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"Don't Disturb This Groove" Quick Pan Seared Scallops with Coffee Vinaigrette

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Related Scallop Recipes:

Today, we gather to celebrate the marriage of delicate, buttery pan-seared scallops and the bold awakening of a robust coffee vinaigrette. In this divine union of land and sea, a harmonious blend of textures, aromas, and tastes awaits, promising an unforgettable soulful experience that will leave you yearning for more.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of cooking scallops at home. They'd rather rely on restaurants to provide those seared scallops with lemon.

Moist and tender sea scallops with a restaurant level beautiful crust. These are perfect for a nice, quick weeknight gourmet or even as a fancy appetizer.

This 10-minute pan seared scallops recipe with coffee vinaigrette recipe is simple and tasty as it should be.

pan-seared scallops recipe plated with herbs and coffee vinaigrette

The key to cooking great scallops is to leave them undisturbed. Rely on your technique and have a system in place for searing them. Follow the rest of this post to learn how to sear scallops perfectly and flawlessly.

How To Choose The Best Scallops

Choosing the best scallops can make a significant difference in the quality and flavor of your dish. Here are some tips to help you select the best scallops:

  1. Freshness: Look for scallops that are fresh, with a sweet, briny scent. Avoid scallops that have a strong fishy or ammonia-like odor, as it may indicate poor quality or spoilage.
  2. Appearance: Choose scallops that have a plump and moist appearance. They should be translucent or slightly opaque, with a creamy or off-white color. Avoid scallops that appear dull, discolored, or dry.
  3. Texture: The texture of scallops is important. They should feel firm and slightly springy to the touch. Avoid scallops that are overly soft or mushy, as they may be of lower quality.
  4. Size: Consider the size of the scallops based on your recipe and personal preference. Larger sea scallops are ideal for searing or grilling, while smaller bay scallops work well in stews or pasta dishes.

Pan Seared Scallops Ingredients 

Scallops should never be complicated

  • Sea Scallops
  • Clarified Butter (Ghee)
  • Canola Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

How To Sear Scallops (step by step)

Follow the steps below along with the expert cooking tips to get that browned crusty exterior and soft translucent center every time. The flavor and texture are both generated from the technique. The key to the searing process is avoiding the temptation to move the scallops in the pan. Don't disturb their groove and just let the non-stick pan do its job. Trust the process as my old coach would say.

Step 1: Prep the scallops

Remove the small side muscle from the scallops and wash with cold water

Step 2: Dry the scallops thoroughly

Place the scallops on a baking sheet and dry both sides with a dry towel or paper towel. Let reach room temperature

Step 3: Season the scallops

Season just before cooking with no more than salt and pepper

Step 4: Prepare the skillet

Heat pan on high heat until lightly smoking. Add the oil and clarified butter. Swirl the oil around in the pan to ensure the entire surface of the pan is covered

Step 5: Sear the scallops

Sear undisturbed on each side 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side. You don't want to cook too long or else you get overcooked scallops. Baste the scallops in the oil/butter combo while you cook. By basting I mean to tilt the hot pan to spoon the butter onto and constantly place on top of the scallops. Scallops should have a ¼ inch golden crust on each side

What To Serve With Perfectly Cooked Scallops

When it comes to serving scallops, there are a variety of delectable options that beautifully complement their delicate and flavorful nature. Here are some suggestions for side dishes to serve with scallops:

  1. Risotto: Creamy and flavorful, a classic risotto makes an excellent accompaniment to scallops. Whether it's a traditional Parmesan risotto or a creative twist with ingredients like asparagus or wild mushrooms, the creamy texture of the risotto pairs wonderfully with the tender scallops.
  2. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or carrots provide a delightful contrast to the sweetness of scallops. The caramelization adds depth of flavor, and the roasted vegetables offer a satisfying and nutritious addition to the plate.
  3. Citrus Salad: A light and refreshing citrus salad, composed of mixed greens, segments of oranges or grapefruits, and a zesty vinaigrette, provides a bright and tangy complement to the richness of scallops. The combination of flavors creates a balanced and refreshing bite.
  4. Grains: Serve scallops alongside grains like quinoa, couscous, or farro. These grains provide a nutty and chewy texture that pairs well with the tender scallops. Toss the grains with herbs, lemon zest, or roasted vegetables for added depth of flavor.
  5. Pureed Cauliflower: A creamy and velvety puree of cauliflower can serve as a wonderful base for scallops. Its subtle flavor allows the scallops to shine, while the smooth texture provides a luxurious element to the dish.
  6. Pasta: Choose a light pasta dish, such as angel hair pasta or linguine, tossed with a delicate sauce like lemon butter or white wine garlic. The pasta acts as a canvas, allowing the scallops to be the star of the plate while providing a satisfying and complementary component.
  7. Sautéed Spinach: Quick and easy to prepare, sautéed spinach adds a vibrant burst of color and a mild bitterness that complements the sweet flavor of scallops. Add a touch of garlic and lemon juice to elevate the flavors further.
  8. Fresh Herbs: Garnish your scallops with a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or dill. The vibrant flavors and fragrant aromas of the herbs add a lovely finishing touch to the dish.

I top these with a simple coffee vinaigrette (recipe at the end of the post). Note they taste great without a sauce, but the vinaigrette definitely dresses this dish up. Pair with simple vegetables like:

Quick Sauteed Spinach

Charred Asparagus

Citrus Israeli Couscous

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

Mustard Greens Salad

pan-seared scallops recipe plated with herbs and coffee vinaigrette

Expert Tips on How to Cook Scallops Perfectly

  • Buy quality scallops to get quality results. Size also matters here so go with large sea scallops
  • Dry your scallops thoroughly before cooking. Moisture is the enemy to that nice brown crust and also is what causes the scallops to stick.
  • Keep your hands to yourself! Resist the urge to check on the scallops by moving them around in the pan and picking them up
  • Don't crowd the pan with too many scallops. An overcrowded pan leads to reduced temperatures and more moisture which again you want to absolutely avoid. You're better off cooking smaller amounts in batches
  • Look for scallops that have a fleshy, translucent white or pale tan color. Avoid pale, milky white scallops that have likely been sitting in liquids
  • If cooking with butter, use clarified vs. regular as it has a higher smoke point and works better for browning. Regular butter will burn at the high heat and lead to black spots on the surface of the scallops. Butter burning is never a good thing.
  • Season generously, but wait until you are ready to cook (adding salt will draw out moisture). 

Notes on the dressing

To top the scallops you can use any myriad of sauces such as a simple lime butter sauce. I chose to make a "black" aka coffee vinaigrette using some black Urfa chili flakes along with ground coffee.

I had the good fortune of coming across these at my local spice shop Savory Spice Shop courtesy of a recommendation from the great staff there. Urfa chili flakes are not a common ingredient but their worth it to get (Savory Spice Shop takes online orders) for this and other recipes. If not available, another good substitute is ground coffee.

Sea Scallops vs. Bay Scallops

Sea scallops and bay scallops are two different varieties of scallops, each with its own unique characteristics. Here's a comparison between the two:

  1. Size: One noticeable difference between sea scallops and bay scallops is their size. Sea scallops are larger, typically measuring around 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. In contrast, bay scallops are smaller, usually about ½ to ¾ inches in diameter.
  2. Flavor and Texture: Sea scallops have a slightly sweet and delicate flavor with a meaty texture. They are known for their firmness and tend to hold their shape well during cooking. Bay scallops, on the other hand, have a sweeter and milder flavor with a softer, more delicate texture.
  3. Availability: Sea scallops are more widely available and can be found in many seafood markets and grocery stores. Bay scallops, on the other hand, are smaller in size and less common. They are typically harvested in specific regions, such as the bays and estuaries along the East Coast of the United States.
  4. Culinary Uses: Due to their larger size and firmer texture, sea scallops are often preferred for pan-searing, grilling, or baking. They can withstand higher heat and develop a nice sear while maintaining their juiciness. Bay scallops, with their smaller size and delicate texture, are often used in dishes like seafood stews, pastas, or salads, where their tenderness shines through.
  5. Price: Sea scallops are generally more expensive compared to bay scallops due to their larger size and availability.

When choosing between sea scallops and bay scallops, consider the recipe and the desired outcome. Sea scallops work well when you want a more substantial and visually appealing presentation, while bay scallops lend themselves to dishes where their delicate flavor and smaller size are advantageous.

Cooking Scallops Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of scallops should I buy?

If choosing the right scallops were only as easy as cooking! Scallops come in different sizes and have different names - bay, sea, diver, and jumbo. You want the larger scallops labeled as sea, jumbo, king, great, diver, Alaskan, etc. The larger the surface area makes it easier to get the brown crust and tender center.

Can I Use Frozen Scallops?

Yes, using frozen scallops is acceptable. You'll just need to take some pre-caution when de-frosting. Defrosting properly is key to retaining their fresh texture and taste. I prefer to place the scallops on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover, and refrigerate. Then follow procedures to dry the scallops before cooking.

How do I ensure my scallops get a good sear?

To achieve a good sear, make sure your scallops are dry before cooking. Pat them dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Use a hot skillet with oil or butter and avoid overcrowding the pan, allowing space between the scallops. This helps to develop a golden crust.

How do I know when scallops are cooked properly?

Scallops cook quickly and should be cooked just until they are opaque and firm to the touch. Overcooking can lead to rubbery texture. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on their size, and remove them from the heat as soon as they are cooked through.

What type of pan should I use for pan-searing scallops?

I prefer a well-seasoned cast iron skillet which I think works best for pan-searing scallops. These pans distribute heat evenly and help prevent the scallops from sticking.

Should I remove the side muscle from the scallops before cooking?

Yes, it is recommended to remove the tough side muscle from the scallops before cooking. This muscle can be tough and chewy if not removed.

For other easy seafood recipes you might like, try these:

Coconut Shrimp

Peel and Eat Shrimp

Smoked Trout

For other coffee based recipes try these:

Coffee Rubbed Hanger Steak 

Coffee Rubbed Lamb Chops

Special Equipment Needed To Sear Scallops

My cast iron pan is the secret weapon to getting that perfect exterior crust you see.

Make This Scallops Recipe

The succulent scallops, kissed by the searing heat, and the boldness of the coffee vinaigrette have blessed our palates with a symphony of taste, reminding us of the endless possibilities that await in the realm of soulful cooking. May this culinary experience inspire you to embrace bold flavors and create your own soulful masterpieces.

Yes, using frozen scallops is acceptable. You'll just need to take some pre-caution when de-frosting. Defrosting properly is key to retaining their fresh texture and taste. I prefer to place the scallops on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover, and refrigerate. Then follow procedures to dry the scallops before cooking.

If you make this 10-minute scallops recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

pan-seared scallops on plate topped with herbs and coffee vinaigrette

10 Minute Pan Seared Scallops with Coffee Vinaigrette

Simple and quick 10 minute pan-seared scallops recipe elevated with unique coffee vinaigrette. The coffee adds a modern twist to tried and true recipe.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Marwin Brown


  • 8 large sea scallops
  • 1 teaspoons clarified butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Remove the small side muscle from the scallops and wash with cold water.
  • Place scallops on baking sheet and dry both sides thoroughly with a dry towel and let reach room temperature/
  • Season scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil and butter in nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.
  • Sear the scallops for 1 ½ minutes on each side. The scallops should have a ¼-inch golden crust on each side.
  • Serve immediately with black chile vinaigrette (recipe below)



Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 470mg | Potassium: 246mg | Sugar: 0g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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pan-seared scallops on plate topped with herbs and coffee vinaigrette

Coffee Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Author: Marwin Brown


  • 1 teaspoon coffee very finely ground
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Combine dry ingredients and vinegar in a non-reactive mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well incorporated. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Recipe Rating


Friday 27th of November 2020

I made this as part of my family's Thanksgiving meal and everyone LOVED it! I've never tried a coffee vinaigrette, but it paired so beautifully with the scallops. Honestly, the hardest part was finding some good seafood! If anybody else on here is landlocked/in the Midwest, we ordered online (from these guys: and had a wonderful experience.

Marwin Brown

Friday 27th of November 2020

Scallops for Thanksgiving, I love it! Glad you enjoyed the dish


Sunday 26th of August 2018

These scallops look perfectly done! Pinned this for my next dinner.

Mila Clarke Buckley

Friday 24th of August 2018

I have really learned to love scallops! This is so delicious! I love the bold flavors you used!


Saturday 25th of August 2018

Thank U!


Friday 24th of August 2018

Aww I love the idea of letting kids choose from the adult menu,brilliant!


Thursday 23rd of August 2018

Wow! These scallops look amazing! I love the beautiful sear and that vinaigrette---yum!


Friday 24th of August 2018