Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce

Scallops with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce
Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce

This beautiful rendition of a cream sauce on homemade angel hair pasta is absolutely delicious. But adding some perfectly seared scallops to this dish will make your heart of pound! This Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce tastes like a restaurant quality dish, but it is easy to make in the comfort of your own home!

The Jaw-Dropping Cream Sauce

This Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce is much easier to make than the interesting ingredients may suggest. The vanilla bean offers just enough flavor to enhance the sauce without being prominent. And the combination of citrus, vanilla, and scallops works perfectly together.

Can I use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean?

Vanilla beans can be quite expensive, so if you don’t have one or if you don’t want to spend the money on these, no worries at all. Instead use a few drops of pure vanilla extract in the sauce. Imitation vanilla is not recommended.

Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce
Seared Scallops over Angel Hair pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce

Can I use a different citrus?

There is good reason why we chose to use grapefruit in this recipe! The subtle sweetness enhances the natural sweetness of scallops. All this while not making the actual dish “sweet!”

We recommend pink grapefruit for this dish, specifically. If you choose to sub a different citrus fruit here, you will change the overall flavor profile. Although it will change the dish, it likely won’t ruin it, so feel free to experiment to create a similar citrus cream sauce.

Homemade Pasta vs Store Bought

If you have been around here a while, you know that we recommend making your own pasta at home over store bought for almost every pasta recipe we share here. Homemade pasta is just better. Period. Check out our go-to Multipurpose Pasta Dough recipe for more info on how to make pasta at home for this dish.

Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce
It’s important to get that perfect sear on the scallops for the best flavor!

That being said, you can surely use store bought dry pasta for this Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce and you won’t be disappointed.

We recommend using angel hair or thin spaghetti in this dish.

Perfectly Seared Scallops

For more info on buying scallops and achieving that perfect sear, check out our post on Perfectly Seared Scallops. We always recommend buying fresh scallops from a reliable source over frozen. Or if you can’t get fresh scallops, check to make sure the frozen scallops you are buying haven’t been treated with phosphates (these are called “wet” scallops), but instead have been frozen immediately after catching and are free of additives (called “dry” scallops). “Dry” scallops will taste better overall.


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce. If you give it a try, leave us a comment below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce
Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce

Looking for more pasta dishes like this? Check these out:

Looking for more Italian recipe inspo?

If you want even more Italian-inspired recipes, check out our cookbook, Mangiamo, filled with 60 original recipes!

Mangiamo the cookbook
Mangiamo, the cookbook

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Seared Scallop Pasta with Vanilla Grapefruit Cream Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Course: Pasta, Seafood


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • For the Sauce
  • 2 cups 2 heavy cream

  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped

  • 2 tsp 2 olive oil

  • 1 1 Shallot, small, finely diced

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 dry white wine

  • 1 1 ½ cup vegetable or seafood/fish stock

  • 1 Tbsp 1 grapefruit zest

  • 2 Tbsp 2 grapefruit juice

  • 2 tsp 2 lemon juice

  • pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 white wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp 2 kosher salt

  • ½ tsp white pepper

  • For the Pasta
  • 1 1 recipe Multipurpose Pasta Dough, cut into Angel Hair or Spaghetti (or 1 lb store bought angel hair or spaghetti)

  • For the Scallops
  • 16 Large 16 Scallops

  • 1 tsp 1 kosher salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • 2 tsp 2 butter

  • 2 Tbsp 2 finely chopped fresh parsley

  • For Garnish
  • Garnish with finely chopped parsley


  • Prepare the sauce
  • Before starting, measure the cream and add the split vanilla bean pod and the pulp to the cream and leave at room temperature (see notes for modifications).
  • In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallots and cook until opaque, but before they brown (approximately 3 minutes). Immediately add the wine and reduce until there is under a tablespoon of liquid left (approximately 5-10 minutes).
  • Next, add the vegetable (or seafood/fish) stock, grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, vinegar, and salt. Reduce to 1/3 of original volume over medium heat – about 15 minutes.
  • Once reduced, add the cream mixture with the vanilla. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture to a bowl and return to the saucepan. Reduce until the mixture becomes thickened and a sauce consistency (5-10 minutes) while you prepare your pasta and scallops. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt if needed before serving.
  • Cook the Pasta
  • While the sauce is simmering and before you begin your scallops, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, and you are about ready to sear your scallops. Add the spaghetti and cook for 2-3 minutes (for fresh homemade pasta) or until tender but is al dente (for store-bought pasta, follow the directions on the packaging to al dente). Once cooked, remove to a colander.
  • Sear the Scallops
  • Once your sauce is at the desired consistency and your pasta water is boiling. Dry your scallops off completely with paper towels and ensure the abductor muscle (the small piece of meat on the side of the scallop) is removed. Sometimes the scallops will not have an abductor muscle on them as it fell off or was removed when processing, but if there is one present, it will be tough when cooked, so peel them off. Sprinkle both sides of each scallop with a very small amount of kosher salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (if you must do the scallops in 2 batches that works too). Once the skillet is very hot – not quite smoking – add the small amount of butter (or oil) and quickly make sure it coats the surface where the scallop will be placed. Place your scallops in the pan and cook for 60 seconds undisturbed. Cover for another 30 seconds, then remove the cover, flip the scallops and cook on the other side for 90 seconds uncovered. This is for thick, large scallops (about 1”). If your scallops are not at least ¾ of an inch thick, do not cover at all during the process.


  • If you don’t have a vanilla bean pod, use a few drops of vanilla extract.

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