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Grilled Buffalo Scallop Salad

by Brad Prose

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Give date night at home a makeover with a refined twist. Classic flavors hit the grill with this Grilled Buffalo Scallop Salad and spicy blue cheese sauce on display over smoky, charred vegetables. The only question is, are you opening a bottle of red or white?

Grilled buffalo scallop salad with spicy blue cheese sauce

Light the candles and ask Alexa to play some Marvin Gaye. This is the type of meal meant to be cooked together and enjoyed together. So fire up the grill and let’s get it on!

Why You’ll Love This Dish

The classic duo of saucy buffalo wings and celery drenched in chunky blue cheese is always an instant crowd pleaser. However, there are times when having that distinctive Frank’s RedHot sauce dripping down your arms or splattered on your shirt isn’t opportune. This grilled buffalo scallop salad packs the punch in an elegant way.

  • Familiar Flavors – The Buffalo BBQ Sauce combines the smoky sweetness of barbecue sauce with the tangy, spicy pop of the pub grub classic buffalo sauce. Throw in the funky, creamy, tart bite of blue cheese and refreshing celery and you have the makings of Smoked Buffalo BBQ Wings, but in a form that it’s okay to use a fork for. 
  • Minimal Prep – With just a few tips, sea scallops require very little prep. The other components of this dish, the grilled celery, grilled romaine celery, and Spicy Blue Cheese Sauce also come together with minimal effort. Being fancy has never been so easy!
  • Versatile Cooking – Because the major components of this dish are grilled over direct heat, you can use any type of grill. A charcoal grill, gas grill, and pellet grill with a sear plate are all suited to this recipe. You can even make this on a cast iron grill pan if you don’t have an outdoor grill.
  • Quick Cooking – All of the components of this grilled buffalo scallop salad are cooked hot and fast. This is an elegant dish that is attainable any night of the week.
Grilled buffalo scallop salad, topped with spicy blue cheese sauce.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Who says you can’t have the bold and bodacious flavors of buffalo and eat a salad too? Aside from the scallops all of the ingredients needed for this grilled scallop salad are easily accessible.

  • Sea Scallops – Often referred to as sea marshmallows, these are tender, sweet, and succulent nuggets of the sea. Where bacon is the gateway meat for vegetarians, the natural sweetness of sea scallops will have even the most seafood adverse going back for seconds. For this recipe, you will want either jumbo or large scallops for both easy grilling and texture. 
  • Romaine Lettuce – This hearty lettuce remains crisp while easily taking on the smoky char of the grill. Its flavor stands out on its own while also being the perfect canvas for both bold and delicate flavors. 
  • Celery Stalks – Nothing packs a crunch like crisp, refreshing celery. This bestie to blue cheese brings texture to every bite of the salad.
  • Celery Salt – Sea scallops don’t need a lot of seasoning. In addition to being a traditional seasoning for seafood and a common ingredient in more seafood seasonings, it also gives a nod to the familiar flavors of the combination of the BEST Buffalo Wings, celery, and blue cheese.
  • Black Pepper – A little sprinkle onto the scallops will bring an earthy heat that compliments their natural sweetness.
  • Olive Oil – You’ve picked the perfect scallops and are looking forward to impressing that special somebody. Don’t ruin it by letting your scallops stick to your grill. A light drizzle will not only help you achieve that sensational crust, but it will also make them easy to flip.
  • Buffalo BBQ SauceAcceptable to eat with a spoon, ideal for slathering over grilled scallops. The perfect mashup of smoky, sweet, tangy, spicy, and a little mysterious, this irresistible sauce is lusciously silky, begging to be basted on everything.
Spicy blue cheese sauce for the grilled salad.

Spicy Blue Cheese Sauce Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise – All great blue cheese sauces need a decadent creamy base. Mayonnaise is the ideal canvas to build your flavors around while giving this sauce body. If you can find it, Duke’s is the best. 
  • Sour Cream – Adding tang to the creamy base balances the richness of the mayonnaise. 
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles – Pick a blue cheese you love. Maytag, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are on the more mild side to the middle of the ground while a cheese like Roquefort is more pungent. 
  • Buttermilk – Who can resist that sexy drizzle of blue cheese over anything and everything? This thins out the dressing while also giving it personality and tang. 
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed is the only way. This adds brightness and cuts through the richness while waking up all of the flavors. 
  • Smoked Pickled Jalapenos – Smoky, snappy, a little tangy, with a kick that will make this your go-to blue cheese recipe. They give a kiss of spice without overpowering the other flavors. 
  • Sea Salt – Easily dissolves into the base while amplifying all of the flavors. 
  • Black Pepper – Funky blue cheese and spicy, earthy black pepper belong together. Use a little or a lot. 
How to buy fresh scallops

How to Buy Scallops

Sea scallops are the star of this bold and vibrant salad. Because they are the key component and also more of a luxury ingredient, you want to have confidence in picking quality ingredients. Here are some tips that will have you walking out of the seafood market like a rockstar.

  • For this recipe, you will want to purchase sea scallops. Sea scallops not only are much larger than bay scallops, but they also have a more firm texture making them ideal for both direct grilling and searing.
  • When purchasing scallops, always make sure that you are purchasing dry-packed scallops over wet-packed scallops. Not only does this mean there are no additional chemicals and preservatives added that affect both the taste and texture, but it also ensures you can achieve that beautiful crust. Because of the additional chemicals and liquid used in wet-packed scallops, they tend to steam instead of searing.
  • Not only are there great options for frozen scallops available, but most scallops you buy at the market are also previously frozen. When buying frozen scallops look for scallops that are marked as either flash frozen or Individually Quick Frozen, IQF.
  • If they are available, day boat scallops are the best. This means they are harvested at sea, shucked on deck at their peak freshness, and flash frozen.
  • Don’t shy away from the pink or orange-hued scallops. This simply means they’re female scallops. They’re a little sweeter and slightly more tender. 
  • Just like shrimp, scallops are sold according to size. U10 scallops are also referred to as jumbo scallops. This means you’ll get about 10 scallops per pound.
  • If possible, always try and pick scallops that are similar in size. This will help ensure they cook at an even rate.

More Seafood Recipes to Try

Grilled romaine and grilled celery for the salad.

How to Make Grilled Buffalo Scallop Salad

  • Setting the Mood – Prep your scallops. If using frozen scallops make sure they are fully defrosted. Remove them from their packaging and use paper towels to pat them completely dry. If it’s still attached, remove the little side muscle. Place your dried scallops onto a rack and allow them to refrigerate until ready to use. 
  • Pregame – Wash your romaine heads and celery stalks. Make sure to leave the ends on the bottom of your lettuce when you slice them in half. Mix up all of the ingredients for your Spicy Blue Cheese Sauce and allow it to refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Light it Up – Preheat your grill for medium-high heat, or prepare your grill for direct grilling. Make sure your grates are clean and lightly oil them to prevent your scallops from sticking.
  • Gentle Caress – Remove your scallops from the refrigerator while your grill is heating. Drizzle them with olive oil making sure all sides are coated and then sprinkle all of the sides with a little celery salt and black pepper.
Scallops get their first baste of the buffalo BBQ sauce.
  • The Heat is On – Lightly drizzle your split romaine heads and celery stalks with oil. Place them onto the hot grates and allow them to cook for about two minutes, or until they begin to char slightly. Give them a flip and cook the other side for another two minutes. Continue the process until they are charred to your likeness and the celery stalks have some grill marks. Remove them and allow them to cool.
  • All that Sizzles – It’s go time! Place your scallops directly over the charcoal or flame. Let the first side grill for about 3 minutes, or until you begin to see the side turn slightly opaque. Gently flip them. Baste the scallops with the Buffalo BBQ Sauce and allow the second side to cook for 2-3 minutes before you flip them one last time and baste the other side.
  • Showtime – Pop that bottle of bubbly and prepare to dazzle your date. Chop up the romaine and celery into smaller-sized pieces and plate. Nestle the scallops atop the salad and drizzle on the Spicy Blue Cheese Sauce and additional Buffalo BBQ Sauce.
Scallops are basted and almost ready to be pulled off the grill.

Variations on This Salad

While jumbo or large scallops are ideal for this recipe for both ease of grilling and also the final texture, they might not be readily available. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Scallop Skewers – If medium-sized scallops look best, you can skewer them to make it easier to flip them while helping prevent them from falling through the grates of the grill. If using wooden skewers make sure you soak them for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning. 
  • Shrimp – No scallops? No problem! The flavors of the Buffalo BBQ Sauce also work with sweet, succulent shrimp. Depending upon the size of the shrimp, threading them onto skewers for grilling is the best option.
Do you need more buffalo bbq sauce on this grilled salad?

Tips and Tricks for Grilled Buffalo Scallops

A dry scallop is a happy scallop. If you’ve ever wondered how to achieve a restaurant quality Instagram-worthy crust it is a combination of how the scallops were initially packaged, and also how they were treated before being cooked.

  • Always look for dry-packed scallops. This means no additional chemicals were used to preserve them and they weren’t plumped with liquid.
  • Thoroughly dry your scallops off before cooking them. Pat all sides with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.
  • Never season your scallops ahead of time. Salt draws out moisture. Make sure you season them just prior to cooking.
  • Unlike other proteins, you want to cook your scallops cold, directly from the refrigerator. When scallops sit out they release liquid.
  • Don’t force the process. If you go to flip your scallops and they seem to be sticking, wait 30 seconds and try again. They will release as their surface contracts, letting you know they’re ready to flip and preventing them from tearing.
  • Save the tongs for the ceremonial double click of firing up the grill and flipping your celery and romaine. Scallops are delicate and can easily tear. Use a fish spatula or other thin spatula for flipping
  • Scallops can go from succulent nuggets of yum to a weird rubbery bite in the blink of an eye. Always aim for an internal temperature of 115-120°F.

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Grilled buffalo scallop salad with spicy blue cheese sauce

Grilled Buffalo Scallop Salad

Give date night at home a makeover with a refined twist. Classic flavors hit the grill with this Grilled Buffalo Scallop Salad with creamy blue cheese sauce on display over smoky, charred vegetables.

  • Total Time: 20
  • Yield: Serves about 4

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds sea scallops, jumbo or large size preferred
  • 2 heads romaine
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Celery salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup Buffalo BBQ Sauce

Spicy Blue Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s preferred
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Smoked Pickled Jalapenos
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, more to taste

Instructions

  1. Take the scallops out of their packaging and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place them on a wire rack in the fridge until ready to cook. Do not season them ahead of time.
  2. Wash the romaine lettuce, and slice the entire head into half, lengthwise. Do this for both of the heads.
  3. Clean the celery and trim as needed. Leave the stalks in-tact, they will be grilled whole.
  4. For the Spicy blue cheese sauce: Mix everything together, taste and adjust.
  5. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Make sure your grill grates are very clean, and lightly oil them if you can. Clean, slick grates make sure the scallops cook properly without sticking.
  6. Remove the scallops from the fridge and place them on a tray. Lightly drizzle olive oil, coating the scallops on all sides. Season with salt and pepper on all sides as well.
  7. Grill the celery and the romaine first. Lightly oil the vegetables, and place the romaine cut-side down on the grill grate next to the celery. Grill the romaine for about 2 minutes or until char starts to form, and then flip them. Grill for another 2 minutes and remove. Continue to grill the celery and flip to form grill marks. They will take about 6 minutes to grill. Remove when ready.
  8. Grill the scallops directly over the coals for about 3 minutes, and carefully flip with a thin spatula (avoid using tongs). They should easily release from the grill grates. Brush the scallops with the BBQ sauce, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Flip one last time and baste with the butter sauce, then remove the scallops from the grill. The internal temperature should be about 115-120°F, which will continue to cook as you take them off the grill. 
  9. Chop up the romaine and celery into smaller pieces for serving as a salad. Plate the salad, and top with grilled scallops, additional bbq sauce as desired, and the spicy blue cheese sauce.

Notes

  • Thoroughly dry your scallops off before cooking them. Pat all sides with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.
  • Never season your scallops ahead of time. Salt draws out moisture. Make sure you season them just prior to cooking.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: grilled scallops, buffalo scallops, grilled buffalo scallops, scallop salad, grilled scallop salad, spicy blue cheese

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