Prep Time  5minutes
Cook Time  8minutes
Total Time  13mins

How to Sear a Scallop

One of my favorite foods to cook is scallops…which is great, because they are also one of my wife’s favorite foods to eat.  The flavor is mild, fresh and clean (assuming you have good scallops) and they go really well with so many other foods, and different preparations.  In this cooking video, I want to show you one cooking method that’s key in dozens (if not hundreds of scallop dishes…How to Sear a Scallop.  The cooking principles are the same for scallops, as they are for searing just about any other food, but perhaps amplified a bit.  Like most seafood, scallops when over cooked, get very tough and rubbery.  And since it doesn’t take much time to overcook a scallop, you need to very aware of the heat level, the time, and the contact with the pan.  We’ll go through all of these things in the video, and the bullets below.  Hope you find this technique useful.

How to Sear a Scallop

  • First, make sure the scallops are dry.  They frequently sit in liquid at the store (which isn’t great but sometimes unavoidable), and if they are not dried off, can steam instead of sear
  • Make sure to season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper
  • I like to use a non-stick pan for scallops. Get it on the stovetop, over high heat, and let it heat to the smoke point
  • I know you may be tempted to turn the heat to medium…don’t – trust me you won’t burn the scallop
  • Once the pan is just slightly smoking, add a touch of olive oil to the pan, and lay the scallops down in the oil
  • You should hear some heavy sizzling; if not, the pan isn’t hot enough; remove and let it get hotter
  • Now, don’t touch the scallops.  You have about a minute to get a good, golden brown sear, and you need to have the scallop in contact with the pan just about all that time
  • In about a minute, you’ll start to see the edges browning; now you can quickly check one of the scallops; if it’s nicely browned, flip it.  Or you can let it go another 20 seconds;, but not much longer than that
  • Once flipped, allow the second side to sear for a minute and the same color will development
  • Notice we flipped once.  That’s all you need.
  • Remove them…and serve.  You should have a scallop that is now nicely browned on both sides, with a center that is about medium doneness and is tender and juicy

Enjoy those perfectly cooked scallops!!

Comments (7 )

January 25th, 2013 - 5:58am
Good article and techniques, for the Five Fish Cooking Secrets
February 25th, 2015 - 5:48pm
Good instructions, but I'm very leery of your recommendation of a non-stick pan. All non-stick pans I've ever seen or used specifically warn about getting the pans too hot. Wouldn't getting one to the smoking point with no oil in it (even if the pan's been properly seasoned) harm the finish of the pan (it will void the warranty on many pans)? I use the same method but always use either a cast iron skillet or a heavy stainless sauté pan, and I've never had a scallop stick. Why do you prefer a non-stick pan?
March 26th, 2020 - 1:28pm
You have a recipe to cook actual scallops? Those large ones are actually stingray, real scallops are small.
February 6th, 2022 - 9:40am
thanks for the video demo! although ... please don't throw oil down the sink. you might slowly clog up your drain and you're certainly contributing to creating huge fatty matter plugs that completely jam your city's sewers.
rosy dam
May 29th, 2023 - 7:40pm
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June 2nd, 2023 - 12:39am
thanks share
March 18th, 2024 - 5:41pm
They still don’t brown. I’m at a loss.

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