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Grilled Scallops

May 18, 2024

Grilled scallops benefit from a quick marinade of honey, garlic and pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)—hands down the most luxurious dinner that’s ever come off our grill.


A plate of grilled scallops on metal skewers with lemon slices and parsley

Heck Yes, You Can (and Should) Grill Scallops!

Cooking sea scallops can seem tricky—they’re pricey, so right away you’re worried about ruining your precious bounty. You really want to do right by those milky-hued, stout and meaty cylinders, but the question is how? How best to cook them? While grilling scallops may sound crazy, it’s actually the perfect way to cook them! Quick, high heat is ideal for a food that you want to be certain not to overcook, and a light, quick kiss of char and smoke brings these gorgeous shellfish to life.

raw sea scallops, salt, garlic, paprika, honey, lemon juice and scallops

A Brief Scallop Lesson, For the Mollusk-Curious.

Think of this as your Scallops 101 CliffsNotes. Scallops—like oyster, clams and mussels—are bivalve mollusks, meaning they’re soft-bodied invertebrates that live inside of a two-part shell that hinges in the middle. Unlike its other bivalve counterparts, though, the part of the scallop we eat is the abductor muscle—the part of the scallop that opens and closes the shell. Globally, there are hundreds of species of scallop, and they can be found in all sorts of conditions—from shallow seabeds, to deep water. Thankfully, for this grilled scallop recipe, all you need to know is that you want to look for scallops labeled “sea scallops”, not the sweet but diminutive bay scallops, which are far too small to grill on skewers. As far as making a sustainable choice—always a consideration when it comes to seafood!—the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s wonderful Seafood Watch site says to buy farmed sea scallops and weathervane scallops caught in Alaska. Although inexpensive or bulk frozen scallops may seem like a deal, they’re often pumped full of salt-and-water preservative solutions that actually mean you’re getting a less-flavorful product and are also ultimately paying extra for the bulk that the addition of a preservative adds. When in doubt, go to a fishmonger you trust, and just buy the very best you’re able to afford.

marinade for grilled scallops in a bowl with garlic, lemon, honey and olive oil
sea scallops marinading in a bowl
marinaded sea scallops on skewers on a baking sheet waiting to be grilled
Grilled sea scallops hot off the grill resting on a baking sheet.

The Greatest, Most Delicious, Best Grilled Scallops Marinade, Ever. In History. End of Story.

Alright, enough nerding out. Let’s get cooking! While we’d never want to overpower their sweet, delicate flavor, sea scallops can benefit from a quick marinade made from a few carefully chosen ingredients. Before these scallops hit the grill, we give them a quick marinade in a combination of:

  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic
  • Pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
marinated scallops on skewers on a grill with Olive oil
Honey Apple cider vinegar Garlic and smoked paprika
marinated scallops on skewers on a baking sheet with Olive oil Honey Apple cider vinegar Garlic and smoked paprika

How To Grill Scallops

If the idea of grilling scallops calls to mind an image of standing over a hot fire while trying to keep 25 little individual sea scallops from falling between the grates of your grill, we’ve got one word for you: SKEWERS. There! Now you’re feeling more confident about this scallop recipe already, aren’t you? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Marinate the scallops for an hour in the fridge. Don’t let them marinate more than an hour—if you’ve got to err, err on the side of less than an hour rather than more.
  2. Skewer the scallops! 4-5 scallops per skewer. Work somewhat quickly—the scallops will be easier to grill if they’re still cold from the fridge.
  3. Grill the scallops! Brush the grill with oil first, then lay the skewered scallops on the grill. On a nice, hot grill, they will take 2-3 minutes per side. If you’re feeling unsure, you can always slice one open to check for doneness.
  4. Eat the scallops! The best part!
grilled scallops on skewers on a plate with lemon, and marinade

And Because We Cannot Live on Grilled Scallops Alone...

Wondering what to serve with grilled scallops? Here are our favorite starters and side dishes to serve with these luxurious, restaurant-worthy grilled scallop skewers:

grilled scallops on skewers on a plate with lemon, and marinade

Look At You And Your Fancy Scallops!

If you make this scallop recipe, we want to hear about it! Snap a photo of your grilled scallops, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Grilled Scallops

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  30 min
  • Cook Time:  6 min
  • Calories: 296


  • 20 sea scallops, large
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grill
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 Skewers (if using wooden, presoaked in warm water for 1 hour)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, honey, lemon juice, garlic, smoked paprika and salt. Whisk until honey dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Place the scallops and the marinade in a large ziplock bag, seal it shut and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for the hour that the scallops are marinating.
  4. Heat grill to medium high heat. Cover the grill so the grates get hot.
  5. Remove the scallops from the refrigerator, slide 4-5 each onto the skewers and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Using a silicone brush, oil the grill grates with extra oil.
  7. Place the skewered scallops on the grill at an angle (if you want pretty diagonal grill marks).
  8. Cook scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories296
  • Protein12 g
  • Carbohydrates9 g
  • Total Fat23 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol44 mg
  • sodium520 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Grilled Scallops

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Nancy

    What to use if I don't have skewers? Is it worth buying them, and if so where do you suggest I buy them?

    Thank you in advance.

    We'd recommend getting skewers. You can by wooden ones at just about any grocery store but you'll need to soak them first. We like to use metal since there are reusable and don't need to be soaked first. This is a great set

  • Steven

    Simple scallops with lots of butter, salt,
    Pepper and finished in white wine

    Also sounds delicious Steven!

  • jorge

    will it be ok to pan fry using this recipe ? Thank you :)

    Should be just fine, hope you enjoy!

  • CJ

    What is that sprinkled on top of scallops? It looks like fresh parsley.


  • James

    where is vinegar used in recipe?

    That is just a typo. It is suppose to say lemon juice. Good catch!

  • Elaine

    Very good!

    Thanks Elaine!

  • Bill

    This is the second time I use this recipe with the exception of I added fresh ground ginger and a soy packet from my local Chinese restaurant to the mix and sprinkled sesame seeds on it when I grilled it for an Asian Flair. Holy cow I got no leftovers. Thanks for the recipe

    Thanks Bill, so glad you love these!

  • Jim

    Excellent and two favorite things......

    Thanks Jim, our two favorite things as well!

  • Jenn

    Make these, the flavor is so perfect!

    Thanks Jenn, we are so glad you loved it!