Seared Scallops with Lemon and Garlic Pan Sauce

A quick sear in a hot pan is the best way to make restaurant-quality sea scallops at home.

All you need for a fabulous finished dish is a flavorful pan sauce like this one made with butter, white wine, garlic, lemon, and a splash of cream. Serve with mashed potatoes and a simple green veggie like sautéed spinach.

Seared Scallops with Lemon and Garlic Pan Sauce

Seared Scallops with Lemon and Garlic Pan Sauce

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For a quick, yet delicious dinner, try these perfectly-cooked, pan seared sea scallops served with a flavorful pan sauce of butter, garlic, white wine, lemon and cream.


  • 1-1/4 lbs dry sea scallops, 16 to 20 per lb – see notes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cream


  • Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Assemble the rest of the ingredients near the stove so you can work as quickly as possible.
  • Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and, as soon as the butter begins to foam, add the scallops in a single layer. Work in two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan.
  • Depending on their size, sear the scallops for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side, transferring them to a plate, one by one as they cook through. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  • Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan, heat until foamy, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and any juices that have accumulated on the plate with the scallops.
  • Combine well, stir in the cream and the last tablespoon of butter. Remove from the heat as soon as the butter is melted.
  • To serve, plate the scallops and drizzle with sauce.

Tips for Making This Recipe

About the scallops:

The word “dry,” when referring to scallops, means that they have not been soaked in the brine-like solution often used to help prevent them from losing their natural moisture. If not clearly marked, ask your fishmonger if the scallops you’re buying are “wet” or “dry.”
Use only the “dry” variety in this recipe as you will not be able to sear the “wet” type properly.
Be sure that you work quickly with the scallops and don’t overcook them. You are looking for just a little golden-brown color around the edges and a creamy colored, slightly translucent center.
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