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Succulent Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Herbs

Pan-seared scallops make an elegant addition to any dinner table. Rich, buttery, and delicate, these scallops are quickly seared to perfection, creating a restaurant-quality meal right in your own kitchen.

Golden-brown pan-seared scallops plated with aromatic brown butter and fresh herbs.

Succulent Pan-Seared Scallops

This dish stands out for its simplicity and sophistication, making it perfect for special occasions or a luxurious weeknight dinner. Given its gluten-free and dairy-free nature, this recipe serves as an excellent option catering to people with dietary restrictions.

The scallops are cooked quickly over high heat, so they are perfectly seared on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

The key to perfectly pan-seared scallops is to start with dry scallops. Wet scallops will not sear properly and will release excess liquid, resulting in a less flavorful and less visually appealing dish.

To ensure your scallops are dry, pat them dry with paper towels before cooking. You can also use a sous vide machine to remove any excess moisture from the scallops before searing.

This dish pairs brilliantly with a variety of accompaniments, from classic pasta to a refreshing salad, to balance out the richness.

What Is It?

Scallops are a great healthy protein alternative; they are naturally low in fat and high in protein. Cooking them using brown butter and herbs results in a dish that is both nutritious and flavorful. The nutty aroma of the brown butter, combined with the aromatic herbs, infuses into the scallops, creating delicate layers of flavor.

The addition of fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or tarragon, adds a layer of flavor and complexity. The scallops are tender and delicious with the taste of the crispy outside and the flavorful butter.

Remember, less is more when it comes to cooking scallops; overcooking can lead to a tough, rubbery texture. Try to develop a flavorful sear without overcooking the inside for that perfect scallop experience.

Also, you can prepare the brown butter sauce in advance, storing it in the refrigerator, and reheat it over low heat before serving, but remember, this dish itself is at its best when served immediately.

Golden-brown pan-seared scallops plated with pasta, aromatic brown butter and fresh herbs.

Ingredients for making Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Herbs 

  • Fresh scallops: The primary protein source and the star of the recipe. Prepare by patting them dry to ensure a good sear and crispy exterior. 
  • Olive oil or clarified butter (ghee): Use this for searing the scallops, adding flavor, and preventing sticking.
  • Unsalted butter: This is the key ingredient for making the brown butter sauce.
  • Garlic: Adds savory depth to the brown butter sauce.
  • Fresh thyme leaves: This infuses the brown butter with a delightful fragrance and aroma.
  • Fresh chives: Adds a touch of color and flavor to the dish. 
  • Lemon wedges for serving: Squeezed over the scallops to add a fresh, citrusy element.
  • Parsley or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to make Pan-seared scallops with brown butter and herbs 

  • Pat dry scallops and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat skillet over medium-high heat and melt butter and olive oil.
  • Sear scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden-brown crust forms.
  • Melt unsalted butter in a separate saucepan until browned. Set aside.
  • Stir in minced garlic, thyme leaves, and chives into brown butter for flavorful sauce.
  • Remove scallops from the pan and place on serving plates.
  • Spoon infused brown butter sauce over scallops. Enjoy!

What to Serve with Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Herbs 

  • Pair with a Simple Salad for a refreshing contrast to the richness of the scallops.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or carrots can add a nice texture and earthy flavor that complements the scallops.
  • Garlic Sauteed Green Beans are a wonderful side to pair with these delicious scallops. The contrasts in texture and taste go together well. 
  • Herbed Rice such as cilantro lime rice will soak up the delicious brown butter and herbs from the scallops.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a hint of garlic can be a comforting and hearty accompaniment to balance out the meal.
  • Light Pasta: A simple pasta tossed with olive oil, garlic, and perhaps some fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, can work well alongside the scallops.
Pan-seared scallops glistening with golden brown butter and vibrant herbs.

On Leftovers…

Leftover scallops will start to lose their quality after 1-2 days. Eating them within this time frame is best to ensure they are safe to eat. Before storing in the refrigerator, ensure that the dish is at room temperature. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Reheat the scallops over low heat or in the microwave on a low power setting. This will help to prevent them from overcooking and becoming tough. If you are concerned about the texture of the brown butter, you can reheat it gently until it melts.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I use frozen scallops for this recipe?

I recommend that you make use of fresh scallops for the best flavor and texture, but frozen scallops can be used if that is what you have available.

Can I use a different type of seafood?

Yes, you can use a different type of seafood in this recipe, such as shrimp or fish fillets, but the cooking time may vary depending on the type of seafood you use.

What herbs can I use in the brown butter?

Any herbs that you enjoy can be used in the brown butter. Some popular choices include thyme, rosemary, and parsley. I also make use of chives for its mild onion-like flavor. 

How do I prevent the scallops from sticking to the pan?

Make sure the pan is well-heated and the oil is shimmering before adding the scallops. You can also add a small amount of oil to the pan before adding the scallops.

How do I know when the scallops are cooked?

When you get the golden-brown crust on both sides with a slightly translucent center, the scallops are done. 

Can I reheat leftover scallops?

Yes, you can reheat leftover scallops gently in a microwave on a low power setting or in a skillet over low heat, but remember to avoid overcooking to maintain their tenderness.

Can I use salted butter for the brown butter?

It is better to use unsalted butter for the brown butter, as it helps you control the amount of salt that goes into your meal.

How do I prevent the butter from burning when making brown butter?

Keep a close eye on the butter while browning it. Once it starts to turn golden, remove it from the heat to prevent burning. You can also add a small amount of water to the butter to prevent it from burning.

What’s the best way to get a good sear on the scallops?

  • Make sure the pan is hot before adding the scallops.
  • Pat the scallops dry before seasoning.
  • Allow the scallops sear without moving them for a few minutes on each side.

Quick Tips on Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Herbs 

  • Make sure your scallops are dry before cooking to ensure a proper sear.
  • Do not overcrowd the skillet when cooking the scallops. This will prevent them from searing properly.
  • Use a non-stick skillet for easier flipping and to prevent the scallops from sticking.
  • Do not overcook the scallops. They should be slightly translucent in the center and still tender.
  • Use a variety of herbs for a more complex flavor profile.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly and consume within a day or two for the best quality.

Other delicious recipes to try out

Golden-brown pan-seared scallops plated with aromatic brown butter and fresh herbs.

Succulent Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Herbs

In need of a special dinner recipe that won’t take the whole day to make? These succulent pan-seared scallops with brown butter and herbs are the ones that will take that dinner with family from basic to fancy, and in a short while too.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 245.4kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh scallops patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives finely chopped
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • Parsley or fresh herbs for garnish optional

Instructions

  • Dry the scallops thoroughly with a kitchen towel and season them with salt and pepper on all sides.
  • Heat the oil on a large skillet over medium-high.
  • Carefully place the seasoned scallops in the hot pan, making sure they are not overcrowded. Allow them to sear undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until a golden-brown crust forms.
  • While the scallops are searing, melt the unsalted butter in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter simmer gently, swirling the pan occasionally. As the butter continues to cook, it will gradually turn a rich golden-brown color and emit a nutty aroma. Once the butter is browned, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, fresh thyme leaves, and chopped chives into the brown butter. Allow the herbs and garlic to infuse into the butter, creating a fragrant and flavorful sauce.
  • Once the scallops are perfectly seared on both sides, remove them from the pan and place them on serving plates.
  • Spoon the infused brown butter sauce over the pan-seared scallops, allowing the flavors to meld.

Nutrition

Calories: 245.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.7g | Protein: 14.1g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8.1g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 57.3mg | Sodium: 456.9mg | Potassium: 261.7mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 553.6IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 22.4mg | Iron: 0.9mg

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