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Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce

Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce

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Juice lemons. Spoon out capers. Heat pan. Cook scallops. Make sauce in same pan. Serve.


  • 12 large dry sea scallops
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers

Recipe Preparation

  • Cut 2 lemons in half and squeeze juice into a measuring glass or small bowl; you should have ¼ cup juice. Set aside. Using a paring knife, cut ends off remaining lemon to expose flesh. Upend lemon on a cut end and remove peel and white pith from lemons; discard. Cut between membranes to release segments into bowl with juice; squeeze membranes to get any last drops of juice. Fish out any seeds; set aside. Thinly slice chives and place in a small bowl; set aside.

  • Pull side muscle off scallops, if needed; pat dry. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet, preferably stainless steel, over medium-high. Pour in oil to lightly coat surface (2–3 Tbsp.); heat until it shimmers and you see first wisps of smoke. Swiftly place scallops into skillet, flat side down, and cook without touching, tossing, or fussing until underside is deep golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Use a thin spatula or tongs to gently turn over; if they resist, cook another 30 seconds and try again. Cook on second side until flesh at top and bottom looks opaque but there is still a faintly translucent strip in the middle, 1–2 minutes, depending on size. Transfer scallops to a plate.

  • Pour off any oil in skillet and set over medium heat. Add butter and cook, swirling, until butter foams, then browns, about 2 minutes. Add reserved lemon juice and segments; energetically stir and swirl pan to emulsify sauce. Mix in capers and reserved chives and spoon pan sauce around and over scallops.

Recipe by Carla Lalli Music

Related Video

Carla Makes Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce

Reviews SectionLovely, super flavorful dish. As others have mentioned, go easy on the lemon and definitely taste as you go.atimidtempestSacramento, CA06/08/20Used 1 juicy lemon which gave me a scant 1/4 cup. Easy and yummy, I would make again.Easy and a total winner! We used half of the lemon juice suggested.Laura OlsenConnecticut04/02/19Wonderful recipe with great flavors. I only used half of the lemon juice that the recipe called for and it was the perfect amount. I served the scallops over parmesan rissotto, with arugula salad and grilled asparagus. So the acid from the lemon really complimented all of the side flavors.I used only one lemon and it was still too much. I ended up having to flip my scallops and let them sit for longer than 4 minutes. Overall a pleasurable view and somewhat tasty. This dish isnt cancelled, but definitely something you have to be in the mood for.Way, way, way, way too much lemon! Good tips on how to sear scallops and the pan sauce sounds good on a fundamental level, but the amount of lemon in this is absolutely way too much. Completely overpowers every other thing in the sauce. If you make it as written you will not be able to spoon it over the scallops as Carla does in the video. I basically had to treat mine like squeezing a lemon over the dish: used very sparingly.This recipe is SO easy and absolutely delicious. Foolproof! I do agree that there was a little too much lemon, but simply add less and you're all good. Will definitely be making again and again.elchallengerDenver, CO08/19/18Awful. There was way too much acidity in this dish. It detracted from the lovely scallops. The amount of lemon made it almost inedible.AnonymousChicagoland 01/05/18I served this with steamed spinach. My husband said it was the best meal I’ve ever made.Eat it AllChapel Hill, North Carolina12/27/17AnonymousClinton, NY12/07/17

Recipe Summary

  • 12 medium sea scallops
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee), warm
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)

Place scallops in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Combine 5 tablespoons warm butter, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl whisk until combined. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

At the same time, remove scallops from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, making sure it does not smoke. Brush scallops with garlic mixture and add to the pan. Cook until the bottoms begin to sear and turn golden, about 2 minutes. Flip scallops, brush with garlic mixture, and cook another 2 minutes. Remove scallops from the heat and let them continue to cook while they rest, off the heat, for 5 more minutes. Plate and serve.

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.

Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Lemon Sauce

This recipe is pretty foolproof so you won't have to worry much about ruining your expensive scallops.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown.

Taste: Nutty, earthy, sweet, tart, and fresh. All around savory goodness.
Texture: This is the best part of seared scallops! They’re crisp and crusty at the edges and fall-apart tender in the center. I loooove scallops.
Ease: Surprisingly easy but impressively gourmet and tasty.
Appearance: Just b-e-a-u-tiful.
Pros: Quick, easy, amazingly scrumptious.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes.

I’ll never ever understand people who say they dislike chocolate or who say they dislike seafood. Those are some of my all time favorite foods (not together though… ewh). I love fish and shellfish but one of my favorite spoils of the sea is definitely sea scallops. They’re pretty much perfect in my book. Quick to cook and when done right they are slightly sweet, super tender, with a golden brown mouthwatering crust. The only problem is that they can be pretty pricey. To my sheer joy giant sea scallops were on sale at my grocery store last week so I just had to make this recipe. This recipe is pretty foolproof too so you won’t have to worry much about ruining your expensive scallops.

  • Scallops: Purchase dry sea scallops, fresh or frozen.
  • Oil: I use olive oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil work as well.
  • Butter: Unsalted or salted.
  • Garlic: I use fresh garlic.
  • Wine: White wine like pinot gris, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay. If you prefer, you can skip the wine and use broth.
  • Broth: Chicken, fish or vegetable broth will work.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is a must. Lemon slices can be used as garnish.
  • Capers: Seafood and capers are a match made in heaven! Drain them before adding them to the dish.
  • Parsley: Fresh chopped parsley for color and presentation.

Pat the scallops dry.

Before seasoning and searing, pat the scallops dry. This will help the scallops sear as they hit the skillet and hot oil. Wet scallops won’t get that good sear. All you need for drying scallops is a clean paper towel. Just pat the scallops on both sides until the moisture is removed.

Storing and reheating leftover scallops

You should serve the scallops as soon as they’re done cooking for the best flavor and texture. If you end up with leftovers, make sure to store them in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. Scallops left out at room temperature longer should be thrown away.

To store, keep the scallops in a shallow container or wrap them well in foil and store in the fridge. They should stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

To reheat, warm the scallops up in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave. Be careful not to overcook them or else the scallops could end up tasting rubbery.


3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds sea scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ⁄ 2 cup dry white wine or water, or more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


1. Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into pea-sized pieces, put it on a small plate, and stick it in the freezer. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil and wait for the butter to melt.

2. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the skillet. Cook, turning once, until they are well browned on both sides but not quite cooked through, 2 minutes per side (less if the scallops are under 1 inch across more if they’re over). Transfer the scallops to a plate.

3. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, and wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet with a spatula. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the liquid in the skillet thickens, a minute or two, then whisk in the butter you chilled in the freezer, one bit at a time, to make a creamy sauce, adding another tablespoon or two of liquid if necessary.

4. Return the scallops to the skillet and add the chives. Adjust the heat so the sauce bubbles gently and toss to coat the scallops with the sauce. To serve, transfer the scallops to a platter and spoon the sauce over all.

Recipe Summary

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Fish Stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 diver scallops

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes set brown butter aside and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, bring fish stock and vinegar to a boil over medium heat cook until liquid is reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Reduce heat to low. Slowly whisk in remaining 8 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in cooled brown butter until completely emulsified. Stir in capers, almonds, parsley, and 3/4 teaspoon salt season with pepper. Set sauce aside and keep warm.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops to skillet and cook until a light-brown crust forms, about 2 minutes. Turn scallops and continue to cook until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Divide scallops evenly between serving plates spoon sauce over scallops and serve immediately.

24. Sauces

Now, if you&rsquore like me and can devour seared scallops with no sides, this last side dish is for you.

Sure, scallops taste fantastic on their own, but you can enhance their flavors even more with sauces!

What I love about sauces is that there is no one perfect recipe for any of them. You can tweak them according to your preferences and dietary requirements! With sauces, you can let your creativity shine.

And since scallops have such a subtle flavor, there is a wide variety of sauces that go well with them. Try a sweet chutney or a spicy curry sauce for an Indian twist.

Or how about an avocado with honey and dijon mustard dip for a sweet and savory twist?

You can also go for a citrusy cilantro lime sauce or a spiked jalapeno bourbon sauce. Seriously, your options are endless!