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If you’re searching for an easy Scallops recipe, then you’ve found the right place. This pan-seared dish takes a hot pan, some butter or ghee, and a few minutes. In this post, I give you a few tips to get a perfect sear each time. I also give you some side dish recipes like my mushroom keto risotto, which you can use as a variation to my seared scallops and cauliflower rice risotto meal! Perfect if you’re looking for a quick dinner that uses just one pot and simple ingredients!
What are scallops?
I will keep this simple, but scallops are a type of seafood from the bivalve mollusk family. They are related to oysters, mussels, and clams because they have a two-part shell that covers the soft, meaty part that we eat.
There are two types: a small version called bay scallops and a larger version that we call jumbo or sea scallops.
In this recipe, I’m using sea scallops, but you can feel free to substitute them.
What do scallops taste like?
Scallops are tender, meaty and slightly sweet. They go well with rich and creamy dishes because the slightly sweet flavor cuts through the creaminess!
Why share a recipe for this?
I love seafood but I have often stayed away from making scallops.
My time watching Hell’s Kitchen convinced me that they were hard to execute and I didn’t want to end up being one of those people having to throw them away. I mean, who wants to waste time, food, and money?
After a few not so great attempts, I’m sharing this recipe so that you might avoid some of my mishaps.
Aren’t all scallop recipes keto scallops recipes?
Not necessarily. So, I named this a keto recipe to intentionally signal that this recipe is free of grains and some of the pan sauces that I’ve had with not so keto-friendly ingredients.
Besides the ketogenic way of eating, these are perfect for those following Whole30 and the paleo way of eating. Instead of the butter, you’d simply need to use plain or flavored ghee.
How to Cook Seared Scallops
- Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them with sea salt and black pepper.
- Bring a cast-iron pan to medium heat
- Add the butter and olive oil to the pan and wait for the fat to start to bubble & sizzle
- Add scallops to the pan and cook them for 2 minutes per side
Keys to Getting a Great Sear
Get “Dry” Scallops
One of the things that I didn’t realize was important when I first started making this dish was whether my scallops were dry or wet.
I was having wildly different results depending on where I got the scallops from and couldn’t figure out why the same recipe wouldn’t work twice.
As outlined in this post about the differences between wet and dry scallops, wet scallops are soaked in chemicals called phosphates.
The chemicals make wet scallops hold more water, which actually prevents them from getting a good sear.
As shown in the image below, when compared to dry scallops, the wet ones (on the left side of the screen) are whiter in color.
Use a sizzling hot pan
Ensure that your pan is hot. Adding the scallops to your pan too soon will cause them to soak up the cooking fat instead of getting a crispy sear.
Allow Butter (or your other cooking fat) to be your friend
Salted butter, or your other cooking fat, is your best friend.
Besides helping to crisp the scallops, butter can tell you whether your pan is too hot.
Put the butter in the pan and wait for it to sizzle. If your butter turns brown when you place it in the pan, then the pan is too hot.
How long to cook scallops
One of the best things that you can do when making these is to get and set a timer.
Scallops cook like clock-work. So, I recommend setting a timer and removing them from the pan when the timer expires.
In this recipe, I set my stove timer for 2 minutes per side.
What to serve with this scallops recipe:
If you are wondering what good side dishes are for seared scallops, then look no further. I love having this dish with cauliflower risotto or keto creamed spinach.
Another great option would be these Keto One-Skillet Balsamic-Glazed Asparagus with Bacon.
As a condiment, you might try topping this or any fish & seafood dish with chimichurri sauce. The fresh flavors from the parsley, cilantro, and garlic work together for a light & refreshing main protein.
This recipe makes 4 servings
A serving is about 4 oz or 4 jumbo scallops.
I got my scallops flash-frozen from Trader Joes. You can feel free to buy them fresh. As mentioned above, just make sure that yours are dry-packed.
More Keto Seafood Recipe:
If you are a keto seafood lover, like me, then you should definitely head over to my keto seafood and fish recipes post. It includes more than 40 options for everything you might imagine like fish, clams, crabs, and lobsters.
Other Cast Iron Skillet Recipes:
- Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle them with sea salt and black pepper. I like to keep the spices to a minimum on this so that the flavor of the scallops is the star.
- Bring a frying pan to medium heat
- Add butter and olive oil and wait for the fat to start to bubble. This is important for getting the browned crust/sear on the outside of the scallops
- Add scallops to the pan and cook for 2 minutes per side. You should only flip the scallops once. Remove the pan from the heat so that the scallops do not continue to cook. Serve immediately.