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 taste phenomenal with lemon and butter…but doesn’t everything?

I prepare my scallops 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. It’s the perfect pan for searing scallops, steak, and more.

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. The side muscle may not always be as obvious as the ones pictured below.

Season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to sear. Dry scallops tend to caramelize and sear better.

Prepping sea scallops

How to Pan Sear Sea Scallops

Scallops don’t take long to cook. In fact, the secret to getting the perfect 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 with a nice crust. High heat and a little bit of butter or oil is the key.

Once scallops are golden brown, remove them from the skillet and set them 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.

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Recipe

PS, these are phenomenal over risotto if you’re looking for a complete meal.

More Scallop Recipes You’ll Love

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

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 (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon, squeezed


  1. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper all over. Mince the parsley and garlic and set aside. Add the olive oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and bring to medium-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.
  3. Remove scallops from the skillet and set them aside. Remove the skillet from heat and add the butter, garlic, lemon, and fresh parsley to the skillet, stirring occasionally until fully melted.
  4. Return the scallops to the skillet on low heat 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.


The key to the perfect sear is a preheated skillet and a little olive oil or butter to prevent sticking. Too much oil or a cool skillet will not render a nice crust.


  • 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