Creamy Coquilles St. Jacques en Gratin (French Starter Recipe)

A delicious starter, the recipe for Coquilles St Jacques en gratin (with scallops) is filled with cream and cheese. Get the recipe, with accompaniments and more.
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It is not often that you cross someone who doesn’t like Coquilles St. Jacques en gratin. Served usually as a starter in France, the recipe calls to the coquilles st. jacques (scallops in English) to be cooked in a creamy sauce, drenched in cheese, and topped with breadcrumbs.

It’s light but satisfying, as well as being easy to make. And best of all it looks impressive with minimal effort. With plenty of flavor, your friends and family will be begging for seconds!

Winter Tradition

Fresh scallops in France are a winter tradition, and the creamy coquilles st. jacques is in the same vein as other French winter recipes like au gratin potatoes which have generous helpings of cream and cheese. You can also prepare it with a béchamel sauce, if you like.

If you prefer a lighter version of scallops, try my recipe for coquilles st. jacques in pesto. You can also cook the scallops as a main dish with pasta.

In France, the fishing season for scallops starts in October, so they are peak freshness in December, right on time for Christmas. The tradition goes back to the pilgrims of Saint Jacques de Compostela (hence the name) who crisscrossed France and Spain with the shells around their neck.

Scallops are so ingrained in French winter tradition, that there is usually at least one seafood item on the Christmas meal menu, such as scallops, smoked salmon or lobster.

Optional ingredients

Beyond making the dish with pesto instead of a cream sauce, you can also add additional ingredients into the recipe to make it heartier. For example:

  • mushrooms,
  • potatoes
  • leeks
  • spinach

You can also add different types of fish to the recipe such as salmon or tuna. The creamy sauce goes with nearly everything, so don’t be afraid to add to the recipe and serve it as a main.

Frequently asked questions

What to serve with it?


In terms of meals, Coquilles St Jacques is usually served as a starter.

For the main, consider a mushroom risotto or a quiche to complement the scallops. If you are making a heartier coquilles st. jacques with potatoes, etc. you can opt for a lighter main such a salade niçoise. And for dessert, perhaps a tarte tatin?

What drinks to serve it?

two wine glasses

Coquilles st. jacques en gratin goes very well with a light white such as a Pouilly fumé from France’s Val de Loire or a Reisling from Alsace. You could also try a Chablis from Burgundy.

coquilles st Jacques au gratin

Recipe for Coquilles St Jacques en gratin

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

An easy starter, with scallops as the star.

This recipe for Coquilles St Jacques en gratin that will please both kids and grownups alike.


  • 4 Coquilles Saint Jacques (i.e. 4 scallops) drained and patted dry in open shell
  • 1 tablespoon of grated shallots
  • 1/2 cup of crème (heavy cream)
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • Box of Breadcrumbs
  • Few sprigs of fresh parsley


  1. Soften the butter and mix in the grated shallots in a saucepan at low temperature.
  2. Add the cream, white wine, salt and pepper to the mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes while mixing.
  4. Add the gruyere to the sauce, and whisk in to let it melt.
  5. Place the scallops on the shells and add prepared sauce on top.
  6. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs and a small amount of parsley on top of the sauce and the scallops.
  7. Bake the scallops in the oven for 15 minutes at 200C (400F°) until it turns golden brown. (If scallops were frozen, cook for an additional 10 minutes.)
  8. Place on seashell plate and serve while warm.
  9. Bon appétit!


The above quantities are for 1 serving of coquilles st. jacques per person. Adjust quantities if you wish to serve more.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 196Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g

Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.


So whether you are making some scallops for Christmas, or just because, cheers to us all and bon appétit! If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading about more classic French appetizers and starter recipes that are easy to prepare.

Bon appétit and à bientôt!

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Creamy Coquilles St. Jacques en Gratin (French Starter Recipe)

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