How to make perfect pan-seared scallops with a buttery sauce.


This recipe + tips make it super easy to make perfect pan-seared scallops with a buttery sauce that makes them taste almost identical to lobster bites!

pan-seared scallops

What Is the Best Pan for Searing Scallops?

When it comes to searing scallops, a non-stick skillet is best. This is because a non-stick surface will ensure that the scallops don’t stick, which will make them easy to turn for searing both sides. If you need a great non-stick skillet, I recommend this Oxo 12″ non-stick skillet, which is the top pick by Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens. Additionally, I would recommend the 12″ size, as you can cook scallops without overcrowding them.

What Is the Best Oil to Cook Scallops?

After trying many different methods, I have come to the conclusion that a combination of EVOO and butter gives the most decadent flavor. Additionally, I will use ghee also when I have it on hand. Ghee is clarified butter, and it is what you typically use to dip pieces of lobster into for flavor. I even think that scallops dipped into melted ghee taste VERY similar to lobster!!!

How long do I need to cook Scallops? 

Before you sear the scallops, ensure they are thoroughly thawed. If you are using frozen scallops in this dish, make sure you leave them plenty of time to thaw. If you don’t do this, then the scallops will not get cooked all the way through. Once your scallops are ready, sprinkle them with some seasoning and prep the pan by adding oil and butter over medium. After heating the pan and butter, add in the scallops. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side to get a nice golden sear. Then flip and baste for another minute or two to get slightly golden.

What Do Scallops Taste Like?

Scallops are SO delicious and will take on the taste of any seasoning that you add to them. They have a white flesh that tastes similar to lobster but which has a firmer texture. As for flavor, it tends to be buttery, delicate, and slightly sweet. Scallops are not overly “fishy tasting” but do have a briny, saltwater “essence” and taste similar to lobster and crab, but with a firmer bite.

Are Scallops Healthy?

A healthy and delicious power food, a single 3-ounce serving provides 20 grams of protein and a hefty dose of magnesium and potassium, and only 95 calories! You can enjoy scallops alongside roasted vegetables for a satisfying and delicious meal that is low in carbs and high in protein.


pan seared lemon butter scallops

Wet Scallops vs Dry Scallops: What’s the Difference?

Wet scallops have been treated with chemicals before freezing, and they release moisture when cooking which prevents a good sear. Since many frozen scallops are wet, it is helpful to know the following tip from Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens. Soak the wet scallops in a solution of 1-quart cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of table salt for 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Be sure to pat dry after soaking.

Are Scallops Easy to Cook?

Scallops are quick and easy to cook! Once thawed, they can be cooked in less than 10 minutes from start to finish. However, they are easy to overcook, which makes them rubbery. Therefore, it is best to watch them carefully and remove them from heat the minute they are done.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Scallops?

The optimal way to thaw frozen scallops is overnight in the fridge. But for spur-of-the-moment scallop cooking, a cold water thaw works just fine and takes 15-20 minutes. Simply place scallops (sealed in a waterproof bag) into a bowl of cold water. Check the scallops every 10 minutes or so. When they become soft and easily separated if stuck together, they can be removed from the water. They will continue to thaw as they sit at room temperature before cooking.


pan-seared scallops

What should I serve with seared scallops?

There are so many things you can serve with seared scallops. Typically, I like serving some sort of vegetable and carb to pair well with this protein-packed entree. One dish that would pair wonderfully with these seared scallops is my green bean with shallots recipe. If you are wanting to add some carbs, then this sensational smashed potato recipe is lovely. So many delicious recipes work wonderfully with this delicious dish!

Give these gems a try if you are a scallop fan, and let me hear how they turn out! They really are super easy to make and SO delicious. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

pan-seared scallops

Perfect Pan-Seared Scallops

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Pan-seared scallops with a golden exterior and tender inside.


  • 12 sea scallops
  • 2 TB real butter (or ghee)
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic salt (to taste)
  • 1 lemon, juiced


  1. Thaw scallops if frozen; pat scallops with paper towel until dry.
  2. Sprinkle scallops with seasonings.
  3. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high until butter is melted and oil begins to sizzle.
  4. Add scallops; cook 2-3 minutes on the first side to get golden sear.
  5. Turn scallops. Baste with butter sauce for another minute or two until scallops get slightly golden (probably one no more than two minutes)
  6. Remove scallops from heat; transfer to a serving dish.
  7. Drizzle pan drippings over scallops.
  8. Add lemon juice to pan drippings; stir over heat for about 30 seconds.
  9. Pour lemon butter drippings over scallops.
  10. Serve scallops over angel hair pasta, spaghetti squash, or with roasted vegetables.
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 158Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 31mgSodium 551mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 8g












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  1. Hi Frances, I try to buy “dry” but you can use either. If you get wet scallops (more moisture), just pat them dry. The reason for making scallops dry is for a good sear:-)

  2. Did I overlook your comment there are 2 types of scallops; wet and dry and highlighting the difference. Frances

  3. Wayne, I SO apologize for implying that only modern women cook LOL!!! Thank you for weighing in and reminding me that all is equal where the kitchen is concerned. Best to you!!!

  4. I am not a modern women as you suggested, I am however a liberated and enlightened male, who does the cooking. Thanks for the recipe for scallops, I am sure my woman (just joking) will enjoy them.

  5. Thank you family savvy for this delicious recipe. I cooked my dish last night and it was exquisite! Packed with so much protein and vitamins (mine was stir fried with broccoli and carrots for added color), and taste, that I will definitely be preparing this dish again!

  6. Hi Tammy!I would make them as close to serving time as possible and keep them in an oven on the “warm” setting (with the oven door open. You basically want them to stay warm without cooking. I hope your guests love them!!!

  7. I’m planning on making these for ten people (40 scallops). Obviously I’ll cook them in batches. What’s the best way to keep them warm/reheat them so they can all be served at the same time?

  8. This is my first time making scallops and they turned out perfect and delicious. Thank you so much! There is a bit of a typo and I actually panicked and I was trying to figure it out because I literally thought “hat” was some kind of cooking lingo for either the scallops or the lid of the pan and it was supposed to be heat lol!

  9. Hi Edith! Garlic sounds great as an addition to the sauce. Since it burns so easily, I’d add it at the end of the sauce. It needs just enough time to saute without burning. Let me hear how it turns out!

  10. I’d like to make this again but with garlic. When would you recommend I cook it? Before the scallops? Or after I remove them & when I make the pan sauce? Thank you.

  11. Edith; that makes me so happy that you were inspired to try a new thing!!! It really is easy to cook them, and they are SO yummy!!! Thank you for your comments:-)

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