Lemon Butter Scallops Recipe.
You will never believe how easy and fast it is to make Pan Seared Scallops with a Lemon Butter Sauce. Sweet, buttery and delicate Sea Scallops are quickly seared in a hot pan, then a simple lemon, butter and garlic sauce is made in the same pan. Served on their own or over pasta, these seared scallops are perfect for date night at home.
Have you ever cooked scallops? I used to find them so intimidating, but once I gave it a shot, I realized it is so easy to cook scallops! The key is to sear them hot and fast – you definitely don’t want to overcook scallops!
How to cook scallops
- Once your scallops are completely thawed, pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat.
- Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan. When hot, add the scallops to the pan. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan so that they can brown and not steam. Cook them in batches if needed. Allow to sear for 60-90 seconds, then flip and sear for another 60-90 seconds. Remove from pan.
- Reduce heat to low, add the butter, garlic, and lemon juice to the pan. Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, 1-2 minutes. Stir in parsley and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat and pour over scallops. Serve immediately.
How to pick the best scallops
I recommend looking for wild caught U.S. Atlantic Sea scallops, as they are sustainability harvested. I also recommend getting “dry” scallops instead of “wet” scallops. What does this mean? “Dry scallops” are packed without chemicals, and “wet scallops” have been treated with chemicals. How can you tell the difference between wet scallops and dry scallops? Dry scallops are usually cream colored or even pinkish, wet scallops are usually bright white.
What are scallops?
Scallops are a type of bivalved mollusk related to oysters, clams and mussels. Two kinds of scallops are commonly eaten – the larger Sea Scallop and the smaller Bay Scallop.
Where do scallops come from?
The part of the scallop that we actually eat is the adductor muscle, which is used to open and close the shell. The adductor muscle in Sea Scallops is quite large, up to two inches in diameter.
Sea Scallops are commonly harvested in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, and Bay Scallops are harvested in bays and estuaries from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. harvested Wild Scallops are considered a smart choice because it is sustainable managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
What does a scallop taste like?
Scallops are tender, buttery and sweet. They taste similar to crab or lobster. Scallops are firm but tender as long as they are cooked correctly. If they are overcooked, they will become rubbery and tough.
Are scallops healthy?
Scallops are healthy because they are very high in protein and low in fat and calories. A three ounce serving of scallops has 90 calories, 0.5 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein.
Are scallops alive?
Scallops are usually sold shucked and frozen, and therefore are not alive when you buy them at the grocery store.
What to serve with scallops?
These Lemon Butter Scallops are perfect tossed with pasta. You could also serve them with rice, such as my coconut rice, and vegetables like my lemon Parmesan broccoli.
If you love this recipe you will also love my Parmesan Basil Shrimp and my Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia.
Lemon Butter Scallops
- 2 pounds sea scallops thawed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- pinch red pepper flakes
- fresh ground pepper
- Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Season them with salt and pepper on both sides
- Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. When hot, add the scallops to the pan - do not overcrowd the pan. Cook in batches if needed. Cook on one side, 60-90 seconds. Flip and cook for another 60-90 seconds. Remove from pan. Repeat until all scallops are cooked.
- Reduce heat to low. Add butter, garlic, lemon juice to the pan. Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and chopped parsley, remove from heat.
- Drizzle the sauce over the scallops and serve right away.
Your recipe for the lemon scallop pasta was incredible! Thank you for sharing this recipe. So easy and quick to make too.
Yay, so happy to hear that!
Carol E Simon says
What happens to the extra tablespoon of olive oil?
Hi Carol – it is for when you are searing the scallops in batches. I find that with this amount of scallops, they need to be done in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. So you just repeat the same process a second time, including adding another tablespoon of olive oil. I hope that helps!
Hi Meghan! Found you through Pinterest.
Gorgeous pics and such tasty but simple recipe! I’m inspired to bump up the heat! And the lemon Parmesan broccoli is such a nice idea. Thanks!
Dianne Joyner says
This recipe was great. I had never had success cooking scallops before reading your directions. You really nailed the instructions and the dish was simple and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be trying other recipes of yours!
I am so happy to hear that!
I made these tonight! OH MY GOODNESS! These were perfect, so satisfying with the lemony tang and bit of heat from the RPF!
I’m so glad you loved them!
Super quick and very delicious! We served it with pasta. The butter sauce over the pasta was amazing!
I’m so glad you loved it!
I am making this with angel hair pasta. Should I double the sauce part of the recipe so I can get some on the noodles?
Hi Eliza – You can, it might depend on how much pasta you are making and how saucy you want it. It’s probably better to have too much sauce than not enough 🙂
Bobbi Hupf says
Had these for dinner tonight. Absolutely amazing. And very easy to make. Thank you for the recipe. This will definitely be my go to for scallops.
I’m so glad to hear that Bobbi!
Anita stefan says
These are the absolute best scallops I ever ate. Making them for my son and his wife with steak for their anniversary dinner.
So happy to hear that!
I made these for my husband’s birthday and we were so impressed! I’ve never made scallops before, and I will be using the recipe every time now. I added bacon (I had some extra that I needed to use) and it was delicious. Thank you!
I am so happy to hear that Clara!
Eric S. James says
best way to cook I like to fry some capers and add. also with lemon a white wine of some kind reduced
So glad you enjoyed it!