This Creamy Scallop Pasta is an elegant dinner idea that is quick to cook and easy to make.
The creamy sauce is rich with garlic and a touch of wine or brandy, while the scallops are seared to perfection - golden on the outside and meltingly tender within.
Serve this on date night, or serve it when you have friends for dinner. This is one recipe that is sure to impress. Add a crispy green salad, some bread, and a bottle of wine, and enjoy your evening!
This scallop and spaghetti recipe is easy to make, yet it tastes as if it came from a posh restaurant. The Seared scallops are bathed in a rich garlic cream sauce and stirred through pasta for a decadent, indulgent, and impressive meal.
If cooking scallops at home worries you, then have no fear; we will show you how to cook them so you can make the most fantastic scallop pasta!
The perfect seared scallop should have a crisp golden crust with a meltingly soft center. They take 3-4 minutes to cook; anything more than that and they will be overcooked. Overcooked scallops are tough and rubbery!
I learned to cook scallops from Gordon Ramsey, so now even 20 years on, I do as I am told; I mean, would you argue with Gordon Ramsey?
You can read more about cooking scallops in this post, "How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops."
My top tips for cooking scallops:
- Before you cook scallops, make sure they are very dry - pat them dry with several pieces of kitchen paper.
- Make sure the pan is hot before adding the oil or the seafood.
- Only sprinkle the scallops with salt just before adding them to the frying pan.
- Place the scallops in an orderly pattern in the pan. You reduce the risk of overcooking your scallops since you can turn them as you add them. I use an imaginary clock face and work in a clockwise direction.
- Don't touch the scallops after adding them to the pan; let them cook for at least 90 seconds to form a golden crust.
Recipe Hints and Tips
Scallops: I like large sea scallops for this recipe, but you can substitute with bay scallops if you prefer (they will need less cooking)
Spaghetti: Any long pasta will work here, so feel free to use linguine or fettuccine. (if using something quick cooking like angel hair pasta, you will need to start the sauce before you the pasta onto cook.
Butter: You can use salted or unsalted
Garlic: Finely minced or grated. Try and use fresh garlic. It has so much more flavor. Reduce the quantity of garlic if you like a mild flavor
White wine: You can substitute with dry white vermouth or brandy if you don't have wine. If you don't consume alcohol, then substitute it for low sodium broth (vegetable/chicken/fish)
Cream: Use heavy cream for a thick, rich sauce. (thickened cream/double cream for those not in the US) Half and half will not thicken up, so you might need to thicken the sauce with cornstarch if you substitute.
Dill: Fresh dill works so well with the garlic and lemon in this dish, but you can use ½ teaspoon of dried instead. Or substitute in thyme or parsley.
Lemon juice: This cuts through the rich cream and adds a zing to the pasta. If you don't have any lemons, you can leave it out.
What to serve with Creamy Garlic Scallop Pasta
Serve this scallop spaghetti with a green side salad and a chunk of good bread. We tend to use pane di casa or ciabatta.
What wine to drink with Creamy Scallop Pasta
The creamy garlic sauce works perfectly with a buttery chardonnay or cut through the richness with a pinot grigio. If you love red wine, then a lightly chilled pinot noir or gamey could work well. Rose champagne would be a decadent treat and always works with seafood!
For other scallop pasta recipes, try:
- Shrimp and Scallop Pasta
- Seared Scallop Chorizo Pasta
- Pan Seared Scallop Pasta with Creamy Bacon Sauce
For other delicious pasta recipes, try:
- Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Pasta
- Creamy Tomato Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Easy Garlic Bacon Pasta
- Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta
- See all 80+ Pasta Recipes
If you make this Creamy Scallop Pasta, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Creamy Scallop Pasta Recipe
- 1 ¼ lb scallops - see note 1
- 12 oz dried spaghetti - see note 2
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- salt to taste
- ¼ cup dry white wine - see note 3
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream - see note 4
- 1 teaspoon chopped dill - see note 5
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
- black pepper to taste
- Ensure the scallops are dry by patting them with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Then leave them to sit on a sheet of paper towel.
1¼lb/560g raw scallops
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the salt and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the packet instructions.
1lb/450g dried pasta
1 tablespoon salt)
- Once cooked, reserve 1 ½ cups of the pasta cooking liquid and drain the pasta.
- As soon as the pasta is in the water, start the seafood.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet/frying pan over medium-high heat.
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Season the scallops with salt. Then carefully and quickly add the scallops to the frying pan in a single layer.
1¼lb/560g raw scallops
- Cook the scallops for 90 seconds on one side, then flip the scallops and cook for 60 seconds. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
- Add the butter to the same pan, scraping up any bits left from the scallops.
2 tablespoons butter
- Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4 minced garlic cloves
- Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the cream. Simmer for 2 minutes.
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups heavy cream
- Stir in the dill and lemon juice. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Add in ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water if needed.
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Add the scallops and any juice to the pasta and stir gently for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
- Serve garnished with parsley.
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
- I like large sea scallops for this recipe, but you can substitute with bay scallops if you prefer (they will need less cooking)
- Any long pasta will work here, so feel free to use linguine or fettuccine. (if using something quick cooking like angel hair pasta, you will need to start the sauce before you the pasta onto cook.
- You can substitute with dry white vermouth or brandy if you don't have wine. Use 2 tablespoons of brandy. If you don't consume alcohol, then substitute it for ¼ cup of low sodium broth (vegetable/chicken/fish)
- Use heavy cream for a thick, rich sauce. (thickened cream/double cream for those not in the US) Half and half will not thicken up, so you might need to thicken the sauce with cornstarch if you substitute.
- Fresh dill works so well with the garlic and lemon in this dish, but you can use ½ teaspoon of dried instead. Or substitute in thyme or parsley.