Lemon Garlic Scallops Recipe

Lemon Garlic Scallops are pan-seared in butter, garlic, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The perfect weekend dinner that is ready in less than 20 minutes!

Another idea is to serve the lemon garlic scallops as an appetizer before a main course of seafood. They are delicious alongside Honey Citrus Salmon, or Taco Tortilla Roll Ups

Lemon Garlic Scallops Recipe

Lemon Garlic Scallops Recipe

Scallops are probably one of my favorite seafood dishes. First, it is healthy, full of proteins, and you can easily make them. All you need is about 15 minutes for a complete and delicious dinner. 

You can enjoy this dish for special occasions or just a weekend family meal. They are so succulent, buttery, and the lemon garlic sauce is soo yummy. Also, I love serving them over a plate of pasta, and simply pour the sauce over it. 

They are definitely not very cheap. However, making them at home is guaranteed to be cheaper than going to a restaurant and just as good as the chef made scallops! So enjoy them at home, and see why these are some of the BEST  Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops!

What do scallops look like?

Scallops are bivalves, like mussels and clams. However, in water, scallops are free-swimming. They clap their shells, producing a jet of water that propels them forward. They die quickly when out of the water, so they are usually found frozen and shucked.

How to prepare scallops?

You can find fresh or frozen at the local market. If going with the frozen type, they are usually already cleaned and ready to go. So, you basically do not have to clean or do much. 

However, when selecting fresh, or non-frozen scallops, try to find scallops without the bright orange or coral colored crescent-shaped part. Because the orange part can be a little bitter, I tend to avoid it. Also, they should not have a bad smell.

In addition, if you have bought the whole scallops, you will need to remove the roe attached and discard it. 

How to thaw scallops?

If they are frozen, it is best to thaw them in a bowl of cold water for about 10-20 minutes. Also, ensure thoroughly pat them dry with a paper towel to absorb all the liquid before searing.

What is the best way to cook scallops?

Scallops can be baked, steamed, poached, grilled, or pan-seared. My favorite way to cook scallops is to sear them in a hot pan, then serve with a rich butter sauce. The sauce for this pan-seared scallops recipe consists of:

  • butter
  • garlic
  • white wine
  • lemon
  • capers
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh parsley for garnish

The pan needs to be hot before adding the scallops and the scallops pat dry. Clarified butter or a high smoke point oil is best for pan searing scallops. You’ll know the pan is ready when the fat begins to sizzle and smoke.

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Scallops with lemon and garlic

How do you make the Lemon Garlic Scallops recipe?

  1. Frozen scallops need to be thawed in cold water first and pat dry. Also, it is very important for the scallops to be dry before cooking.
  2. Using a cast iron or non-stick pan, heat to medium-high heat. Next, add the oil and wait for it to start sizzling.
  3. Equally important, to cook evenly, place the scallops in the pan in a single layer, being careful not to crowd them. Next, cook the scallops for two to three minutes per side.
  4. The butter garlic sauce is made in the pan after the scallops have finished cooking. Next, add the scallops back to the pan, cover them in the sauce completely.

Can scallops be undercooked?

Unlike mollusks such as oysters and clams, when purchased from a reputable fish monger, fresh scallops are pretty safe from transferable parasites. As a result, they are safe to eat raw, so feel free to cook them to your preference.

For this pan-seared scallops recipe, the scallops are cooked all the way through.

To tell if they are cooked properly, poke them gently with a fork or your index finger. If the scallop bounces back slightly, it is cooked all the way through.

Garlic lemon scallops

What goes with lemon garlic scallops?

Starchy side dishes such as baked potatoes, rice, or pasta are wonderful choices to serve with the lemon garlic scallops recipe.  For a low carb dinner, serve the scallops with cauliflower rice. Vegetable side dishes like Green Beans with Bacon are also a great choice.

Scallops with Lemon and Garlic Recipe Tips:

  • If buying fresh (non-frozen scallops by the pound) sometimes they have a side muscle that needs to be removed. Simply, pull it away. 
  • Also, as stated above, it is best to dry them with a paper towel prior to cooking. Because they absorb water, I highly recommend drying them out. This way, you will end up with crispy scallops. 
  • It is important to cook them at a high temperature. This way they will be nice and crispy. 
5 from 5 votes
Lemon Garlic Scallops
Lemon Garlic Scallops
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Lemon Garlic Scallops are an impressive dinner for guests or a romantic meal for two. This pan seared scallops recipe is on the table in just 20 minutes!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Garlic Scallops, pan seared scallops
Servings: 4
Calories: 300 kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds scallops thawed, cleaned and pat dry
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
  1. If using frozen scallops, thaw them first in cold water and pat dry with paper towels before cooking. Pat dry well, it is important for the scallops to be dry.

  2. Place a large cast iron pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil and wait until the oil starts sizzling.
  3. Add the scallops in a single layer, make sure you do NOT over crowd them, work in batches if needed. Imediatelly season with salt and pepper lightly.

  4. Fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, check if the scallops are lightly browned underneath, then flip and fry again for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove scallops from pan and transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm.

  5. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pan and stir using a wooden spoon until melted.
  6. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until fragrant, for just about 1 minute. Stir continiously or otherwise it will burn.
  7. Pour in white wine or chicken broth, add lemon zest and capers, stir and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and lemon juice, until butter is fully melted.

  8. Remove pan from heat and add back in the scallops, scoop the sauce on top of them. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Garlic Scallops
Amount Per Serving
Calories 300 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 70mg23%
Sodium 685mg30%
Potassium 377mg11%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 385IU8%
Vitamin C 4.3mg5%
Calcium 22mg2%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Lemon Garlic Scallops


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