This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a product I recommend.
Pan-seared scallops with lemon butter are my favorite way to eat sea scallops. Scallops are perfect for date night or any special occasion, yet they’re super easy to make and taste phenomenal with lemon and butter…but doesn’t everything?
I prepare my scallops in a cast iron skillet right on the grill or stovetop. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, I highly recommend you pick one up. Cast iron is inexpensive and it can be used on the grill, stove, or in the oven. Here is what I use. It’s the perfect pan for searing scallops, steak, and more.
How to Prep Sea Scallops
Most scallops will have a chewy side muscle that resembles a rectangular tag of tissue on the side of the scallop. Rinse scallops under cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the side muscle by simply pulling it off with your hands. The side muscle may not always be as obvious as the ones pictured below.
Season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to sear. Dry scallops tend to caramelize and sear better.
How to Pan Sear Sea Scallops
Scallops don’t take long to cook. In fact, the secret to getting the perfect golden brown seared edge is to cook the scallops in olive oil on high heat for 1-2 minutes per side. If you cook scallops directly in the lemon butter sauce, it won’t get hot enough to sear the edge and caramelize with a nice crust. High heat and a little bit of butter or oil is the key.
Once scallops are golden brown, remove them from the skillet and set them aside. Add the lemon butter ingredients to the skillets and stir until fully melted. Return the scallops for an additional minute per side and plate with a drizzle of lemon butter.
PS, these are phenomenal over risotto if you’re looking for a complete meal.
More Scallop Recipes You’ll LovePrint
Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: American
Sea scallops pan-seared in a cast iron skillet with a lemon and herb butter sauce.
- 8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Butter Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 1–2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- Juice of half a lemon, squeezed
- Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper all over. Mince the parsley and garlic and set aside. Add the olive oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
- Once skillet is hot, add the scallops to the pan and sear for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown on the top.
- Remove scallops from the skillet and set them aside. Remove the skillet from heat and add the butter, garlic, lemon, and fresh parsley to the skillet, stirring occasionally until fully melted.
- Return the scallops to the skillet on low heat and cook for an additional minute per side. Place on a serving dish and drizzle with extra lemon butter sauce as desired. Sprinkle with a pinch of leftover fresh herbs and serve immediately.
- Serving Size: 4 scallops
- Calories: 282
- Sugar: 0.8g
- Sodium: 356mg
- Fat: 19.6g
- Saturated Fat: 8.4g
- Carbohydrates: 6.8g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 20.9g
- Cholesterol: 70mg
Keywords: pan-seared scallops, how to cook scallops
What kind of side could you serve with this? Trying this recipe on date night!
Hmmm anything really. We usually make this when we are doing a tapas night and pair with other apps like mussels and crab cakes. As for sides, how about roasted asparagus, maybe in garlic and olive oil and mashed potatoes?
can u tell me where the muscle is on the scallops.I never heard of it,so I asked the man that was working in the seafood dept,and he didn’t know either!
Simple yet elegant recipe. I added a little heavy cream to the sauce and served with steamed asparagus. Visually stunning on the plate and wonderful flavor. If you’re looking for gourmet at home, this is it.
I like the extra touch, Robert.
So happy we tried this! Really easy and delicious! Definitely 5 Stars!
Thank you, Elaine! Glad this worked out well for you.
Making this tonight as an appetizer , sounds delicious and will let you know how I go!
Awesome appetizer! Thank you for that simple but delicious recipe… The only thing I didn’t do was wait for my skillet to cool off enough and my garlic kind of got scorched. I was being impatient!
This was my first attempt and I’ll say I “Nailed It”. I will definitely do this again.
Thanks again! ?
Awesome Kristen. Glad it worked out and thanks for note. I may need to rethink the lemon butter sauce part.
This was my first attempt ever at preparing scallops and all 3 of us here loved it. Thank you. I also need to cool the pan down a bit first before adding the sauce ingredients. I liked your idea of cooling it with the butter.
Great! Yes, I need to add a note about cooling the pan here.
I made this and found the pan was to hot for the butter and herbs, I will cool the pan down or prepare the sauce in a separate pan next time, but it was super delicious!!
Good point. Sometimes it helps if you add the butter first so it melts and “cools” the pan. Then you can add the fresh herbs.
in your picture you did not remove the muscle
You caught me…