Seared Scallops with Garlic Basil Butter

How to make restaurant-worthy scallops at home. These pan seared scallops with garlic basil butter take less than 10 minutes and taste incredible! Jump to the Seared Scallops Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how we make it.

Watch how we make them

How to cook scallops like a pro

Scallops are one of the simplest kinds of seafood to cook. They’re just as easy as shrimp. In fact, we use the same method to prepare these garlic basil scallops as we use when making our garlic butter shrimp.

There’s no need to be intimidated. Scallops are easy to prepare, promise. With a few tricks, you’ll be cooking them like a pro in no time. Let me show you how I do it:

How to buy scallops

Before we can cook them, we need to buy quality scallops. Buy freshest you can find. I look for larger sea scallops since they taste sweet.

Frozen scallops work in this recipe, too. The easiest and safest way to thaw them is to place them in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook them. For a quicker solution, you can add them to a sealed bag and put them in a large bowl under cold running water. Move the bag around the bowl every so often until the scallops have defrosted. Assume they will take half-an-hour, or so.

Pan-seared scallops with lemon and basil

The steps for cooking scallops

This recipe is a simple one. Once you learn the tricks to cooking perfectly browned scallops on the stove, you’ll want to do it all the time.

Step 1: Pat the scallops dry. I like to use a paper towel to pat them as dry as possible. Damp scallops won’t sear or brown in the pan. The drier they are, the better they will sear. Frozen scallops will have a bit more moisture so take extra care when patting them dry.

Step 2: Add a light dusting of flour. For an extra fail-safe, add a light dusting of flour to each side of the scallops. The flour absorbs excess moisture and adds a nice golden brown crust after cooking in a hot pan. If you don’t have flour or are gluten-free, you can skip this step.

Scallops with a light dusting of flour, salt and pepper
Patting dry and adding a light dusting of flour helps to get a golden brown sear.

Step 3: Season the scallops. I use a generous amount of salt and pepper. I season one side out of the pan, place them seasoned side down into the hot pan, and then while that side cooks, I season the other side.

Step 4: Cook the scallops in a hot pan. If they aren’t sizzling when you place them into the frying pan, it isn’t hot enough. Between the dry and floured scallops and a hot pan, you are guaranteed a beautiful golden brown sear.

Step 5: Finish with butter, garlic, and herbs. Scallops already taste incredible, but adding a bit of creamy butter, garlic, and fresh herbs at the end of cooking makes them restaurant worthy.

Seared scallops with butter and garlic
Adding a bit of creamy butter, garlic and fresh herbs at the end of cooking makes scallops that are restaurant worthy.

And there you have it, how to cook scallops like a professional chef. Stick with our flavors of butter, garlic, and basil or try something else. Fresh thyme, tarragon or something spicy like jalapeño is an excellent idea.

Restaurant-worthy scallops

More Easy Seafood Recipes

Seared Scallops with Garlic Basil Butter

  • PREP
  • COOK

Seared scallops cook quickly — within 5 minutes — and are best when enjoyed straight-away. If you’re serving them with pasta, vegetables or rice, make sure they are ready before cooking the scallops. Basil adds a lovely sweetness to the butter sauce, but if it is not available, a few fresh thyme sprigs will do the trick.

Makes 4 servings, 3 large scallops each

You Will Need

12 large sea scallops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, optional, see notes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons oil, such as olive oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 to 4 lemon slices


    Use a paper towel to pat the scallops dry. Dust one side of the scallops with a small amount of flour, and then season with salt and pepper.

    Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot and shimmery, carefully place the scallops, seasoned-side-down, into the pan. Cook, without moving them until browned, about 2 minutes.

    While the first side is browning, dust the unseasoned side of the scallops with a bit of flour and season them with salt and pepper.

    Flip the scallops — if any stick to the pan, wait a few more seconds then try again, gently wiggling them side to side to help release them.

    Add the butter and garlic to the pan, and then swirl the butter around the pan as it melts. Cook another minute or two then take the pan off of the heat. Stir in the basil leaves and lemon slices. Serve.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Do I need to use flour: If you don’t want to use the flour, it’s okay. It helps with even browning, and since some of the flour sticks to the bottom of the pan, it mixes with the butter, helping to thicken the garlic basil butter sauce. If you are gluten-free or don’t want to get out the flour, make sure the scallops are as dry as you can get them for the best chance at a good sear.
  • Thawing frozen scallops: The easiest and safest way to thaw them is to place them in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook them. For a quicker solution, you can add them to a sealed bag and put them in a large bowl under cold running water. Move the bag around the bowl every so often until the scallops have defrosted. Assume they will take half-an-hour, or so. Don’t let the water get into the bag.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/4 of the recipe (3 scallops) / Calories 267 / Total Fat 12.6g / Saturated Fat 3.7g / Cholesterol 69.5mg / Sodium 1236.8mg / Carbohydrate 9.6g / Dietary Fiber 0.2g / Total Sugars 0.2g / Protein 29.6g
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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33 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Mary July 7, 2020, 4:27 pm

    Made last night and husband and I both really enjoyed it over brown rice.
    It’s a keeper.

  • Susanne Gillies July 3, 2020, 10:15 pm

    My husband and I loved this recipe! It was so delicious and easy to prepare👍
    Thank you!

  • Susan June 18, 2020, 9:51 am

    I loved this recipe and so did my husband. I used King Author’s Paleo flour and they were golden brown! Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!

  • Charlotte Garber June 16, 2020, 11:26 pm

    I made this recipe for an important birthday girl. Her and the other 5 people said, best scallops ever eaten! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Sandy June 14, 2020, 1:36 pm

    Delicious and easy! I put scallops over a lemon rice pilaf, with snow peas and carrots on the side. Thanks for the flour dusting tip. It really helped the scallops to sear/brown nicely. I’ll definitely use this recipe again.

  • Alicia June 11, 2020, 8:20 pm

    This was my first time cooking scallops and wow, amazing!! The lemon really adds that extra layer of flavor making this a fantastically delicious dish.

  • Linda May 11, 2020, 6:31 pm

    Made the scallops with a side of steamed fresh green beans and veggie rice. Our friend who ate over said it was the best meal I have ever made and it tasted like it came from a restaurant! I used vegetable oil (it’s all I had) and chopped scallions for the green garnish. Thank you!!!

  • Jacqueline April 15, 2020, 7:31 pm

    Absolutely fabulous! The flour is a must. Dry, dry scallops also a must.I served it over spaghetti squash with sun dried tomatoes My husband wanted to know when I was fixing this again!

  • Ruth February 8, 2020, 6:52 pm

    I made these for my husband and he loved them so much he bought a large bag of frozen scallops and each time wanted them fixed the same way. The flour is brilliant – it makes the beautiful crust fail-proof. Scallops scared me away in the past — never again!

  • Tim February 6, 2020, 9:40 pm

    Fabulous! A new, Go-to recipe for scallops. I’m printing and saving. It’s timely, since Costco scallops just recently came back down to an affordable price.

  • Nancy lafleur January 14, 2020, 5:44 pm

    I finally made scallops restaurant worthy thanks to your recipe. I was ALWAYS overcooking them. Finally got it right. They were delicious. Thank you. At $18.00 a pound I was a little ways ruining them. But now I will as always use your recipe. Thanks again

  • Jane October 29, 2019, 7:49 am

    Would almond flour work as well? Give it the nice sear? My inlaws are gluten free.

    • Joanne October 31, 2019, 2:12 pm

      Hi Jane, We’ve never tried almond flour in this recipe. You can definitely try it, but as an alternative, make sure that the scallops are very dry before searing them without any flour added at all. The flour in our recipe helps to add color and a good sear, but with a hot pan and dry scallops, you should get the same results.

  • Sheryl October 7, 2019, 6:11 am

    Made these last night and they were a big hit! Thank you


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