Seared Scallops with Lemon Pan Sauce

Seared Scallops with Lemon Pan Sauce is an easy dish that perfectly balances the rich and delicate flavors of fresh scallops with the tartness of lemon and tang of capers. 

This dish is fancy enough to serve at a dinner party but simple enough to make on a weeknight. To take it up a notch, serve the seared scallops with a side of roasted asparagus or a light salad. With its bright flavors and luxurious texture, Seared Scallops with Lemon Pan Sauce is sure to become a new favorite dish in your recipe repertoire!

Begin this quick main course by prepping the lemons.  Squeeze two lemons into a small bowl.  With the remaining lemon, cut of the ends, stand the lemon on a cut end and remove the peel and white pith. Cut between the membranes to release the segments into the bowl with the juice.  Fish out any seeds that may have escaped into the bowl.  Set the lemon juice aside.

Pat the scallops dry and season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.  Do not salt them more than a minute or two before cooking as the salt can toughen them up.

Heat a large skillet, add some oil and once it shimmers, it’s time to start cooking! Place scallops into the skillet and cook without touching them for 3-4 minutes until the underside is deep golden brown.  If you move them around, you won’t get a good sear on them.

Turn them over carefully and continue to cook for another minute or two until they are slightly translucent in the middle.  Transfer them to a plate.

To make the butter sauce, add the butter until it foams and then browns, about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and lemon pieces and stir briskly to emulsify the sauce.  Mix in the capers and chives and spoon the sauce over and around the scallops.

Serve the scallops immediately and enjoy them!

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Seared Scallops with Lemon Pan Sauce

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 3 lemons
  • Small handful of chives, thinly sliced
  • 12 large dry sea scallops
  • Kosher sale & freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tsp drained capers


Cut two lemons in half and squeeze juice into a measuring glass or small bowl; you should have 1/4 cup juice. Set aside.

Using a paring knife, cut ends off remaining lemon to expose flesh. Upend lemon on a cut end and remove peel and white pith from lemon; discard. Cut between membranes to release segments into bowl with juice; squeeze membranes to get any last drops of juice. Fish out any seeds, set aside.

Pat scallops dry. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Pour in oil to lightly coat surface (2-3 tablespoons). Heat until oil shimmers and you see first wisps of smoke. Swiftly place scallops into skillet, flat side down, and cook without touching, tossing or fussing until underside is deep golden brown, 3-4 minutes.

Use a thin spatula or tongs to gently turn over; if they resist, cook another 30 seconds and try again. Cook on second side until flesh at top and bottom looks opaque but there is still a faintly translucent strip in the middle, 1-2 minutes, depending on size. Transfer scallops to a plate.

Pour off any oil in skillet and set over medium heat. Add butter and cook, swirling, until butter foams, then browns, about 5 minutes. Add reserved lemon juice and segments, stir briskly and swirl pan to emulsify sauce. Mix in capers and reserved chives and spoon pan sauce around and over scallops. Serve immediately.


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    Recipe Reviews

    Avarage Rating:
    • 5 / 5
    Total Reviews:( 1 )
    • Harry

      It’s now 6:15 pm here in Milos, Greece. I just got your scallop recipe Fran. I asked the cook of the seafood restaurant, if he can replicate your recipe to the T. Sure enough, they did it with fresh scallops. Delicious. Btw it tastes great with while wine.

      • Francine

        I am so envious!!! Enjoy Greece, Harry, and thanks for keeping up with my blog!

    • Harry

      Thank you Fran. My pleasure. I got a Greek 🇬🇷 SIM card put in the phone. So I can now email effortlessly. Yesterday I had a 2 kg lobster in this Island, with a thick tail, and no claws. Which I thought was delicious. But today your scallop recipe became the talk of the evening. Cheers.

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