These Pan Seared Scallops are super easy to make at home with a delightfully golden crust on absolutely tender, tasty, restaurant-quality scallops! Cooking your sea scallops to perfection is much easier than you think and a real treat to enjoy on special occasions, date night, or when entertaining guests!
Perfectly Pan-Seared Scallops
There's a reason these golden beauties are a select offering at fine dining restaurants! The supremely tender, slightly sweet, and to-die-for delicious scallops are the most amazing seafood to enjoy when cooked correctly!
But did you know that they're incredibly easy to cook to restaurant-quality at home too?! They are! It's true.
Plus, they are literally ready in 10 minutes. Start to finish! You'll spend more time on the sides. 🙂
Now that you're ready to serve up your own perfectly pan-seared scallops, be sure to check out 'What to Serve with Scallops' too! Seriously, all I need are these scallops with some parmesan risotto and drawn butter. Yum!!
What You'll Need
A cast-iron skillet does a great job of caramelizing your scallops! However, any good heavy-bottomed skillet or frying pan will do the job!
- Sea Scallops - nice, plump sea scallops will be needed for this appetizer or entree. You can read all about selecting quality scallops for searing in my guide.
- Cooking Oil - use a good quality cooking oil with a high smoke point that will match your planned meal. If serving your scallops with risotto, definitely stick with olive oil for great tasting scallops! *I mention this because most of the flavorless cooking oils are not ones that I would use for cooking scallops.
- Salt & Pepper - I prefer to season my scallops solely with salt when finishing them with butter and lemon zest. Do use both salt and pepper if that is your preference.
- Butter - a better quality butter is definitely a big plus with scallops! Think rich, creamy European butter or Ghee ( clarified butter ) for your basting.
- Lemon - zest half a lemon then save it to squeeze into the butter sauce when finishing the scallops. The combination is divine!
How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops
There are a couple of things to note before starting, and these will help to prevent any mistakes! Firstly, you want your pan and oil to be fully heated. The oil should not only be shimmering but also on the verge of smoking. If not actually smoking a bit.
Secondly, you want to place your scallops with enough room between them that they can cook evenly. Crowded scallops will tend to boil more than sear. We don't want this!
And last but definitely NOT LEAST. Do not move your scallops while they are cooking. The searing process would be interrupted if you wanted to move or check your scallops during the cooking time.
Plus, your seared meats will release from the cooking surface when they are done. Trust the process.
- Prepare your scallops by making sure they are as dry as you can get them. If you are thawing frozen scallops, allow them to thaw completely. Also, set the scallops at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will help the scallops to cook quickly and evenly.
Preheat your skillet, cast-iron skillet, or non-stick frying pan to medium-high heat with your cooking oil. The oil should shimmer when ready to add the scallops.
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper, then place the seasoned side down in your preheated skillet. Leave spacing between the scallops for the best sear. Then season the upward-facing side of the scallops.
- Cook the scallops for 2 minutes on the first side. You should see a golden crust forming on the bottom surface of your scallops.
- Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook the second side for an additional minute.
- Add butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then baste ( arroser ) the scallops by spooning the melted butter over the tops of each scallop.
Once cooked, it is important to not only remove your pan from heat but also to transfer the scallops to your serving plate. *The heat from the pan will continue to cook the scallops if set aside.
Serve with more lemon wedges, garnish with lemon zest and fresh parsley and enjoy!
Pan Seared Scallops
- 6-10 sea scallops
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- ½ tsp each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ½ lemon (zested and squeezed)
- Preheat your skillet, non-stick frying pan, or cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat with olive oil. Your oil should begin to shimmer and start to smoke at this heat when it is ready for the scallops.
- Rinse and pat the sea scallops dry. You want them to be as dry as possible for the best sear.
- Season the dry scallops with salt and pepper right before placing them into your preheated skillet. Place the scallops with the seasoned side down, leaving spacing between the scallops. Then season the upward-facing side of the scallops.
- Sear the scallops for 2 minutes without moving the scallops. *This interrupts the searing.
- Use tongs to flip the scallops and sear the second side for 1 minute.
- Add the butter and a squeeze of lemon, then spoon the melted butter over the searing scallops in the last minute of cooking time.
- Once the second side is seared, remove the scallops from the skillet and transfer them to plates to serve. Garnish with zested lemon and parsley.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!