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Perfect technique to cooking scallop to golden brown and delicious

How To Cook Scallops Perfectly

Steven Pennington
The tips and tricks for cooking perfect scallops can be confusing. Allow me to explain :)
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Marinade Time 10 mins
Total Time 19 mins
Course Seafood
Cuisine Classic French
Servings 4 people
Calories 320 kcal

Suggested Equipment

Cast Iron Skillet


  • 12 scallops Large Sea Scallops (colossal scallops) dry-packed scallops brown better than wet packed
  • 4 tablespoon Clarified Butter Has higher smoker point, reduces chance of burning
  • 4 tablespoon Olive Oil Mixing butter and olive helps improve the taste and smoke point level
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Sea Salt season to taste

Quick Marinate Recipe: Optional:

  • ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg I love using fresh for scallops
  • 2 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ¼ tablespoon Creole Seasoning


Cleaning & Prep of Scallops

  • On the sides of scallops, they have a small abductor muscle the runs up the side of the scallop. It peels off very easily. Almost too easy to the point you could rip the scallop, so be careful. The abductor's muscle is much chewier than the scallop.
  • The recipe is for 4 people, each person getting 3 large scallops plated.
    Add more if you like.
    Chef Tip: The reason for 3 each is first, cost control, and second professional plating is done using odds number plating. The brain looks for even numbers, so when serving odd numbers the brain interprets the plating as nicer, more visually appealing.

The Marinade Process

  • You will want to do this about 10 minutes before cooking. The scallops only need a short time in the marinade. Do not marinade the scallop longer than 10 minutes or risk cooking them from the apple cider vinegar. Plus, it will change the texture destroying the scallops.
  • After 10 minutes in the marinade, you need to move them over to a dry paper towel and allow the scallops to dry. You may need to change the paper towel a few times to get them very dry.
  • Scallop Browning TIP: Wet scallops will never become golden brown. The moisture on the scallop will result in steamed scallops.

Cooking The Scallops

  • Using a large skillet (Do not crowd the pan with scallops or risk steaming them, which means no golden brown scallops). I like cast iron due to the even distribution of heat. Really helps with the browning.
    Over medium-high heat. Do not use high heat or risk burning the scallops and oil.
    Once the pan is hot add in olive oil or peanut oil. Personal choice.
    Allow the oil to come to temperature
    Add the Dry Scallops to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Afterward, add in a few large dabs of butter. Using a large spoon, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops. This will set in a very nice brown color.
  • I like to turn off the heat at this point and flip/turn the scallops and cook on the other side. The scallops will not take as long on side 2 to cook. About half the time. You can always poke the scallops with your finger to check doneness.

How To Tell The Scallops Are Cooked?

  • Cooked scallops are still soft in texture. The firmness will equal twice that of the raw uncooked scallop. The cook time on scallops is right about 4 to 5 minutes.


  • The scallops need to be very dry to turn golden brown
  • Yes, you can use bay scallops, which are very small scallops that cook in about 60-70 seconds
  • Can you eat the abductor muscle? Yes, the only difference is the texture. They taste just like a scallop.
  • Can you eat scallops raw? Yes, the style of recipe is called Crudo. Thinly sliced scallop plated in a sauce like Ponzu or vinaigrette. 
  • Can you reheat cooked scallops? Yes, it is safe to do so, but the texture will suffer. If you must reheat scallops do so by steaming them in warm+ water.


Serving: 3scallopsCalories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 5gCholesterol: 11.4mgSodium: 274mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 1.7gSugar: 0.74gVitamin A: 32.1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1.2mgIron: 1.6mg
Keyword Cooking scallops technique, Golden Brown Scallops Recipe, How To Cook Perfect Scallops
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