Garlic Butter Seared Scallops

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This Garlic Butter Scallops recipe is only takes 10 minutes to make! Pan-seared scallops cooked in the most delicious garlicky butter sauce. If you’re wondering how to cook scallops, this is a great recipe to try.

Looking for more ways to cook scallops? Check out these creamy lemon butter scallops!

scallops in butter sauce with parsley and lemon slices


An Easy Seared Scallops Recipe

Searing scallops in garlic butter is one of the easiest restaurant-quality dinners that you can make at home, and they take just minutes to cook. When I’m short on time and want to make something quick my family will enjoy, this simple scallops recipe is one of my go-tos! These delicate shellfish are incredible when drenched in butter, garlic and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

What Are Scallops?

Scallops are a bivalve mollusk, which means their muscle is surrounded by two shells just like oysters and clams. People usually eat the white part of their interior flesh, which is round and tender when cooked. It is sweet with a touch of salty brine flavor.

There are two kinds of scallops available in the US: bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops are smaller and more tender compared to sea scallops, which are larger and as big as two inches. The names come from where each kind of scallop lives in nature – a bay vs the sea.

Scallops are also healthy! They’re a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, low carb, keto-friendly, and packed with protein.

scallops cooked in a skillet with garlic, butter, and lemon juice

What Kind of Scallops to Use

There are two kinds of scallops you can find in the market: wet or dry. I recommend buying dry packed scallops, which means natural scallops that have NOT been treated with phosphates.

“Wet” scallops are treated in a solution called sodium tripolyphosphate to extend shelf life. But, in turn, this makes the scallops absorb more water, and when you cook them, they shrivel up and release a lot of liquid, which makes it almost impossible for them to get that seared golden crust. 

raw scallops in a skillet

How to Cook Scallops with Garlic Butter

  • Season scallops with salt, pepper, and paprika. You can also add some cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. 
  • Set a large sauté pan over high heat. Melt the butter until it sizzles.
  • Add the scallops to the pan in one layer, one-inch apart, and cook for 2 minutes. You may have to do this in batches if your skillet isn’t big enough to fit all the scallops at once. Scallops need space to allow them to cook evenly and let the heat circulate around them.
  • Turn the scallops over. Continue to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or just until browned on the other side. DO NOT overcook. 
  • Remove scallops from pan and set aside.
  • Make the garlic butter. Add more butter to the pan and stir in garlic; cook for a minute, stirring frequently. 
  • Stir in wine and cook until reduced. 
  • Serve. Return scallops to the pan; spoon sauce over the scallops, squeeze some lemon juice, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Once the scallops are done cooking, serve immediately. If serving them with pasta, make sure to cook the pasta before you cook the scallops. They pair nicely with creamy or fresh pasta recipes, like this one-pot lemon pasta or this creamy asparagus pasta.

Tips for Success

Scallops are very easy to cook but there are a couple of tricks that will result in perfectly prepared scallops: 

  • Before you start, please pat dry the scallops with paper towels. Then, remove any attached side-muscle on the scallop by pinching and tearing it away from the scallop.
  • Scallops need to be seared over very high heat. If the heat isn’t high enough, the scallops will take too long to brown and you will end up with dry, rubbery, and overcooked scallops. 
  • Do NOT overcook! It is easy to overcook scallops because they only need a few minutes to be done. Don’t let this happen or you’ll end up with rubbery instead of tender scallops.
cooking scallops in garlic butter

Serving Suggestions

In addition to the pasta recipes suggested above, scallops are also really good with just a side of this Parmesan Broccoli or served over Polenta Cakes. I also enjoy serving them over a bed of creamy mashed cauliflower with a side of keto cloud bread.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Ideally, Scallops should be cooked and eaten within one day. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for 2 days, max.

More Seafood Recipes to Try


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4.79 from 14 votes

Garlic Butter Seared Scallops

Pan-seared scallops cooked in the most delicious garlicky butter sauce. An easy and simple recipe you can make at home in under 10 minutes!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops,, dry packed
  • salt and fresh ground pepper,, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter,, divided
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves,, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine,, (for Keto, use chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • lemon slices,, for garnish
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  • Thoroughly pat dry the scallops with paper towels.
  • Remove any attached side-muscle on the scallop by pinching and tearing it away from the scallop.
  • Season scallops on all sides with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Set a large skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter; cook until sizzling.
  • Add the scallops in one layer without over crowding the pan. Cook in batches if the scallops do not fit in the pan all at once.
  • Cook scallops for 2 minutes, or until browned. Do not move them around.
  • Flip over the scallops, lower heat to medium-high, and continue to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until bottom is golden brown.
  • Remove scallops from pan and set aside.
  • Melt remaining butter in the skillet, scraping up any browned bits left on the bottom of the pan.
  • Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Do not burn the garlic.
  • Add wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Squeeze lemon juice into the skillet; stir, and taste sauce for seasonings. Adjust accordingly.
  • Return scallops to the pan and spoon sauce over scallops.
  • Garnish with parsley and lemon slices.
  • Serve.




Serving: 4scallops | Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 548mg | Potassium: 307mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Michael Fontana says:

    Thanks !!! Great recipe !!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  2. Kathleen says:

    Easy and delicious for our Christmas feast!😊

  3. Mimi Gattinella says:

    I’m just giving this a 5 star for her explanation of what type of scallops to purchase. I just left CA and yes you can get scallops on sale, but they are ALL the ones that were frozen w/ phosphates. I could NEVER get a sear on them and thought it was me…not the scallop. So THANK YOU!!!!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I am very glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much! 🙂

  4. raphael says:

    They’re “Garlic Butter” Scallops … right? So you “recipe” for the garlic butter is “put the butter in the pan” ?

    You don’t infuse the garlic & butter together & then season it first?
    Is so … how would you prepare the garlic? sliced ? minced ? pulverized ?
    What would you DO to the garlic to help the butter accept the garlic?
    What would you add to the then infused butter? Any seasonings?
    Besides paprika which is THE WORST spice you could add to nearly any seafood that has white, delicate meat.
    I mean … any herbs or anything?
    Anything tricky … like say just a tiny dash of dry mustard or should I clarify my butter first? 🙄

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      But, did you try it? 😊❤️

      1. Narda Page says:

        You have the PATIENCE OF JOB ❤

  5. Peggy says:

    My family loved these! First time ever I’ve tried cooking scallops. A quick and delicious recipe!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I am very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂