These pan-seared scallops with lemon butter sauce are delicious, elegant, and ready in less than 10 minutes!
I served scallops for one of the first “fancy” meals I made for my husband when we were first married and it’s been a favorite date night-in dish ever since. Scallops seem sophisticated and special, but the truth is scallops are so simple to prepare. They are naturally sweet and creamy, and only need a little seasoning and a sear in a hot pan with butter to make them shine.
This seared scallops recipe requires just 5 ingredients, including fresh lemon juice and thyme, and only a few minutes to prepare. They’re uncomplicated, but so good. You can serve them over a bed of pasta or risotto, or keep things really easy and pair them with a big salad, a crusty baguette to help mop up the delicious sauce, and a dry white wine. Skip the restaurant, this is better anyway!
How to shop for scallops
- For this recipe I like to use large sea scallops which are usually about 10 scallops per pound.
- Deciding to use fresh or frozen scallops will likely depend on where you live. If you’re near the coast, fresh scallops from a reputable retailer are a great option. For the rest of us, frozen works just fine. I always get mine frozen from behind the seafood/meat counter at a grocery store that I trust sells great quality.
- If you use frozen scallops, thaw them in the fridge overnight, drain away any excess liquid, and pat dry with paper towels.
Shop tools for this recipe
Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 lb large sea scallops
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium high heat. Add thyme.
- Add scallops seasoned side-down and cook without disturbing for 3-4 minutes, until well browned.
- Flip scallops over and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes. While scallops are cooking, spoon the butter over the tops to infuse more flavor.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the scallops and serve.