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

Pan Seared Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce

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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

Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce

I adore this recipe for Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce, one of my favorite recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table (affiliate link).  Usually, our favorite Dorie recipes contain chocolate, though this one doesn’t…although the caramel was key.  Trust me, these scallops are out of this world! You’ll dazzle any company with this entree. Cooking scallops is a breeze with this easy, approachable recipe!

The sweet orange sauce complemented the scallops perfectly without distracting from the seafood.  Simply made with white sugar, wine, and orange juice, then finished with butter, it was a snap to whip up. The scallops were dried and seared before being served with the heavenly caramel nectar. From pan to plate in about 20 minutes—not bad, eh?

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 either! There are a few simple steps to this recipe, so it’s even nice on a weeknight.

  • First, place the scallops between paper towels. The drier they are, the better they’ll sear.
  • 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.
  • Season the top of each scallop with salt and white pepper (using black is fine in a pinch).
  • 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.
  • Once the scallops are cooked, turn up the heat under the sauce to make sure it’s warm, then remove from the heat and swirl in the butter.
  • Serve the scallops warm and drizzled with sauce. Pass extra sauce at the table.
  • 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.

How do you know When Scallops are Done?

  • 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 with foil for 5-10 minutes. Recheck the temperature if desired and serve immediately.
Scallops, asparagus and orange wedge on a white ceramic plate

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

Both varieties are bivalves that are sweet and tender. The main difference is their size, with sea scallops up to three times the size as bay scallops. You can purchase scallops both “wet” and “dry.” PRO-Tip: 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.

  • Bay Scallops are seasonal, peaking in the fall. They are found off the East coast. The meat is light beige to pink, and 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.

More Seafood Recipes You Can Make At Home:

This recipe was first shared in March 2011. Photos and text were updated in 2020.

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

Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce

A quick, elegant way to prepare scallops.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Yield 2 servings

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Sprinkle the sugar into a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and warm the sugar until it starts to melt. 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. Turn the heat up to high, stir with a wooden spoon, and boil the sauce until it is reduced by half (about 1/3 cup). Remove the pan from heat and set it aside.

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.

Put the saucepan with the caramel sauce over very low heat so that it can warm while you cook the scallops.

Heat a heavy skillet on high. When the pan is hot, pour in 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the scallops, season them with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, per side or until the scallops are firm on the outside and opaque in the center Transfer the scallops to the serving platter.

Finish the sauce by removing the pan from the heat and adding the butter pieces. Swirl the pan until the butter is melted. 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.

Notes

Recipe from Around My French  Table

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 1284mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 32g

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