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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
Those look delicious! I will be making these for dinner tonight. I’m sure my family would absolutely love these awesome looking scallops. Thanks for sharing!
Easy and delicious!! Gourmet meal at home! I served it with Jasmine Rice and Brussel sprouts sautéed in a little olive oil and about a tablespoon of bacon fat with onion and ribboned collard greens. Finished with a sprinkle of sea salt, Plate the scallops over the rice with lemon butter and sprinkle of parsley and a twist of lemon. You look like a gourmet Godess and the best part is that it is SO easy!
My husband thought this was the best scallops he has ever had. Cool pan before adding garlic. Delicious and easy to make. Cast iron skillet is a must.
I like to cook pasta on the side. After searing the scallops, I remove them to the side and remove the cast iron skillet from the burner to cool a little. Then drain my pasta, prepare the garlic lemon sauce, and pour it over the pasta and scallops. You may wish to grate fresh parmesan at the table. Serve with a green vegetable of your choice. Easy and delicious.
Love the idea, Diane.
Absolutely delicious and easy to make! I used a stainless skillet and it turned out perfectly. Best scallops I have had in years!
I’ve made this twice now. Both times the flavor was great. The first time the sauce was dark because the pan was too hot and the butter browned. The second time I seared the scallops in cast iron. But, melted butter and herbs in a non stick pan. Presentation was much better this time.
Do you do it differently if you are using smaller scallops.
Can’t wait to try this recipe, I love scallops but have always been intimidated by cooking them myself, but this sounds almost fool proof!
Just had your recipe over cous cous.
I like the other people should have let the pan cool down first before making the sauce.
It was still good though for my first time making scallops. The scallops were cooked perfectly.
I will definitely try again.
Special Christmas dinner tonight. It was delicious! Served with brown rice and roasted mixed vegetables; broccoli, Brussels sprouts and carrots. Lemon butter served on the side, for “dipping.”