Buttery, delicious, incredibly versatile, and surprisingly easy to cook, scallops are a true seafood treasure. Here, the best ways to prepare this delicious shellfish for any meal and to suit any taste.
Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner
The best thing about scallops? It’s difficult to pick just one, but their versatility is definitely high on the list. You can sauté, bake, or grill scallops; you can serve them in a salad, in a soup, as a side, as the main course, or on their own. Their subtle flavors make them palatable even to those who prefer turf over surf and, all-in-all, scallops are pretty close to perfect. Here, we have 28 different ways to enjoy them.
For this recipe, coat tender scallops in a crispy mixture of panko and chopped hazelnuts for a flavor combination that will turn any weeknight dinner into a memorable affair.
- Recipe: Hazelnut-crusted Scallops
Photo: Con Poulos
The name may sound intimidating, but this rich soup is well worth the effort. Its most distinctive flavor comes from a hearty dose of curry powder, but subtle hints of shallots, ginger, garlic, and saffron lend the soup a complex blend of flavor. Served warm, this soup carries a taste of citrus and the tropics, making it perfect for a cold day when all you want is to be at the beach.
Photo: Jennifer Davick, Recipe: Julia Rutland
Steak and scallops seem complex, but this recipe requires only a few steps before you have your very own surf-and-turf feast in front of you. The icing on top, so to speak, of this dish is the Champagne and lemon juice sauce. Drizzled over the steak and scallops, it brings out their natural flavors while adding a slight kick. To make it a full meal, steam eight ounces of green beans for about nine minutes until crisp-tender and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Photographer Howard L. Puckett
Give scallops a hint of the tropics with this healthy recipe, which calls for grilled (or, if you prefer, seared) scallops served over baby spinach with red bell pepper, black beans, and a fresh and flavorful mango vinaigrette.
Pro tip: Preheat the grill (or skillet) thoroughly, or the scallops will stick and tear when turned. The scallops may initially stick to hot grill grates while browning, but they will release when it’s time to turn them over.
- Recipe: Scallops with Mango Vinaigrette
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Linda Hirst
A homemade pink grapefruit and brown butter sauce takes center stage in this simple recipe. The sauce calls for only three ingredients and is ready in mere minutes (though it will taste as good as if you spent hours making a sauce). The scallops are easy enough to cook, and once you combine the two, you’ll have a match made in seafood heaven. Serve with a fresh green salad on the side to make it a balanced meal.
Photo: Howard L. Puckett
This recipe comes with a culinary lifehack: It replaces regular skewers with rosemary sprigs, which both makes it easier to turn the scallops on the grill and gives the scallops extra flavor. If you want even more flavor—and you’re craving a little smokiness—cut slices of prosciutto in half lengthwise and wrap one piece around each scallop before skewering it. Once your scallops are cooked to perfection, serve over a bed of basmati rice for a full meal, or leave them on the rosemary skewers for easy-to-eat apps.
- Recipe: Diver Scallops on Rosemary
Photo: Con Poulos
Save this one for a special occasion. This is a dish that’s sure to impress, but it’s not one that will have you slaving in the kitchen all day long. Creamy grits—easy to make, even for those who aren’t born-and-bred Southerners—serve as a hearty base for the toppings: seared scallops, of course, but also bacon, sweet onion, red bell pepper, crisp edamame, and juicy grape tomatoes.
Photographer: Howard L. Puckett
For an elegant meal, look no further than this light and tasty dish. These pan-seared scallops may be small, but they’re heavy on the flavor: a sauce made of orange juice, vermouth, and butter makes a tart dressing that perfectly balances the sweetness of the scallops and that brings out the flavors of the pancetta. Small servings—three scallops per plate—mean this recipe pairs perfectly with a big salad or another side dish.
- Recipe: Pan-seared Scallops
Photo: Howard L. Puckett
In this dish, we’ve taken a traditional spinach dip and cranked it up a few notches—and given it some decidedly coastal flavor. Bay or sea scallops (your pick!) chopped and mixed with typical dip bases like cream cheese and sour cream give this dip depth and texture, and a sprinkling of seafood seasoning brings all the flavors together. Serve with your favorite dipping chip—tortilla chips, potato chips, and crisp bread slices are all excellent options.
- Recipe: Scallop-Spinach Spread
Photo: Howard L. Puckett , Recipe: Julia Rutland
The question isn’t should you serve this dish—the question is, what should you pair it with?
This simple 7-ingredient recipe (really) takes less than 20 minutes, and only about five of those minutes require work from you. You probably even already have all the ingredients—all you’ll need to pick up are scallops and breadcrumbs. Pick your favorite roasted veggies to serve on the side, and you have a 5-star meal ready to go.
- Get the recipe: Baked Scallops au Gratin
Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner, Writer Julia Rutland
Whether it’s cold outside, rain has been falling all day long, or you’re just craving some classic coastal comfort food, turning to this scallop chowder is almost certain to give your mood a major boost. The addition of pernod—an anise-flavored liqueur that brings depth to the dish—just makes this chowder even more deliciously filling. For best results, serve it with warm, crusty bread and share with good friends.
You probably don’t need another excuse to fire up the grill in the warm summer months, but this recipe makes a pretty good one. Spears of grilled, smoky scallops will be a hit at any summer gathering, and a chilled sauce made with tomato, mint, a dash of orange juice, and olive oil on the side makes a perfect condiment. Serve over orzo to make it a meal, or forgo the orzo to make this a casual appetizer.
Photo: Jean Allsopp
This Italy-inspired salad is perfect for a hot day. It isn’t served hot, making it perfect for dinner on the patio or terrace as the day cools town. Fresh, cool ingredients like grape tomatoes and two kinds of olives keep it light and healthy, and a dressing of lemon juice and red wine vinegar adds a little flavor without overpowering the main ingredients. The trio of seafood—shrimp, scallops, and calamari—taste deliciously of summer, and, when served with champagne or sparkling wine, this dish makes the perfect centerpiece for a special occasion.
Photographer: Howard L. Puckett
The surprising ingredient in this delicious summer salad? Bacon. Bacon and seafood are prepared together more often than you might think, and in this dish, they make a perfect pair. Scallops toughen easily, so take care not to overcook them, but be sure to prepare the bacon so it’s nice and crispy.
For a wine pairing, we suggest a German or French Riesling. Rieslings are great with bacon and seafood and will bring body to the meal.
Photo: Luca Travoto
Gemelli noodles are spiral-shaped and denser than rotini, which means they hold up well against big, bold-flavored ingredients like chunky asparagus cuts, sugar snap peas, and scallops. Pancetta adds some salty notes, and a barely there sauce—a tiny bit of melted butter—means the focus is on the fresh ingredients, spices, tangy pecorino cheese, and healthy amount of garlic. Seared scallops on top make the perfect finish.
Return to a coastal classic—with a bit of a twist—with this gumbo recipe. Typical veggies like celery, green bell peppers, okra, lima beans, tomato, and corn will taste familiar, but fresh bay scallops make a delightful addition that will give your taste buds a delicious surprise. It’s a good thing this recipe serves a crowd, because everyone is going to want extra helpings after they taste it. Serve over rice, and make sure you have bread on hand so you can mop up every last drop.
- Recipe: Scallop and Vegetable Gumbo
Photo: France Ruffenach
This dish is all about quality over quantity. A blend of spices gives each bite amazing flavor, so you’ll be savoring every morsel. Give the food the presentation it deserves by plating each grilled jumbo scallop on a bed of celery root rémoulade (a cool and creamy French sauce spiked with mustard) and garnishing it with a spoonful of caviar and a dill sprig. A smooth Sauvignon Blanc makes the perfect wine pairing.
- Recipe: Scallops With Celery Root Salad
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Fonda Shaia
Seven ingredients mean this dish is simple and uncomplicated—it might even mean that all you need to pick up from the store is some scallops. The sweet scallops shine when paired with capers and a brown butter sauce, and they taste great served over plain noodles or with some roasted veggies on the side.
Pro tip: Many people prefer to remove the opaque “foot” that sometimes comes on the side of the sea scallop. It’s edible, but this oblong piece is slightly tough.
Photo: David Hillegas , Styling: Lydia Degaris-Pursell , Recipe: Julia Rutland , Writer: Kate Krug
Everyone loves a good kebab. The trick for great ones is to make sure the meat and vegetables are cut into equal-sized pieces before they’re skewered so everything can cook evenly. This recipe calls for three different kinds of seafood—scallops, shrimp, and snapper—sausage, and bell peppers and is perfect as-is for an outdoor party appetizer. To make it a meal, serve a fresh fruit salad or your favorite grain (couscous, rice, orzo) on the side.
- Recipe: Seafood Kebabs
Photo: Con Paulos
Crudo means raw in Italian, and in this elegant dish, raw scallops play the starring role. Served with two different citrus flavors (lemon and orange), mint, pepper, and a dash of olive oil, its most basic flavors are on full display. Present each serving in a martini glass for a truly dignified treat.
Pro tip: This recipe calls for Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and less acidic than other varieties, but any kind of lemon will work.
- Recipe: Scallop Crudo
Photo: Jennifer Davick
This bite-sized app makes the perfect party snack, especially if you have the makings for margaritas on hand. The scallops only need two minutes to cook, so you can make the avocado mixture ahead of time (lime juice keeps it from browning) and construct your tostadas quickly just as guests are arriving. Be sure to pick sturdy tortilla chips that won’t crack under the pressure of a dollop of avocado mixture and a scallop.
- Recipe: Scallop-and-Avocado Tostadas
Photographer Brit Hukabay
With only seven ingredients, this dish is certainly easy enough to be a quick weeknight dinner. The recipe covers the scallops and their delicious coconut milk sauce, but if you want to make it a full meal, add plain rice, quinoa, or another grain.
Pro tip: The thickness of the sauce depends on whether you use regular or low-fat coconut milk. Both will work, but low-fat versions make for thinner sauces.
- Recipe: Scallops in Coconut-Basil Sauce
Photo: Con Poulos; Styling: Deborah Williams
Adobo is a traditional Philippine dish that uses pantry basics like white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and more to create a marinade. In this version of the dish, the adobo sauce serves as a tasty condiment that counterbalances the sweetness of the seared scallops.
Pro tip: Well-seasoned cast-iron skillets sear scallops beautifully. Use a nonstick skillet if you prefer, but don’t try to get a dark crust or you’ll overcook the scallops.
- Recipe: Sea Scallops Adobo
Photographer: Howard L. Puckett, Writer: Julia Rutland
Paella is a Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice with a variety of shellfish and meats—this recipe uses chorizo, chicken, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and oysters. Annatto seed paste replaces the traditional saffron in this take on the traditional recipe. Try serving this dish in a Cuban cazuela, a round ceramic dish, instead of the flat metal pan usually used to serve Spanish-style paella. This is Cuban-style paella, after all, and everyone enjoying this delicious meal will appreciate the extra effort.
- Recipe: Paella Cubana
Photo: Jennifer Davick, Recipe: Jackie Mills, R.D.
This recipe can be prepared in mere minutes, so it’s perfect for those beach days when you’d rather be on the sand than in the kitchen. Cooking this dish under the broiler makes all the ingredients—especially the seafood—deliciously crispy, and it means less time in the kitchen, too. The recipes calls for a few vegetables, but feel free to add more (or roast your own to serve on the side) to make it a healthy, hearty meal!
- Recipe: Broiled Shrimp and Scallops
Photographer Howard L. Puckett
This faintly Mediterranean salad serves grilled scallops over a bed of fresh spinach, with a topping of pine nuts and dried tomatoes. It’s easy enough to make—even the homemade Balsamic-Lemon Vinaigrette can be prepared in just a few short steps. The key to making this recipe perfectly scrumptious is making sure it’s all balanced: Avoid adding too much vinaigrette, so the spinach isn’t soggy, and refrain from adding too much of the pine nut-dried tomato mixture, so the flavors of the scallops shine through.
- Recipe: Spinach and Scallops Salad
Photo: Greg Dupree
This quick taco filling is perfect for weeknight dinners—or last-minute weekend get-togethers. Scallops bring their own unique flavors to the dish, and charred corn pico and a smashed avocado spread make perfect accompaniments.
Pro tip: Be careful grilling the corn and the scallops—you want them to be slightly charred, but there’s a fine line between charred and roasted to a crisp. They cook quickly, so keep an eye on them the whole time they’re on the grill.
Photo: Greg Dupree
We call this one an end-of-summer salad, but as long as you can get the ingredients, you can make it in any season! Citrus flavors define the salad: A homemade Citrus Vinaigrette and orange slices as toppings give this dish its summery flair, but fresh bay scallops skewered and grilled steal the show.
Pro tip: Do not overcook the scallops—they’ll become tough and rubbery if left on the grill for too long.