How to Make Perfectly Pan Seared Scallops

by Alli

I’m a seafood lover and when I’m entertaining during the holidays, I like to include seafood whenever I can. When it comes to holiday party appetizers, I like to mix it up a bit and Pan Seared Scallops are perfect for holiday get-togethers.

How to Make Pan Seared Scallops

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Don’t be intimidated by Pan Seared Scallops. They are easy to cook once you know the basics. Scallops, like shrimp, don’t need much cooking time. You want to cook them in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. You’ll have tender scallops with a nice sear on the outside. If you cook them too long, you’ll have tough, pale, steamed scallops. Trust me, you don’t want that.

There are two types of scallops – sea scallops (the big ones) and bay scallops (the little ones). I prefer sea scallops but I’ve had my share of bay scallops too.

The Secret to Pan Seared Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

You’ll need about 1-1/2 lbs. sea scallops. If you find a small tag (side muscle) on the side of the scallops, remove it. Don’t worry if you miss one. They are perfectly safe to eat.

Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops in a single layer, spaced about an inch apart.

Cook the scallops for 2 minutes before flipping. The scallops should be golden brown and will release easily from the pan when time to flip. Cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately with homemade tartar sauce.

Pan Seared Scallops

How to Make Pan Seared Scallops


  • 1-1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • 2 Tablespoons butter OR light olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1 Tablespoon dill weed
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil OR butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the scallops to the pan, leaving an inch between each scallop. You should hear a sizzle when you place the scallops in the pan.
  4. Cook scallops for two minutes, flip and cook two more minutes. Scallops should have a nice sear on each side.
  5. Serve immediately with homemade tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve with Scallops.

Did you make this recipe?

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Reasons Scallops Don’t Have a Beautiful Sear

  • Moving them around in the pan. Leave them alone and let them cook the 2 minutes before flipping.
  • You purchased wet scallops instead of dry scallops. Wet scallops have been injected with or soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) and will exude more moisture during the cooking process. You’ll end up with rubbery scallops.

Pan Seared Scallops are easy to make at home.

Have you ever made pan seared scallops at home?

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Scallops are so easy to cook. I'll show you how to get the perfect sear on your pan-seared scallops - every single time!

Be sure to visit our fellow 12 Days of Christmas Bloggers below for even more creative ideas this holiday season!

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop 2018.



robin rue December 4, 2017 - 6:24 am

I haven’t had scallop in many years, but yours look so mouth watering. I am super excited to get some and make these for my family!

ricci December 4, 2017 - 6:58 am

I LOVE scallops but find them so intimidating to make!! You make it look easy though, I need to try them for myself now!!

valmg @ Mom Knows It All December 4, 2017 - 8:02 am

My husband loves scallops, and has the bay vs scallop discussion all of the time. He would really enjoy this recipe.

Amber Myers December 4, 2017 - 8:13 am

My husband and kids were absolutely LOVE these. They’re big on scallops. I might have to surprise them sometime and make some.

Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh December 4, 2017 - 8:58 am

I’m not a fan of scallops but my husband loves them. I’ve never actually cooked them, but that may change with this easy recipe.

Sarah Honey December 4, 2017 - 9:11 am

We love scallops! They are super easy to make too when you can find them fresh! We usually just seared them and drizzle with fresh lemon. Will have to try your recipe!

candy December 4, 2017 - 12:47 pm

I haven’t made scallops in awhile so this a great reminder to make this dish. Not hard and takes no time.

Jenn @ EngineerMommy December 4, 2017 - 5:25 pm

I don’t think I ever tried scallops but these sound delicious. It sounds like a super easy way to prepare them too. I know my husband would love this recipe.

Jenn December 4, 2017 - 6:07 pm

I have never tried to cook my own scallops. They are something I like to order every once in a while eating out, but I’m not much of a cook at home.

sara December 4, 2017 - 8:09 pm

I have never tried to make scallops before. Thank you for sharing the technique you use. It does not look too difficult!

Tania December 4, 2017 - 8:27 pm

I LOVE scallops!


Marysa December 5, 2017 - 8:07 am

I am a vegetarian, and have never made scallops, but they do look easy enough to make. I might have to give this a try sometime for when we are serving guests.

Karissa @WithOurBest December 5, 2017 - 8:48 am

Those are perfectly seared! They look buttery and delicious. I think that they look better than they do in some restaurants!

Alli December 5, 2017 - 10:45 am

Thanks so much! They are delicious and so tender.

Sandy N Vyjay December 5, 2017 - 9:32 am

The Scallops are visually very appealing. They seem as good if not better than professionally made.

Jilly Spellman December 5, 2017 - 11:47 am

This recipe looks so delish! I am allergic to gluten so it nice to see a delicious recipe that I can actually eat!

Erin December 5, 2017 - 2:40 pm

These scallops look beautiful (even Gordon Ramsay would approve!). I love the deep golden crust you were able to achieve – perfect!!

Kita Bryant December 5, 2017 - 4:18 pm

This is amazing. Scallops have so much great flavor.

Our Family World December 6, 2017 - 2:52 pm

My husband loves scallops but I make sure I only get the fresh ones. Pan seared scallops are really delicious and this is how I cook them too.

David Elliott December 7, 2017 - 5:27 pm

I love all things seafood just like you, with maybe the exception of oysters which are just ok. This recipe does look too delicious and well worth trying to make.

Kelly December 11, 2017 - 10:13 pm

Ohhhh! I have had scallops once and they were absolutely devine. This will come in handy when I’m ready to tackle them at home!

Emily December 15, 2017 - 12:06 am

Scallops are one of the only seafoods my kids will eat… this would also be a great quick dinner!

Megan December 23, 2017 - 6:45 pm

Pan Seared Scallops are my favorite meal ever – I spent a lot of time (and money!) perfecting the searing process after watching Hell’s Kitchen for many seasons, lol. I’ve never tried the homemade tartar sauce with them though!


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