How to Cook Scallops on the Grill


Ah… Scallops! In my opinion, these are a pleasant, sweet, and tasty seafood that people can enjoy in the Summer without holding back. You know what’s even better? You don’t have to get stuck with ONE RECIPE when considering these. Instead, you can cook them in a bunch of different ways.

For example, I’ve poached my scallops and I’ve also seared them on my stovetop. I’ve heard people eating them raw as well (not recommended though). However, nothing beats grilling them. 

That’s what I’ll be talking about in this little article of mine. This piece will tell you how to grill scallops perfectly for your main dish. Or, you can have them skewer grilled. Planning to eat grilled Scallops with Rubi Red grapefruit and Chili? You can do that as well!

Give it a read and you’ll be grilling scallops in no time!

The Types of Grills You’ll Find

Before you grill me with questions (pun intended), yes… I AM talking about different types of grills. While the actual process doesn’t change, some steps will differ based on the type of grill you’re using and the purpose of grilling scallops. Let’s go over the types now, shall we?

Charcoal Grills

If you’re craving some outdoor grilling, charcoal grills are one of the better options. While mostly different, people can find a good number small differences with these grills.

However, the basic mechanics of any charcoal-style grill is the same. You’ll find the air chamber towards the bottom of the grill. The more you let the air in, the hotter your grill will get. In short, us foodies can control the temperature with it.

Charcoal Grills are specifically needed when you have to deal with tougher cuts of meat.

Charcoal Kettle Grills

Before you mistake it for a charcoal grill, let me explain. This little thing is just a variation of the Charcoal Grill. The main difference here is the rounded bottom. In addition, you’ll have grill gates and removable lids.

When using one myself, I fed the charcoal towards the bottom of the grill. The grill grate keeps charcoal somewhat elevated so that ash can fall through the crack.

You’ll be surprised seeing how portable this little thing can be.

What’s a Kamado Grill?

This grill type is old, its not too old when we consider the timeline. It rose to fame about 10 years back. The design is crazy - ti’s egg-shaped. Yes, they’re a bit elongated. However, these ceramic grills weigh around 100 to 500 pounds. 

Yes, these are heavy. While heavy, they don’t differ by much when it comes to the overall mechanism of grilling scallops (or any other thing for that matter). People have to feed charcoal through the bottom. 

As expected, the airflow and temperature control are still done through the bottom part as well. However, thanks to the design of the grill... even the smallest change can result in significant differences when it comes to preparing steaks or grilling scallops.

I don’t mind using a heat deflector with this grill. It acts as a barrier between the food and charcoal. Hence, the entire thing works like an oven. If cooked well enough, the lump charcoal made from hardwood can take the flavor to a whole new level.

The only drawback I noticed is the fact that you need to pre-heat this thing for 45 minutes before going ahead with the cookout itself. Not gonna lie to you, it can suck.

Working with the Pellet Grills

If you’re looking to cook ribs, some briskets, roasts (large ones), etc., a pellet grill is just what you’re looking for. If this thing sounds familiar to you, I don’t blame you. These babies have been around for 30 years. Yet, they came into the limelight around 5 years ago.

With these things, you load up pea-sized wooden pallets to the burn pot and set the temperature range. Once we’re done, the electric temperature adjustment system will work hard to keep the heat limited to a specific range. No further adjustments are needed, trust me!

One downside with this grill is the fact that you won’t be able to sear the meat all that well. Also, browning of the steaks will take some work as well.

Gas / Propane Grills

These things are popular. I mean, really popular. Almost 3 out of 4 Americans have a gas grill at their houses. That’s why... it’s important to know how to grill scallops on a gas grill. Also, gas and propane grills are similar in principles. 

Both the products produce around 40000 BTUs of heat. They heat up very fast when searing, browning, or during any other type of cooking. 

I’ve seen grills have between 2 to 5 burners. Not to mention, you’ll get a heap of accessories to make cooking even easier for you. 

If you need a scallop dish quickly and can’t dick around, gas grills are your best bet.

Which Type of Grill to Use and Where?

Now that we’re done with all the types of grills out there, it’s time to move on. Unsurprisingly, not everyone cooks scallops the same way. Also, they don’t confine themselves to a certain kind of cooking style either. That’s why you need to learn which type of grill you should use and when. That’s what I’ll be focusing on here.

  • If you don’t have an enclosed patio or deck, get the idea of a pellet grill out of your head. You need to have an electric outlet nearby to power the grill
  • Now, I know people who have a lot of space and the proper structure to be able to use a heavier grill. If that’s you, the Kamado Grill is the ideal choice.
  • If you’re someone who likes to grill things on-the-go, a slow grill isn’t what you’re looking for. Trust me on this.
  • If you’re grilling for your family and have a bunch of sons / daughters / brothers / sisters, consider using the gas grill for additional burners and accessories. They’ll make the job easier.
  • For the purists out there, you know... those who want a bit of smoky flavor to go with their dishes, grilling the scallops on gas won’t be a good choice. However, they’re quicker than most machines at the job.

How to Cook Scallops on the Grill?

More importantly, “Can you grill scallops on the grill?” Yes, you can! Now that we know all about the grills and the types that suit our cooking style, it’s finally time to move on. Let’s discuss the ‘How’ of the process.

In this part of the article, I’ll be talking about which scallops to choose, prepping the grills, how long to cook scallops on the grill, the temperature you should aim for, and whether you can grill these things in foil or not. Among other things, of course.

Shopping for The Main Ingredient

Most of us mistake the smaller scallops for good ones. No sir, that is incorrect. These things heat up quickly. Hence, they’ll get burnt if you’re not careful. Especially when they’re small in size. Bigger scallops are more forgiving. Go for them instead.

Bigger scallops are sweeter as well. 10 to 20 scallops make up a pound in weight. Also, I’d go for dry scallops when shopping. These are ‘Natural’ and have nothing added to them. Wet scallops absorb water and will pack less flavor when it counts the most.

Oh, and always choose the fresh ones. So many of us end up using frozen scallops. Yes, I can understand the fact that they are cheaper. However, they don’t cook well. Not only that, but the flavor profile is missing in some cases.

Prepping the Items for Grilling

Word to the wise, please be careful. Scallops are delicate. You’ll need to peel off the meat from the sides to keep them in shape. Do it gently. If you’re doing it right, they should come off like string cheese.

Normally, I pat these things dry before putting them on the grill. This is just to keep them fresh. The next thing I do is to thread them onto skewers for the best results.

A bit of salt and pepper will take care of the seasoning part. While I’m at it, I rub some olive  oil on them for good measure as well.

Prepping the Grills Themselves

While we’re taking care of the scallops ourselves, don’t you think that the grills deserve some care of their own? I mean, we’re about to fire them up and put them to work! That’s why we need to make sure that these babies are properly prepped as well.

The process is simple! First, I pre-heat my grill. This is necessary as we need medium to high heat zones (or burners if you’re grilling scallops on gas grills).

It’s important to oil the gates properly. This way, scallops won’t stick to the grill once I start to grill them. For that, soak a small towel in oil and rub the gates.

I use grapeseed or canola oil for the job. However, its up to you. If you’re not comfortable doing it with your hands, use tongs. That’s it!

Cooking Scallops on the Grill – The Basic Process

Contrary to what we think, cooking scallops on the grill is easy. All we have to do is to put four scallops on each skewer before the job. Make sure to dip the skewers in oil to prevent burning. Then, cook each side for about two to three minutes.

Very often, I do a raincheck on whether scallops are sticking to the grills or not. If they are, I leave them for another minute or so. Once they’re ready, there’ll be visible grill marks.

It’s time to get them away from the heat and do some garnishing. Please make sure to wear heatproof gloves while you’re at it.

Cooking Scallops on the Grill in Foil

This method involves the basic method (pretty much) with some steps added in. For example, you’d need to work with an aluminum foil (no shit, sherlock). For that, you’d need to cut an aluminum sheet in the middle and form a pouch.

The next step involves a bunch of ingredients depending on the recipe (here’s a popular one for you) you’re going for. Make sure to divide the items and pour them into two aluminum pouches. Ideally, keep the second pouch for scallops.

Once you’re done, make sure to wrap the two pieces of aluminum tightly. 

Finally, put the aluminum wraps on the grill. Make sure to grill the scallops for ten minutes. I can understand people putting them on for 2 or 3 minutes when learning how to grill scallops on gas grills. Yet, thanks to the aluminum foil, it’ll take a little longer this time.

At the very last step, take out all the pouches from the grill. Now carefully let the steam out first. Then, separate the scallops and other ingredients from the aluminum foil. Depending on the recipe, put the ingredients in a shallow soup bowl or any other type of bowl.

My Tips on Grilling Scallops Perfectly

Now that we know how to do the job, let me tell you a few tips and tricks that’ll enhance the taste of your scallop dishes. Ready? Here we go!

  • Cook your scallops when they are firm. Also, make sure the center part is a bit see through. This way, you’ll be able to bring out the best in terms of taste.
  • I’d recommend using a grill mat if you have little to no experience handling different types of grills.
  • The ideal grilled scallop temperature is about 240 degrees Fahrenheit. You can go ~10 to 15 degrees higher if you want to. I’d not advise on using a kamado grill unless you’re a pro (it’s sensitive to temperature adjustments)
  • I’d not suggest using frozen scallops. However, if you do, use a defrost tray first just to bring the temperature up to speed faster.

Wrapping Up

Scallops can be a great addition to any recipe provided you know how to cook scallops on the grill. However, keep in mind the different cooking times while prepping them.

A few of the recipes I tried are simply grilled scallops, adding grapefruit and chili glaze, and skewering them. As bizarre as it sounds, people also use these things on burgers as well. 

No matter what you do, make sure to choose your grill and scallops with care. As long as you know where, what, and how to cook, you’ll be perfect!


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