The Best Seared Scallops Recipe

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

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.

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.

Recipe Facts



Active: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh dry sea scallops (see note)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil


  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. 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.


"Dry" scallops are fresh scallops that have not been chemically treated to retain moisture. Look for scallops that have a fleshy, translucent white or pale tan color. Avoid "wet" scallops, which are pale, milky white and often sitting in a pool of milky liquid. If the scallop "feet" (the small, hard muscles attached to the main bodies) are attached, they should be removed and discarded before cooking.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
156 Calories
4g Fat
6g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 156
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 835mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 356mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)