Seared Scallops

Seared scallops should be knee-wobblingly golden on the outside, lusciously wobbly inside, and sweetly supple through and through. Here's how.

Seared Scallops Recipe

This seared scallops recipes tells you exactly how to cook pan seared scallops so they turn our perfectly golden brown on the outside yet ever so slightly wobbly inside and  sweetly supple through and through. Originally published May 27, 2014.Renee Schettler Rossi

*How To Buy Sea Scallops

We recommend buying “dry” sea scallops, which don’t have chemical additives and taste infinitely better than “wet” sea scallops. Dry scallops will look ivory or pinkish; wet scallops are bright white. Wet scallops are dipped in preservatives to extend their shelf life. Unfortunately, these watery preservatives dull their flavor and ruin the texture. Unprocessed, or dry, scallops have much more flavor and a creamy, smooth texture, plus they brown very nicely.

Seared Scallops Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 2


  • 12 ounces fresh (not frozen) sea scallops*
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mild olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  • 1. Place the scallops on a large plate lined with a clean dish towel or several paper towels. Place another clean dish towel or stack of paper towels on top of the scallops and gently press to blot any liquid. Let the scallops rest at room temperature for 10 minutes so the towels can absorb any moisture.
  • 2. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the scallops in a single layer and cook, without moving, until nicely browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  • 3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter to the skillet and, using tongs, flip the scallops. (If the scallops stick to the skillet, just let them be for a moment; this is usually a sign that they’re just not ready to be turned yet. And for the love of all things good, don’t use a plastic spatula to flip these guys, as they’re too delicate. Tongs are best, but a super skinny metal spatula—you know, a bendy flexible spatula—also works well.) Use a large spoon to baste the scallops with melted butter as you tilt the skillet and continue to cook the scallops until the sides are firm and the centers are opaque, 30 to 90 seconds. (Smaller scallops will cook more quickly than larger ones, natch.) Use tongs to transfer the scallops to plates or platters as they are done. Serve the seared scallops immediately with the lemon wedges.

Tuxedo Variation

  • Seared Scallops with Lemon Brown Butter
  • Cook the scallops as directed above but serve with this sauce on the side: Cook 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, tilting the saucepan constantly, until the butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 minced small shallot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1/4 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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