Grilled Scallops

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These tender Grilled Scallops are an easy dinner option bursting with flavor! Subtly sweet sea scallops and sliced zucchini are threaded onto skewers and grilled to beautifully caramelized, tender perfection. Drizzled with homemade garlic lemon-basil dressing, they’re ready in under 30 minutes and are sure to wow your taste buds.

If you love my scallops, you’ll definitely want to try our Seafood Paella recipe or these Juicy Grilled Shrimp Kabobs. Both are incredibly delicious and perfect for seafood fans!

Grilled zucchini skewers and grilled scallop skewers on a plate drizzled with garlic basil dressing.


You’ve probably heard of throwing some shrimp on the barbie, but what about scallops? That’s right! These buttery little shellfish are perfect for a quick, flavorful grill-up.

For this simple scallops recipe, we’ll thread seasoned sea scallops onto skewers and grill them to tender perfection. They get this awesome char that goes wonderfully with homemade lemon-basil dressing. The herby sweetness of the basil is the perfect complement to the natural, briny sweetness of the scallops.

Why You’ll Love Grilled Scallops

A match made in heaven. Scallops are, by nature, subtly sweet, and so is basil. This recipe brings the two together. The herby sweetness of the basil in the dressing complements the briny sweetness of the scallops.

Tender scallops. Grilling scallops is the way to go. They get this wonderfully caramelized exterior while remaining tender and delicate on the inside. They’re so good!

30-minute meal. Actually, less than that. These grilled scallops and zucchini come together in just 25 minutes. They are the perfect, flavorful solution for your busiest days.

Grilled scallop skewers on a plate with basil garlic sauce.

Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need for this grilled scallops recipe. You’ll find precise measurements in the recipe card below.

For the Scallops and Zucchini

  • Large sea scallops – You definitely want sea scallops here. They are a bit sturdier and, thus, stand up to grilling much better than bay scallops. Check out the section below titled “Bay Scallops vs Sea Scallops” for more information. Oh, and make sure to remove the tough tendons!
  • Salt and pepper – I like using freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor.
  • Zucchini
  • Wooden or metal skewers – If you go with wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before loading them up with zucchini and scallops. This will help keep them from burning on the grill.

For the Basil Dressing

  • Fresh basil
  • Garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice – Fresh lemons will give the best flavor but you can use bottled lemon juice in a pinch.
  • Sugar – The sugar does wonders to balance out the flavors here. You’ll only need a small amount. Honey or maple syrup would also do the trick.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Bay Scallops vs Sea Scallops

Bay scallops and sea scallops are similar (they are both scallops, after all) but they do have a few distinct differences.

  • Location. Sea scallops are found in deeper waters than bay scallops and are harvested year-round.
  • Size. Sea scallops are usually larger than bay scallops.
  • Flavor and texture. Sea scallops are slightly less sweet and are thicker and fleshier with a bit more of a chew to them. This helps them stand up better to cooking methods such as grilling.
  • Price. Sea scallops are generally the more expensive option.

I chose to use sea scallops for this recipe due to their sturdier, more grill-friendly texture.

How To Grill Scallops

Time to fire up the barbie (grill)! Here’s a quick look at how to make these awesome grilled sea scallops. For more thorough instructions, scroll to the recipe card below.

  • Dry the scallops. Arrange the scallops in a single layer between two paper towels on a baking sheet. Press down on them gently and then set aside.
  • Make the dressing. In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper 6 times. Set the food processor to low and drizzle 6 tablespoons of olive oil into the dressing.
  • Assemble the zucchini skewers. Toss the zucchini with 1 tablespoon of dressing and thread the slices onto skewers.
  • Prepare to grill. Turn the burners on your grill to high.
  • Assemble the scallop skewers. Thread the scallops onto skewers, brush them with the remaining olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill. Brush the grill grates with olive oil and arrange the scallop and zucchini skewers in a single layer across the grate. Cover the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and grill for 2-4 more minutes or until everything is cooked to your liking (see the section below titled “How Do You Know When Scallops Are Done On The Grill?” for guidance).
  • Serve. Remove the skewers from the grill and serve with the basil dressing.
Cooking scallop skewers on the grill.

How Do You Know When Scallops Are Done On The Grill?

No one likes overcooked scallops (or an undercooked one, at that). Fret not. There are a couple of simple ways to make sure your scallops are cooked perfectly. Here they are:

  • Use a meat thermometer. Grab a quality meat thermometer and insert it into the largest scallop. You want your scallops to reach 115 – 120°F before you remove them from the grill. They will come up to their ideal temperature of 130°F in the minutes following.
  • Eyeball it. No meat thermometer? No problem. Just cut the largest scallop open. It should be firm and opaque all the way through. If it’s still translucent, give it a little extra time. Again, remember that the scallops will continue to cook a bit after you remove them from the grill.
Closeup image of grilled zucchini skewers and grilled scallop skewers on a plate drizzled with garlic basil dressing.

Tips for Success

  • Same size. Be sure to choose scallops that are roughly the same size and thickness. This will ensure that they cook evenly.
  • Remove the tendons. Sometimes scallops make it to the store with their tendons still attached. The tendons are edible but become super tough when cooked. So, make sure to remove them!
  • Fresh is best. While you could use bottled lemon juice in this recipe, I highly recommend freshly squeezed lemon juice. The flavor is just so much brighter.
  • A note on skewers. I prefer using flat metal skewers (as opposed to wooden ones). The ingredients won’t slip around as much and the skewers won’t burn. If you do choose to use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before threading the zucchini and scallops onto them. This will keep them from burning.
  • Prepare your grill properly. In order to prevent your food from sticking to the grill, you’ll want to clean the grate thoroughly and brush it with oil before adding the sewers.
  • No grill? No problem. If you don’t have a grill, preheat a cast iron skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron grill pan over high heat and cook the skewers just as you would on the grill.
  • If you have a meat thermometer, use it. While you can eyeball the scallops for doneness, a meat thermometer will give a much more accurate read.
  • Don’t overcook. Remember that the scallops will continue to cook after they come off of the grill. So, you’ll want to grill them until they are just under “perfectly cooked”.

Serving Suggestions

I love, love love these grilled scallops with pretty much any kind of potato. Try them with my easy Smashed Potatoes or these decadent Parmesan Truffle Fries. Not a potato person? Serve them with simple Instant Pot Jasmine Rice or this Garlic Butter Cauliflower Rice with Spinach.

The zucchini skewers deliver just the right amount of veg here but, if you’re looking for more. I highly recommend serving the scallops with some Cheesy Grilled Asparagus as well. My Green Goddess Salad would also be a good option.

Closeup image of grilled scallop skewers on a plate with basil garlic dressing.

Proper Storage

To store, allow the scallops to cool completely before sealing them in an airtight container. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. While raw scallops are often sold frozen, I do not recommend freezing and reheating cooked scallops. Their texture and moisture won’t hold up well.

To reheat, arrange a few skewers in a large, oiled skillet over low heat. Cover the skillet and cook just until heated through.

More Seafood Recipes To Try

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4.50 from 2 votes

Grilled Scallops with Zucchini

Tender, sweet Grilled Scallops are a healthy dinner option that’s bursting with flavor! The blended basil dressing with garlic and lemon makes the meal unforgettable.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


For the Scallops and Zucchini

For the Basil Dressing

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic,, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil,, divided
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  • Cover a sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.
  • Arrange scallops on top of the paper towels, in one single layer.
  • Cover the scallops with a layer of paper towels; press gently on top and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime prepare the dressing; to a small food processor add the basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pulse about 6 times.
  • With the processor running, drizzle in 6 tablespoons olive oil and continue to process until emulsified. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Reserve a tablespoon of the dressing in a mixing bowl; set aside the rest for serving.
  • Add the zucchini to the mixing bowl with the dressing; toss to combine.
  • Thread the zucchini onto skewers and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill until hot, leaving all the burners on HIGH.
  • Remove the paper towels from the scallops.
  • Thread the scallops onto wooden or metal skewers.
  • Brush the scallops with remaining olive oil and season them with a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Place the scallops and zucchini on the grill; cover the grill and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned on the bottom and lightly charred.
  • Flip them over, cover, and continue to cook for 2 to 4 more minutes, or until zucchini is tender and scallops are firm and opaque.
  • Remove from grill.
  • Serve with previously prepared basil dressing.


  • If using wooden skewers, soak them for 20 minutes in clean water, before using. That will keep them from burning on the grill.


Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 966mg | Potassium: 625mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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1 Comment

  1. Frank Mosher says:

    Great recipe, no issues-however, I spent ten days on a scallop trawler out of Lunenburg, NS. a long, long time ago, on Georges Bank. If you have never tasted a raw scallop, you should try a small bite. Sweet, just like candy, not slimy, not fishy, but delicious, not to take away from the very good recipe offered. Cheers!