Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce

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Scallops are healthy, super easy and delicious to make at home. These restaurant-worthy scallops are pan seared and topped with a delicious citrus ginger sauce. They’re so tender and smooth they’ll melt in your mouth!

What to serve with scallops? Light and fresh vegetable dishes are always a good choice. I recommend my Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Mashed Cauliflower and Green Beans.

Several scallops in a pan.

Scallops (Pan Seared)

Pan seared scallops have always been my mom’s favorite recipes. If they’re are on the menu at a nice restaurant, I guarantee that’s what she’ll be ordering. She knows what she likes!

Scallops can be a bit pricey, especially for fresh, wild ones so they can be a bit intimidating to cook at home. But the funny thing is they’re one of the easiest seafood items to cook. Just sear both sides make a quick sauce and you’re done! They’re perfect for when you want a special, celebratory or indulgent meal at home.

Most scallops are prepared with a simple garlic butter sauce, but I’m personally a fan of this citrus ginger sauce. It’s light, refreshing, sweet and spicy all at the same time.

Are Scallops Good for You?

Yes! Scallops are high in protein (they’re actually 80% protein) and important vitamin and nutrients, such as B12, magnesium and potassium. They also contain a good amount of iron and calcium and per serving they’re low in calories. A 3.5 ounce serving contains just 110 calories.

Scallops are related to clams and oysters as they’re all mollusks, but they’re lower in cholesterol and low in mercury.

Scallops in a pan.

Frozen versus Fresh Scallops – Which is Best?

I’m fortunate that I live close to the ocean and have access to many great fishmongers. So I always splurge on fresh, wild sea scallops. But I understand that many might not have that same accessibility.

While fresh is always best, frozen scallops are still packed with the same health benefits, so don’t let that deter you. If you do purchase frozen scallops, just thaw them in the fridge the night before you’d like to cook them.

Close up of scallops in a pan.

What’s the texture of Scallops?

When cooked right, scallops are soft, tender and delicate. They’re not slimy, chewy and they shouldn’t smell fishy (if yours do, that likely means they’re not fresh). I’d say the texture is similar to crab or lobster, but more buttery smooth.

Scallops in a pan.

How to Cook Scallops

Scallops cook incredibly fast so it’s key that you don’t overcook them. Remember that different varieties can range in size (sea scallops can be three times bigger than bay scallops) so always adjust the time accordingly. This scallop recipe is based on using larger sea scallops.

  • Blot the scallops dry and sprinkle with salt.
  • Add avocado oil to a pan and heat on high until it’s very hot and sizzling (*see notes below on different oils).
  • Place the scallops in the pan and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes each side, until golden.
  • Remove the scallops to a plate and add butter, orange juice, lemon juice and ginger to the pan until simmering.
  • Place the scallops back in the pan, drizzle the sauce over the scallops and garnish with fresh thyme before serving.

For More Healthy Seafood Recipes

Watch This Quick Video of My Scallops Recipe

Close up of scallops in a pan.

Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce

4.98 from 46 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Scallops that are easy, fresh, pan seared, perfectly golden and topped with a sweet and tangy citrus ginger sauce. Watch the video above to see how quickly they come together!

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 lb sea scallops
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp butter, or ghee
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh thyme, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them with sea salt.
  • Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil is nearly smoking, place your scallops in the pan and sear for approximately one and a half to two minutes on each side. Remove scallops to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the orange and lemon juice, orange zest, grated ginger and butter to the pan. Whisk the sauce together in the pan until it's simmering, then add the scallops back to the pan and spoon the sauce on top.
  • Plate your scallops, drizzle more sauce on top and garnish with thyme. 

Lisa's Tips

  • Avocado oil is preferred over olive oil in this recipe as its heated to nearly its smoke point. Avocado oil is more stable at those higher temperatures. 
  • Scallops are always best slightly undercooked rather than overcooked. Like most meats and fish, they'll continue to cook after they're removed from the stove.
  • To make the scallops dairy-free and Whole30 compliant you can use ghee or coconut milk instead of the butter. 
  • This is my favorite stainless steel juicer. It's perfect for oranges and lemons!

Nutrition

Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 718mg | Potassium: 445mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 31.8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pan seared scallops, scallop recipes, scallops
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published May 2015, but updated to include new photos and video. 

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




99 Comments

  1. I don’t want to use butter or ghee – will oil suffice or not the same flavor? I don’t like the non dairy butters they all have seed oils in them.

  2. This recipe is excellent….quick, easy and the sauce made the scallops even better than usual. I used wild caught scallops. I think this sauce would be delicious on other fish as well. Thank you, Lisa for sharing this delicious way to bring a little more sass to scallops!5 stars

    1. You’re more than welcome, Marie! I’m so happy you loved this recipe. And now I think I might call them my sassy scallops recipe, haha. ;)

  3. Hi Lisa! 

    Made this tonight along with your mashed cauliflower and BOTH were awesome!! The citrus ginger sauce was so flavorful, that my husband was using a spoon to get every last drop even after the scallops were gone!! Thank you so much!!!5 stars

  4. So good! Made this exactly as written and made the green beans with shallots.  Both recipes were delicious!  Served with brown rice.  Great fast quality food!5 stars

  5. This is soo delicious!! I can’t cook seafood well on my own but I find that the way that Lisa explain the steps to make this is a no fail way to do it!! 5 stars

  6. Does anyone know if you have to use the stainless steel skillet or can you use cast iron or other type of skillet?

  7. So simple and quick cook with short ingredient list but bursting with flavor! On my permanent weeknight rotation list5 stars

  8. I made your scallop recipe tonight. It was scrumptious! I served it with one of my favorite Asian boy choy recipes. The flavors melded perfectly. Will make again!5 stars

  9. I followed the recipe exactly, but my sauce was too bitter and it ruined the dish. I’m assuming it was the orange zest. Is it possible that I used too much? I washed the orange prior to zesting. Is the sauce supposed to be bitter?4 stars

    1. Hi Paige – the sauce is not supposed to be bitter. You may have included a bit too much of the white pith, which tends to be more bitter.

  10. I have never been to your site before, but was looking for something different for a scallop dinner. This was delicious! And so simple! I even added the suggested thyme leaves and they were just like icing on the cakes. Thank you for posting this!
    And, to be honest, I was so impressed that I signed up to never miss a recipe! I don’t normally do that, or even leave a comment.5 stars

    1. Welcome to the Downshiftology community Ellen! Happy to have you here and hope you enjoy the recipes, plus learn a few new things along the way :)

  11. Hi. I’m making these as an appetizer and have a couple of questions. Can I use coconut oil instead of avocado? Also I’m gluten and dairy sensitive – – would it be better to use Earth Balance or coconut milk? If coconut milk, do you mean the canned? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kathy – yes, you can use coconut oil, just be aware that it will impart a slight flavor. To replace the butter, I’d recommend the Earth Balance. Enjoy!

  12. I will eat scallops for the first time ever using this recipe!! How long would it take to thaw them?

    Also, what can I use instead of butter or ghee? Or can I skip it?

    Thank you!!!

    1. It might take a few hours to defrost, but just make sure to put it in the fridge the night before. As for the butter or ghee, these are the best options for a delicious flavor. But you can also use oil if you’d like.

  13. I have made this wonderful recipe several times, this time I served this over a farro salad I made with farro, chopped walnuts, arugula, dried cranberries, shaved Parmesan and I drizzled the sauce from this recipe over the salad. OMG what a wonderful combination of flavors!!! ❤️5 stars

  14. I have done scallops in butter more times then I care to admit. This is a refreshing change. The citrus and ginger really compliment each other well. It was just right, not overpowering. I will be making this again.5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa – I love to pair mine with some rice and sauteed veggies such as bok choy or cabbage! But you can check out any of my side dishes for ideas :)

  15. I tried and loved this! Also added Ponzu sauce (Japanese citrus infused with Yuzu), which made it taste like the Japanese scallops I used to have in Tokyo!5 stars

  16. This recipe is great!!! It is so flavorful and yummy. The sauce pairs very well with the scallops. Definitely recommend making it!5 stars

  17. Hi Lisa,
    This recipe was fantastic! Its hard to find easy scallop recipes deviating from the typical lemon and garlic, so this was a great recipe to stumble upon.5 stars

  18. Hi Lisa,
    I wanted to make this recipe but I didn’t know from where I should buy my scallops.
    Could you tell me your preferred one?

  19. This scallop recipe is our new favorite. I try to make it at least twice a month on Sunday evenings–it makes such a special meal and looks so beautiful. It’s a lovely way to end the weekend and begin the new week. I serve it with a green bean/sliced almond side or with Brussel sprouts. It looks so pretty on the plate and tastes delicious! Thank you for this lovely, healthy, and beautiful recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Lea – Love the way you serve this with green beans or brussels sprouts! Definitely a beautiful color and flavor combination :)

  20. This is one of my favorite tried and true favorite recipes. Thank You so much for introducing me to this deliciousness 😋5 stars

    1. Hi Ruth- I’m so glad you enjoyed this scallop recipe :) This is definitely a seafood recipe to keep on hand, especially the citrus sauce!

  21. I have ordered take-out most of my adult life until I started watching Lisa’s YouTube videos on cooking. The Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce was my first thing I made and now I cook most of my meals at home and have lost 10 pounds in six weeks. Lisa is an fantastic teacher on her YouTube  videos and I never thought I could cook before I started watching her videos. The scallops have amazing flavor, easy to make, and are light and refreshing, yet filling. 5 stars

    1. Hi Rachel – I am so glad you have discovered Downshiftology and that I am able to help you start cooking at home :) I hope you continue to enjoy all my recipes in the new year!

  22. These scallops are delicious!! The citrus & ginger flavor pairs very well with the scallops. We had a little trouble getting them to be golden brown but they still tasted great.5 stars

    1. Hi Katie – Browning them is always a bit tricky, but with the right searing and timing – you will get it perfect next time :)

  23. Super easy and delish recipe! I’ve only made once since it’s a little pricey, but it’s a great “special occasion” meal.5 stars

  24. So simple, yet so delicious!  The citrus sauce compliments the tender scallops so nicely. Dinner party -worthy recipe. 5 stars

  25. Wow, absolutely delicious! I made with lemons and limes, using a little zest of both, fabulous combination with the ginger! Thank you!5 stars

  26. Just delightful I am a huge fn of scallops. Had girlfriends for dinner and served this as an entree before fish pie. Sooooo easy but so impressive.5 stars

    1. Wonderful! I’m so happy you loved the scallops Lisa. They’re the perfect recipe for a girlfriends night. :)

  27. Lisa, 
    Tried to duplicate your recipe for pan seared scallops last night. Didn’t even come close to your results. I used a non stick pan but couldn’t get that sear you got. Scallops reduced And lots of white liquid.  What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Paul – You really do want a stainless steel or cast iron pan for this recipe to get that great sear. Non-stick pans also shouldn’t be heated on high and you really need a high temperature for this recipe. There shouldn’t have been white liquid from the scallops either, unless they were frozen. They should be at room temperature (or slightly chilled from the fridge) when adding them to the pan. Hope that helps!

  28. I tried cooking the scallops just like you did on your video. Didn’t come out exactly as yours but delicious.  I think the grating was off a bit!! How do you cook lobsters?

    1. Hi Paul – I’m glad you enjoyed the scallops recipe. I don’t have any lobster recipes on my website at the moment, but hoping to have one in the future. :)

  29. Absolutely love this recipe and so many more from your blog!! 

    I’ve made it three times in three months, only for the most special people in my life I’d like to impress. Would love some advice on how to make the scallops brown a little more..it’s possible I’m using the wrong pan, or possibly the scallops need to be at from temperature before adding them to the pan? 

    Your meal prep advice has transformed my 12 hour shifts as a nurse. I’m starting the day with a delicious smoothie you’ve recommended using the vitamix wich is such an incredible appliance. I’m prepared throughout the day to control my cravings not to mention I have a sense of pride for pre-planning out the day with your help.

    Sorry to go on and on.

    Thank you, thank u, thank u. I’ve found a sense of pride I lost for a long time. 

    Looking forward to many more recipes and great videos!

    Caitlin 5 stars

    1. Hi Caitlin – I’m so happy you love the scallops recipe and many others from my blog. The scallops really are a great recipe to impress (and yet so simple). The key to getting them to brown is to use a REALLY hot pan. The oil should be almost smoking when you add them. Then you don’t want to touch or move them until they’re ready to flip. And it sounds like you’ve got a good rhythm going with your smoothies and healthier habits – big kudos to you! You should absolutely feel proud of yourself. It’s all of those little steps that really add up over time. :) x

    1. ithis is a great recipe! it helps to make sure the scallops are room temperature and dry before adding them. I take a dish put paper towel then frozen scallops put paper towel on top eave them overnight then take loose ice off of them in the morning pat them dry put back into the fridge until 30 minutes before cooking.5 stars

  30. This was truly delicious!  We also had the bok choy and I roasted Japanese sweet potatoes. This will be on my menu rotation as long as I can get fresh wild caught scallops. It was easy and quick too which is a big plus for a weeknight meal. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Yay! I’m happy you loved both the scallops and bok choy Linda! And sounds like a perfect combo with the Japanese sweet potatoes as well. :)

  31. There’s an * indicating information on how to handle different oils, but I do not see any mention of oils other than the avocado. Could you please elaborate??

    1. Good catch! I just added it in the notes. Essentially, I recommend avocado oil over olive oil in this recipe given the high heat used on the stove. Avocado oil is more stable at higher temperatures. :)

  32. These scallops are perfect! I wish I lived closer to the ocean so I could have gorgeous scallops like these more often (Chicago has lots going for it, but seafood has a long trip to get here!)5 stars

    1. Yes, in your case you’re better buying frozen (which will likely be fresher than any “fresh” ones you can find). ;)

  33. This dish looks yummy and delicious. Love the flavor of sauces added to this dish. Cant wait to try this dish.5 stars

  34. Gorgeous! I want to try your recipe, the flavors sound delicious and your instructions are really detailed. So important for scallops, I think. They can be a little intimidating to cook when you’re inexperienced with them. That sear though! :)5 stars

    1. Yes, it’s all about that golden sear! ;) They only key is really not to overcook them. Other than that, they’re super easy.

  35. I use this sauce every so often and I love it. This sauce is a very simple and delicious. This is a good idea and amazing recipe too.5 stars

    1. Thanks Mary! And yes, the sauce on it’s own is delicious and very versatile as well. It’s great on shrimp/prawns!

  36. I recently discovered your recipes I already have made more than half not only are your recipes easy to make and delicious I am losing weight as well. Oh I also am feeling better5 stars

  37. OMG! These were so unbelievably good! Thank you Lisa! I will definitely be making them more often at home now that I have this amazing recipe. The orange ginger sauce was perfect and just mild enough to bring out the soft flavor of the scallops. Best of all… they weren’t over cooked so that made them so sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender. These were the best I’ve ever had! As far as needing a traveling buddy goes… when and where? Love you!5 stars