Pan-Seared Scallops


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Pan seared scallops are easy to make and perfect for any occasion. We pan sear these scallops in grape seed oil and then top them with flavorful fresh herbs.

Pan seared scallops in a cast iron pan.

Delicious Pan Seared Scallops

These perfectly cooked pan seared scallops take less than 5 minutes to cook and are topped with a delicious fresh herbs and garlic for the ultimate easy dinner. We aren’t lying when we say cooking scallops can be easy and fun!

Tips for pan seared scallops

  • You can use frozen scallops. If you are using frozen scallops just be sure you remove them from the freezer and let them fully thaw before preparing them.
  • A dry scallop sears better. You can dry off your scallops with a paper towel or a clean tea towel. This helps remove moisture so that they will really crisp up when you sear them.
  • Use a high smoke point oil. We like when are scallops have a golden brown crust and to reach this goal you need a high smoke point oil. We use a neutral grape seed oil.
  • Get your pan hot. Your scallops only sear for a few minutes because you are searing them on a very hot pan. A cast-iron skillet works great!
Seasoned scallops on a plate.

Featured Ingredients

The ingredient list for these pan seared scallops is short. We kept this recipe simple but feel free to make these scallops your own by making fun substitutions.

  • Large scallops. We suggest using large scallops when making pan seared scallops. We prefer using fresh scallops (you can find them in most grocery stores at the deli). If you use frozen scallops just remember to thaw them. The cook time will vary by the size of your scallops so be cautious of this!
  • Salt + ground black pepper. The only seasoning you need for these scallops are salt and pepper.
  • Grape seed oil. High smoke point, neutral oil is key to giving scallops that delicious golden brown crust. Avocado oil will work, too!
  • Fresh herbs– Pairing a pot seared scallop with fresh herbs sets this recipe over the top!
  • Lime juice + zest– Traditionally scallops are paired with lemon zest or lemon juice but we use lime for this recipe!
  • Garlic- Don’t skip the garlic!
  • Butter– We add a few tablespoons to the pan or cast iron right before remove the scallops from the pan for flavor!
Scallops in a cast iron pan.

How to Make Pan Seared Scallops

  1. Prepare the fresh herbs. We muddle fresh herbs with a simple herb paste, don’t skip it! Prepare the herb paste by placing the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Grid the ingredients together until a paste forms. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can use a glass and the end of a wooden spoon! Set aside.
    1. Remove moisture from the scallops. Set your thawed scallops on a paper towel or a clean tea towel and then pat them dry.
  2. Season the scallops. Season the scallops with salt and pepper on both sides and set aside.
  3. Let the oil get hot. Use a cast iron pan (or whatever pan you have) and heat it over high heat. Add the oil.
  4. Sear the scallops. When the oil is hot place the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on the first side and then flip and sear for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the last few ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime zest, butter, and garlic to the pan and swirl all the ingredients around in the pan until the butter has melted. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve. Place the scallops on a plate and drizzle the melted butter sauce over the scallops and then top with the fresh herb paste.

How big your scallops are, matters! If your scallops are smaller the sear time will decrease. Keep an eye on this! Nobody likes overcooked scallops!

Pan seared scallops in a little butter and lime juice.

Pan Seared Scallops Q&A

What are scallops?

Scallops are bivalve mollusks that live in shells (similar to an oyster or a clam). They are a muscle inside of a shell (that is the part that we eat). Sea scallops tend to be a bit larger where bay scallops tend to be a bit smaller.

Are scallops healthy?

Scallops are a healthy protein in moderation.

What do scallops taste like?

Scallops have a fishy taste and are tender and flakey when seared to perfection!

How to pan sear scallops from frozen?

We suggest thawing scallops before cooking them. Do not try to sear the scallops when frozen.

Can you pan sear scallops in olive oil?

You can pan sear scallops in olive oil but we do not suggest it. The scallops will cook before they are able to develop a brown crust.

Cooked scallops in a cast iron.

What to Serve with Pan Seared Scallops

You can serve these pan seared scallops on their own, over polenta, with pasta or salad. It would also be fun to serve these along side steak for a surf and turf meal for special occasions. Below are some other great options to serve along side scallops.


Store these pan seared scallops in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Pan seared scallops served over polenta.
A fork taking a bite of scallops.

Pan Seared Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

Pan seared scallops are an easy and delicious weeknight dinner or a fancy dinner for any occasion. The are seared in grape seed oil and and topped with a simple fresh herbs. They are fresh, flavorful, and delicious. 

Prep: 15 minutesCook: 5 minutesTotal: 20 minutes

Fat 12 Carbs 12 Protein 34

Yield 4 1x


  • 1.5-lbs. large scallops, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (+more for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil 
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and pressed 
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Remove the scallops from the refrigerator and pat them dry with a paper towel. 
  2. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and set them aside for later. 
  3. Prepare the herb paste by placing the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Grid the ingredients together until a paste forms. Set aside. 
  4. To sear the scallops, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add grapeseed oil. 
  5. When the grapeseed oil is hot and sizzling, add the scallops to the pan. 
  6. Sear the scallops for 2 – 2.5  minutes on each side to brown them. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime zest, garlic, and butter to the pan and swirl the ingredients around until the butter is melted.  
  7. Remove the scallops from the skillet and place them on a platter. 
  8. Distribute the herb paste by placing a bit of the paste on the top of each scallop. Put any extra herb paste on the side and use for dipping. 
  9. Squeeze fresh lime over the scallops and enjoy.

Tips & Notes

  • Be sure your scallops are completely thawed before searing them. 
  • We use grape seed oil because it has a high smoke point and is great for searing. If you don’t have grape seed, avocado oil will also work. 
  • If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, chop the herbs very fine and use the side of a knife to paste them. Then, add them to a bowl and add the lime juice, olive oil, and salt.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1/4 Calories: 291 Sugar: 0 Fat: 12 Carbohydrates: 12 Fiber: 1 Protein: 34 Cholesterol: 78

Author: Linley HansonCategory: DinnerMethod: Stove TopCuisine: American

Keywords: Pan Seared Scallops

About Linley Richter

Linley is a 5′ nothing spitball of positive energy who joined Team Fit Foodie in the Spring of 2014. Linley has worked on the digital side of small businesses and nonprofits since 2011, where she specialized in social media community management. Lin has a passion for food and an incredible palate. She is FFF’s chief recipe developer, so you can thank her for these incredible recipes!

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