The Best Seared Scallops Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

The Best Seared Scallops Recipe

Seared scallops like these are delicious with corn and tomatoes—or another accompaniment of your choosing. [Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Deeply browned scallops with a sweet, caramel-colored crust and a tender, springy center that's never rubbery. That's what we're all after—here's how to achieve it.

Why It Works

  • Thoroughly drying the scallops by salting them and blotting with paper towels gives you a nice dry surface that browns far more efficiently.
  • Using a heavy pan over extremely high heat guarantees a thick crust without overcooking the center.
  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 25 minutes
  • Total time:25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh dry sea scallops (see note)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil

Directions

  1. 1.

    Place scallops on a layer of paper towels and season with salt on all sides. Top with more towels and thoroughly pat dry. Let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove and pat dry again. Season lightly with more salt. Heat vegetable oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add scallops, leaving space between each one to prevent excess steaming.

  2. 2.

    Cook scallops without moving them until well browned on first side, about 1 minute. Carefully flip scallops and cook until second side is browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer scallops to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Serve immediately.