Smoked Scallops are a perfectly balanced delicate bite, that combines the delicious sweetness of scallops, with a warm caress of smoke and a bright bite of citrus. If you haven't tried smoked scallops yet, make sure to smoke them this coming weekend.
Fresh Scallops, like clams, mussels, shrimp, and several other shellfish, can easily overcook if not watched attentively. Combine that with a smoker, where you are trying to cook things for longer, and you could have some trouble.
The key here is to smoke the scallops at as low a temperature as you can manage, while carefully monitoring the doneness to avoid a rubbery overcooked bite. Unlike smoking pork, you aren't waiting for anything to break down here, you are just looking to get that delicate smoke flavor.
Ingredients for Smoked Scallops Recipe
Sea Scallops - Sea Scallops are larger than bay scallops. Bay scallops are slightly sweeter and used in soups, stews, and several other dishes. We want to use sea scallops here because we want that nice big size, that will be able to withstand smoking for an hour. It is important that if you are using frozen scallops, you first allow them to defrost in the fridge until they are completely thawed.
Lemons - I love lemon and seafood. Whether you are making ceviche or just finishing the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, the bright bold citrus flavor adds that bit of acid that perfectly balances a dish. Here we will use wedges of lemon to space out the scallops on our skewers. As the lemon heats up, it adds citrus steam to the air in the smoker and really permeates the scallops with flavor.
Salt and Black Pepper - Well seasoned food is key to having that perfect bite. I also like to make sure to use freshly ground black pepper for that earthy spicy bite. Lemon and black pepper go so well together in seafood.
Instructions for Smoking Scallops
Step One: Remove the scallops from their packaging and rinse them under cold running water. Place them on a paper towel and pat them dry. On a cutting board, slice a lemon into quarter-inch slices. Then cut the slices into quarters. Next, take the dry scallops and lemon quarter slices and put them onto skewers. Alternating scallop and lemon slice. It is ok if the lemon slices touch the scallops. I prefer to use flat skewers to keep the food from spinning around the skewer when I am handling them.
Step Two: Season the skewered scallops with salt and pepper. They really don't need anything more than that. Next, you will want to check on your smoker to make sure it is preheated to no more than 200°F. It is easy if you have a Traeger or other pellet grill. Just set the temp to 200°F or lower. If you are working with a charcoal smoker, you will need to damper those vents to limit the airflow and keep that temperature low. We want the scallops to be able to spend as much time on the smoker capturing that delicate smoke flavor, without overcooking.
Step Three: Once the smoker is ready, place the scallop skewers directly onto the grill grates. If you are worried about them sticking to the grates, you can wipe the grates quickly with some olive oil on a paper towel. After the scallops are in the smoker, close the lid. You will cook the scallops on the smoker for about an hour.
Step Four: Once the scallops are done, remove them from the smoker and serve. They are best if served right away.
How do you know when scallops are done?
Scallops are done cooking when they turn from their translucent color to white. You could also monitor the internal temperature or check the internal temp with an instant-read thermometer. The scallops are done when the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees F. I wouldn't cook them much past 135°F. It is less about the cook time and more about monitoring the doneness of the scallops.
What wood is best for Smoked Scallops?
It is very popular to use some of the fruit woods like apple or cherry to smoke scallops. I used my Traeger pellet grill and created a simple blend of 2 parts cherry wood pellets and 1 part hickory pellets. You could do the same with wood chips. The beauty of smokers like the Traeger Grills, especially for beginners, is the ability to maintain a very low and steady cooking temp for smoking something this delicate.
Some other options for smoked scallops:
A bacon wrapped scallop is a beautiful thing. Instead of the lemon quarters, wrap the scallop in bacon and place it on the skewer. Smoke for only about 30 minutes then finish them by searing them in a hot cast iron pan to crisp the bacon. Then squeeze with lemon and serve.
Kick up the spice level. Add a dusting of cayenne pepper when seasoning the scallops. This will add a bold pop of heat to the dish. This is a fun option if you are making scallop fish tacos.
What sides go best with scallops?
Potatoes of all styles will go well. A simple smoked baked potato is delicious or choose to go a little fancier with Smoked Scalloped Potatoes. Smoked Mac and Cheese will also be a great side to serve alongside Smoked Scallops. A bourbon margarita is a perfect drink to accompany this delicious dish. For dessert, be sure to smoke some bananas or a creamy smoked cheesecake for a sweet ending to the day.
How Should I serve Smoked Scallops?
If you are looking for a lighter meal, Scallops are a great protein for almost any salad. You can also serve them as an appetizer and melt some garlic herb butter down in a small saucepan to make an easy butter sauce. Serve them with a toothpick to easily dip them in. You could also include the scallops in a seafood salad. That delicious smoke flavor will bring your seafood salad to the next level.
You can also serve scallops with rice or pasta, or even as a pizza topping! Smoked Scallops also make very good fish tacos. Serve them on a tortilla with spicy peach salsa, shredded lettuce, and a squeeze of lime.
If you enjoyed this easy scallop recipe, here are some of our easy smoker recipes for seafood:
If you are having a special dinner, start with some Smoked Oysters, then have a beautiful surf and turf dinner with Smoked Lobster Tails and Smoked Ribeye.
Smoked Shrimp and Smoked Tilapia are easy to make as well.
If you are looking for an impressive dish for a large crowd, try our Smoked Salmon.
- 15 scallops
- ¼ lemon sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat smoker to 200.
- Remove the scallops from their packaging and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Cut a few slices of lemon. Quarter the slices into small triangular pieces.
- Put the scallops and lemon slices onto skewers, alternating lemon, and scallop. Then season the scallops with salt and pepper.
- Place the scallop skewers directly onto the grill grate in the smoker and close the lid. Smoked for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 125°F. The key here is that the scallop flesh will turn white. If you over-cook them, they will be chewy and rubbery.
- Once the scallops are done, remove them from the smoker and serve.
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