Scallops are divine and just so simple to make (pan-seared), but what sauce to serve them with? Well, there are some traditional Mediterranean-inspired options, as well as some more exotic ones. Today, we will be taking a look at both.
So, what are the best sauces for scallops? Many people favor a lemon sauce with their scallops – lemon and butter, lemon and garlic, lemon and capers, lemon and herbs, etc. Sometimes the focus of the sauce is on garlic, herbs, and cream, but it still tends to contain lemon. Another option is to go with a Thai sauce–citrus and ginger, or a coconut sauce. You can also try a spicy hot sauce beurre blanc.
Below you’ll find a list of great sauces for scallops and basic instructions for how to make them, as well as some tips for sauces you will mostly like want to avoid too!
The Best Sauces For Scallops
Creamy Garlic Sauce
Garlic and seafood go together like peas and carrots (or Britain and bad weather, as some wisecrack said).
This sauce is both divine and easy to make.
On the pan where you fried the scallops, melt some butter, add in some minced garlic and sautée till fragrant.
Deglaze with dry white wine. Add cream. Let simmer. Take it off the heat, stir in some lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and add in the cooked scallops. Garnish with parsley.
Does that sound delish, or what?!
You can find the full recipe here.
Lemon Butter Sauce
Lemon is another ingredient that tends to feature heavily where seafood is concerned. As a bonus, this sauce is really easy to make (even easier than the previous one).
Melt some butter, add some minced garlic and sautée until fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Add in the scallops, or scoop the sauce over the scallops. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
You can find the full recipe here.
Lemon Herb Sauce
You’ve probably gathered from the previous recipes that scallops go really well with parsley.
They also work well with chives, tarragon, thyme, and basil. You can mix and match or stick with the one herb for this recipe.
Apart from the herbs, the ingredients remain the same as in the previous recipe–butter, garlic, and lemon juice. And, of course, salt and pepper to taste.
This particular recipe calls for you to combine all the ingredients (including the herbs) and cook for a few minutes in the skillet you used to cook the scallops. Then you put the scallops back in and serve immediately.
If you like, you can prepare the sauce instead by sautéeing the garlic in the butter, then adding the lemon juice and stirring in the herbs. Lastly, season to taste.
You’ll find the full recipe here.
Citrus Ginger Sauce
If you like Asian flavors, then this sauce might work well for you!
Apart from the ever-popular lemon, this sauce also calls for orange juice and zest, as well as ginger.
And, low and behold, this recipe does not call for garlic! Though, you could certainly add it, should the fancy take you.
After frying the scallops, remove them from the pan and add butter (or ghee), orange juice and zest, lemon juice, and freshly grated ginger.
Whisk together and keep whisking till it simmers. Season with salt, add the scallops back in, and serve immediately. Garnish with thyme.
For the full recipe, see here.
Lemon Caper Sauce
Seems we’re stuck with the lemons. Don’t worry–further down; you’ll find some lemon-free sauces. Should that be your thing.
For this sauce, however, lemon is featured right, left, and center. Possibly behind, too.
In the pan, you fried the scallops in, add some butter (or use what’s leftover), then sautée some garlic till fragrant (this takes about a minute, by the way–make sure you have the pan over medium heat as to prevent any burning of the garlic).
Add dry white wine. Let simmer till the wine is reduced by half. Turn up the heat and add some chicken stock, capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Take it off the heat and add some Dijon mustard.
Put the pan back on the heat (medium heat), add in the scallops, and let warm (btw. you need to warm the scallops in the previous recipes as well–it kind of goes without saying, but that only takes a minute or two).
Serve immediately, and garnish with chives and dill.
For the full recipe, look here.
Spanish Romesco Sauce
This sauce is decidedly different from the other sauces on this list so far!
You can make it ahead of time, which is helpful (though some of the sauces on this list are so easy to make, you’ll only save a few minutes by having the sauce ready to go!).
To make Spanish Romesco sauce, you’ll need bell peppers or sweet Italian peppers, plum tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, dried chili peppers (mild), almonds (Marcona, if possible), white bread (crust removed), lemon juice, smoked paprika, and sea salt (or whatever salt you prefer).
To make the sauce, start by roasting the peppers, garlic, onion, and tomatoes in the oven.
Brush them with some olive oil before you roast them. Remove from the oven when charred.
Rehydrate the chilies, remove the seeds, and puree. Strain to remove any excess fluid.
Heat some olive oil in a pan. Fry the almonds for about a minute. Remove from the pan (place on some paper to absorb the oil) and add the bread instead. Fry for about 30 secs on each side–till brown.
Peel and deseed the roasted vegetables. Add to a food processor together with all the other ingredients. Puree till smooth. Put in an airtight container and refrigerate until you use it.
The full recipe can be found here.
The recipe for the scallops served with Romesco sauce calls for the scallops to be served with garlic and herb butter.
That’s not necessary, but if you do, it can add some nice flavor to the scallops.
You can read the recipe here for preparing the scallops.
Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc
Beurre blanc may sound fancy, but it’s super easy to make. And really, it simply means white butter.
It just sounds better in French… And what this truly means, in technical terms, is a sauce emulsified with butter. This process thickens the sauce and turns it glossy.
So, what you do is fry (or pan sear as the correct term is) your scallops. Then remove them from the pan, and add some wine, lemon juice, and hot sauce (the recipe calls for Crystal hot sauce, but you can use any, just stay away from Tabasco).
Reduce for a minute or two. Turn the heat to low, stir in the butter cube by cube, and let it emulsify. Add the scallops back in.
Find the full recipe here.
This recipe also calls for a salsa to serve the scallops with. It is made from cherry tomatoes, fennel fronds, shallots, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
Perhaps not the ingredients you think of when thinking of salsa. However, salsa, truly, is just a fresh sauce. And not all fresh sauces come from South America!
How about going Asian? We already had one sauce with some Asian flavors, and this takes it to the next level.
In the pan, or wok, where you seared the scallops, add oil, fish sauce, lime juice, minced chili (deseeded) OR cayenne pepper, minced garlic, coconut milk (or unsalted butter), and sugar (or honey). Cook for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat.
Taste off the sauce–adjust the saltiness, sweetness, and sourness (fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice) if needed.
Check out the full recipe here.
What Types of Sauces Pair Best With Scallops?
Sauces made from lemon garlic and/or butter typically pair best for scallops.
Scallops are very often served with a sauce made from lemon, garlic, and butter. Sometimes it’s a creamy sauce; sometimes, it’s a straightforward butter sauce. Herbs are added to some recipes.
If you fancy something a bit different, try an Asian-inspired sauce–whether a citrus and ginger sauce or coconut sauce. You can also serve your scallops with a hot sauce beurre blanc, or Spanish Romesco sauce.
Mediterranean flavors feature heavily among the most popular sauces for scallops. The most common sauces tend to include butter, lemon juice, and garlic.
Some add to this herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, thyme, or basil. Others like to add some white wine and cream (and sometimes chicken stock).
A sauce that involves a bit of work but that is truly divine is a Spanish Romesco sauce. On the upside, you can make it upfront and store it in the fridge, so you can use it for a few other dishes once you decide to make it!
For something a little bit unusual, try a hot sauce, like beurre blanc.
If you like Asian flavors, try the citrusy ginger sauce above or a coconut sauce flavored with fish sauce, chili, and lime.
You can also serve your scallops with a simple sauce made of melted butter, garlic, and herbs. It doesn’t have to be fancy!
What Sauces To Avoid Serving With Scallops
A plain hot sauce will completely wipe out the taste of the scallops. And you wouldn’t make some creamy concoction that totally blocked out the flavors of the scallops–think a heavy cheese sauce. A cream and white wine sauce are nice, but it has to leave room for the flavor of the scallops to come through.
Common sense will likely tell you not to serve your scallops with BBQ sauce, ketchup, or mustard, but just in case you were contemplating it, don’t do it.
Mustard may be added to the sauce you’re making, but plain mustard is a no-no.
Mayo and sour cream-based sauces aren’t recommended either.
Sauces for other fish and fish dishes:
- Best Sauces For Mussels
- Best Sauces For Halibut
- Best Sauces For Trout
- Best Sauces For Tilapia
- What Sauce Goes With Tuna Steak?
- What Sauce Goes With Seabass?
- What Sauce Goes With Calamari?
- What Sauce To Serve With Salmon Patties?
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.