Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe

Sea scallops seared in a cast iron skillet with a lemon and herb butter sauce.

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe

Pan-seared scallops with lemon butter are my favorite way to eat sea scallops. Scallops are perfect for date night or any special occasion, yet they’re super easy to make and difficult to screw up.

Cooked in a cast iron skillet right on the grill or stovetop. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet I highly recommend you pick one up. Cast iron is inexpensive and it can be used on the grill, stove, or in the oven. Here is what I use.

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 pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the side muscle by simply pulling it off with your hands. Season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to sear. Dry scallops tend to caramelize and sear better.

How to Cook Scallops

Scallops don’t take long to cook. In fact, the secret to getting the golden brown seared edge is to cook the scallops in olive oil on high heat for 1-2 minutes per side. If you cook scallops directly in the lemon butter sauce, it won’t get hot enough to sear the edge and caramelize. High heat and a little bit of butter or oil is the key.

Once scallops are golden brown, remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the lemon butter ingredients to the skillets and stir until fully melted. Return the scallops for an additional minute per side and plate with a drizzle of lemon butter.

You don’t need to use a lot of butter to get a lot of great flavor, so this is a delicious high protein and relatively light dish or appetizer. The lemon butter sauce consists of fresh minced parsley, garlic, butter, and lemon juice. You can add the garlic to taste or leave it out altogether. I typically use parsley but I sometimes will use a little basil as well.

That’s it. The perfect gourmet app has never been easier. PS, these are phenomenal over risotto if you’re looking for a complete meal.

More Scallop Recipes You’ll Love

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe
Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe
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Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American


Sea scallops pan-seared in a cast iron skillet with a lemon and herb butter sauce.



  • 8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Butter Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lemon, squeezed


  1. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Mince the parsley and garlic and set aside. Add the olive oil to a 12 inch cast iron skillet and bring to high heat.
  2. Once skillet is hot, add the scallops to the pan and sear for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown on the top and bottom.
  3. Remove scallops from the skillet and set aside. Add the butter, garlic, lemon and fresh parsley to the skillet, stirring occasionally until fully melted.
  4. Return the scallops to the skillet and cook for an additional minute per side. 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.


  • Serving Size: 4 scallops
  • Calories: 282
  • Sugar: 0.8g
  • Sodium: 356mg
  • Fat: 19.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.8g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 20.9g
  • Cholesterol: 70mg

Keywords: pan-seared scallops, how to cook scallops