Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce… this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

Have you ever ordered a gourmet scallop dish as a main in a decent restaurant? It is usually three large sea scallops with some vegetables presented in a beautiful way, right? And it’s never cheap.

What if I told you that you could easily create a fancy scallop dish at home within just 15 minutes and save a bunch of money?

Once you learn the technique of pan searing scallops and making a simple pan sauce afterward, you are in fancy business!

And this Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce recipe is going to get you started on cooking many more easy and elegant scallops meals.

The secret is a good sear.

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

How to Pan-Sear Scallops

There are many ways to cook scallops. You can grill them or roast them. But the simplest cooking method is pan-searing them on the stove. There’s no preheating your oven or grill. Just turn on the stove and sear them in an oily, flat-bottom pan.

The trick is to wait until the cooking oil is sizzling hot before you put your seasoned scallops (salt and pepper to season is just perfect) into the pan. The outside of the scallops gets cooked immediately, quickly forming a nice golden brown crust while the inside is cooking.

One way of testing if the oil is hot enough is to put one scallop in the pan and see if it sizzles right away. If not, wait for a couple more minutes before adding more scallops. Make sure to leave enough room between each scallop (at least one inch) when searing. Therefore, use a large pan or do it in batches.

Scallops cook really fast in such a hot pan. Sear undisturbed on each side for 2-3 minutes, and your scallops are done.

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

How to Make the Lemon Butter Pan Sauce

You may enjoy your seared scallops as they are. But I found that making a pan sauce to drizzle over them takes it to a whole next level. That’s when the “fancy” feeling comes into play. In this recipe, let’s try a simple lemon butter sauce.

You need only five ingredients for the pan sauce—butter, garlic, dry white wine, lemon juice, and salt.

After your scallops are seared, remove them from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a couple of tablespoons butter. Since your pan is still hot, it will start melting right away. Keep your heat at medium-high. Now add some minced garlic to infuse the butter. Stir gently and scrape off any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour a quarter cup of dry white wine into the pan, followed by some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cook until the alcohol evaporates and the sauce is reduced by half. By then, the lemon butter sauce should be thickened. Season with salt to taste.

I love cooking with wine, but if that’s not your cup of tea, substitute chicken bone broth for the wine. The sauce will not be disappointing.

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

What to Pair with Scallops

Wondering what to serve with these amazing scallops for a balanced meal? Here are a few ideas for inspiration.

  • Pasta. Toss some cooked linguine into the lemon butter sauce and top with the pan-seared scallops.
  • Garlic bread or garlic naan. Scoop up some of that sauce with the bread on each bite.
  • Sweet potato puree and a side of vegetables. In the photo below, I used purple sweet potatoes and chicken bone broth to make the puree. My choice of vegetable was sautéed asparagus.
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Cauliflower rice

Here you have it—one of the easiest fancy dinners you can whip up on a weeknight. Enjoy!

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

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Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce… this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Gluten Free
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley for garnishing
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  1. If scallops are frozen, thaw in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels before cooking. Season scallops with salt and pepper.  
  2. Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a large flat-bottom pan or cast iron skillet until sizzling, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Place scallops in the hot pan (they should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan) in a single layer,  leaving at least 1 inch in between each one. Sear undisturbed on one side for 2-3 minutes or until it’s golden brown underneath. Flip and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes, undisturbed.
  4. Transfer the scallops to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, add butter until melted, scraping off the brown bits from the pan. Stir in garlic and let it infuse the butter for about a minute. Add wine and lemon juice. Let it cook until the alcohol evaporates and the sauce is thickened a little. Taste and add more salt if desired. Turn off the heat.
  5. Return the scallops to the pan to warm them up. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, add lemon wedges and serve with pasta, mashed potatoes, or sweet potato puree, etc.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 301
  • Sugar: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 1716.5mg
  • Fat: 14.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 10.3g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Protein: 35.2g
  • Cholesterol: 89.7mg
Perfectly pan-seared scallops served with a lemon butter sauce... this scallop recipe is the easiest gourmet dish you can make on a weeknight in just 15 minutes.

11 thoughts on “Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce”

  1. That plate with the purple mashed potatoes and asparagus looks like something you’d get in a fancy restaurant. Great recipe!!

  2. We adore scallops and eat them at least a few times a month! Yours here are so gorgeous and perfectly browned! I love your sauce too! So simple, yet so many flavors working! I can’t wait to try it! I think I will use the purple sweet potatoes too because, what a lovely presentation that is!

    1. Thank you, Beth. I can’t wait to see your creations! Take a photo and send it to me via social media or email if you have a chance. Cheers!

  3. This is exactly the kind of recipe I love to make on a weeknight – fancy but easy! I guess I like to make it seem like I went to a lot of trouble when I really didn’t lol! Beautiful photos too!

  4. Made this delicious scallop recipe tonight , and it was so very yummy 😋! I served it over cauliflower rice with steamed broccoli on side! I Pinned this, and will definitely make again! Thank you so much, Sharon!

    1. Oh nice! Thanks so much for making the time to make it and leaving a comment. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. <3

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