Scallops in Grand Marnier Sauce

serves 2 for dinner, 4 as appetizer

prep time is less than 5min, total cooking time is 10-12min

We were down in Falmouth over the weekend and stopped to grab lunch at The Lobster Trap in Bourne on the way home. We always try to sit at the bar to chat with the bartenders and, when we’re lucky, make new friends with other folks sitting at the bar as well. The bartender mentioned how Cape Cod scallops are now in season. I asked her what the difference was between them and regular scallops and she said that they are much smaller, the size of nickels and really sweet. She then said that she loves to cook them in Grand Marnier until they “pop” (still not sure what she meant by this). As soon as she mentioned Grand Marnier I had a flash back to my favorite appetizer at Strega Waterfront – their Scallops in Grand Marnier sauce is/was to die for. It wasn’t cheap, but you got 3 large scallops and for me it was a meal. I just checked their current menu and it’s no longer being offered.

We decided to buy some Cape Cod scallops from The Lobster Trap, and I used the drive home to google scallops and Grand Marnier sauce recipes. The hardest part for me was knowing when the scallops were done; I’ve never cooked scallops before. So if you’ve sautéd scallops before, this is a piece of cake for you!

They came out amazing. The first thing my husband said to me in the morning was, “boy were those good”.

FYI: this was news to me, so I thought I’d share. Scallops are often labeled two ways, “dry” and “wet“. Whenever you can, buy the dry scallops. “Wet” scallops have been treated with STP (sodium tripolyphosphate). This gives them a longer shelf life, but affects the flavor and texture in not a positive way.


  • 3-to-6 medium scallops per person ← I used 1lb of Cape Cod scallops
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice ←roughly the juice from 2 oranges
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 orange – zest the orange and set the zest aside; peel the orange and slice thinly
  • 2 T butter, cubed in 8 pieces and kept very cold
  • [optional] micro-greens for color
  • 1 french baguette for soaking up sauce


  • Prepare the scallops by removing the tough adductor muscle from the side of the larger adductor muscle, then pat them very dry with a paper towel. I skipped this part with my small Cape Cod scallops. Here’s an article that tells you how to do this step if you haven’t done it before
  • Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and pepper
  • Warm 2 TBL of olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat
  • When oil is shimmering, add the scallops to pan ← I test by flicking a few drops of water into the pan, if the oil reacts and sizzles, then the oil is hot enough
  • Sear the scallops without touching them until you see some browning around the edges, about 2-3 minutes
  • Turn them over carefully and sear 2-3 minutes more, or until scallops are cooked nearly through ← given that the Cape Cod scallops are so small, you can’t sear them so precisely. so after 2-3 minutes I just tossed them around, and then tossed them one or two more times until they were done
  • Remove scallops to a plate and cover to keep warm while you prepare the sauce ← I put them into the dish that I used to serve them. The dish needs a ½” edge minimum to hold the sauce & scallops
  • In the same pan that you seared the scallops in, add the orange juice and boil until the juice becomes syrupy and reduces to about 3 TBL
  • Remove pan from heat, add the Grand Marnier, and place pan back on medium-high heat
  • Add the orange slices to the pan (I didn’t peal my orange when I cooked this last night, but plan to from now on)
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to about 4 TBL
  • Remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter cubes 2 or 3 at a time
  • Continue stirring until the butter melts and all butter has been added
  • Pour the sauce over the scallops, sprinkle with the orange zest and then garnish with the micro-greens if you are using them.
  • Serve while hot with french bread. You’ll want to soak up every drop!

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