How to make restaurant-worthy scallops at home. These pan seared scallops with garlic basil butter take less than 10 minutes and taste incredible!
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Related: We love these garlic butter shrimp!
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Easy Seafood Recipes
- How to make crave-worthy Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi in under 15 minutes.
- Easy Garlic Shrimp Recipe made with cilantro, lime, and butter sauce.
- How to make Perfect Garlic Herb Steamed Mussels in a broth made with white wine, garlic, and shallots.
- This Easy Baked Salmon with capers and garlic takes about 30 minutes to make, requires one pan and tastes amazing.
Seared Scallops with Garlic Basil Butter
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.
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 oil, such as olive oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil
1 ½ tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 to 4 lemon slices
1Use 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.
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, seasoned-side-down, into the pan. Cook, without moving them until browned, about 2 minutes.
3While the first side is browning, dust the unseasoned side of the scallops with a bit of flour and season them with salt and pepper.
4Flip 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.
5Add 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.