What Are the Best Tips for Making Grilled Scallops?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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Beautifully grilled scallops are a treat to the eye and the taste buds, but too often, they turn rubbery or fall apart on the grill. Preparing grilled scallops isn’t difficult, but it does require a little basic know-how. Among the things a cook needs to know in order to produce beautifully flavored, firm-textured, and gently golden-browned scallops are the best way to skewer them, how to remove excess fluid to keep them firm, and how long they should be allowed to remain on the heat.

The novice cook might be tempted to wrap scallops in foil packets for the grill, but this is really not the best way to prepare them as they will be likely to lose texture in the midst of so much steam. The end result will be watery, and the scallops will simply fall apart. It’s much better to grill scallops that have been properly prepared either on skewers or using a special metal grid that will keep them from falling through the grill slots.


The first tip takes place in the grocery store or fish market. Smart cooks look for large scallops that appear dry, even sticky, on the surface and avoid those that are sitting in liquid as they will be more likely to lose their shape when cooking. Once home, the wise cook places the scallops between several layers of thick paper toweling and gently, gently presses, replacing the toweling if it gets too wet, until most of the excess liquid has been removed.

While the cook doesn’t want wet scallops, oil or fat is necessary to keep the grilled scallops from drying out over heat as well as to add a lovely golden color. One favorite approach is to wrap each scallop in bacon. Hickory or maple-smoked bacon adds an especially nice flavor to grilled scallops. If the cook opts to cook the scallops solo, he or she must brush them with olive oil or melted butter first.

If the preferred grill method involves wooden skewers, the scallops need to soak for about an hour in order to deliver an even heat to the interiors. Many cooks like to alternate shrimp and mushrooms with scallops for visual and taste variety. Grilled scallops prepared on skewers must be monitored closely so they don’t overcook, and they should be flipped halfway through the process after just a minute or two.

A great tip that will help the cook control skewers that want to roll around is to lay a row of scallops on a flat sheet then run a skewer through them to get them aligned. Next, a second skewer goes through at the slightest bit of an angle. This will make flipping the skewers much easier. For wonderful flavor and great presentation, gardener cooks with mature rosemary plants can use sturdy stalks instead of skewers, running them — sprigs and all — through several scallops before laying them on the grill.


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Post 2

@Grivusangel -- I saw on a cooking show a long time ago where they recommended using the flat metal skewers, so I've done it that way ever since, when I do grill them.

I really prefer to pan fry my scallops on top of the stove. It seems like I have more control over the heat that way. It's so easy to overcook scallops, and I've had them come off the grill tasting like pencil erasers -- and that's using a timer!

So, I tend to cook them in my cast iron skillet, where I can keep an eye on them the whole time. I just have better luck doing that.

Post 1

If you use metal skewers, use the flat kind. The scallops don't turn around on the flat ones.

I wrap scallops in bacon. That's good eating. I also may brush them with a little olive oil, just to keep them from drying out and give them a nice, golden-brown color.

Another good thing to do for grilled scallops is to brush them with olive oil that has seasonings added to it. I like a good Cajun seasoning mix. Just stir up the oil before you brush the scallops with it to distribute the seasonings. That way, the seasonings don’t burn on the grill, but stay on the scallop.

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