20 Sauces That Pair Perfectly with Scallops

by Ella

When it comes to seafood delicacies, scallops hold a special place in the hearts of gourmets and home chefs alike. With their sweet and delicate flavor, scallops provide a canvas for culinary creativity. One key element in enhancing the appeal of scallops is the sauce that accompanies them. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of scallop sauces, exploring a multitude of options that complement and elevate these delectable shellfish. From classic pairings to unique innovations, you’ll discover the perfect sauce to take your scallop dishes to new heights.


Scallops, with their tender flesh and subtle brininess, are a seafood lover’s dream. These bivalve mollusks are prized for their mild, sweet flavor and delicate texture. Whether pan-seared, grilled, or broiled, scallops have the unique ability to shine as both a centerpiece and a supporting player in various culinary creations.


See Also: Scallops: Nutrition, Benefits, Risks, Cooking Ways & More


Classic Scallop Sauces

1. Lemon Butter Sauce

Buttery richness meets zesty brightness in this timeless pairing.


Lemon butter sauce is a classic accompaniment for scallops. Its rich and velvety texture complements the delicate sweetness of the scallops, while the fresh citrus notes add a bright and refreshing contrast. To make lemon butter sauce, simply melt butter in a pan, add fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and minced garlic for extra depth. Finish with chopped fresh parsley for a burst of color and flavor.


2. Beurre Blanc

Elegant and indulgent, beurre blanc is a luxurious choice.

Beurre blanc, a French sauce known for its decadent nature, pairs exceptionally well with scallops. It’s made by reducing white wine and shallots, then whisking in cold butter to create a smooth and creamy emulsion. The buttery richness of beurre blanc envelops the scallops, while the subtle acidity from the wine cuts through the richness, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

3. Hollandaise Sauce

The pinnacle of creamy sauces, hollandaise is a match made in culinary heaven.

Hollandaise sauce is a classic French sauce that boasts a luscious and creamy texture. It’s traditionally made by emulsifying egg yolks with clarified butter and adding a touch of lemon juice or vinegar for acidity. The velvety hollandaise envelops scallops in a blanket of indulgence, making it an ideal choice for special occasions and brunch dishes like Eggs Benedict.

4. White Wine Sauce

An elegant and aromatic sauce that highlights the natural sweetness of scallops.

White wine sauce is a versatile option that complements scallops beautifully. It’s made by deglazing the pan with white wine, then simmering it with shallots, garlic, and often a touch of cream or chicken broth. The wine infuses the sauce with a subtle fruity aroma and a gentle acidity that enhances the scallops’ natural sweetness.

Asian-inspired Scallop Sauces

5. Teriyaki Glaze

A fusion of sweet and savory flavors with a touch of umami.

Teriyaki glaze is a popular choice for those looking to infuse scallops with an Asian-inspired flair. The sweet and salty combination of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake creates a glossy glaze that caramelizes beautifully when brushed onto scallops. The addition of fresh ginger and garlic adds depth and complexity to the dish.

6. Sweet Chili Sauce

Spicy and sweet, sweet chili sauce adds a delightful kick to scallops.

Sweet chili sauce brings a delightful contrast to scallops with its sweet, spicy, and tangy profile. This versatile sauce can be used as a glaze, marinade, or dipping sauce for scallops. Its fiery kick and hints of garlic and vinegar create a bold and memorable flavor experience.

7. Miso Butter Sauce

The umami-rich miso meets the indulgence of butter.

Miso butter sauce is a fusion of Japanese and Western flavors that pairs exquisitely with scallops. Miso, a fermented soybean paste, lends its umami depth, while butter contributes richness and silkiness. Combining these two ingredients with a touch of mirin and sake creates a sauce that’s both complex and comforting.

8. Thai Red Curry Sauce

An aromatic and vibrant sauce that takes scallops on a journey to Southeast Asia.

Thai red curry sauce is a fragrant and spicy option for scallops. Made with a base of red curry paste, coconut milk, and a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, this sauce envelops scallops in a symphony of flavors. The creaminess of coconut milk balances the heat from the curry paste, creating a harmonious and aromatic dish.

Herb-Infused Scallop Sauces

9. Pesto Sauce

A burst of fresh basil and nutty richness to elevate scallops.

Pesto sauce, with its vibrant green hue and aromatic blend of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, brings a burst of freshness to scallops. The nutty richness of pesto complements the natural sweetness of scallops, while the basil adds a lively herbaceous note.

10. Chimichurri

A zesty and herbaceous sauce with South American flair.

Chimichurri, a South American sauce renowned for its bold flavors, is a fantastic choice for scallops. Made with a mix of fresh parsley, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil, chimichurri adds a zesty and herbaceous kick to scallops. Its tangy and garlicky profile enhances the seafood’s natural taste.

11. Tarragon Cream Sauce

An elegant and aromatic sauce with a touch of anise-like tarragon.

Tarragon cream sauce is a sophisticated option that highlights the delicate flavors of scallops. Tarragon, with its subtle anise-like aroma, infuses the cream sauce with a unique and refined character. This sauce is often enriched with white wine, shallots, and a splash of lemon juice for balance.

12. Cilantro Lime Sauce

Zesty and vibrant, cilantro lime sauce is a burst of freshness.

Cilantro lime sauce adds a burst of freshness and zesty brightness to scallops. The combination of fresh cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and a hint of chili creates a lively and vibrant sauce. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a lighter and more citrusy option.

Savory Scallop Sauces

13. Bacon Cream Sauce

The smoky richness of bacon enhances the scallops’ sweetness.

Bacon cream sauce combines the smoky richness of bacon with the velvety texture of cream, creating a decadent pairing for scallops. The crispy bacon bits and savory bacon fat infuse the sauce with a deep and smoky flavor that complements the scallops’ natural sweetness.

14. Mushroom Cream Sauce

An earthy and savory sauce that marries well with scallops.

Mushroom cream sauce is an earthy and savory option that pairs harmoniously with scallops. Made with a medley of sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and cream, this sauce adds depth and umami richness to the dish. The earthy notes of the mushrooms complement the scallops’ sweet profile.

15. Tomato Basil Sauce

A Mediterranean-inspired sauce with the freshness of tomatoes and basil.

Tomato basil sauce, reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine, is a refreshing choice for scallops. The vibrant flavors of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil create a sauce that’s both light and flavorful. This sauce is often finished with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for a touch of richness.

16. Garlic Herb Butter

Simple yet indulgent, garlic herb butter elevates scallops with ease.

Garlic herb butter is a straightforward yet indulgent sauce that takes scallops to a new level. By blending softened butter with minced garlic and a medley of fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, and thyme, you create a sauce that’s bursting with flavor. The garlic’s pungency and the herbs’ freshness enhance the scallops’ sweetness.

Exotic Scallop Sauces

17. Saffron Cream Sauce

The luxurious saffron imparts its golden hue and complex flavor to scallops.

Saffron cream sauce is a luxurious option that combines the exotic allure of saffron with the velvety richness of cream. Infused with the essence of saffron threads, this sauce not only imparts a beautiful golden hue but also adds a complex and slightly floral flavor to scallops.

18. Mango Salsa

The tropical vibrancy of mango salsa brightens up scallop dishes.

Mango salsa is a tropical and vibrant choice for scallops. Made with ripe mangoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and a hint of chili, this salsa offers a delightful contrast of sweetness and acidity. The fresh and fruity notes of mango elevate the scallops, making it an ideal summer pairing.

19. Blood Orange Reduction

The unique and bold flavor of blood oranges adds intrigue to scallops.

Blood orange reduction is an unconventional yet captivating sauce for scallops. The bold and tangy flavor of blood oranges is balanced with a touch of sweetness, creating a sauce that’s both intriguing and visually striking. This reduction adds a unique twist to scallop dishes.

20. Caviar Cream Sauce

Indulgent and opulent, caviar cream sauce elevates scallops to a gourmet level.

Caviar cream sauce is the epitome of indulgence and opulence. By incorporating the briny and luxurious notes of caviar into a velvety cream sauce, you create a pairing that’s fit for special occasions and gourmet dining. The delicate scallops provide the perfect canvas for the caviar’s flavors.

Sauce Selection Tips

Matching Sauce to Scallop Variety

Scallops come in two main varieties: sea scallops and bay scallops. Sea scallops are larger and meatier, while bay scallops are smaller and sweeter. When selecting a sauce, consider the variety of scallops you’re using:

Sea Scallops: Sea scallops are more substantial and can withstand richer and more complex sauces like beurre blanc or saffron cream. Their mild sweetness pairs well with sauces that have a stronger flavor profile.

Bay Scallops: Bay scallops are delicate and sweet, making them an excellent match for lighter sauces such as lemon butter or cilantro lime. These sauces enhance the natural sweetness of bay scallops without overwhelming them.

Balancing Flavors and Textures

When choosing a sauce, aim for a balance of flavors and textures. Think about contrasting elements that can elevate the dish:

Sweet and Savory: Consider pairing sweet scallops with savory sauces like bacon cream or mushroom cream. The contrast enhances both the sweetness of the scallops and the richness of the sauce.

Rich and Refreshing: Pair rich and creamy scallop sauces like hollandaise or beurre blanc with a refreshing element such as citrus or herbs. This creates a harmonious balance and prevents the dish from feeling overly heavy.

Spicy and Sweet: If you’re using a spicy sauce like sweet chili or Thai red curry, balance the heat with a touch of sweetness, either from the scallops themselves or a fruity component like mango salsa.

Presentation and Garnishes

The presentation of scallop dishes can be as important as the sauce itself. Consider the following tips:

Color Contrast: Use colorful garnishes like fresh herbs, microgreens, or citrus zest to add visual appeal and contrast to the dish.

Texture Variation: Incorporate textured elements like toasted nuts or breadcrumbs for a delightful crunch that complements the scallop’s tenderness.

Sauce Placement: Strategically place the sauce on the plate to ensure that each bite of scallop is coated without drowning the dish. Use a squeeze bottle or a spoon to create artistic drizzles.

Plate Selection: Choose a plate or platter that enhances the visual impact of the dish. Opt for white or neutral-colored plates to make the scallops and sauce stand out.

See Also: 4 Classic Ways to Cook Scallops + 5 Recipes


Scallops, with their sweet and delicate flavor, are a canvas for culinary creativity. Selecting the right sauce can elevate scallop dishes from ordinary to extraordinary, making them a standout feature of your culinary repertoire. Whether you prefer classic pairings like lemon butter or innovative combinations like saffron cream, there’s a scallop sauce for every palate and occasion.

As you embark on your culinary journey with scallops, remember to consider the variety of scallops you’re using, balance flavors and textures, and pay attention to presentation. Whether you’re a seasoned chef looking to expand your repertoire or an adventurous home cook seeking to impress, these scallop sauce options will take your seafood creations to new heights.

Elevate your scallop dishes, explore new flavor profiles, and savor every bite of these delectable bivalves enveloped in the perfect sauce. Enjoy the art of pairing, and let your culinary imagination run wild with scallops as your muse.



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