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

Restaurant-worthy scallops

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:

Pan-seared scallops with lemon and basil

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.

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.

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

Watch Us Make the Recipe

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

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter with easy, delicious, and fresh recipes and receive our eCookbook with 16 of our most loved recipes for free! Click Go to signup for free!

62 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Lisa March 1, 2021, 12:40 pm

    I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was amazing! The best scallops I’ve ever had. Thank you. I’m about to make them again and realize I don’t have fresh basil sadly. Do you know if I can do this with dried basil by chance? I know it won’t be the same but wondering if it can work or if I should just leave it off? Thanks so much – love all of your recipes.

    • Adam March 4, 2021, 12:51 pm

      So glad you loved the recipe 🙂 In a pinch dried basil will work but we prefer fresh.

      • Kevin March 9, 2021, 11:06 am

        Whatcha think about switching out basil for spinach?

  • Cindy February 20, 2021, 12:05 am

    So delicious and easy! I sprinkled the scallops with Old Bay Seasoning in place of the flour, and used parsley in place of basil. Will be making again. Thank you for the great recipe.

  • stephanie February 14, 2021, 3:31 pm

    Quick suggestion: I’m gluten free and there are plenty of gluten free flours. I use King Arthur GF. No reason not to make this recipe! Looking forward to it when my frozen scallops thaw.

  • Lyn December 20, 2020, 6:09 am

    What a fabulous easy recipe. Didn’t have chilli paste, used sweet chilli sauce. Didn’t have lemon, used lime. OMG, amazing.

  • Cassandra November 22, 2020, 11:47 am

    This is a simple , but wonder and delicious dish. I made this several time for guest and they it was a hit every time. You simply can’t go wrong with this one.

  • Derek November 19, 2020, 8:15 am

    You don’t actually say how long to cook the scallops for in the pan – other sites suggest 1min per side?

    • Adam February 8, 2021, 2:26 pm

      Hi there, the full recipe with cooking times can be found on the recipe page.

  • Geoff September 18, 2020, 10:33 pm

    Great recipe. Thanks especially for the tips on getting the brown crust. Only suggestion: juice the lemon.

  • jane ann watson September 7, 2020, 9:39 pm

    I cannot believe this. Never have I been able to sear scallops like at the fine dining seafood places. And tonight I did it! I think it’s the flour which I never would have thought of on my own. I added parmesan garlic risotto and veg from the garden. OMG, you have created one happy camper!

  • Thomas Sheckells September 2, 2020, 6:53 pm

    My daughter likes cheese on her scallops. So, after adding the lemon and basil to the pan, added grated parmesan cheese on top of about half of them because I thought I wouldn’t like it. Then covered with a lid and watched for the cheese to melt. It took about 30 seconds. Then placed on a warmed up serving plate so as to not let them get cold too soon. Both with and without the parmesan were good. It turns out I liked the cheese version better and my daughter didn’t. Go figure.

  • Gena Maranto August 21, 2020, 11:40 pm

    Absolutely delicious!

  • LOUISE August 20, 2020, 11:48 am

    great recipe, easy to follow and delicious! love the touch of basil and lemon.

  • Julie July 20, 2020, 6:28 pm

    This was the best recipe for Scallops. So easy and delicious Thank You ???

  • cynthia July 13, 2020, 11:24 pm

    Wow! Your tips really made the difference. Dried my scallops and sprinkles with baking powder (did not have flour and generally use bp for crisping wings). Searing was fantastic.

  • Carissa July 13, 2020, 10:50 pm

    This was my favorite recipe to make scallops! Reason being, the flour really made the difference in enabling me to get the seared look and flavor I was going for. I dried them completely, salted/peppered/floured both sides and continued to let them dry out while I made two other dishes. Then, I cooked them for 1.5 mins each side before adding butter and basil after taking it off the heat. Everyone I served absolutely loved the flavoring and texture.

  • Jaime Klein July 13, 2020, 12:22 am

    I have made this recipe a few times and it is amazing!! Definitely as good as a restaurant. I think it’s the basil that makes it so great. I’m going to try it tomorrow night using small scallops because they were on sale. I hope it comes out as well. Any advice?

    • Adam February 8, 2021, 2:22 pm

      So glad you liked the recipe. If you are cooking smaller scallops (bay scallops) they are going to cook very quickly so be very attentive while cooking them.


Leave a Comment/Review

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Guidelines. You must be at least 16 years old to post a comment. All comments are governed by our Privacy Policy & Terms.

* Required fields (Email address will not be published)

Did you make it? How was it?:


Previous Post: Next Post: