Cast Iron Scallops are the perfect easy-but-impressive restaurant-quality food to cook at home. Ready in minutes, pan fried scallops are seared then finished with melted butter and burst of zesty fresh lemon juice.
This recipe is inspired by Gordon Ramsey seared scallops, which really brought this dish back into food fashion.
If you've ever wondered how get the perfect sear on scallops with a golden crust like a restaurant does, read on!
With a few simple steps I show you how easy it is to achieve perfectly seared scallops every time.
Containing jus-t 5 ingredients the scallops with lemon butter sauce can be cooked and ready in just 10 minutes.
Seared scallops are great for an elevated meal, either as a main or starter.
- Why You'll Love These Easy Pan Fried Scallops
- Cast Iron Scallops Ingredients
- How to Make Cast Iron Seared Scallops - Step-By-Step
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Variations & Substitutions for Pan Seared Scallops
- Tips & Tricks For Making Pan Seared Scallops
- Pin This Cast Iron Scallops Recipe For Later
- What Do You Think?!
- More Easy Under 30 Minute Recipe Ideas
- Printable Recipe
- Cast Iron Scallops
- Reader Comments & Ratings
Why You'll Love These Easy Pan Fried Scallops
- The scallops can be cooked in minutes, making this a great weeknight dinner option.
- This dish is also fancy enough for a special occasion or date night.
- This recipe uses only 5 ingredients, but is a healthy and tasty way to include fresh seafood in your diet.
- If you buy your scallops ready prepared, this is a super quick meal that can be cooked in a matter of minutes.
- I've served these scallops as a main dish, but they make a great appetizer or starter too, with a side of salad.
Cast Iron Scallops Ingredients
Find the full list and quantities in the recipe below.
Scallops - In the US regular large scallops are known as sea scallops and king scallops in the UK. The smaller, nickel sized scallops are called bay scallops in the US and queen scallops in the UK.
If you can get fresh scallops that's great. But here in the US I recommend dry scallops, which are scallops that have been shucked before being packed on ice to keep them fresh, but not frozen.
I like to use just the white scallop meat, however you can also find scallops with the roe, or coral as it's also know, attached. The roe is entirely edible, it comes down to personal preference whether or not you leave it attached or remove it.
Butter and Oil - I use olive oil to sear the scallops as it has a higher burn temperature than butter. Then I finish the scallops with butter which really adds to the flavor and helps create a light pan sauce.
Lemon - I always finish off scallops with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I also like to serve an extra slice alongside, that way everyone can addmore to suit their own tastes.
How to Make Cast Iron Seared Scallops - Step-By-Step
Find the full printable recipe below.
Set a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat until smoking hot.
While the skillet heats, season the cleaned scallops well.
Add olive oil to the hot pan and carefully add the scallops. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Don't move the scallops so a nice sear forms and the scallops start to get a golden brown crust.
Turn the scallops and cook on the second side for a further 1 to 2 minutes. Again don't move them in the pan.
Remove the scallops from the pan but keep it on the heat.
Add butter to the pan and swirl around until melted. Add the lemon juice and stir through.
Serve the scallops with lemon slices and the lemon butter sauce spooned over them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best oil to sear scallops in?
Use a light flavored oil, you do not want to overpower the subtle flavor of the scallop. I use olive oil, not extra virgin olive oil as it's burn temperature is too low. However, canola oil, grape seed oil or sunflower oil would work here too as they have a higher smoke point.
How do you get a good sear on scallops?
The first thing to do is get the pan nice and hot before adding the oil and getting it hot in the pan. The trick is to quickly sear the scallops in hot oil, and not to cook them too long.
Place the scallops into the hot oil and give them plenty of space so they sear and don't steam.
Do not move them - this is critical. If you move them around the pan you won't get the golden crust you are looking for. When you turn the scallops over do the same again - do not move them around the pan.
What type of scallops are best to buy?
As I'm based in the US I recommend dry-packed scallops, which are scallops that have been shucked before being packed on ice to keep them fresh, but not frozen.
If you can get your hands on fresh scallops those would be ideal too. If you are only able to access frozen scallops, make sure that they are fully defrosted and dry before starting to cook.
Variations & Substitutions for Pan Seared Scallops
For air fried scallops, preheat the temperature to 400F and cook for 6 minutes, flipping the scallops over after 3 minutes.
Swap the lemon butter for garlic butter or a chive and fresh parsley butter. Any fresh herbs work well.
You could also add some capers to the pan along with the lemon juice.
For some spicy heat, finish the dish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Tips & Tricks For Making Pan Seared Scallops
Some scallops still have a small muscle attached to them. If so, remove this as sand can hide in it.
Use a proper fish spatula as it gives much more control and is a good investment. A fish spatula is a metal spatula, which is shaped to be ideal for flipping scallops, but also any other variety of fish and seafood too, without it breaking up in the pan.
How To Serve Cast Iron Scallops
I have served my scallops with my Kitchenaid Mashed Potatoes and my Easy Buttered Kale. However here are some other great sides which would work here too:
- Roasted Asparagus & Carrots
- Easy Asparagus Grilled in Foil
- Baked Sweet Potato Slices
- Herby Vegan Potato Salad
- Easy Corn Ribs
How To Reheat Cast Iron Scallops?
Scallops take only minutes to cook, so for that reason I always cook and serve them fresh. I do not recommend reheating scallops as you are likely to overcook them and they will become tough.
Pin This Cast Iron Scallops Recipe For Later
What Do You Think?!
I'd love to know what you think about this recipe! I'd be so grateful if you scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a star rating and comment.
Don't forget to go over to Facebook and Instagram and make sure you're following me so you can join in the chat. And remember to save this recipe to your Pinterest too!
More Easy Under 30 Minute Recipe Ideas
Cast Iron Scallops
- 1 lb Fresh Scallops - cleaned, see notes
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1 Lemon - ½ juiced, the rest cut into lemon wedges for serving.
- Heat a large cast iron or non stick skillet over a medium-high heat. You are looking for a nice sear on the scallops so the pan has to be smoking hot.
- Season the scallops well with sea salt and pepper while the pan heats.
- Heat the olive oil in the skillet and then place scallops carefully one by one in a single layer.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side without moving (note that smaller bay scallops will cook quicker than larger sea scallops). You are aiming for a nice crust to develop while they sear.
- Carefully turn each scallop and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side.
- Remove the scallops to a plate and turn off the heat.
- Add the butter to the pan, swirling to melt.
- Stir through the lemon juice.
- Serve the hot scallops with lemon wedges, pouring over the melted butter pan sauce.
Kate - Gluten Free Alchemist says
Shockingly and much as I love eating them, I have never actually cooked scallops! I think I have some weird subconscious fear of doing it wrong and getting sick... I REALLY must get over that. I'm going to save this recipe and give it a try... You've given me the confidence... Thank you xx
Jo Keohane says
Do it! They're so easy and you can definitely get that restaurant feel at home with minimal effort. Thanks so much for commenting.
Such a wonderful simple recipe that really shows off the amazing flavour of the scallops.
Jo Keohane says
Thanks Janice - it's a nice simple one isn't it.