Mouth-watering Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce

Oh, how I doth crave the flavors of the south! As a chef, I’ve had the pleasure of cooking up some of the most scrumptious southern-style dishes, but none have quite captured my heart like this recipe for Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce.

Imagine, my dears, perfectly seared sea scallops coated in a sweet and spicy chili sauce made from real brewed sweet tea. It’s a culinary masterpiece that’ll have your taste buds dancing like twirling ribbons on a summer breeze.

In this recipe article, I’ll show thee step by step on how to prepare this divine seafood dish, complete with ingredient lists and helpful tips for substitutions and variations. Once thou hast tasted these Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce, I have no doubt that it shall become a staple of thy repertoire. So gather your tools and let’s get to cookin’!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce
Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce

Oh, dear friend! I cannot put into words how much you will love this recipe for Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce. Let me count the ways, for truly they are many.

Firstly, let us consider the succulent sea scallops themselves. Cooked to perfection – not rubbery or tough, oh no – seared until golden and tender, and marinated in a mixture of sweet tea and chili sauce that infuses them with a depth of flavor that will make your taste buds sing.

But it’s not just the scallops that make this dish divine. The sauce, ah, the sauce! A dreamy concoction of sweet tea and chili sauce with a touch of garlic and ginger that adds just the right amount of heat. It’s as if the spicy kick of the chili is mellowed out by the sweetness of the tea, all while creating a magical balance on your palate.

And let us not forget about the other flavorful ingredients that come together in harmony to create this masterpiece: fresh lime juice for a bright citrus note, plum sauce for a bit of tanginess, and fresh chives for an herby pop of freshness.

Plus, this recipe is versatile! You can enjoy it as a main course with some rice or vegetables on the side or served atop some romesco or lime butter. You can even slice the scallops thin and use them to top a crisp salad for a light but satisfying meal.

In conclusion, if you crave seafood cooked to perfection and adore dipping it in something zesty with a touch of sweetness then this recipe is surely meant for you. Make this Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce soon, my friend, for I assure you that it will be love at first bite.

Ingredient List

 Sweet Tea Chili Sauce: This sauce adds a sweet and spicy kick to succulent scallops.
Sweet Tea Chili Sauce: This sauce adds a sweet and spicy kick to succulent scallops.

Here are the ingredients you will need for this scrumptious Southern Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce Recipe:

For the Sweet Tea Chili Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup real brewed sweet tea
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper

For the Seared Scallops:

  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

For the Garlic Butter Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

For Marinating the Scallops:

  • Iced tea, green tea or Arizona sweet tea
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

For Serving:

  • Fresh chives, chopped onions, sour cream, and Thai sweet chili sauce

Note: You can substitute sweet tea with green tea or any other tea of your choice.

The Recipe How-To

Preparation Phase
1. Marinate The Scallops

To start with, prepare the sweet tea chili sauce following the instructions in section (2) Why You’ll Love This Recipe? and (3) Ingredient List. In a large zip-top freezer bag, add 1 pound of sea scallops with half cup of prepared sweet tea sauce until evenly coated. Seal the bag to avoid leaks and air bubbles and let it marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Prepare Garlic Butter Sauce

While waiting for the scallops to marinate, prepare the Garlic Butter Sauce in a separate bowl.


  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic


  1. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small skillet.
  2. Once melted, add one teaspoon of freshly minced garlic to the skillet.
  3. Cook until fragrant.

Cooking Phase
3. Sear The Scallops

After the marinating time has elapsed, remove them from the sweet tea marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil until hot but not smoking.

Add the scallops onto the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side, or until it turns golden brown.

4. Cooking The Chili Sweet Tea Sauce

Simultaneously, in a small pot combine:
– Half cup of plum sauce
– One-fourth cup of rice vinegar
– One-fourth cup of pre-brewed sweet tea
– Three tablespoons of sugar
– One tablespoon of dry crushed red pepper
– Two teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
– One-fourth teaspoon salt

Cook the mixture over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until it starts bubbling.

5. Combine Everything Together

Once both the scallops and the chili sweet tea sauce are done, combine them into a large mixing bowl.

Pour in 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and one-fourth cup of chopped fresh chives. Mix everything well until the scallops are well coated with the sauce.

6. Garnish

Serve with an additional drizzle of Garlic Butter Sauce over the seared scallops.

Also, add a garnish of freshly squeezed lime or lemon, or chopped green onions to give color.

Substitutions and Variations

 Fresh Scallops: Fresh scallops are a must for this recipe, ensuring a tender and flavorful taste.
Fresh Scallops: Fresh scallops are a must for this recipe, ensuring a tender and flavorful taste.

Hark! Ye who yearns for new twists to the Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce recipe, this section shall not disappoint. Speak, ingredients! What else can be used if not the ones listed in the recipe? Fear not, fair reader, for I have gathered several options that you can try.

Firstly, instead of sweet tea, green tea or even lapsang souchong can be used to make the chili sauce. Tea enthusiasts may find this idea delightful!

Next, those who seek a spicier kick to the dish may substitute plum sauce with Thai sweet chili sauce. Doth thou dare take on the heat?

Here’s a tip: instead of plain rice vinegar, try using white wine vinegar for a brighter acidity that complements the sweetness of the tea-based sauce.

For those who prefer a dairy-free option, coconut milk is an excellent substitute for sour cream as it adds a creamy texture without the tang.

Lastly, if thou wishes for more colorful and sweeter flavor notes in thy dish, add diced red bell peppers to the mix. The sweetness of this pepper balances out the savory sea scallops excellently!

With these substitutions and variations in mind, go forth and experiment with different flavors and ingredients until thou finds thy perfect rendition of this scallop dish.

Serving and Pairing

Hark! It is time to savor and taste the sweetness of this Southern-style delicacy – the Scallops with Sweet Tea Chili Sauce. To make the most of this enchanting dish, I shall recommend a few scrumptious sides that can complement its flavors.

Firstly, let us consider the perfect wine to complement these seared scallops. A fine white wine with subtle notes of acidity such as a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc ought to do. The bright flavors of the wine will enhance and contrast well with the sweet chili peppery sauce.

For those who desire something non-alcoholic to drink alongside their succulent meal, try an authentic iced tea brewed in the Southern style. Sweet and refreshing, it cools the palate while still holding its own against those bold flavors. The Arizona Sweet or Turkey Hill brand would do just fine.

Now on to side dishes: one may consider pairing these Scallop’s sweet tea chili sauce with a side of Grilled Corn on the cob – taking inspiration from the southern-style barbecue tradition- shucked fresh corn grilled until tender lathered in garlic butter sauce finished with fresh chives; The burst of juicy kernels complements the crunchiness, char, and smokiness resulting from cooking it over an open flame.

Another option can be seeking inspiration from our neighboring regions, pan-seared Okra seasoned with dry crushed red pepper or Cajun-spice mix or battered fried Green Tomatoes coated in cornstarch and sea salt until golden brown are fantastic dishes that bring variation in texture and taste.

Lastly, Romesco sauce can also add depth to this beautiful dish by blending roasted red bell peppers, garlic, almonds or bread crumbs mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper for spice. Its creamy texture and nutty flavor can serve as a perfect accompaniment bringing aroma and color to the ensemble.

In conclusion, these complemented dishes can provide a harmonious culinary experience, willing your taste buds to feel the pleasures of exquisite tastes and textures that reflect the Southern charm.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Southern Style: This recipe brings the bold and comforting flavors of the south to your dinner table.
Southern Style: This recipe brings the bold and comforting flavors of the south to your dinner table.

Hark! Thou may prepare this dish in advance for utmost convenience. Once the sweet tea chili sauce hath cooled completely, thou mayst store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. When thou art ready to indulge in its delightful flavor once more, simply reheat it on low heat and stir occasionally until it is heated thoroughly.

For the scallops, they can be marinated ahead of time by placing them in a large zip-top freezer bag with the marinade ingredients. Then, seal the bag tightly and gently toss to coat before storing it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If thou desire to cook the scallops ahead of time, then I recommend thou store them separately from the sweet tea chili sauce. In this way, the scallops will remain fresh and moist whilst being reheated. To reheat these succulent sea scallops, gently warm them in a skillet with a dash of extra virgin olive oil or butter over medium heat until heated through.

Alas! Attempt not to freeze this dish as it may affect its taste and texture. Instead, let it be eaten as soon as possible so that thou may experience its full potential of flavor and freshness.

May thy storing and reheating endeavors be prosperous!

Tips for Perfect Results

Sweet tea chili sauce is the star of this southern scallops recipe. To ensure that each ingredient plays its part, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you achieve perfect results every time.

1. Pat the scallops dry before marinating

To fully absorb the flavors from the marinade, pat your scallops dry before placing them in the bag with the sweet tea chili sauce. The less moisture on the scallops, the better they’ll absorb the flavors of the marinade.

2. Don’t overcook the scallops

Scallops cook quickly, and overcooking them will result in a tough and rubbery texture. When cooking scallops, it’s important to watch them closely and cook until they’re just opaque in color.

3. Use fresh ingredients

For exceptional results, use fresh ingredients like garlic, ginger, chives, and lime juice to make your sweet tea chili sauce. Fresh ingredients bring more flavor, vibrancy and aroma to any dish.

4. Use a high quality sweet tea

The sweet tea chili sauce is what gives this recipe its unique southern-style flavor, so make sure you use a high-quality sweet tea for optimal results. A brewed iced tea or green tea can also work well here.

5. Let the finished dish rest

Letting your cooked scallops rest for at least five minutes before serving allows for juices to redistribute inside the scallop, leaving you with perfectly tender bites every time.

By following these simple yet effective tips, you’ll be able to prepare an outstanding plate of southern scallops with sweet tea chili sauce every time!

Bottom Line

I am confident that you’ll enjoy the tantalizing flavors and aromas of this Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce recipe. It is easy to prepare, highly flavorful, and can be customized according to your preferences.

Don’t forget to experiment with different substitutions and variations to make the recipe uniquely yours. And always remember to follow my tips for perfect results when preparing this divine dish.

So, whether you are a seasoned Southern chef or just boldly stepping into the world of Southern-style cuisine, trust me when I say that this dish will instantly transport you to a cozy Southern porch as you savor every bite of these succulent sea scallops cooked in a delectable sweet tea chili sauce.

In conclusion, I believe that this Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce recipe is guaranteed to leave you with an insatiable craving for more. So what are you waiting for? Head to your kitchen and try this recipe out today!

Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce

Southern Scallops With Sweet Tea Chili Sauce Recipe

2003 Southern Living Cookoff Cookbook
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Calories 423.7 kcal


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 18 large sea scallops (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Sweet Tea Chili Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid iced tea concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • Prepare Sweet Tea Chili Sauce. Cool completely.
  • Combine 2 T. oil, juices,and pepper in a large zip-top freezer bag. Add scallops. Seal, marinate 15 minutes. Drain. Discard marinate. Pat scallops dry.
  • Heat 1 T. oil over high. Sear half of scallops, 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove to plate. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and rest of scallops.
  • Drizzle 3 T. Tea Sauce over each serving. Put 2 teaspoons sour cream on each and sprinkle with chives.
  • Sweet Tea Chili Sauce: Combine everything with a whisk. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, whisking after each minute.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 207gCalories: 423.7kcalCarbohydrates: 45.4gProtein: 15.9gFat: 20.6gSaturated Fat: 3.6gCholesterol: 33.2mgSodium: 219.2mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 33.9g
Keyword < 30 Mins
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