Perfectly tender and tasty sous vide scallops enhanced with brown butter, capers, lemon, and fresh parsley along with their own juice. Serve as a main course or an appetizer. 


I LOVE scallops. I am talking about those ginormous-looking sea scallops! Since you are reading this article, my guess is that you do too. Scallops are actually super easy and quick to cook if you know how to cook them properly. If you are nodding your head, you probably agree that scallops are also super easy to overcook. Besides, sea scallops are so expensive. Oh boy! 

Cooking Scallops Sous Vide? Why?

I get it—some of us don’t want to take the risk of overcooking scallops at home because we don’t want to waste a lot of money. So occasionally, we order them at a fancy restaurant. They arrive looking marvelous, so artfully served…all three of them. (I don’t know about you, but three is never enough for me.) 

May I suggest an alternative? 

With the sous vide method, you can make restaurant-quality sea scallops in your own kitchen at a fraction of the price, every single time. No more overcooked scallops, no more fear. Oh, and let’s be generous with the servings, shall we? 

This is precisely why I want to show you how to sous vide scallops at home. Read on. 

(If you are new to sous vide, check out my complete guide to sous vide cooking and download the PDF version for free.)


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Sous Vide Scallops Cooking Time and Temperature (Fresh and Frozen)

Like most sous vide foods, depending on your desired texture for scallops, the cooking temperature varies. And if you cook from frozen instead of fresh, it requires a longer cooking time. (Yes, you can cook frozen scallops sous vide!) Here’s a quick chart for your reference. 

  • Fresh Scallop Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Frozen Scallop Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooking TemperatureTexture
113°F (45°C)Smooth and Silky
123°F (50.5°C)Tender and Smooth
131°F (55°C)Firm and Structured
149°F (65°C)Chewy and Springy

My favorite temp for sous vide scallops is 123°F. 

Sous vide scallops with brown butter and caper sauce

Four Essential Ingredients

To cook scallops sous vide, you’ll need only four essential ingredients. 

  • Sea scallops: When shopping for sea scallops, give them a good look and smell. Fresh scallops should appear moist but not milky. Stay away from the ones with a feathery white surface (a sign of freezer burn) or dried and darkened edges (a sign of age). Fresh scallops should smell somewhat briny and seaweedy but not offensive, sharp, or at all like iodine. 
  • Salt: I don’t think one specific type of salt is better than another for this recipe. I used sea salt. You can use kosher salt, pink salt, or even table salt. 
  • Black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper is always better, but pre-ground black pepper will not ruin your scallops. 
  • Olive oil: I recommend a good extra-virgin olive oil for all your dedicated shellfish dishes, especially for sous vide cooking. 

Once your scallops are perfectly cooked sous vide, you can make all sorts of delicious sauces to go with them after a quick sear, or you can throw them in curries, seafood stew, or even put them on a skewer. I often make a sauce with residual oil or butter from searing. In my Complete Sous Vide Cookbook, you will find a scallop recipe with lemon butter sauce, which was inspired by my pan-seared scallops. In today’s recipe, we’ll change things up with a brown butter and caper sauce. It’s a good one! 

Before we make the sauce, let’s get those beautiful scallops in the water for a swim. 

Sous Vide Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper Sauce

How to Cook Scallops Sous Vide Step by Step

Step 1: Set up your immersion circulator and preheat the water to your desired temperature according to the chart above. 

preheat sous vide bath to 123F using Anova precision cooker

Step 2: Rinse and pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

season scallops with salt and pepper

Step 3: In a sous vide bag, arrange the scallops in a single layer with some space in between. Add olive oil. (You can also use a ziptop-style plastic bag or a vacuum bag if you have a vacuum sealer.)

arrange scallops in a single layer in a sous vide bag

Step 4: Vacuum-seal the bag. (I used a reusable sous vide bag with a hand pump. If you prefer a Ziplock bag, you can apply the water displacement method to seal it but leaving space in between scallops might be tricky.)

vacuum seal the sous vide bag containing scallops

Step 5: Place the sealed bag into the preheated water bath and make sure all scallops are submerged under the water. Weigh the bag down if necessary and set the timer for 30 minutes.

submerge scallops under the water

Step 6: Once the timer goes off, transfer the sous vide scallops onto a cutting board and pat them dry with paper towels. (I usually reserve the cooking juice to make a sauce.)

pat sous vide scallops dry with paper towels

Step 7: Heat up a heavy-duty or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter, swirl, and wait until it foams. Place scallops in the skillet to sear for 20-30 seconds on each side. Work in batches and don’t overcrowd the skillet. Remember, your scallops are perfectly cooked already. All you need to do here is make a nice brown crust on the surface. A hot pan and a very quick sear will do. 

sear sous vide scallops in a hot pan

Follow the steps above to make the perfect scallops without any concerns. I promise that they will come out exactly the way you like them. You may enjoy them as is at this point. They are delicious. As mentioned earlier, if you feel intrigued, let’s go a step further to whip up a quick sauce for the scallops. 

Brown Butter and Caper Sauce

The finishing step of sous vide scallops will leave you with some brown butter in your skillet. No need to wash up yet. We are going to sauté some shallot and capers in the scallop-infused butter, followed by fresh lemon juice, the reserved cooking juice from your sous vide bag, and a decent amount of chopped fresh parsley. I also added a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a kick. Hmmm… Can you imagine the complexity of the flavors now? Try it, seriously. The sauce takes less than 5 minutes to make. 

One quick note: The heat and citric acid from the lemon juice are going to make parsley wilt and lose its bright green color very quickly. If you’d like to keep it green, remove the sauce from heat before adding the parsley. 

brown butter and caper sauce for sous vide scallops

What Side Dish Goes Well with Scallops

Last but not least, here are some side dish inspiration for a full balanced scallop meal if you serve them as a main. 

Sous vide scallops with brown butter and caper sauce
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Sous Vide Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper Sauce

sous vide scallops with brown butter and caper sauce

Perfectly tender and tasty sous vide scallops enhanced with brown butter, capers, lemon, and fresh parsley along with their own juice. Serve as a main course or an appetizer.

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Sous Vide
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale
  • 18 fresh sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  •  Sea salt
  •  Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 3 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed of excess salt
  •  Juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 217
  • Sugar: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 458.1mg
  • Fat: 17.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.5g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Protein: 11.3g
  • Cholesterol: 41.9mg

Free Bundle


All YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 

SOUS VIDE COOKING 

Get instant access to my Complete Guide to Sous Vide Cooking (backed by science) for beginners and enthusiasts, plus two sous vide time & temperature sheets for quick and easy reference. All free.

Sous Vide Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper SauceSous Vide Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper Sauce

8 thoughts on “Sous Vide Scallops with Brown Butter and Caper Sauce”

  1. The brown butter sauce is out of this world tasty. Works perfectly with the scallops.

  2. Needed a fancy recipe as my parents are coming over for dinner for the first time since lockdown. Many months! So wanted to give them a treat. This recipe looks ace and I know they will love it. Thanks so much.

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