This exquisite recipe for Pan Seared Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce is a gourmet recipe you can easily make at home! It does not disappoint!

The simple sugar, freshly squeezed orange juice and wine glaze accentuated the sweetness of these fresh, succulent scallops. This is a restaurant-worthy seared scallops recipe you can serve to company!

Pan Seared Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce on a white plate with asparagus.

Why You Must Make

  • This recipe comes from cookbook writer extraordinaire, Dorie Greenspan.
  • The sweet caramel orange sauce accentuates the sweet succulent sea scallops.
  • You’ll dazzle any dinner guests with this easy approachable recipe. Cooking scallops is a breeze with this recipe.
  • Cooking scallops is a breeze with this easy, approachable recipe!

Recipe Tips

  • Use the larger sea scallops, not bay scallops.
  • Get to know your fishmonger to get advice on what seafood is freshest.
  • Look for scallops that are white, creamy, or pale pink. They shouldn’t smell fishy and they should not feel sticky.
  • Make sure you don’t overcook your scallops or the texture will be rubbery. Use a meat thermometer if you’re unsure. Check the frequently asked questions below for the internal temperature you should aim for.
  • Watch your caramel sauce carefully as you cook it. Cook the sugar until it’s a caramelly color, and be very careful when adding the liquids as the molten hot mixture will sputter and spurt!
Pan seared scallops on a decorative white plate with orange slices and asparagus.

How to Sear Sea Scallops

Bill has tried scallops a few times in the past and he’s still not a fan. So I got the whole batch to myself. Sometimes there are perks to having a picky hubby. Can you imagine picking a peanut butter sandwich over this succulent seafood? Well, me neither! There are a few simple steps to this recipe, so it’s even nice on a weeknight.

  1. First, place the scallops between paper towels. The drier they are, the better they’ll sear.
  2. Then make the easy caramel sauce by melting the sugar in a pan, and once it browns, add the wine and orange juice. It will bubble and splash so be careful. Keep stirring over high heat until it’s reduced by half. Keep it over low heat while you cook the scallops.
  3. Season the top of each scallop with salt and white pepper (using black is fine in a pinch).
  4. Sear the scallops in a hot pan (use high heat) with a bit of olive oil. The centers should change from translucent to opaque, but be careful not to overcook or they may get rubbery.
  5. Once the scallops are cooked, remove them to a serving plate, turn up the heat under the sauce to make sure it’s warm, then remove from the heat and swirl in the butter.
  6. Serve the scallops warm and drizzled with sauce. Pass extra sauce at the table.
  7. Dorie recommends eating these on the day they’re cooked since reheating can overcook the scallops. I have rewarmed them gently and not been disappointed with the leftovers. 2 days in the fridge should be the limit.
Scallops, asparagus and orange wedge on a white ceramic plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Sea Scallops and Bay Scallops?

Bay Scallops are seasonal, peaking in the fall. They are found off the East coast. The meat is light beige to pink, and they are tender and a touch sweeter than sea scallops. But the flavors are similar. They are best poached or used in a quick saute.
Sea Scallops are sweet, less delicate in texture, and chewier. They come from the cold, deep seawater and are available all year long. They’re nice grilled, sauteed, or poached.

What Should You Look for When Purchasing Scallops?

Look for “dry scallops” for the best quality. Wet scallops have been soaked in a polyphosphate solution that plumps them up, but the flavor is diluted and the taste is inferior.

How Do You Know When Scallops are Done Cooking?

Sea scallops should take only about 2 minutes per side, or 3-4 minutes total, to cook in a hot pan. You can always cut into one of your scallops after cooking each side on high for about 2 minutes. As mentioned above, the inside should not look raw, but opaque.
To take out the guesswork, use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be 115-120º. This allows for carry-over cooking time to bring the scallops up to the goal temperature of 130º. 
To get that extra boost in their internal temperature, remove the scallops from the pan onto a serving dish, and cover them with foil for 5-10 minutes. Recheck the temperature if desired and serve immediately.

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Overhead view of pan seared scallops on a white plate with asparagus and fresh orange slices

Scallops Recipe with Caramel Orange Sauce

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Yield 4 servings

A quick, elegant way to prepare scallops.


  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 large orange - generous ⅓ cup
  • 1 pound of sea scallops
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, for taste
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into 3 pieces


  1. Sprinkle the sugar into a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and warm the sugar until it starts to melt.
  2. As soon as you see it turn brown, begin to gently swirl the pan. When the sugar has turned a deep caramel color, carefully add the white wine and orange juice. It may bubble and spatter, so watch out.
  3. Turn the heat up to high, stir with a wooden spoon, and boil the sauce until it is reduced by half (about ⅓ cup). Remove the pan from heat and set it aside.
  4. Pat the scallops dry between two paper towels. Slice or pull off the little muscle attached to the sides of the scallops. Have a warm serving platter and a small strainer at the ready.
  5. Put the saucepan with the caramel sauce over very low heat so that it can warm while you cook the scallops.
  6. Heat a heavy skillet on high. When the pan is hot, pour in 1½ teaspoons olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom.
  7. Add the scallops, and season them with salt and pepper.
  8. Cook for about 2 minutes, per side or until the scallops are firm on the outside and opaque in the center
  9. Transfer the scallops to the serving platter.
  10. Finish the sauce by removing the pan from the heat and adding the butter pieces. Swirl the pan until the butter is melted.
  11. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then pour through the strainer into a pitcher. Drizzle some of the sauce over the scallops and pass the rest at the table.


Recipe from Around My French  Table by Dorie Greenspan.

Make sure to look for the larger sea scallops not bay scallops.

If you'd like to use a thermometer to monitor doneness, pull the scallops out of the pan when they reach about 115-120°. There will be some carryover cooking that will bring them up another 10°.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 963mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 24g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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