Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops

Seared sea scallops on a bed of risotto garnished with lemon wedges

Appetizers & Beverages, Dinner | December 21, 2019 | By

Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops appetizer or meal. Golden, pan seared sea scallops drizzled with a delicious lemon garlic butter sauce. This easy appetizer or main dish is on the table in  10 minutes! 

Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t eat much seafood – unless you count fish and chips. But I developed a taste for it as an adult and haven’t looked back. 

Scallops are always a restaurant, but they’re expensive so I searched recipes online, cookbooks and magazines, combined what I liked about many of the recipes and came up with this one. It has everything I love about scallops: seared outside, tender inside with a crazy-good lemon garlic butter sauce that compliments the scallops without overpowering them. 

I used to save scallops for special occasions but now when I see them on sale I snatch them up. As an appetizer or served with risotto for a main dish, you can’t go wrong. Seared Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops ~ the candy of the sea.

lemon garlic butter sea scallops on white platter on a bed of risotto

Tips for buying and cooking scallops:

First start with fresh scallops instead of frozen for the best flavor. 

Depending on size figure 4 scallops per person. This works well as an appetizer and as a meal if you’re also serving a heavier side dish, like risotto.

Sometimes you’ll see a small side muscle attached to the scallop. Gently pull it off with your fingers or it’ll be tough when you cook the scallops. 

Rinse the scallops and pat them dry really well with paper towels.

Make sure the scallops are dry before cooking. This will make sure you get the golden, crispy crust you see in the photos. Otherwise they’ll steam instead of searing.

What is pan searing?

Pan searing browns and caramelizes the outside of seafood, meat or poultry adding flavor and forming a light crust.

seared scallops on a bed of risotto garnished with parsley and lemon wedges

What do I need to make Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops?

  • sea scallops (approximately 4 per person)
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • garlic cloves
  • white wine
  • lemon
  • parsley

How to make Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops:

Make sure to have all your ingredients prepped and nearby before cooking (called mise en place) because the scallops cook quickly.

Using paper towels, thoroughly pat the scallops dry on all sides then season them with salt and pepper. Drying the scallops is an important step in getting that beautiful, caramelized sear.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the scallops without overcrowding (work in batches if necessary), cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side then transfer to a plate. Set a timer when I cook scallops ~ you’ll be surprised how fast 2 minutes goes!

Once the scallops are cooked and removed from the skillet, reduce the heat to low, add the butter and garlic and cook for one minute. Pour in the wine, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet and cook 1-2 minutes while the wine reduces.

Squeeze the juice from one wedge of lemon into the sauce. Taste and if you’d like a heavier lemon flavor, add another small squeeze. Drizzle the lemon garlic butter sauce over the top of the scallops and eat right away. 

What do I eat with these Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops?

My personal favorite ~ and only side I make with scallops is risotto. Creamy, light – it’s the perfect side. I make it before I start the scallops and keep it warm so it’s on standby for when they’re finished. Plain rice, a salad or baked potato would also be really good. 


pinterest pin - closeup of seared scallops on bed of risotto with lemon wedge

If you tried this Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops recipe or any other on the blog then I’d love to hear from you with a comment or star rating! 

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Seared sea scallops on a bed of risotto garnished with lemon wedges

Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops

Pan seared Lemon Garlic Butter Scallops ~ easy to make in just 10 minutes.
PIN for later!
Print Recipe
CourseAppetizer, Main Course
Keywordscallops, lemon garlic butter scallops, pan seared scallops
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time12 minutes
AuthorA Gouda Life


  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 lemon cut in 4 wedges
  • 1/4 cup white wine chardonnay, pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped


  • Gather and prep all ingredients before you start cooking because the scallops will cook really quickly.
  • Thoroughly dry the scallops using paper towels. This is an important step to getting the beautiful sear shown in the photos.
  • Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully add the scallops without overcrowding cooking 1 1/2 - 2 minutes per side allowing them to sear then remove them from the skillet onto a plate.
  • Once all the scallops are cooked, reduce heat to low and add the butter and garlic cooking for 1 minute then pour in the wine and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook 2 minutes letting the wine reduce then add juice from one wedge of lemon.
  • Taste and add more lemon juice if preferred then drizzle the lemon garlic butter sauce over the top of the scallops and serve right away.


  1. Leave a Reply

    December 22, 2019

    These scallops are a tasty treat for any occasion. Just add a sandy beach and the smell of ocean air and of course your favorite beverage.

  2. Leave a Reply

    December 25, 2019

    Scallops are my favorite! Light and filling – the more garlic the better!

    • Leave a Reply

      December 27, 2019

      Bette they’re my all time favorite too – but the sear – and the garlic – is a MUST in my book 🙂

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