Sous Vide Scallops with lemon and butter sauce are juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Cooking in the sous vide cooker first, and then quickly searing at the end for the perfect tender-crisp scallops every time!
Much cheaper than going to a restaurant but even better than chef-made scallops! These scallops are evenly cooked to the precise temperature edge to edge, in a deliciously silky lemon butter sauce.
Cooking scallops sometimes can be intimidating as they are very easy to overcook. Learning how to sous vide scallops is actually quite easy with this step-by-step recipe. Served as a starter or main, these scallops have a major show-stopping result with little effort. Sous vide is your secret weapon!
Why sous vide scallops?
Overcooking scallops is one of the easiest things to do in the world. Due to their high price tag, you don’t want to spend so much money and end up with rubbery and chewy scallops. But with sous vide method, you will get the perfect result by eliminating short windows of time for the perfect doneness. You can use the same technique to cook shrimp too!
Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. It’s known for being a precise and consistent way to cook your food evenly. Just vacuum seal your food in a bag, and cook them in a water bath to a very precise temperature. No more overcooked scallops!
How to make sous vide scallops
- Season the scallops with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Place the seasoned scallops in a large resealable bag and vacuum seal the bag using “water displacement” technique.
- Cook in a sous vide machine for 30 minutes.
- Let it chill.
- Pan sear until caramelized on the surface.
- Make lemon butter sauce.
- Toss cooked scallops with the sauce.
Single layer is important
It’s very important to keep the scallops in a single layer in the bag. DO NOT just pile in your scallops, as they won’t cook properly that way. If your bag is not big enough to hold all in one layer, you can use multiple bags.
Arrange the scallops in a zip-lock bag and remove the air using the water displacement technique. You can also use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
What temperature to cook at and for how long?
Scallops are a lean protein source and are best to eat at medium-rare to medium temperatures. Target 123°F (51°C) to 130°F (54°C). At this temperature, the flesh is milky white and firm. Overcooked or well-done scallops will be dry and rubbery. Personally I like cooking it at 130°F because of its perfect texture, but if you like the melt-in-you-mouth super tender (and slightly soft) texture, go for 123°F.
Leave the vacuum sealed bag in the water bath for 30 minutes. Make sure to submerge the scallops completely in the water.
Ice bath for better searing
If you cook your scallops immediately after they come out of the warm water bath, any rise in temperature will overcook them. Through chilling the meat with an ice bath (about 10-15 minutes), you can cool the outside and a thin gradient of the interior, allowing a proper sear without endangering the sous vide doneness.
In addition, the ice bath also helps to lock in all the flavors and improve the taste. Alternatively, you can chill your scallops in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Don’t forget to pat dry before searing
In order to get a proper searing, a dry surface on the scallops is the key! All you have to do is to pat dry your chilled scallops with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible. This improves the contact between the skillet and the scallops, creating less steam during cooking.
How to prepare scallops
Try to find scallops that appear slightly pink or beige. If the roe (the bright orange and crescent-shaped part) is still attached, remove it as it’s a little bitter.
Can I sous vide frozen scallops?
Yes. Sous vide method works well with frozen scallops too, and it’s super convenient.
To sous vide frozen scallops, follow the same instructions as cooking the fresh scallops, and add extra 15 minutes of cooking time in the sous vide cooker.
What to serve with sous vide scallops?
Serve cooked scallops over rice, pasta or bread. Many green vegetables also go well with this scallop recipe. My favorites include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and green beans. Mango fruit salad is a great choice too.
More Sous Vide Recipes
Sous Vide Scallops with Lemon Butter
- 1 pound scallops 10-12 large sea scallops (454 grams)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon for each)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 3 cloves garlic minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley optional for serving
- Fill a medium-sized container or pot with water, attach the sous vide precision cooker and set the temperature to 123ºF/51ºC. (Or 130°F/54ºC for a firmer texture).
- Remove the tough muscle from the side of the scallops if attached.
- Lightly season the scallops with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Place scallops in one single layer in a large resealable bag or vacuum seal bag. (Make sure to arrange in one layer. If your bag is not large enough, use multiple bags).
- Seal the bag using the “water displacement” technique or a vacuum sealer.
- Once the temperature has reached the target temperature, place the sealed bag in the water bath and set the timer for 30 minutes. Make sure to submerge the scallops completely in the water.
- When the time goes off, transfer the bag to an ice bath. Leave for 15 minutes (or you can chill them in the refrigerator for about 1 hour).
- When the scallops are chilled, remove from the bag and pat very dry with paper towels (wet scallops won’t sear properly).
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
- When butter stops foaming, add scallops and fry for 30 seconds on one side (until a golden crust forms underneath), then flip and fry again for another 30 seconds until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and garlic in the same skillet. Cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add in lemon juice and scrapping up any browned bits. Simmer the sauce for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add cooked scallop back into the pan and toss with the sauce.
- Garnish with parsley if desired.
- If you use frozen scallops, follow the same instructions as cooking the fresh scallops, and add extra 15 minutes of cooking time in the sous vide cooker.
- Set the temperature to 130°F/54ºC for a firmer texture that’s still very tender.