How to Cook Scallops Perfectly Every Time!

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Let’s talk scallops!! Specifically how to cook scallops perfectly every single time you make them and this incredible Lemon Garlic Scallop recipe!

How to Cook Perfect Scallops Every Time from (@whatsgabycookin)

In this post we cover how to shop for scallops, how to prep the scallops, how to cook the scallops, and how to properly season the scallops like a pro. And you’ll have the most delicious Lemon Garlic Scallops with a little bit of brown butter in no time!

How to Cook Perfect Scallops Every Time from (@whatsgabycookin)

First things first – what is a scallop.

If you’ve never had a scallop before – let me be the first to tell you that you’re welcome. These little morsels of deliciousness are part of the mollusk family and semi-related to the mussel, clam and oyster family. They are tender, delicate a little bit sweet and incredibly flavorful. It’s really it’s all about creating that perfect crust on a scallop for max flavor.

How to shop for scallops:

There are 3 different kinds of scallops to look out for when shopping: 1: Sea Scallops – the biggest scallops and my personal favorites. 2: Bay Scallops – the smallest of the scallops. 3: Diver Scallops – scallops that are harvested by hand! If you live near the coast and have a great seafood market, go for fresh scallops. But if you’re more inland, a great frozen scallop would be the way to go most likely. That way you can ensure it was frozen at the peak time! And ALWAYS look for dry-packed scallops! That will ensure they haven’t been soaked in anything that could affect their taste.

If you’re using frozen scallops, make sure to thaw them overnight in the fridge. I like to place them on a paper towel lined baking sheet so any excess liquid gets soaked up right away.

How do you prep a scallop:

There are a few key rules when prepping scallops – all of which are super easy! First, if you buy them and the side muscle is still intact, remove it from each scallop. Then just pat them super dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. That’s it! Super simple which means these make a great weeknight meal.

How to cook scallops:

Similar to that of the prep, scallops don’t require much effort when cooking. Another few rules to keep in mind. You’ll want to coat a pan in olive oil and have the heat fairly high. Once you add the scallops, they’ll form a golden crust in about 2-3 minutes. Once you’ve got the crust on one side, just flip and cook the other side until that has a crust as well. Voila!

And if you want to add a little extra oomph – there’s a garlic brown butter sauce on the recipe below that will take things up a notch or 12!

How to Cook Perfect Scallops Every Time from (@whatsgabycookin)

Lemon Garlic Scallops

5 from 3 votes
Learn how to make the most perfect scallops every single time with this Lemon Garlic Scallop recipe!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 people


  • 16 large dry sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 bunch chives, finely sliced


  • Depending on how you purchased your scallops, you might need to pull the side muscle off scallops. Once the muscle is removed, pat the scallop dry and liberally on both sides with salt and pepper
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is shimmering, place the scallops into skillet, flat side down, and cook without touching until that side is deep golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Be sure not to crowd the pan, this might take 2 batches depending on the size of your pan.
  • Use a thin spatula or tongs to gently turn over.  (if they stick, cook another 30 seconds and try again. Cook on second side until the scallop looks opaque in the middle and golden brown on both the top and bottom. Remove the scallops to a clean plate and set aside.
  • Pour off any oil in skillet and set over medium heat. Add the butter and cook, swirling, until butter foams, then browns, about 90 seconds and then add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add white wine and scrape up any brown bits. Once the wine mostly cooks off, add the lemon juice and chives and drizzle the pan sauce around and over scallops and serve.


  1. You said this post would cover how to shop for scallops but it doesn’t! 🙁 Can you please share? 🙂 How to shop for seafood in general would be so helpful! Thank you!

    1. I like a heavy bottom cast iron or stainless! Just don’t use a non-stick – they don’t sear as nicely

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