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These beautifully golden pan seared scallops are taken to the next level with a heavenly lemon garlic cream sauce! Ready in about 20 minutes.

I think you’ll enjoy my Seared Scallops or Creamy Lemon Parmesan Cod next.

pan-seared scallops with creamy lemon garlic butter sauce in a skillet

My sister always sends me recipe ideas, and this is one of hers. It’s loosely based off my popular creamy garlic chicken recipe, and it’s a wonder I hadn’t thought of it myself since I make cream sauces for everything, and garlic could be my middle name. I don’t make scallops too often, so that’s probably why, I suppose.

Scallops are actually rather easy to cook at home, but I know that they can be intimidating since they’re not exactly the cheapest seafood out there. The key is to sear them in a really hot pan and being careful not to overcook them. They’re really not that much different than cooking shrimp, come to think of it!

This creamy scallops recipe is quick and easy, but it definitely fits for special occasions or when you’re entertaining guests. Scallops are just such a treat. I love their subtle sweetness and how they melt in your mouth. They’re also much easier to prepare than lobster, and they have a similar taste. That creamy sauce is enhanced by the glorious brown bits from searing the scallops in butter. Mmm…

This recipe is great as a main course, but it would also work as an appetizer.

If you’re into creamy seafood recipes, try my creamy lemon garlic salmon pasta.

collage of raw and seared scallops

How to make pan seared scallops with cream sauce

  1. Ensure the scallops are nice and dry (I pat them dry with paper towel) and trim off the tough band of muscle that some of the scallops may still have (it’s easy to spot because it’s bright white);
  2. Season the scallops generously with salt & pepper on both sides;
  3. Add the butter and oil to your pan and ensure it’s HOT;
  4. Place the scallops in the pan (don’t over-crowd them), and sear them on each side for about 2 minutes, then take the scallops out of the pan and set them aside;
  5. Make the sauce by adding in the garlic, chicken broth or wine, and lemon juice. Let it bubble for a minute or so, then add the cream and simmer until it reduces/thickens to your liking;
  6. Add in the scallops and let them just heat through. The middle of the scallops should be somewhat translucent when you cut into them. Do not overcook scallops because they will end up rubbery.

(Full ingredients and instructions are in the recipe card below)

close-up of creamy garlic scallops

What size scallops to use?

I used U10 extra colossal sea scallops. That means there’s about 10 in a pound. You could use larger or smaller scallops (you may be limited to whatever the grocery store sells) but will need to adjust cooking time as needed.

Can I use frozen scallops?

Yes, but thaw them first prior to starting the recipe. Unless you live somewhere that scallops come from, chances are you’re buying scallops that have been previously frozen, anyway. Scallops should be thawed in the fridge (give them about 24 hours to thaw).

What to serve with scallops?

These scallops with a creamy sauce are great served over pasta or mashed potatoes.

Recipe notes & tips:

  • I would not recommend replacing the cream with half-and-half or milk because the lemon juice is likely to curdle the sauce.
  • Scallops are very delicate, so be careful not to overcook them or they will end up hard and rubbery.
  • For a more intense lemon flavor, you could add some lemon zest (I love my Microplane zester).

More seafood recipes to try:

pan seared scallops with creamy lemon garlic sauce over spaghetti

Questions about this creamy scallops recipe? Talk to me in the comments below!

As always, if you’ve made one of my recipes, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.

pan-seared scallops with creamy lemon garlic butter sauce in a skillet
4.80 from 24 votes

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pan Seared Scallops

These beautifully golden pan seared scallops are taken to the next level with a heavenly lemon garlic cream sauce! Ready in about 20 minutes. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound scallops see note on size
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • Fresh parsley chopped, to taste

Instructions 

  • Pat scallops dry with paper towel. Trim off the tough side muscle that some of the scallops may still have (it looks whiter than the rest of the scallop). Season both sides of the scallops with salt & pepper.
  • Add the butter and oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the scallops and cook them for 2-3 minutes/side. Do not overcrowd the pan, and don't move them around the pan.
  • Take the pan off the heat and remove the scallops from the pan and set them aside. You can cover them with foil to keep them warm if you wish.
  • Add in the garlic, chicken broth, and lemon juice. Return the pan to the heat and let it bubble for about 30 seconds - 1 minute while stirring to scrape up the brown bits.
  • Stir in the cream and let it cook for a few minutes until it reduces to your liking. Add the scallops back into the pan and let them gently warm through. The middles should be somewhat translucent - scallops will become rubbery if they are overcooked. Give the sauce a taste and add more salt & pepper or lemon juice if needed. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Notes

  • This serves 2-4 depending on how much people eat (you could serve this as an appetizer or entree). 
  • I used U10 extra colossal size sea scallops. That means that there's around 10 in a pound. 
  • I do not recommend replacing the cream with anything like milk or half-and-half. The sauce won't turn out as nice, and the lemon juice is likely to curdle it.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Nutrition

Calories: 635kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 53g, Saturated Fat: 29g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 207mg, Sodium: 1131mg, Potassium: 579mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1670IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 85mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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70 Comments

  1. Andrea N. Murphy says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely amazing. I served with porcini risotto and braised artichokes. Not difficult to make and does the scallops proud!

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it!! 😀

  2. Amanda Sciacca says:

    5 stars
    This was AMAZING. I made it tonight. I did adjust slightly by adding a smidge more white wine and more garlic. Tossed the sauce in homemade pasta I picked up from the grocery store and added a splash of pasta water which helped a ton to absorb the sauce in the pasta. 1000/10 will make again.

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you!! So happy you liked it! 😀

  3. Beth says:

    5 stars
    I made this tonight for myself and cut the X1 recipe in half and served it over rigatoni noodles bc I had a single serving of those too. Just what I was craving!!! Such a flavorful sauce to serve with scallops! This recipe is a savor (saver ;-))

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so happy it was a hit! 😀

  4. Deborah says:

    5 stars
    I made this recipe tonight, perfect amount for two dinners. My husband loved it! Went back for seconds and noted that the sauce was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe, it was great. Will make again.

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful!! 😀 Thanks for your review!