Cooked in less than 20 minutes, these Seared Scallops come together so quickly and easily. They make for the perfect weeknight dinner as well as for a special occasion. Make this healthy and delicious seared scallops recipe with less than 5 simple ingredients. Your family will want seconds!
For another easy seafood recipe, try my Garlic Butter Scallops, Garlic Butter Cod Fish Recipe, or Garlic Butter Halibut Fish Recipe. These recipes, like my scallops, come together quickly for the perfect weeknight meal.
Scallops get a bad reputation that they’re difficult to cook but trust me, they’re super easy! The key is to keep an eye on the scallops and the time. Overcooked scallops become chewy and tough so as long as you follow the instructions down below and don’t overcook them, you’ll have the perfect restaurant-quality seared scallops for dinner.
I love pan-searing in my cast iron so I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet for this to get a nice sear on them. If you’re new to cast iron cooking, check out my 50 Healthy Cast Iron Skillet Recipes!
How Do Scallops Taste?
Scallops have a sweet and delicate flavour to them and tastes almost like a cross between lobster and crab meat. They have a creamy texture and they take on flavours very well so you don’t need too much seasoning and butter to give it a tasty flavour.
How Do You Pick Scallops?
Scallops are pretty easy to find at most grocery stores both in the fresh fish counter or the frozen section. If you cannot find fresh scallops, frozen works as well. You’ll also want to buy dry instead of wet scallops.
Wet scallops have been soaked in a bath of phosphates to preserve their freshness while dry scallops have not. The dry scallops sear much nicer as it isn’t waterlogged and taste much sweeter than their wet counterpart. Some think that wet scallops taste soapy and if you’re paying by the pound, wet scallops weigh more as they’re soaked. Wet scallops also shrink more when cooked as the water evaporates and is slightly tougher than dry scallops.
How to Make Seared Scallops
- Dry sea scallops — make sure you pick dry scallops instead of wet scallops. Make sure the side muscle has been removed. For another easy scallop recipe, try my Garlic Butter Scallops Recipe.
- Salt and black pepper — you just need a bit to taste.
- Olive oil — you can also use a different neutral oil of your choice.
- Butter — I like using unsalted butter since we are adding salt to the scallops already.
Prep the Scallops
- Remove the scallops from the fridge for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking so it comes to room temperature. This helps them cook more evenly.
- Place the scallops on a paper towel-lined cutting board and pat them dry. This helps the seared scallops get that golden crust.
- Season all sides of the scallops with coarse salt and pepper, and set aside.
Prep your Cast Iron
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let it heat up for about 2 minutes. When the skillet smokes just a bit, it’s a sign that it’s properly heated.
Sear the Scallops
- Add the scallops in a single layer. Please, don’t overcrowd the skillet and if it’s necessary, work in batches. This prevents them from steaming.
- Sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
- Remove the seared scallops from the pan and serve.
How do you make a good sear on a scallop?
Make sure the scallops do not have moisture on them when they hit the pan. If they’re wet, you don’t get a good sear as the scallops will steam. I also recommend using a cast iron pan as they help with giving the scallops a beautiful golden sear.
What oil is best for seared scallops?
Canola oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil are great options since they have a high smoke point and are neutral in flavour.
Recipe variations for these seared scallops
- To make this recipe Whole30 and Paleo friendly: use Ghee instead of butter.
- You can change up the seasoning: swap in paprika, cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and more.
- Add a splash of lemon: to add some citrus flavour to the scallops.
How do I know when my scallops are cooked through?
Scallops cook up in around 6 minutes (3 minutes per side) and you’ll know they’re done once they turn firm and opaque in colour. If you are worried about overcooking your scallops, you can always undercook them for a minute and let them rest for 1-2 minutes before serving so the residue heat cooks them through.
Are scallops good for you?
Scallops are an easy and delicious source of protein! There are 20 grams of protein in just 3 ounces of scallops.
What can I serve with these scallops?
- Parmesan Lemon Asparagus Skillet: Loaded with parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, dried oregano, and Italian seasoning, this Parmesan Lemon Asparagus Skillet is quick and easy.
- Garlic Butter Green Beans Recipe: This green beans recipe makes a quick and delicious side dish for any meal. Fresh green beans soak up the flavors of garlic and butter, so make a double batch; you will want a second helping!
- Roasted Parmesan Green Beans: Super crispy Roasted Parmesan Green Beans, topped with dried cranberries, walnuts and shredded parmesan cheese.
- Eggplant Pizza Bites Recipe: These delicious and healthy Eggplant Pizza Bites are low-carb, gluten-free, and very flavourful. They are made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, and spinach!
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- Remove the scallops from the fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. Place them on a paper towel-lined cutting board and pat them dry with paper towels. Season all sides of the scallops with coarse salt and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let it heat up for about 2 minutes. When the skillet smokes just a bit, it’s a sign that it’s properly heated. Add the scallops in a single layer. Please, don’t over crowd the skillet and if it’s necessary, work in batches.
- Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove the scallops from the pan and serve. Enjoy!
- The scallops should be firm and opaque in colour when they're cooked through.
- Use ghee instead of butter to make this recipe Whole30 and paleo friendly.
- Make sure the scallops aren't wet when you add them to the skillet so you can get a nice sear.
- To store: Scallops are best served immediately. If you have leftover, store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- To reheat: Gently reheat the scallops on the stovetop so you do not overcook them.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.