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.

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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.


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