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Garlic Butter Scallop Pasta Recipe

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You are going to LOVE this scallop pasta recipe! It’s perfect for date night (Valentine’s Day?!) or a special dinner at home. Think chewy, al dente linguine, tender and sweet bay scallops, a simple garlic butter sauce, and a crunchy bread crumb and pine nut topping (I use the same topping in my shrimp linguine, crispy Parmesan cod and lemon ricotta pasta because it’s THAT good). Not only is this scallop scampi delicious, but it’s also easy to make! The dish is made with simple ingredients and comes together in just 20 minutes.

Just like my lemon risotto, penne pomodoro, chicken broccoli ziti, lobster risotto, and bucatini cacio e pepe – it’s simple enough for a weeknight dinner, but special enough for a celebration at home. I always pair it with my favorite NA sparkling rose but a dry, white wine would also be delicious.

Dish of scallop pasta with lemon and parsley garnish

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

What Is Scallop Scampi?

Scallop scampi is similar to shrimp scampi, a shrimp pasta dish made with a simple sauce made of garlic and butter or olive oil (and sometimes white wine). Traditionally, scampi was made with langoustines, but Italian cooks here in the US started using shrimp. I’ve taken a riff on the traditional shrimp version for this garlic scallop pasta. We’re essentially swapping the shrimp for scallops, and I’ve added a toasted bread crumb topping.

Bay Scallop Linguine on Twin Cities Live

What You’ll Love About Scallop Scampi

  • It’s a delicious meal!
  • Restaurant quality meal at home
  • Tender scallops, chewy pasta, and crunchy topping
  • Made with minimal ingredients
  • Ready in less than 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Panko – Panko bread crumbs are a must as they are flaky and get nice and crispy. I do not recommend subbing Italian breadcrumbs as they are too small, but you could use homemade bread crumbs that are larger in size if you prefer.
  • Pine nuts – Pine nuts work really well here, but if you want to sub something else in, try cashews, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or sunflower seeds.
  • Garlic – Use fresh cloves garlic for best flavor.
  • Butter – Use high-quality butter for the best flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese – Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for best results.
  • Lemon zest – Using the zest gives the bay scallop pasta bright citrus flavor.
  • Linguine – Use high-quality pasta or your favorite pasta brand. See below for other pasta options.
  • Pasta water – You’ll want to reserve some of the pasta water as we’ll use the starchy water to help create a “sauce” for the quick pan sauce.
  • Bay scallops – Bay scallops are smaller scallops, more on this below!
  • Olive oil – Use a high-quality drizzling oil to finish the pasta.
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Fresh parsley – Optional garnish, but highly recommended.
  • Lemon wedges – Optional garnish, but recommended for some bright flavor.
Ingredients to make scallop pasta recipe

How to Make Scallop Linguine

This is an overview on how to make scallop pasta, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Make bread crumb topping. Pulse together garlic and pine nuts in a small food processor or chopper. Add panko and pulse until just combined. TIP: Don’t over-process here, we want bread crumbs, not a dough!
Breadcrumb topping for scallop scampi in food processor
Toast bread crumb topping. Heat butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast bread crumb mixture until golden brown. Set aside and stir in lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.
Cook pasta. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, until al dente. RESERVE 1 cup of pasta water before you drain pasta.
Cook scallops. Dry scallops by gently patting with a paper towel. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet (stainless steel) over medium-high heat. When hot, add scallops to pan in a single layer and sprinkle in minced garlic. Season with salt and cook until cooked through.
Bay scallops in a skillet for scallops and linguine
Finish pasta. Add cooked linguine to cooked scallops and toss together, adding reserved pasta water if it is dry.
Skillet with scallops and linguine
Plate pasta. Divide pasta and scallops into shallow bowls or plates and top with a drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Add flaky sea salt, freshly cracked, and red pepper flakes pepper to taste.
Dish of bay scallop pasta with lemon and parsley garnish

FAQs

Can you use a different type of pasta?

For seafood dishes with a butter or olive oil “sauce” – longer shaped pasta is recommended. Linguine is excellent, but you could also use angel hair pasta, spaghetti, bucatini, or fettuccine. And of course, if you prefer to use a different kind of pasta, use your favorite!

Should I use bay scallops or sea scallops?

The biggest difference between bay scallops and sea scallops is their size. Sea scallops are larger in size and most likely (sustainably) farmed. If you order a scallop dish at a restaurant, it’s probably with large sea scallops. Bay scallops are found off the East coast in bays (hence the name) and harbors. They are much smaller and sweeter and more tender and what you’ll find in dishes like stews or casseroles where a large scallop would be tricky to eat.

I recommend using bay scallops for this easy scallop pasta as it’s easier to eat the scallops and pasta and you’ll also save some money!

How to cook scallops so they are not rubbery?

The key to this easy scallop recipe is not to overcook the scallops. The best way to do this is to remove from heat once they are cooked through and cook just until they reach an internal temperature of 115 degrees F – the temp will continue to rise after cooking. Using an instant-read meat thermometer will ensure they are cooked to the proper temperature.

Storage Instructions

This scallops and linguine recipe is best served fresh, but store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

How to reheat

Reheat the bay scallops pasta in a hot skillet until warmed through. Drizzle some olive oil or heavy cream if it’s dry.

Can you freeze scallop scampi pasta?

This pasta won’t freeze very well, but I doubt you’ll have any issues finishing it! You can always cut the recipe in half if you need to.

Two bowls of bay scallop pasta

What to Serve with Scallop Pasta

All this scallop pasta recipe needs is a simple veggie side:

How to Feed Scallop Pasta to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

You know I’m a fan of feeding one meal to the entire family and this scallop linguine recipe is no exception! (But I also get it if you want to save this one for parents only!) I know my kids adore pasta, but scallops aren’t a food we have frequently, so I offered a tiny portion of a scallop. Serve the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter.

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More Pasta Recipes

If you like bay scallop recipes with pasta, then you might also like some of these other easy pasta recipes:

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Two bowls of bay scallop pasta

Scallop Pasta Recipe

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Description

This scallop pasta tastes like a restaurant meal but is easy to make at home. Tender scallops, chewy linguine, and a breadcrumb topping. YUM!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Breadcrumb mixture: 

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (high quality)
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

For the scallop linguine: 

  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 1 cup starchy pasta water (reserved from cooking pasta)
  • 1 lb. bay scallops (the small ones)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • for finishing: high-quality olive oil, flaky sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. In a small food processor, pulse together garlic and pine nuts until chopped into small pieces. Add panko bread crumbs and pulse until just combined. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast breadcrumb mixture for 2-4 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside, and when cool, stir in lemon zest and parmesan cheese.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions to al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  3. Meanwhile, pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Heat olive oil and butter in a large stainless steel skillet and when hot, add scallops in a single layer. Season with sea salt and cook for about 2-4 minutes, until just cooked through. Add garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add cooked linguine and about 1/4-1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to scallop skillet and toss together, adding more pasta water if needed.
  5. Serve pasta in shallow bowls and drizzle with high-quality olive oil. Top with breadcrumb mixture and season with flaky sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley to taste. 

Notes

  • Bay scallops are smaller than sea scallops and work really well in this scallop pasta recipe. If you prefer, you could also use sea scallops or read more about the difference above in the post. 

Keywords: scallop scampi, scallop pasta, scallop linguine recipe

Food styling and photography by Loren Runion.

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Comments

  1. Susan Still

    Good recipe. I used walnuts verse pine nuts, didn’t have fresh lemon zest ( which would have been better), and added a 1/4 cup of Pinot Grigio to the scallops. Will try again with fresh lemon peel & maybe a little juice. Thanks.

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