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Sea scallops cooked on the grill are a next-level treat. Rich and tender and almost buttery tasting, they cook up so quickly and easily that it almost feels like cheating to make an indulgent seafood dinner so fast. Serve the scallops either on the skewers, or remove them and serve them on a serving platter or on individual plates. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

These are very simply cooked and so can pair with almost any summery sides. Try Tomatoes with Mint Basil Pesto, Grilled Corn Salad, or — now that you have those skewers out — Grilled Vegetable Kabobs.

Skewers of Grilled Scallops on a white serving platter.

Grilled Scallops: Sweet, buttery, briny sea scallops cooked on the grill are a luxurious summer treat.

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How to Choose Scallops

As with all fish and seafood, you must take care to buy the freshest items available. Scallops should be plump and moist looking (but not wet!) and smell of briny sea air. Ideally, shellfish should be purchased on the day you plan to cook it. Or you can buy frozen scallops.

If you are buying scallops in the shell, the shell should be closed or just opened by the fishmonger at the time of purchase. Most sea scallops will be about 1- to 1 ½-inches in diameter. Typically the larger the scallop, the more expensive they are.

Make sure to ask for “dry” sea scallops, not wet, which have been preserved in a brine. Wet scallops are usually not as fresh and also don’t sear up so nicely because of their higher water content. If that’s what you end up with, make sure to pat them dry very well before cooking them.

Scallops with grill marks.

How to Skewer Scallops for Grilling

  1. Dry the scallops: Pat the scallops dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
  2. Season the scallops: In a medium bowl, gently toss the scallops with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Skewer the scallops: Thread the scallops onto the skewers (wooden skewers need to be soaked in water for 30 minutes first). The best way to do this is to insert two skewers through the scallops in parallel fashion, keeping them close enough together that they both go through the center of the scallops without tearing them.
Woman sliding a scallop onto wooden skewers.
  1. Continue skewering: Once the first scallop is skewered this way, the others just have to be carefully slid onto the parallel skewers in a similar fashion. Keep a tiny bit of space between the scallops.
Woman adding another scallops to skewers.

How to Grill Scallops

You can use wooden or metal skewers to grill scallops, but note that wooden skewers will need to be soaked first to prevent burning.

  1. Prepare for grilling: If you are using wooden skewers place them in a container with water to cover for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium-high. 
  2. Skewer the scallops: Thread the scallops onto skewers for grilling (see above for step-by-step instructions).
  3. Grill the scallops: Grill the scallops over medium-high heat until they turn opaque and are just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes in all, turning the scallops halfway during cooking.
Tongs flipping skewered scallops on a grill.
  1. Serve: Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Or, drizzle them with a bit of Easy Lemon Butter Sauce if you like, or pass out little bowls of the sauce for dipping.

Also, if you want to cook scallops inside, try Perfect Pan Seared Scallops.

How Long to Grill Scallops

Scallops need to be cooked until they are barely cooked through, which will take about 2 minutes per side on the grill for sea scallops, a minute or so longer on each side if they are especially large. Don’t overcook your scallops, or they will become dry and rubbery. There might still be a hint of translucence in the center when they are done, and they will continue to cook a bit more once removed from the grill.

FAQs

What are scallops?

Scallops are mollusks or bi-valves, meaning they live in a shell, though most scallops available at fish stores and counters are removed from the shells. There are smaller bay scallops, which are seasonal, from the East Coast, petite, and very sweet, and there are larger sea scallops, which are what is called for here.

What is the difference between dry scallops and wet?

Dry scallops are much more preferable to wet scallops, which have been preserved in a brine. Wet scallops are usually not as fresh and also don’t brown up so nicely because of their higher water content. Dry scallops usually have a cleaner and sweeter flavor. If all you can find are wet sea scallops, make sure to pat them completely dry with clean dishtowels or paper towels before cooking them.

Should you rinse scallops before grilling?

If all you can find are wet scallops, then yes, rinse them before patting them completely dry and grilling. Dry scallops still need to be patted dry but not necessarily rinsed. If you do rinse your scallops, make sure the water doesn’t splash anywhere, as it could carry bacteria from the uncooked seafood.

What to Serve With Grilled Scallops

Summer Whole Grain and Vegetable Salad

Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Sauce

Plate of Grilled Scallops and a grain and vegetable salad.

More Grilled Seafood Recipes

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Grilled Scallops

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Skewer soaking time: 30 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Sweet, buttery, plump, briny sea scallops cooked on the grill are a luxurious summer treat.

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ pounds sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges to serve (optional)

Instructions 

  • If you are using wooden skewers, place them in a container with water to cover for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  • Pat the scallops dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
  • In a medium bowl, gently toss the scallops with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread the scallops onto skewers. The best way to do this is to insert two skewers through the scallops in parallel fashion, keeping them close enough together that they both go through the center of the scallops without tearing them. Once the first scallop is skewered this way, the others just have to be carefully slid onto the parallel skewers in a similar fashion. Keep a tiny bit of space between the scallops.
  • Carefully oil the grill rack. Grill the scallops over medium-high heat until they turn opaque and are just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes in all, turning the scallops halfway during cooking.
  • Serve the scallops either on the skewers, or remove them and serve them on a serving platter or on individual plates. Serve them with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and lemon wedges, if desired.

Notes

If you are buying scallops in the shell, the shell should be closed or just opened by the fishmonger at the time of purchase.  Most sea scallops will be about 1 to 1 ½-inches in diameter. Typically, the larger the scallop, the more expensive they are.
Make sure to ask for “dry” sea scallops, not wet, which have been preserved in a brine.  Wet scallops are usually not as fresh and also don’t sear up so nicely because of their higher water content. If that’s what you end up with, make sure to pat them dry very well before cooking them.

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 667mg, Potassium: 349mg, Vitamin A: 5IU, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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