How to Cook Scallops in a Sauté Pan

How to Cook Scallops in a Saute Pan

Scallops are such a delectable treat. They are one of the best shellfish available out there and are incredibly easy to cook. Most people think that they would be difficult to cook, but in all reality, they only take a few minutes to cook and are packed with protein. With that being said, as for all shellfish, they can be overcooked and will turn rubbery and tough. So, you want to make sure you pay close attention when cooking them.

Choosing the Best Ingredient

When it comes to choosing scallops, there is really only two different types; small bay scallops and diver sea scallops. Bay scallops are very small and usually used in soups and stir fry. You don’t want to get these, even though they are cheaper, they are not anywhere near the same thing. Diver seas scallops are much larger and usually are about 12-15 scallops per pound. You should be able to get them from any seafood shop or even your local grocery store when they are in season. A good portion of scallops per person should be about 4-6 scallops depending on the size.

Preparing the Ingredients

Getting your diver sea scallops is not very hard and doesn’t take too much work. The first step is to clean them whether they are dry or wet. All diver scallops have an abductor muscle attached to the side of the scallop and needs to be removed. It will peel away easily with your fingers, then discard the abductor muscle. Next, you need to season the scallop. Diver sea scallops are naturally sweet and salty so they don’t need any salt or other seasonings added to them. If you want, you can season them with black pepper all over the scallop, but that is it.

During the Cooking Process

The cooking process is simple. All you need to do is get a real good sear on the top and bottom of the scallop first. Then you will need to cook the scallop in the pan until it is finished. In order to do this, add a little butter to the pan after searing them and continue to cook. This will help to cook the scallop through without burning the sear or overcooking them. It should only take a few minutes over the heat or you can remove them from the heat and allow the butter and residual heat to carry them over until finished while you get the rest of the meal ready.

The Final Touches

Once the scallops are cooked, remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel. This will help to get all the extra butter and oil off of the scallops, kind of like when you cook bacon. You don’t want to serve the scallops covered in cooking grease. Pat them dry slightly with the paper towel then serve as you like. Scallops go great with rice or risotto or as a side or main protein for a nice pasta dish. A salad with a vinaigrette will add some acidity to cut through the sweetness and fat of the scallop as well.


  1. Place a sauté pan on the stovetop over medium high heat with a little bit of vegetable oil in the pan.
  2. Once the pan starts to smoke a little bit, gently place the scallops in the pan to begin searing. Cook on one side for a couple of minutes then turn them over to sear on the other side.
  3. Once seared on both sides, add a few tablespoons of butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to finish cooking off of the heat.

Remove the scallops from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain the cooking grease. Transfer the scallops to a plate, serve and enjoy!

5/5 - (23 votes)

Leave a Comment