Should Scallops Smell Fishy? What Does It Mean?

Scallops are bivalve mollusks in the Pectinidae family, closely related to mussels, oysters, and clams. Since they do live in the ocean, you may have the question: Should Scallops smell fishy? The short answer is no. Along with most seafood, scallops should never smell fishy or have any type of pungent odor. 

So what does it mean when your scallops smell fishy? Should they smell that way? You may have lots of questions, no worries! We are here to help! You will be sure to have no questions shortly. 

What Does a Scallop Normally Smell Like?

Fresh scallops, along with most seafood, should not have an overpowering smell in any way. Scallops typically should lightly smell like the ocean, with a salty and seaweed-hinted aroma. You should also experience a slight salty-sweet and buttery taste with a tender texture; this is how you know they’re fresh! Scallops and any seafood should never smell fishy or have displeasing, sharp smells.  

Sometimes you can run into fresh scallops that are entirely white and have no smell. These scallops have more than likely soaked in sodium triphosphate (STP.) Scallops are soaked in Sodium triphosphate to prevent drying out during transportation and storage.

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Is It Okay for Scallops to Smell Fishy?

If your scallops or seafood smells fishy, play it safe and discard them. Scallops and seafood should never smell fishy or have any type of pungent smell. Consuming fishy-smelling scallops and seafood could easily land you in the hospital.  

What are the Signs that a Scallop is Bad?

There are multiple ways to determine if your scallops have spoiled or not. Although, you are highly recommended not to consume it if you think there is a possibility the seafood could be contaminated. 

Determining if a scallop has gone rancid or not can be relatively easy; rely on your sight and smell! Scallops that are still fresh will have an oceany, briny smell to them. If your scallops have a fishy or ammonia smell, that is a sure sign your scallops have spoiled. 

If your scallops have a metallic or any sort of off taste, throw them out! Fresh scallops should look naturally beige or pinkish, if your scallops have a dull color and dried-up or darkened edges. Fresh scallops should look moist but never milky. If your scallops have a slimy texture, they’ve gone bad.  

Is It Okay to Eat Scallops with a Fishy Smell?

You may not experience anything from eating fishy-smelling scallops, although the risk for illness is very high. Eating fishy-smelling scallops could easily give you seafood poisoning, which is not a thing you want to deal with. 

Not only could eating fishy-smelling scallops lead to seafood poisoning, they simply won’t taste nearly as good. 

What Happens If You Eat Scallops That Smell Like Fish?

It would be best if you stayed clear of fishy-smelling scallops as consuming fishy-smelling scallops could easily land you a trip to the Emergency Room with a severe illness like seafood poisoning. Seafood poisoning is not fun; the symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
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If you are questioning whether or not you have consumed bad scallops or seafood, it’s safer to go to be seen by a healthcare professional. 

Can You Remove Fishy Odor from Scallops?

Although it is prevalent for people to remove the fishy smell in scallops, the fact is you don’t want to do that. Consuming fishy-smelling scallops is never safe. The fishy smell usually comes from improper handling and storing; who wants to eat improperly handled food?

That said, yes, you can easily remove the fishy odor from smelly scallops. 

How Do You Get the Fishy Smell Out of Scallops?

There are a few different ways people have tried to get the fishy smell out of the scallops, and they do work! The first thing you want to do to prevent a fishy smell is to ensure proper transport. Wrap your scallops in plastic, then transport them on ice in a cooler but never let scallops touch the ice. 

Once you bring them home, store them in a bowl of ice in the coldest part of your fridge. Try to cook your scallops within 1 to 2 days of bringing them home. 

Things You’ll Need for Method 1 

  • Water.
  • Baking Soda. 
  • Milk. 
  • Lemon Juice. (Or lime, orange, vinegar, or tomato sauce.) 


  1. Submerge your scallop in water and baking soda mixture for about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  2. Rinse your scallops well with cool water. 
  3. Soak your scallops in milk for about 5 to 10 minutes. 
  4. Finally, soak your scallops in lemon juice for approximately 5 minutes. 

Things You’ll Need for Method 2

  • White vinegar.
  • Water.
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  1. Combine 3 Tablespoons of white vinegar with one cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.  
  2. Once the water is boiling, add your scallops.
  3. Boil your scallops in the vinegar and water mixture for 3 to 5 minutes. 


How long will fresh scallops last in the refrigerator?

Keeping scallops adequately stored at a constant 32 to 34°F, they should last one to two days. Once you bring your scallops home, you should stow them as soon as possible to prevent spoiling. 

It would help if you kept your scallops in their original packaging or wrapped your scallops in aluminum foil before refrigerating to extend freshness. If you want your scallops to last longer than two days, your best bet is to freeze your scallops. 

Should I soak scallops before cooking?

To prevent a fishy smell while cooking, you can soak your scallops in milk prior to cooking. Although, soaking your scallops is not mandatory. Another thing you could try is marinating in lemon and grated ginger before cooking. Both these methods can help relieve the fishy cooking smell.  

Do scallops smell when cooking?

There is a possibility that scallops, like other types of seafood, will radiate a fishy odor while cooking. Preventing this is easy. You could try things like soaking your scallops in lemon and grated ginger before cooking to neutralize the fishy odor before it starts. 


To sum it up, no, scallops should not smell fishy. Fishy-smelling scallops or any seafood are at high risk of being spoiled. Consuming spoiled seafood could severely impact you, not in a good way! You could quickly end up in the hospital from eating fishy-smelling scallops.