Pan Seared Scallops are a healthy and impressive dinner to make on a busy weeknight or fancy Sunday dinner. This restaurant-worthy meal is so easy and made in only 15 minutes! You will absolutely love the tender and smooth texture, golden crust, and delicious lemon caper sauce to balance the natural sweetness of scallops.
Although scallops can be intimidating, this fool-proof recipe actually turns out perfectly when cooked in a saucepan or skillet at home. So whether you are looking for a celebratory, splurge type of home-cooked meal, or just to vary up your protein, you will absolutely love these buttery scallops! Serve with some simple mashed potatoes or easy side salad for a complete meal.
As a nutritionist, I am often asked about healthy protein options that are different from the typical chicken or salmon recipes. I love recommending scallops! Not only do they boost a healthy amount of Omega 3’s, but they are also a fantastic source of B12, selenium, and iron. This particular recipe is also Keto friendly and low-carb!
For this version, we’re creating a simple butter garlic sauce with lemon and capers. The garlic taste with tangy lemon and salty capers is the perfect combination to balance out the mild sweetness of scallops! Using a cast iron skillet, we give the scallops a gorgeous golden brown crust.
How to make perfectly smooth and tender pan-seared scallops!
Here is what we need to make these scallops with the most amazing lemon caper sauce:
- 1 dozen large sea scallops
- Salt and pepper
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Garlic, minced
- White wine (can also substitute chicken broth)
- Capers (drained)
- Fresh parsley or chives for garnish
You will need a cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet to get a perfect golden crust! Heat up the pan to medium high heat and wait until it gets hot.
Be sure to prep the scallops by patting dry and seasoning with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add your oil and scallops. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side (this will depend on size of the scallops). Make sure they are golden brown on the bottom! If the scallops resist when you try to flip, wait another 30 seconds before trying again. The second side should only take 1-2 minutes.
Remove the scallops and set aside to a plate. Keep the pan hot so you can make the sauce!
Add butter to the skillet, then the garlic. Brown for 1-2 minutes, then add the lemon and wine (if using). Add in the capers and stir to combine. Remove the pan from heat, and add the scallops to the pan so each one is covered in sauce. Serve immediately!
Which scallops do I buy?
When possible, you want to purchase “dry” scallops. That means they are not soaking in a preservative water solution like “wet” scallops. This can create a scallop that doesn’t cook as well, and ends up more chewy and water-logged.
Fresh or frozen? The answer is, either one! Scallops can be enjoyed year-round and anywhere because you can buy them frozen. This is especially a good idea if you don’t live anywhere near an ocean.
If you are purchasing frozen scallops, thaw in the refrigerator the night before cooking.
What do I serve with Scallops?
There are so many good options! As I mentioned above, my mashed potatoes and salad creates a complete meal. Other ideas include:
- Cauliflower Mushroom Grits (similar to a polenta texture!)
- Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Simple rice or cauliflower rice
- Lemon Green Beans or Lemon Garlic Broccoli
All photos in this post were taken by Loren with Fed and Nourished.
15 Minute Pan Seared Scallops (smooth with a golden crust!)
These Pan Seared Scallops have the most delicious lemon caper sauce and come together in only 15 minutes! Healthy, delicious, and a perfectly smooth texture.
- 1 dozen Large Sea Scallops
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil or olive oil
- 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Lemons
- 1/4 cup White wine*
- 1 tbsp Capers, drained
- Parsley or fresh chives for garnish (optional)
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat (stainless steel or cast iron skillet works well here). Pat dry the scallops and season with salt and pepper.
Once the pan is hot, add the oil. Then add the scallops, flat side down. Cook for 2-4 minutes (depending on thickness of the scallops). Flip when golden brown and do not touch or toss in between! If the scallops are sticky or resist, do not flip over yet! Wait about 30 seconds before trying again. Cook on the 2nd side for 1-2 minutes or until the flesh at the top and bottom looks opaque. Transfer the scallops to a plate and set aside. Keep the pan hot.
Add the butter to the skillet, then add the garlic Brown for about 1-2 minutes, then add in the lemon juice and wine (if using). Stir and scrape up any browned bits. Add in the capers and stir to combine.
Spoon the sauce over the scallops and serve. Garnish with chives or parsley.
*Use a dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay.