Filed Under: Main Dish | Seafood | Weeknight

Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Lemon Sauce

Recipe By Tessa Arias
March 20th, 2013

This recipe is pretty foolproof so you won't have to worry much about ruining your expensive scallops.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Nutty, earthy, sweet, tart, and fresh. All around savory goodness.
Texture: This is the best part of seared scallops! They’re crisp and crusty at the edges and fall-apart tender in the center. I loooove scallops.
Ease: Surprisingly easy but impressively gourmet and tasty.
Appearance: Just b-e-a-u-tiful.
Pros: Quick, easy, amazingly scrumptious.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes.

Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Lemon Sauce

I’ll never ever understand people who say they dislike chocolate or who say they dislike seafood. Those are some of my all time favorite foods (not together though… ewh). I love fish and shellfish but one of my favorite spoils of the sea is definitely sea scallops. They’re pretty much perfect in my book. Quick to cook and when done right they are slightly sweet, super tender, with a golden brown mouthwatering crust. The only problem is that they can be pretty pricey. To my sheer joy giant sea scallops were on sale at my grocery store last week so I just had to make this recipe. This recipe is pretty foolproof too so you won’t have to worry much about ruining your expensive scallops.

How to make
Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Lemon Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
This recipe is pretty foolproof so you won't have to worry much about ruining your expensive scallops.


For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

For the scallops:

  • 1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, tendons removed and patted very dry
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


For the sauce:

  1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, swirling constantly, until the butter turns a dark golden brown color and has a nutty aroma, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the parsley, thyme, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid to keep warm.

For the scallops:

  1. Sprinkle the dry scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of the scallops in a single layer, flat side down, and cook, without moving, until well browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet. Using tongs, carefully flip the scallops and continue to cook until the sides of the scallops are firm and the centers are opaque, 30 to 90 seconds. Remove the scallops to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Wipe out the skillet and repeat cooking with the remaining oil, scallops, and butter. Serve immediately with browned butter sauce.

Recipe Notes

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape — March 20, 2013 at 8:59 am

    This looks amazing!! I actually had something very similar at a restaurant for lunch yesterday.

  2. #
    Tracey — March 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Scallops are the best, but like you, I don’t buy them much because of the price tag. Next time I find a good deal I definitely want to try this – love, love, love brown butter!!

  3. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — March 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Mmm, I’m a scallop lover too! I used to be anti-seafood but that has definitely changed among recent years, and now scallops are one of my favorite things EVER. Love this version with brown butter and lemon. Yum! Pinned 🙂

  4. #
    Tieghan — March 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I have never made nor had scallops, but this is the recipe I am going to try!

  5. #
    Lokness @ The Missing Lokness — March 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I love scallops too! I am always looking for a great sauce to go with scallops. Yours sounds perfect! Brown butter and lemon? YUM! Try it out soon.

  6. #
    Linda | The Urban Mrs — March 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Yum yum! Thankfully love both chocolates and seafood. So, this scallop is perfect dish for me, especially after a long day at work. Woohoo!

  7. #
    Hayley — April 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I made these for my family Friday and it was a huge hit! Absolutely delicious!

  8. #
    Laurie — April 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

    This recipe sounds delightful. I happen to have some scallops in the freezer that I would love to cook but wonder if frozen scallops would not work well for this recipe. Advise?

    • #
      Tessa — April 6, 2013 at 7:49 am

      Thawed frozen scallops should work fine – just make sure you pat them dry really well.

  9. #
    Cleo — April 6, 2013 at 5:11 am

    i don’t buy them too often because they tend to be pricey but this is a great recipe, I will definately try it soon.

  10. #
    Carole — May 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Carole’s Chatter is collecting scallop dishes today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers

  11. #
    Doug didier — July 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Missing seafood tag here.

  12. #
    Mary — September 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Can you substitute salted butter for unsalted and eliminate or reduce the added salt?

    • #
      Tessa — September 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Yep! Just salt to taste.

  13. #
    Jennie — February 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I found some scallops on sale and was looking for a simple sauce. This is it! Thank you!

  14. #
    Karolyne — April 2, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I made this with a few adjustments (as usual) I used a Maggie fish seasonings with garlic n onion powder n black pepper which I also added to the scallops n set aside, then I thinly sliced garlic, fresh parsley n about 3 scallions/green onions. I seared the scallops n butter only n removed them n then I sauteed the prior seasonings n a herbed butter with a little reg land o lakes butter then added1/3 of a fresh lemon’s juice n then put the seared scallops n this sauce n served over linguine…it was absolutely delish!! 🙂 u must try!! 🙂

  15. #
    Chris — December 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I had some leftover raw sea scallops on Christmas Eve (today), just as guests were arriving, and wanted to do something with them so I found this recipe…went out to the yard and clipped some fresh lemon thyme, parsley, and came back in and made this for a quick appetizer I didn’t have a shallot, so I just used a quarter of an onion chopped fine – it got RAVE reviews from everyone crowded around the plate!! Thank you!!!

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