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Pan-Seared Scallops


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Super Simple One-Pan, Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-seared scallops are healthy, delicious and easy to make. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when buying scallops for this recipe:

Caramelized juicy pan-seared scallops tossed in lemon and parsley in a pan.

For pan searing, always use sea scallops rather than bay scallops, which are too small for this cooking technique. Sea scallops are larger, anywhere from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 cm to 5 cm) in diameter, and between 10 and 30 to a pound.

Go for the larger end of the spectrum. Larger scallops are not tougher, and because of their size you can get a good sear on the outside and still have a tender, succulent interior.

Ask For Dry Pack Scallops – ALWAYS

Always ask your fishmonger for dry pack scallops. Many commercial scallops are soaked in a phosphate solution that whitens them and plumps them up, by making them absorb water.

The problem is the excess water is released in cooking, so you end up steaming them rather than searing. Dry pack scallops have no additives of any kind. They may be more expensive, but remember, with wet scallops, you’re paying for all that excess moisture in weight.

We like these scallops served with a bed of greens, as seen below.

Carmelized juicy pan friend scallops served with fresh lettuce.

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Carmelized juicy pan friend scallops served with fresh lettuce.
4.09 from 12 votes

Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-Seared Scallops are a one-pan dinner that you can get on the table in no time - yet they are elegant enough for guests.

Makes: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Author: Philip Nicholas


  • 1 pound (455 g) large dry pack sea scallops (around 15 to a pound)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, halved, seeds removed


  1. A half hour before cooking, remove the scallops from the refrigerator and put them on a plate lined with paper towels, covering the top with another paper towel. To get a nice crust, it's essential that the scallops be completely dry before being sautéed.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until hot. Raise heat to medium high, add the oil and butter and cook until butter has melted, foam begins to subside and the fat is very hot.
  3. Pat the scallops dry once more, season one side with kosher salt and pepper and put them in the pan, seasoned side down in a single layer without crowding – it is very important not to overcrowd or else the scallops will just steam.
  4. As scallops are cooking, season top side with salt and pepper and let sear without moving them (very important) until nicely crusted, and golden brown, about 2 minutes or longer.
  5. Using tongs, gently lift one scallop and take a peek to see if it’s done. If not nicely crusted and golden, continue to cook for another minute.
  6. Turn the scallops with tongs or a spoon, not a fork, and sear until the second side is browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, another 2 minutes or so depending on the size of the scallops. Do not overcook; you are aiming for a nicely seared outside and a moist interior.
  7. Transfer the scallops to a plate, squeeze lemon juice into the pan, add parsley, swirl to combine and then pour the sauce over the scallops. Or if you want to avoid any extra fat, just squeeze lemon directly onto the plated scallops and garnish with parsley.



  • This recipe works best with large scallops. If using smaller ones, keep the heat high, but decrease the cooking time.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American


Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 28.6mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.3mg

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.

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