Perfect Seared Scallops

How to cook unbelievably good scallops at home. This is my favorite pan-seared scallops recipe. It takes less than 10 minutes and tastes incredible!

Seared Scallops Recipe Video

Scallops are one of the easiest things you can cook, especially if you sear them in a pan (they’re just as easy as shrimp).

There’s no need to be intimidated. Scallops are easy to cook, I promise. With a few tricks, you’ll be cooking them like a pro in no time. Plus, I’ll show you how to make our delicious garlic basil butter to serve with them.

Pan-seared scallops with butter, lemon, and basil

Key Ingredients

  • Scallops: I look for large sea scallops since they taste sweet. I also prefer fresh scallops. Frozen scallops will work in this recipe, so check the tips section below for tips on thawing them before cooking.
  • Oil, salt, and pepper: I cook my scallops in a hot skillet with some oil. Any high-heat oil works. I especially love avocado oil. You’ll also want to season the scallops liberally before cooking them.
  • Flour: While optional, I love dusting flour over my scallops before cooking them. The flour absorbs excess moisture and adds a nice golden brown crust. You can skip this step if you don’t have flour or are gluten-free.
  • Butter, garlic, basil, and lemon: It’s hard to describe just how delicious our garlic basil butter is with these seared scallops. I highly recommend it, and it only adds a minute or two of cooking time.

How to Cook Scallops Like a Pro

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

To prepare scallops for cooking, pat them dry. I use a paper towel to pat them as dry as possible. Damp scallops don’t sear or brown in the pan. The drier they are, the better they will sear. Frozen scallops will have more moisture, so take extra care when patting them dry.

For an extra fail-safe, I add a light dusting of flour to each side of the scallops. The flour absorbs excess moisture and adds a nice golden brown crust. I also use a generous amount of salt and pepper.

How to cook scallops - Scallops with a light dusting of flour, salt and pepper

I season one side of the scallops out of the pan, place them seasoned side down into the hot pan, and then while that side cooks, I season the other side.

You want a hot skillet when pan-searing scallops. If they aren’t sizzling when you place them in the pan, it isn’t hot enough. You can always test the heat with one scallop and adjust from there.

If you pat the scallops dry, dust them with flour, and use a hot pan, you will guarantee a beautiful golden brown sear.

How to cook scallops - Pan-seared scallops with butter and garlic

To really make these scallops restaurant-worthy, use our garlic basil butter. Scallops already taste incredible, but adding a bit of creamy butter, garlic, and fresh herbs at the end of cooking makes them out of this world. I also love the garlic butter used to make our recipe for shrimp scampi.

Storing Seared Scallops

Cooked scallops last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do your best to store them in the coldest part of your fridge (usually towards the back). While you can technically freeze cooked scallops, you should only freeze scallops that were initially from fresh sources (not previously frozen).

To reheat, add them to a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of butter or olive oil. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side until heated through.

What to Serve with Seared Scallops

Many side dishes work well with seared scallops. I love creamy grits, polenta, mashed potatoes, and mushroom risotto. For a lighter, low-carb side, try mashed cauliflower or zucchini noodles.

For rice, take a look at our coconut rice or this cilantro lime rice. Roasted vegetables are also lovely. Think about roasted asparagus, roasted cabbage, or roasted green beans.

Restaurant-worthy seared scallops

Perfect Seared Scallops

  • PREP
  • COOK

Seared scallops cook quickly (within 5 minutes) and are best when enjoyed immediately. If you’re serving them with pasta, vegetables, or rice, make sure they are ready before cooking the scallops. I highly recommend the garlic basil butter!

Makes 4 servings, 3 large scallops each

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

12 large sea scallops, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, optional, see notes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons avocado oil or vegetable oil

Garlic Basil Butter

1 ½ tablespoons butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 to 4 lemon slices


    1Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Dust one side of the scallops with a small amount of flour, then season with salt and pepper.

    2Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot and shimmery, carefully place the scallops in the pan, seasoned side down.

    3Cook, without moving them, until browned, about 2 minutes.

    4While the first side is browning, dust the unseasoned side of the scallops with a bit of flour and season them with salt and pepper.

    5Flip 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.

    6Add the butter and garlic to the pan, swirling the butter around as it melts.

    7Cook another minute or two, then remove the pan from 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 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 use flour, make sure the scallops are as dry as you can get them for the best chance at a good sear.
  • Using frozen scallops: The easiest and safest way to thaw them is to place them in the refrigerator the night before cooking them. To quickly thaw scallops, add them to a sealed bag and put them in a large bowl under cold running water. Move the bag around the bowl occasionally until the scallops have defrosted, about 30 minutes. Before cooking them, take extra care when patting them dry.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
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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83 comments… Leave a Review
  • Dawn Davidovic June 2, 2024, 12:01 am

    Made this recipe exactly as written. Was concerned about the garlic and lemon overpowering the delicate scallops, but the flavors were subtle and nicely complemented the dish. 5 stars! Will definitely make it again.

    • Joanne June 2, 2024, 4:40 pm

      So glad that you liked it, Dawn!

  • Sharon B May 26, 2024, 8:36 pm

    This is so easy and so delicious! I will definitely add this to my rotation.

  • Shona PM May 4, 2024, 7:58 pm

    This recipe was easy and so delicious. I’ll definitely make this again. YUM! 10/10

    • Joanne May 9, 2024, 4:23 pm

      Amazing, Shona. Thanks for coming back!

  • Karen Shackelford April 29, 2024, 11:53 pm

    tasty and easy. – thanks!

    • Joanne April 30, 2024, 12:45 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them, Karen. Thank you very much for coming back.

  • Kristin Etter February 20, 2024, 6:22 pm

    This recipe is fabulous!! I have it bookmarked and it is my go to special meal for my husband for special occasions (or whenever I find a great deal on scallops). The video that Joanne presented makes it look so easy and it IS!! Absolutely a must try.

  • Valerie February 7, 2024, 6:20 pm

    I just made this recipe tonight for an early Valentine’s dinner. It came out SPECTACULARLY! Melt in your mouth, full flavors and better than restaurant quality. I followed all of the instructions – except I substituted a spoonful of pesto in place of fresh basil because I didn’t have any. The garlic, butter, basil, lemon combo accentuated the scallops perfectly! 👌 Thanks for the flour tip, I never would’ve thought of that. A great recipe when you are looking to impress!


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