Scallops are a delicate and versatile seafood that can be prepared in so many delicious ways and paired with a broad range of fabulous side dishes. Whether you prefer them pan-seared, grilled, or baked, scallops can be a tasty addition to any meal. But what to serve with scallops to make the perfect menu?
Before we tackle our sides, let's take a look at our scallop options!
More About Scallops:
You'll find three major types of scallops in grocery stores and seafood markets:
- Sea scallops: These are the largest type of scallop, with a meaty texture and a slightly sweet flavor. They are usually harvested from the ocean and are commonly sold in the shell or as shucked meat. Sea scallops are often grilled, broiled, or sautéed, and can be served as a main dish or as an ingredient in soups, stews, and salads.
- Bay scallops: These are smaller than sea scallops and have a sweeter, more delicate flavor. They are usually harvested from bays and estuaries and are most often sold shucked. Bay scallops are typically used in dishes such as pasta, risotto, scallop chowder and ceviche.
- Calico scallops: These are the smallest type of scallop, with a slightly grainy texture and a mild flavor. They are often sold frozen and are commonly used as an ingredient in soups and stews. Calico scallops are also sometimes used as a substitute for bay scallops, as they are similar in size and flavor.
While scallops are a delicious option for any dinner, man cannot live on scallops alone. So how do we build a menu that compliments our star mollusks without competing for center stage?
I'm so glad you asked! Let's explore some of the best side dishes and sauces to serve with your favorite scallop recipes, as well as some tips on how to prepare this gorgeous sea creature to perfection.
What to Serve with Scallops: 23 Scallop Side Dishes
One of my favorite ways to serve seared sea scallops is over a bed of brown butter polenta with charred sweet corn and fresh basil. Creamy, rich polenta is the perfect match for scallops, and a nice change from using traditional mashed potatoes. The best thing about this delicious recipe is that it is suited really well to making with frozen (and thawed) sea scallops. No need to hunt down fresh mollusks!
Cucumber gazpacho salad is a great way to bring the cool, refreshing flavors of the famous Spanish chilled soup, but in a crunchy salad – no blending required! The fresh herbs, sweet bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and crunchy pumpkin seeds all add the perfect balancing flavors and crunch, making it the ideal side dish for a luxurious scallop dinner. Gorgeous and memorable!
Like luscious risotto without all the fuss and stirring, this creamy parmesan rice with lemon and parsley is the perfect side to all of your best scallop main courses. It’s a great addition to your scallop dinner and makes delicious leftovers, as well.
You have so many great options for serving your scallops with pasta, including using small, sweet bay scallops, or those large and impressive sea scallops. Pair them with shrimp in this Seafood Pasta in Garlic White Wine Sauce or serve them over Carbone Spicy Rigatoni for a very New York experience. And if you're looking for a light and luscious one-pan experience, perch your scallops on a platter of Lemon Ricotta Orecchiette and just wait for the standing ovation.
If a light and refreshing Mediterranean flavor combination like lemon and dill makes your heart sing and your taste buds dance, this delicious side dish is your ticket to bliss. Lemon Dill Rice is an easy recipe with gorgeous flavors and presentation - ideal for a dinner party, an easy weeknight meal or even meal prep Sunday. This is the perfect way to show off the delicate flavor of scallops with a memorable and tasty side dish.
A fresh and light salad is another excellent choice to serve with scallops, especially if you're making a rich dish like Baked Scallops in Creamy Wine Sauce. A simple green salad with a quick homemade vinaigrette dressing is always a good option, but you can also experiment with adding herbs and spices to the salad that compliment the flavors in your scallop main course.
Grilled asparagus is a simple and elegant side dish that pairs well with sea scallops or bay scallops. To make this easy recipe, marinate the spears in a simple vinaigrette, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and grill them over medium-high heat until they are tender-crisp and charred. Top with the rest of the vinaigrette and a warm egg. Grilled asparagus is a delicious and healthy side dish that adds a smoky flavor and freshness to your seafood meal.
Green beans are a classic side dish that pairs well with many seafood dishes, including scallops. To elevate your green beans, add flavorful but simple ingredients like freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, crunchy almonds and salty parmesan cheese. Toss in the cooked green beans and stir until they are coated with the lemon butter sauce. This simple but flavorful side dish will add brightness and tanginess to your meal and have everyone asking for your recipe.
These easy roasted potatoes are a comforting and indulgent side dish that goes well with seared scallops. These roasted yellow new potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender and pillowy inside. Then they're piled high with roasted garlic over a schmear of creamy whipped feta cheese. The perfect, simple side dish for your holiday table, Sunday supper, or a mid-week family affair. The roasted garlic and feta add a subtle kick to the crispy potatoes, making them a perfect pairing for your buttery scallops.
French Au Gratin Potatoes
This sophisticated take on a cheesy potato casserole is a fantastic side dish at any seafood dinner! Creamy, tender potatoes swimming in a rich shallot and cheese sauce make these Au Gratin Potatoes a dish that will make everyone go wild. The perfect, rich side dish to serve with your scallop-focused menu.
A chilled, fresh salad is a great side dish to serve with a seared scallop dish. This sweet, spicy, savory cucumber recipe is viral for a reason! It's based on the wildly popular cucumbers at Michelin starred Din Tai Fung. This recipe takes just a handful of ingredients and some time marinating. Then your patience will be rewarded with craveable cucumbers that belong in the delicious sides hall of fame!
You can't go wrong a hot and crispy loaded baked potato as a side dish for your simple scallop dinner. A baked sweet potato is another option. They're a nutritious and flavorful side dish that pairs well with the sweet flavor of scallops.
A sophisticated scallop dish is the perfect pairing for French fries, one of the most popular side dishes for any seafood. And if you really want to take your shellfish and chips meal over the top, go for Parmesan Truffle French Fries. A sprinkle of grated parmesan and truffle salt bring sophisticated flavor to this delicious side. The recipe includes details on the best soaking and baking methods to achieve the perfect crispy baked (not fried!) French fry.
This creamy risotto is one of my favorite recipes to top with scallops (skip the langoustine!). It feels like something you would only eat on special occasions, but it’s weirdly simple and worth the stirring time. The asparagus and lime zest add so much fresh flavor to this ultra rich and creamy dish of carbs. If you’re intimidated by risotto, don’t be! Buy a bag of arborio rice (very inexpensive) and follow the instructions in the recipe link. You’ll have a creamy, delicious dish on the table before you can even finish your latest true crime podcast episode.
This Persian-inspired Gemelli Pasta Salad Recipe is fresh and delicious, with texture and umami to spare. It's studded with feta, walnuts and loads of fresh herbs. And the lemon dressing makes this the loveliest side dish for your grilled scallop recipe. Perfect anytime of year, this is the pasta salad that will have everyone coming back for seconds.
Classic mashed potatoes. The most luxurious and familiar side dish on the planet. They're the perfect comfort food to serve with Scallops in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce. Those creamy potatoes can soak up every last drop of that magic sauce. Any simple recipe on the internet will do the trick, but I’m especially fond of this recipe for mashed potatoes.
This gorgeous green cauliflower recipe is roasted and topped with olive oil, anchovies, pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon. It brings unique and craveable flavors to any scallop main dish recipe. The best part of this roasted veggie dish is that it's sophisticated enough to sit next to your special occasion main dishes, but quick enough to dress up a simple Thursday night dinner with the family.
A slice of warm, crusty bread is the perfect addition to any seafood meal, and scallops are no exception. You can serve a regular loaf of bread, but my favorite bread for almost any meal is Garlic Bread Baguette. The fresh parsley, chives and lemon zest are the perfect combination to bring freshness to the savory garlic butter. Make it! I know you'll love it.
This simple salad is full of crunchy veggies like English cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. But the real stars of the show are the fresh herbs and lime dressing. Think of the herbs as a co-star, not just the garnish. This Jerusalem salad is especially delicious paired up with Middle eastern yellow rice and a Broiled Scallops with Salsa Verde.
If your scallops are taking an Asian turn, whip up a batch of fresh ginger scallion sauce to serve over your savory shellfish. This 4-ingredient sauce superstar brings a fresh and unique flavor to the party. And it is delicious over almost any type of fish, simple steamed rice and even toast!
Mango habanero salsa is my favorite sweet and spicy fresh salsa to serve with a simple grilled scallop dish. This easy side dish brings a delightful sweet heat to any seafood delicacy...or just a bag of tortilla chips! While habaneros sound like a super spicy pepper, they also add a lot of flavor to this fresh dish. But feel free to substitute a milder jalapeno or even poblano pepper, if that is a better fit for your palate.
Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce
Traditional tartar sauce seems too boring to serve with seared scallops, right? So whip up a bowl of this sauce with lemon and fresh dill. It will add the perfect notes of freshness and richness to your seafood dinner. Herby and garlicky with a touch of lemon juice, this sauce is a great pairing with your trout.
Italian salsa verde is the perfect sauce for these sweet morsels of scallop magic. Similar to Argentinian Chimichurri, but with a little more briny umami, salsa verde is a delicious herb sauce to serve with grilled fish, shrimp and, of course, scallops. For the non-pescatarians among us, it’s equally amazing on grilled steak and chicken! I always double this sauce because it's delicious the next day over roasted potatoes, rice or over salad!
Looking for your new favorite scallop recipe? Try these easy and impressive dishes next!
Tips for Preparing Perfect Scallops at Home
Scallops are a popular shellfish because of their rich flavor and delicate texture. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, from simple searing or grilling to baking and broiling. Now that you know what to serve with your favorite scallop recipes, let's take a look at some tips for preparing it to perfection.
Choose Fresh Scallops or High Quality Frozen
The key to a delicious scallop dish is using high-quality shellfish. If you have easy access to fresh scallops, that's a great option. But if you don't, no need to despair! Frozen scallops are often just as fresh (or more) than seafood counter scallops because they are frozen quickly once caught. Since most of us have access to frozen scallops, let’s talk about the best way to thaw our scallops before cooking.
Tips for Thawing Sea Scallops:
- Plan ahead! For best results, thaw your scallops slowly in the refrigerator to prevent them from getting an unpleasant, mushy texture. Place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you plan to cook them. This will allow them to thaw slowly and evenly. Then dry them very well with paper towels before removing the side muscle, seasoning and cooking.
- Too late to plan ahead? If you’re short on time, thaw the scallops in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to an hour. Never use warm or hot water to thaw scallops. This can partially cook the scallop, affecting the texture and flavor and potentially introducing food safety concerns.
Scallops are a delicious and versatile seafood that can be paired with a range of side dishes. Whether you prefer vegetables, rice, pasta, or potatoes, there are many options that pair well with the flavors of scallops. Try experimenting with different side dishes to find the perfect combination for your next scallop meal.