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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36 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Mary Ann Cascella September 9, 2019, 8:55 pm

    I’m so happy I found you! This recipe was perfect for our U10 dry scallops. Just enough of everything makes it interesting without over powering the stars of the dish – the scallops. I opted for an additional minute because they were huge, then I served them over sticky rice. Once again, there was enough flavoring in the butter and oil to elevate the rice. Fast and easy – delicious and different – my kind of food.

  • Joe McCarthy August 29, 2019, 9:06 pm

    I made the recipe twice now. The fresh basil is a game changer. Thanks for a 5 star meal!

  • Morgan August 23, 2019, 12:10 am

    Omg. These are amazing!!! I absolutely love scallops in restaurants but was so afraid to make my own. I tried another recipe a while back and hated it. This one, hands down, is the best scallops I have ever had! So easy too! Thank you!

  • Min August 22, 2019, 6:16 am

    It’s easy for cooking. I will try to it tomorrow. Thanks from Vietnam 🙂

  • Michele August 11, 2019, 5:25 pm

    Delicious and so easy! Followed the directions and turned out great! Thanks so much!

  • Erich July 20, 2019, 9:29 pm

    Be sure to use dry-pack scallops. So-called soaked scallops (not dry packed) have been soaked in a bath of phosphates (or more precisely- sodium tripolyphosphate. This adds water weight and really prevents a proper sear on the scallop. All the water comes out when you try to cook them. Do not cut corners, pay the extra for the dry-packed scallops.

  • Monica June 27, 2019, 9:28 pm

    Great, quick, easy-to-follow recipe!! Made according to directions in cast iron skillet…only needed to sub olive oil..evertything else the same. Served with brown butter gnocchi and sautéed squash with caramelized videlias. ENTIRE family LOVED it, even our 6-year old! This one’s a keeper! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  • Robin May 19, 2019, 11:01 pm

    I’m making this recipe tonight, but I really want to add a little Pinot, or Chardonnay, what do you think?

    • Joanne March 3, 2020, 7:25 pm

      Hi Robin, I’d stick with the chardonnay for this recipe. It’s a great idea!

  • Nicole Gabriele May 6, 2019, 9:15 pm

    This recipe was a hit. I added moscato to the sauce at the end of the cooking time. I paired it with a garlic butter salmon and roasted potatoes. My husband fell in love all over again. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll definitely be putting this as a favorite. 💖

    • Adam May 7, 2019, 1:51 pm

      That’s so great to read, Nicole! So happy you (and your husband) loved it.

  • Sarah Estes May 1, 2019, 8:50 am

    I always love your recipe videos! Keep up the good work, guys! I haven’t made this recipe yet, but plan too soon.

    • Adam May 1, 2019, 10:29 am

      Thanks Sarah. We love making videos and we hope to make lots more!

  • Keisha Glover February 26, 2019, 7:22 am

    I made this exactly as the recipe. Was absolutely drool-worthy and my boyfriend LOVED it! Ingredients, instructions, and taste = 12/10!

  • Silvergrizz February 24, 2019, 6:17 pm

    Made this evening and served with steamed broccoli and asparagus. Excellent directions, only modification I made was regarding the garlic. I use heavy cast iron frying pan and garlic will burn in seconds, resulting in a bitter taste. I added the butter when turning scallops and after two minutes removed from heat and added the basil, garlic and lemon wedges. Wife loved the meal and total calories came in at 240 per person using 4 oz scallops per person. Will definitely make this many more times.

  • Francine Anderson December 24, 2018, 5:54 pm

    This was excellent served over pasta. Leave a little pasta water in pot then a delicious scallop toppings.

  • Gabriela August 24, 2018, 3:39 pm

    looks great and you gave very good tips!!!! thanks!!!

  • jane soares August 23, 2018, 12:11 am

    Could I use coconut oil?

    • Adam August 23, 2018, 1:18 pm

      You definitely can use coconut oil, just keep in mind that it will add some coconut flavor.


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