The present study involves the development of citric acid-cross-linked carboxymethyl cellulose (C3CA) scaffolds by a freeze-drying process. Scaffolds were fabricated at different freezing temperatures of -20, -40, or -80 °C to investigate the influence of scaffold pore size on bone regeneration. All three scaffolds were porous in structure, and the pore size was measured to be 74 ± 4, 55 ± 6, and 46 ± 5 μm for -20, -40, and -80 °C scaffolds. The pores were larger in scaffolds processed at -20 °C compared to -40 and -80 °C, indicating the reduction in pore size of the scaffolds with a decrease in freezing temperature. The cytocompatibility, cell proliferation, and differentiation in C3CA scaffolds were assessed with the Saos-2 osteoblast cell line. These scaffolds supported the proliferation and differentiation of Saos-2 cells with significant matrix mineralization in scaffolds processed at -40 °C. Subcutaneous implantation of C3CA scaffolds in the rat model was investigated for its ability of vascularization and new matrix tissue formation. The matrix formation was observed at the earliest of 14 days in the scaffolds when processed at -40 °C while it was observed only after 28 days of implantation with the scaffolds processed at -20 and -80 °C. These results suggest that the citric acid-cross-linked CMC scaffolds processed at -40 °C can be promising for bone tissue engineering application. © 2021 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.