Pan Seared Scallops

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Pan Seared Scallops sautéed in a delicious browned butter with garlic in under 10 minutes. Restaurant level food you can make faster than pasta.

If you’ve gone the seafood route with us before by trying our Easy Shrimp BroilCrab Salad or Crispy Fried Calamari, you’ll remember how easy it is to turn everyday seafood into a classy dinner with little effort.

Pan Seared Scallops


Pan Seared Scallops are a quick and easy dinner option you may not immediately consider when thinking of your next weeknight meal (I know, most people would think salmon or shrimp when they think seafood), but scallops are just as easy and I would argue more delicious than both salmon and shrimp!

People love seafood, and scallops hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of many cultures. There’s even a Catholic saint whose symbol is a scallop shell. Since they don’t naturally have a very strong taste, you can add scallops to a lot of other dishes without overpowering the flavor. Try them in pasta, chowder, or as a garnish for the proteins, like steak. There really isn’t a place scallops don’t belong.

This is an easy recipe to try for weeknights or when you’re in a rush, since scallops are a delicious, quick dish that will make it look like you spent hours preparing them when they really only take a few minutes. The most important part is making sure the scallops get up to the right temperature before you eat them.


  • Start out by rinsing off the scallops after you’ve taken off the side muscles. Make sure you dry them completely (I use paper towels or a clean dish towel for this) or they won’t brown properly or get a good sear when you sauté them. Add dashes of salt and pepper to season them.
  • Put your cast iron or nonstick skillet on the burner on high heat and then add your butter and olive oil to it.
  • Set your scallops in the pan in a single layer with a spatula or tongs (be careful, because the butter and oil will spit in a hot pan.)
  • Sear scallops for 1 minute on both sides and then lower the temperature to medium heat. (Do not move the scallops as they’re cooking, they won’t get as browned as they should).
  • Add the garlic, then cook for another 20 seconds.
  • Move the scallops to a plate and serve them up.

Pan Seared Scallop Flavor Variations

  • Lemon juice or lemon wedges: adding just a little citrus to fish amplifies the natural flavor and goes great with the garlic and butter and makes a great pan sauce. For some texture, you can use lemon zest as well.
  • White wine: use white wine with melted butter and olive oil mixture to give the scallops a very different flavor.
  • Shallots or chives: try finely chopping up these onion varieties if you want to give this dish a kick.
  • Parmesan: sprinkle a little parmesan onto the scallops right before you take them out of the pan and let the leftover heat melt it for a mild but delicious addition.

What to Serve Pan Seared Scallops with:

  • Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes: rich and creamy, with garlic notes that will match the scallops, this mashed potato recipe is a winner.
  • Spaghetti Squash: this is a lighter side dish that still brings out the garlic, butter flavors. But then again, this squash goes well with almost anything.
  • Rainbow Roasted Vegetables: fun to make, pretty to look at, tasty to eat. All you have to do is cut them up, arrange them and roast them.
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Scallops are basically only made up of water and protein, with a tiny bit of fat. They can be up to 80% protein with relatively low calories and, depending on what you cook them with, they have no carbs. They are also pretty obviously gluten-free. If you remove the butter in this recipe and just use olive oil, our pan seared scallops are a healthy, low-fat dinner. Another very good reason to eat them is because they’re delicious.


When buying your ingredients, look for large sea scallops. You can tell whether or not they are good a few different ways. Here are ways to tell if they are not good.

  • Shiny or wet-looking: This means they are not too fresh, unless you’re buying live ones that are in water when you get them. Wet scallops that have been out water for a long time are leaking something.
  • Soft: Scallops should be firm. Squishy scallops are a no-no. This means that the meat is not fresh and has started to go very bad.
  • Stinky: If you go to buy your scallops and they smell like old fish, that is a definite sign that they are at best not fresh and at worst a gastrointestinal nightmare. Fresh scallops should smell a lot like saltwater.


With proper preparation, you can eat some seafood raw. However, for our scallop recipe you definitely want the internal temperature to be 145 degrees F (62.7 degrees C), which is a universally safe temperature for cooked fish and shellfish, according to the USDA’s website. Cooking scallops is also a good way to make sure that bacteria is properly removed from your meal before you eat it.


  • Serve: for the good of you and your insides, don’t leave scallops at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Store: you can store cooked scallops in the fridge for up to 3 days before it becomes a bad idea to eat them.
  • Freeze: if you keep them in an airtight container, cooked scallops are good frozen for up to 3 months.

Pan seared scallops are a great way to eat gourmet without paying the gourmet price. Even if this is your first time cooking, you’re sure to impress.

Pan Seared Scallop with Garlic and Butter

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Pan Seared Scallops

5 from 8 votes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Pan Seared Scallops sautéed in a delicious browned butter with garlic in under 10 minutes. Restaurant level food you can make faster than pasta.


  • 1 1/2 pounds dry sea scallops , approximately 12
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.
  2. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet on high heat.

  3. Add the salt and pepper to your scallops.
  4. Sear the scallops for 1 minute then flip, and sear the second side for 1 minute.

  5. Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook for an additional 20 seconds then remove from heat and serve.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Amount per serving: 227 calories, Calories: 227g, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 959mg, Potassium: 358mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 260g, Vitamin C: 0.7g, Calcium: 17g, Iron: 0.6g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: How to Cook Scallops, Pan Seared Scallops

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  1. Gave you five stars cuz who should question the queen? But i have a question: When I flip scallops after one minute, the bottom side is still opaque white, no sear. I am using a cast iron skillet and I do not place the scallops on the pan until the butter and olive oil is almost at smoking point. It sizzles loudly, but no sear after one minute. Seems to me they need to be left alone at least three minutes per side to get them seared.

    1. First off, you just made my day!
      As far as the sear, my recommendation would be to ensure your scallops are fully dry before adding the to the skillet (MOST important step). I would even pat them dry to remove any excess moisture. Also, even if your pan sizzles, it still might have needed to get a bit hotter. If your pan is hot enough and the scallops are dry, you’ll get that sear after 1 minute. Hope that helps for next time.

  2. I went to Alton B first…then read your instructions. I have to say, both similar (great) recipes, but you added some needed additional information. Great Job! I will look for more of your recipes.

  3. I prepared this wonderful dish the other night and it was delicious! I added a tad of white wine when I seared the scallops and I served it with a Parmesan risotto. Thank you for sharing your fabulous recipes!

  4. Thanks for a thoughtful explanation of how to buy scallops and how to cook them! I’m always scared to buy seafood and over-cooking it!

  5. I know what I will be having for dinner tomorrow night! This looks so savory and perfectly juicy; love it!

  6. I see that you have a tablespoon of olive oil in the recipe but don’t see where or when to put it in. Do you add it to the butter?

  7. For a quick meal, I will sometimes sautee shrimp or scallops and add them to a pesto sauce on top of fettuccine. It’s very tasty and I imagine pan seared might be better.

    Whoever takes your photos does a great job of presenting the food. They make me want to get out a pan.