin the taste and texture.

Differences Between Wet and Dry Scallops

Scallops come in two types: wet and dry.

The subtle differences between them can affect their taste and texture when cooked.

1 – Moisture Content

Scallops can be grouped into two types – wet or dry.

Wet scallops have more moisture, which influences their taste and texture when cooked.

Dry scallops are better for searing or grilling as they turn golden.

Wet scallops may release liquid while cooking, leading to less flavorful dishes.

Some wet scallops are treated with chemicals like sodium tripolyphosphate.

This treatment makes them seem bigger and juicier than they actually are, and also changes their taste and texture.

2 – Flavor and Taste

Two types of scallops exist: wet and dry.

Their flavor and taste are different.

Wet scallops possess a milder flavor due to added moisture.

Conversely, dry scallops possess a more intense and buttery taste.

Furthermore, dry scallops caramelize better when cooked, adding to their savory appeal.

When deciding between wet and dry scallops, it is ultimately a matter of personal taste – delicacy or boldness.

3 – Cooking Methods

Cooking scallops is key to their yummy taste.

Different methods can bring out the deliciousness of this seafood delicacy.

Pan-searing is one option.

Heat a skillet with oil or butter and cook the scallops quickly.

This makes a golden-brown crust while keeping the insides tender.

Grilling scallops adds a smoky flavor and an attractive charred look.

For a healthy approach, steam them.

This method keeps them moist and flavorful without becoming rubbery.

Poaching is a unique technique, too.

Simmer the scallops in something like broth or wine for subtle flavors and a delicate, light dish.

4 – Price and Availability

Wet scallops tend to be more available and cheaper than dry scallops.

Dry scallops are harder to get, as they are hand-harvested and shucked at sea.

But, they are also of superior quality.

Their sugar content caramelizes when seared, giving them a firmer texture and richer flavor.

So, although pricey, dry scallops offer a unique taste experience for seafood lovers.

Similarities Between Wet and Dry Scallops

Wet and dry scallops may seem like two different things.

But, they’re actually from the same creature. The scallop.

Both types make for tasty seafood dishes.

You can cook them in different ways to suit your taste.

Taste-wise, wet and dry scallops are similar.

They both have a delicate sweetness with a briny quality that you find in fresh seafood.

This makes them great to add flavor to recipes.

Texture-wise, they’re also similar.

Cook ’em right and they’re tender and succulent.

Perfect for adding depth and richness to dishes like risottos, pastas and seared scallops.

Nutrition-wise, they’re a match too.

Low in calories and fat, they’re both great for healthy diets.

Plus, scallops are high in protein, vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium.

Here’s a unique thing about wet scallops: they’re treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) before being sold.

This helps retain moisture during freezing and transportation, giving them a plumper look and more water content.

Dry scallops on the other hand are all natural, no additives or chemicals.

Chefs love them because they caramelize better when cooked.

That’s due to their lower water content.

How to Choose Between Wet and Dry Scallops

Deciding between wet or dry scallops can be a challenge for seafood lovers.

The difference lies in their processing, which affects flavour, texture, and quality.

Wet scallops are treated with STPP (sodium tripolyphosphate).

This helps them retain moisture, giving them a plumper look.

However, it also changes their taste and texture.

They are milder and spongy when cooked.

Also, wet scallops often release liquid when cooked, making it more difficult to get a perfect sear.

Dry scallops, on the other hand, are not treated.

They are directly taken out of their shells and frozen to keep them fresh.

This natural way of preserving enhances their natural salty and sweet flavours, and they keep a firm and meaty texture when cooked.

Chefs and seafood connoisseurs prefer dry scallops because of their great taste and versatility.

When choosing, think about several things.

Firstly, check the packaging of wet scallops for any added chemicals or additives.

Select dry scallops if you want an authentic seafood experience without any extra ingredients.

Also look at the appearance of the scallops.

Wet scallops have a bright white colour, compared to the ivory shade of dry scallops.

Wet scallops seem extra plump, but this is only because of extra moisture, not because of quality.

Finally, consider your cooking method.

If you want to get a caramelised crust, go for dry scallops.

They don’t release too much liquid, so you’ll get an even sear.


Now, when it comes to the difference between wet and dry scallops, it is clear that dry scallops are the ones to go for in terms of flavor and texture.

With their high levels of cleanliness – lack of additives or preservatives – as well as their superior taste and texture compared to wet scallops, dry scallops offer the better culinary experience for any occasion.

Yes, wet-packed scallops may be cheaper, but they can often lack in quality due to contamination with small particles which can lead to a soapy taste.

However, if price is your main deciding factor then you know what to go for.

As with anything in the culinary world, it all boils down to personal preferences; price is always an important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Regardless of which variety you choose, we hope that this article has helped you understand more about how each type of scallop differs and partake in them safely with knowledge by forming informed decisions on your own.

Wet vs Dry Scallops: What’s the Difference?

Curious about the distinction between wet and dry scallops? Your answer is here! Explore the nuances between wet and dry scallops as we break down the differences between these two varieties.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Wet Scallops
  • Dry Scallops


  • Choose between wet and dry scallops based on your recipe and preference.
  • If using wet scallops, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture before cooking.
  • If using dry scallops, no additional drying is necessary.
  • Follow your recipe’s cooking instructions, adjusting the cooking time and method as needed for wet or dry scallops.
  • Enjoy your perfectly cooked scallops, whether you prefer the convenience of wet scallops or the natural sweetness of dry scallops.
  • Experiment with various recipes to explore the unique characteristics of each type.
Keyword Wet vs Dry Scallops
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating