Simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, then cooked in butter and olive oil, these seared scallops are a delicacy.
They're ready in just minutes, and you can serve them as an appetizer or as the main course.
Some types of meat and seafood are innately delicious. The only real requirement from the cook is not to ruin them by overcooking. This is true for baked salmon, lamb chops, and definitely 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 or bacon-wrapped 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 sear scallops! Scroll down to the recipe card for 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.
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 the 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.
One way to vary this recipe is to use a different fat for cooking the scallops. You could use ghee, for example, or bacon grease.
You can also add seasonings. Good candidates include dried thyme and just a pinch of cayenne.
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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Perfect Seared Scallops
- 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, for about 3 minutes.
- Add the scallops in a single layer, making sure they don't touch each other.
- Sear the scallops for about 3 minutes on each side. You want a nice brown crust on both sides. When fully cooked, the inside should be white and moist. Serve immediately.
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