Simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, then cooked in butter and olive oil, these seared scallops are a delicacy. And they're ready in a mere 20 minutes!
Some types of meat and seafood are so innately delicious. The only real requirement from the cook is not to ruin them by overcooking. This is true for baked salmon, for lamb chops, and definitely for scallops.
Seared scallops are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I almost always have a bag of them in my freezer. When I don't feel like making baked scallops, it's easy to defrost them overnight, then quickly pan-fry them in some butter and olive oil.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty scallop recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Sea scallops: Make sure you use large sea scallops and not small bay scallops.
Seasonings: Kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use.
Fats for cooking: Unsalted butter and olive oil. Both have great flavor, and the addition of oil helps to prevent the milk solids in the butter from browning too much.
It's very easy to sea scallops! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to rinse the scallops. Then pat them dry with paper towels.
Now, sprinkle the scallops with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Next, combine the butter and the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet, and heat them over medium-high heat. A cast-iron skillet works well in this recipe.
Add the scallops to the skillet in a single layer. You want them to develop a nice crust, so make sure they don't touch each other.
Cook the scallops until fully cooked and a beautiful brown crust forms on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Expert tip: use sea scallops
Sea scallops are bigger and meatier than bay scallops. I prefer to use them in this recipe because while they still require a short cooking time, you can cook them long enough to form a nice flavorful crust.
Frequently asked questions
I don't know that there is one, really! Seared scallops are wonderful because pan-frying them forms a lovely crust on their outside.
But baked scallops are wonderful too. The butter parmesan sauce is phenomenal. And broiled scallops are amazing, especially with the parmesan coating. I love all of these recipes equally and make them often.
Whatever way you choose to cook them, make sure that scallops are fully cooked (meaning their centers reach 115 degrees F). When scallops are fully cooked, their inside should be white and moist.
Sweet, succulent and meaty, I actually find that scallops need very little added flavor. Simply sprinkle them with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder, sear in butter and olive oil to form a nice crust, and serve. They don't really need a sauce to taste good.
Soaking them in milk is a way to tenderize them and remove their slightly fishy odor. I don't find it necessary. As long as they're not overcooked, scallops are wonderfully tender, and cooking them in butter and olive oil gets rid of any fishiness.
Suggested side dishes
I like to serve these scallops on a bed of mashed cauliflower, to soak up the yummy cooking juices. They are also good with microwave asparagus. Sometimes I serve them as an appetizer. But I often serve them as an entree. They are so "meaty" and satisfying!
Leftovers keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, in an airtight container, although they're not as good as freshly cooked. Gently reheat them, covered, in a 50% power microwave.
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Seared Scallops with Butter and Olive Oil
- 1 lb. sea scallops (about 15 scallops)
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Rinse the scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large (14-inch), heavy bottomed skillet, over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes.
- Add the scallops in a single layer, making sure they don't touch each other.
- Sear the scallops about 3 minutes on each side. You want a nice brown crust on both sides, and you want the internal temperature, as measured by an instant-read thermometer (make sure it doesn't touch the skillet) to reach 115 degrees F. When fully cooked, the inside should be white and moist. Serve immediately.