Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon and Brown Butter

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon and Brown Butter

Sea scallops are luxuriously tender and sweet. Here, they’re seared to golden perfection and finished with lemony brown butter sauce. Olives add a mild brininess, but for more punch, add a tablespoon of drained capers.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon and Brown Butter | Sitka Salmon Shares

Active time: 15 min
Total time: 25 min
Serves: 3-4


  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tender herbs such as tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chives, or dill
  • Crusty bread for serving



Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and remove and discard the connective muscle along the edge. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the scallops and cook without turning until deeply golden, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook just until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent loosely to keep warm.


Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter and shallot to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and the butter is lightly browned and nutty, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and ¼ cup water. Increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 2 minutes, shaking and swirling the pan occasionally. Stir in the olives and lemon zest, then season with salt and pepper.

Return the scallops to the skillet, browned side up, along with any accumulated juices. Turn to coat in the sauce, simmering just until heated through. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve with crusty bread.

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Pro Tips

Pair it Up

Pair it Up

Look for a medium-bodied white wine with some acidity to balance the richness of this herb-infused butter sauce. Sauvignon blanc from California or Argentina is always a great choice. 

Level it Up

Level it Up

This preparation works well with halibut, sablefish, or salmon fillets. In step 2, sear the fillets for about 3 minutes per side until just cooked through, then proceed to step 3.


*The information displayed is our analysis of the recipe based on its ingredients and preparation, and should not be considered a substitute for professional nutrition advice.

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