Garlic Butter Scallops

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Garlic Butter Scallops are succulent shellfish that are pan-seared to a perfect golden brown and smothered in a rich garlic butter sauce, offering a slightly sweet and buttery flavor that is simply irresistible.

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Garlic Butter Scallops

Understanding Scallops

Scallops are bivalve mollusks with hinged shells, similar to clams, oysters, and mussels. Known for their soft, tender texture and naturally sweet, buttery taste, scallops are often referred to as the “candy of the sea.” They have a mild flavor and cook quickly, making them a favorite among seafood lovers.

Selecting the Best Scallops

To achieve the best results, choose high-quality scallops. Look for dry, dry-packed, or chemical-free sea scallops. These types are untreated and will sear beautifully. The color can range from off-white and pearly to light gray or pinkish-orange, all of which are good to eat. The smell should be briny or slightly salty, not fishy or sour.

Garlic Butter Scallops

Wet vs. Dry Scallops

  • Dry Scallops: These are untreated and will sear to a lovely golden brown without excess moisture.
  • Wet Scallops: These have been soaked in a solution called sodium tripolyphosphate to extend their shelf life. This solution adds water, making them plump but harder to cook properly as they release excess moisture and shrink in size.

Using Frozen Scallops

Yes, you can use frozen scallops. Ensure they are dry scallops and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

Cooking Scallops Perfectly

Scallops are easy to cook and require minimal preparation. Remove the small rectangular side muscles if they are still attached, as they can be tougher than the rest of the scallop. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel to ensure they sear properly.

  1. Heat Oil: In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering.
  2. Sear Scallops: Place the scallops in a single layer in the skillet without overcrowding. Cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes on one side. Flip when they release easily and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.

Garlic Butter Scallops

When Are Scallops Done?

Scallops are done when they are opaque and firm to the touch but still slightly soft. Overcooking will make them chewy and rubbery. Cooking times vary with the size of the scallops, so watch them closely.

Serving Suggestions

Scallops pair well with various side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, green beans, asparagus, and creamed corn.

Garlic Butter Scallops


For the Scallops:

  • 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) large sea scallops, about 11 scallops
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil

For the Garlic Butter Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • Lemon rounds, for garnish


Cooking the Scallops

  1. Prepare Scallops: Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Remove the small rectangular side muscles if still attached. Season the scallops with salt and pepper on all sides.
  2. Heat Skillet: Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add more oil if needed to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place the scallops in a single layer without overcrowding.
  3. Sear Scallops: Cook the scallops undisturbed for 2-4 minutes. When deeply golden brown, flip and repeat on the other side until opaque, with a slightly translucent area in the center.
  4. Keep Warm: Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Making the Garlic Butter Sauce

  1. Prepare Sauce: In the same skillet over low heat, add the butter, garlic, and parsley. Stir and scrape up any brown bits until the sauce comes together and the butter melts, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Combine and Serve: Remove the skillet from heat. Add the cooked scallops back to the pan and spoon the sauce over them. Serve immediately, garnished with lemon rounds.

Garlic Butter Scallops

Enjoy your Garlic Butter Scallops with your favorite side dishes for a delightful meal!

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