Lemon Butter Scallops Over Parmesan Risotto Recipe

4.15 from 34 votes
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Lemon butter scallops over risotto have become one of our new favorite fancy weeknight meals. It’s a tad more involved than your typical 20-minute dinner because the risotto requires a little extra time and attention, however, you should NOT be intimidated to undertake risotto.

Golden seared scallops garnished with fresh parsley served on top of a bowl of parmesan risotto.

Risotto isn’t difficult to make—it’s just more finicky than cooking rice. Pay attention to what you’re doing.

Why I Love This Recipe

Scallops over risotto is a delicious and hearty, yet simple celebration meal. I started by using my lemon butter scallops recipe and paired it with my absolute favorite complementary mushroom risotto recipe. The caramelized lemon butter scallops are the perfect addition to the creamy and savory characteristics of risotto.

My favorite risotto recipe is made with shallots, garlic, Parmesan cheese, optional mushrooms, and a little white wine. It’s cheesy, creamy, garlicky, and so fresh. While you can experiment with adding saffron, I prefer this recipe without it.

If you’re looking for other date-night-worthy seafood dishes, try my bacon-wrapped scallops, baked lobster tails, or fancy baked oysters!

Ingredients

  • Large/jumbo sea scallops: get the largest scallops you can find. Baby scallops will shrink and is much harder to get a good uniform sear.
  • Oil: canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil works best thanks to their high smoke points. You can also use olive oil if that’s all you have.
  • Butter: you can use salted or unsalted. You may need to add a pinch more salt if using unsalted butter.
  • Fresh parsley: both flat leave and Italian parsley can be used interchangeably. Always use fresh herbs!
  • Mushrooms: I like shiitake, baby bella, chanterelle, white, and oyster.
  • Chicken broth: I prefer low sodium so I can salt to taste. Look for a 48-ounce can so you have enough.
  • Arborio rice: Arborio rice is the perfect short-grain rice for risotto because it’s capable of absorbing large amounts of liquid, creating a creamy texture.
  • White wine: dry white wine is used to deglaze the pan however you can omit and use broth if you prefer. I usually save old white wine in the fridge for cooking.
  • Grated parmesan cheese: always use freshly grated cheese for the best flavor. Pregrated cheeses are treated with preservatives that may prevent smooth melting.
  • Shallots: shallots are fragrant and sweeter than onions, making them perfect for risotto. Always finely mince so they blend. You can use white or yellow onion as a substitute.
  • Garlic: mince the garlic as fine as possible or use a microplane for even better results. Always use fresh garlic for the best flavor.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Prep Sea Scallops

Most scallops will have a chewy side muscle that resembles a rectangular tag of tissue on the side of the scallop. Rinse scallops under cool water and then get them as dry as possible. pat scallops dry with a paper towel or a clean dish towel. Remove the side muscle by simply pulling it off with your hands. Note, the side muscle may not be as obvious as the ones pictured in the steps below.

How to Make Scallops Over Risotto

For the risotto

Step 1.

Heat butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic. Simmer until softened, 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook for 1-2 additional minutes.

Step 2.

Add risotto and stir for 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer for an additional minute. Add warm chicken broth to the pan ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Allow the risotto to absorb 2/3 of the broth before each addition. Continue until soft and creamy, about 30-40 minutes. Note, the chicken broth will absorb in about 2 minutes or so after each addition.

Step 3.

Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Divide and transfer to bowls when ready to serve.

Expert Tips

Tips for Making Perfect Risotto

  • The biggest tip on risotto, use a non-stick pan or clean stainless steel pan. Cast iron may not be the best choice as the risotto will stick and burn the pan easily. Save the cast iron searing for the scallops.
  • Always use warm/hot chicken stock. Cold broth/stock will delay the cooking process each time you add it. Warm broth keeps risotto warm and sizzling.
  • Don’t rush the process or let the broth/stock run dry. Dry risotto in the pan isn’t cooking. Conversely adding too much stock at once will just boil the risotto. You want just enough water to release the risotto’s starches and make it creamy.
  • Cook on medium heat. You want a continuous low simmer the entire time. Too low and the risotto will never cook!
  • Always add cheese, cream, and herbs at the end. You don’t want to interfere with the cooking process.

For the scallops

Step 1.

Meanwhile, rinse scallops under cool water and remove the side muscle if still intact. Pat scallops as dry as possible using two sheets of paper towel or a clean dish towel. Season all over with salt and pepper. Mince the parsley and garlic and set aside.

A hand holding a raw scallops with the side muscle exposed.
Seasoned raw sea scallops drying on paper towel.

Step 2.

Add the oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and bring to high heat. Once the skillet is hot and starts to smoke, add the scallops to the pan and sear for 2 minutes per side, undisturbed, or until a golden brown crust forms.

Heating oil in a cast iron skillet.
Raw scallops searing in a cast iron skillet.
Perfect seared scallops cooking in a cast iron skillet

Step 3.

Remove scallops from the skillet and set them aside on a plate. Remove the skillet from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, lemon, and fresh parsley to the skillet, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Cook on low heat if needed.

Quick Tip

You can optionally cook the lemon butter sauce in a separate saucepan to decrease darkening due to the crust developed in the pan. Drizzle over scallops at the very end.

Melting butter with in a cast iron skillet with fresh lemon juice and fresh parsley.

Step 4.

Return the scallops to the skillet on low heat and cook for an additional 30-90 seconds. Use a spoon to spoon the butter over the scallops. Place on a serving dish and drizzle with extra lemon butter sauce as desired. Sprinkle with a pinch of leftover fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Seared scallops cooking in a lemon butter and herb sauce in a cast iron skillet.

Step 5.

Return the scallops to the skillet and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes per side. Divide scallops and serve over risotto in a bowl and drizzle with extra lemon butter sauce as desired. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Golden seared scallops garnished with fresh parsley served on top of a bowl of parmesan risotto.

Expert Tips

Tips for Searing Scallops

  • Getting the scallops as dry as possible is critical to getting a good sear. Do not skip this step.
  • It’s important to get the skillet smoking hot before adding the scallops. This ensures a good caramelized sear.
  • Use canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil for searing because they have higher smoke points.
  • It helps to arrange the scallops around the perimeter of the pan if possible as it’s usually the hottest part of the pan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any substitutes for arborio rice?

Arboria rice is likely the most readily available rice for risotto. Another popular option is carnaroli.

Is one cup of risotto enough for four servings?

1/4 cup of dry risotto is the recommended single serving of risotto. It can be difficult to judge because everyone’s appetite is different. Increase to 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups (dry) for hungrier guests. You may need additional broth but you can likely keep other ingredients uniform.

Why can’t I get a golden sear on my scallops?

The pan needs to be very hot with just a light coating of oil. Too much oil or moisture will prevent a golden sear. Ensure scallops are very dry and generously seasoned.

More Scallop Recipes You’ll Love

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
4.15 from 34 votes

Lemon Butter Scallops Over Parmesan Risotto Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Simple lemon butter scallops served over my favorite risotto recipe made with shallots, garlic, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and a little white wine.

Ingredients 

  • 12-16 jumbo sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (shiitake, baby bella, chanterelle, white, or oyster are good)
  • 5-6 cups warm chicken broth, warm
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, always use freshly grated
  • 1-2 shallots, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges for serving
  • oil, for cooking

lemon butter sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • juice of half a lemon, squeezed

Instructions 

For the risotto

  • Heat butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic. Simmer until softened, 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook for 1-2 additional minutes.
  • Add risotto and stir for 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer for an additional minute. Add warm chicken broth to the pan ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Allow the risotto to absorb 2/3 of the broth before each addition. Continue until soft and creamy, about 30-40 minutes. Note, the chicken broth will absorb in about 2 minutes or so after each addition.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Divide and transfer to bowls when ready to serve.

For the scallops

  • Rinse scallops under cool water and remove the side muscle if still intact. Pat scallops as dry as possible using two sheets of paper towel or a clean dish towel. Season all over with salt and pepper. Mince the parsley and garlic and set aside.
  • Add the oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and bring to high heat. Once the skillet is hot and starts to smoke, add the scallops to the pan and sear for 2 minutes per side, undisturbed, or until a golden brown crust forms. It helps to arrange the scallops around the perimeter of the pan if possible as it’s usually the hottest part of the pan.
  • Remove scallops from the skillet and set them aside on a plate. Remove the skillet from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Give the pan a quick wipe if you prefer. Add the butter, garlic, lemon, and fresh parsley to the skillet, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Cook on low heat if needed. 
  • Return the scallops to the skillet on low heat and cook for an additional 30-90 seconds. Use a spoon to spoon the butter over the scallops. Divide scallops and serve over risotto in a bowl and drizzle with extra lemon butter sauce as desired. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Notes

The biggest tip on risotto, use a non-stick pan or clean stainless steel pan. Cast iron may not be the best choice as the risotto will stick and burn the pan easily. Save the cast iron searing for the scallops.
Always use warm/hot chicken stock. Cold broth/stock will delay the cooking process each time you add it. Warm broth keeps risotto warm and sizzling.
Don’t rush the process or let the broth/stock run dry. Dry risotto in the pan isn’t cooking. Conversely adding too much stock at once will just boil the risotto. You want just enough water to release the risotto’s starches and make it creamy.
Cook on medium heat. You want a continuous low simmer the entire time. Too low and the risotto will never cook!
Always add cheese, cream, and herbs at the end. You don’t want to interfere with the cooking process.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 764kcalCarbohydrates: 63.6gProtein: 39.3gFat: 32.7gSaturated Fat: 12.3gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 949mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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15 Comments

  1. Question-It says 4 servings but only 8 scallops? That would only be 2 each. I want to make this for 4. I can just make more scallops, will these be enough risotto though?

    1. I would increase the risotto just to be safe. I try to keep servings based on recommended amounts, however it’s usually less than people actually consume. Make additional scallops and start with 1 cup of risotto as a starting point.