Kalyn's Kitchen

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic

These Sauteed Scallops with Garlic were amazing, thanks to the inspiring recipe and great instructions from Mark Bittman. And I’ve updated the recipe slightly to make it even lower in carbs!

PIN the recipe to try it later!

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic finished scallops on serving plate with Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic are a recipe I made in the very early days of the blog and photographed with my first ever (point-and-shoot) digital camera! Then when some time had gone by and I’d had several camera upgrades and improved my photography skills, the frozen scallops I loved so much had disappeared from Costco! I had wanted to improve these photos for years, so I was excited when recently I found frozen scallops again at the Costco in Salt Lake and right away I decided make this favorite recipe and give the photos an upgrade!

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people have never cooked scallops at home. They can be a little tricky, since they’re so easily overcooked which turns them rubbery and tasteless. But I adapted this recipe from Mark Bittman’s wonderful cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World (affiliate link). Bittman’s famous “minimalist” cooking style, where he doesn’t fuss, but does just enough careful preparation to make the food memorable, really shines in a dish like this.

I originally made the recipe with just the tiniest amount of flour to dredge the scallops, and you can do that if you’d prefer; see notes after the actual recipe about that. But when I found myself with a source for frozen scallops again, I experimented enough to discover the scallops will brown very without the flour! And although the small amount of flour in the original recipe didn’t add many carbs, leaving it out makes the recipe Keto and also gluten-free. Admittedly Scallops are a bit pricey for an everyday dinner, but this is great for a special occasion, and so delicious!

What kind of Scallops did I use?

There are three kinds of scallops. The large ones like I used are sea scallops, always best cooked slightly underdone. Medium sized scallops are bay scallops, considered the most tasty, especially when they are caught wild. Calico scallops are the tiny ones you might see being breaded and deep fried in a fish and chips place; personally I don’t think they have any flavor at all compared to the other two types.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • sea scallops, thawed if frozen
  • good quality olive oil
  • butter
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • very finely minced fresh garlic
  • parsley, for garnish, optional
  • fresh lemon slices to squeeze over, optional

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic process shots collage

How to make this recipe:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  • Thaw scallops overnight in the fridge if needed. Drain them well in a colander.
  • Dry scallops between two layers of paper towels.
  • Finely chop parsley and mince the garlic. You could use Minced Garlic (affiliate link) from a jar, but freshly-chopped garlic will be more flavorful.
  • Put oil in medium-sized frying pan with heat set to medium.
  • When butter is starting to foam, add scallops to pan.
  • Cook scallops two minutes on the first side.
  • Then turn and cook 1 minute more on the second side, or slightly longer for very thick scallops. Don’t overcook, scallops should be barely starting to feel firm when you add the garlic.
  • When both sides are browned slightly, add garlic (and a tiny bit more butter if desired), lower heat a little, season with salt and pepper as desired, and cook about 2 minutes more, stirring or shaking the pan so the garlic is well distributed.
  • Serve the scallops hot, garnished with chopped parsley and served with lemon slices if desired.

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic finished scallops on serving plate with Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Make it a Low-Carb Meal:

The scallops in the photo are served with Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad, which also got a photo update! These scallops would also be delicious with Green Beans with Lemon, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts or Pan-Fried Broccoli with Pine Nuts and Parmesan.

More Scallops Recipes to Try:

Warm Scallops Caesar Salad
Seared Scallops with Chimichurri Dressing from Cookin’ Canuck
Air Fryer Scallops with Tomato Cream Sauce from Two Sleevers
Low-Carb Baked Scallops from Step Away from the Carbs

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic, close-up of finished scallops on serving plate with Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic

Yield 2 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic are amazing for an impressive dinner and if you follow the instructions carefully so they aren't overdone, scallops are actually fairly easy to cook! See notes after the recipe if you prefer to dredge scallops with a small amount of flour.

Ingredients

  • 8 large sea scallops
  • 1 T good quality olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. very finely minced fresh garlic
  • freshly-chopped parsley for garnish, optional
  • fresh lemon slices to squeeze over, optional (I did love it with the lemon.)

Instructions

  1. For frozen scallops, thaw overnight in the fridge and then drain well in a colander placed in the sink.
  2. Dry scallops by putting between two layers of paper towels, and gently pressing to absorb the liquid.
  3. Finely chop the parsley and mince the garlic. You could use Minced Garlic (affiliate link) that comes in a small jar, but freshly-chopped garlic will be more flavorful.
  4. Put oil in medium-sized frying pan and turn heat to medium.
  5. Add butter, and wait for it to melt. When butter is starting to foam, add scallops to pan.
  6. Cook the scallops two minutes on the first side.
  7. Then turn and cook 1 minute more on the second side, or slightly longer for very thick scallops, until scallops are barely browned on both sides and starting to feel firm, but not until they feel completely firm. 
  8. When both sides are browned slightly, add garlic (and a tiny bit more butter if desired), lower heat a little, season with salt and pepper as desired, and cook about 2 minutes more, either stirring or shaking the pan so the garlic is well distributed around all the scallops.
  9. Serve the scallops hot, garnished with chopped parsley and served with lemon slices if desired.

Notes

This recipe originally used 2 T of flour to dredge the scallops before frying. If you'd like to do that, put the flour in a flat bowl and lightly coat each scallop with flour on both sides. Other instructions are the same.

Recipe from The Best Recipes in the World.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 685mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

thumbnail image of Sauteed Scallops with Garlic finished scallops on serving plate with Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Sauteed Scallops with Garlic are great for low-carb diets, including Keto and they’re also gluten-free. This recipe would also be approved for any phase of the original South Beach Diet. (If you’re following the letter of the law you can switch the button for an approved spread or use all olive oil, but personally I wouldn’t worry about that small amount of butter, and the butter adds flavor.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Quick Recipes for more tasty ideas with seafood. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2005, with simple photos from my first digital camera! It was updated with better photos and an improved recipe in 2021.

Sauteed Scallops with Garlic Pinterest image

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    19 Comments on “Sauteed Scallops with Garlic”

  1. This was the best Scallop dish I have ever made and it was super easy with ingredients I already had on hand. What a winner!!

  2. Martha, so glad you liked the recipe. I think you'll love this cookbook; it has so many good ideas.

  3. This recipe was excellent. Delicious. The timing information you provided was the key – to not overcook. As well, I was not concerned when my garlic became a bit brown and crunchy – your photograph showed that this is correct. The garlic did not overpower the scallops, and the scallops were not overdone. Took a total of 8-10 minutes to prepare and put on the table. Very subtle and delicate flavor. Thank you. Also ordered the cookbook you recommended from Amazon. I squeezed the juice of the fresh lemon in the pan during the last 5-8 seconds. I did not put lemon on the scallops after they came out of the pan. I might try lime next time – in the same manner – and compare.

  4. Anonymous, not sure how the flax seed meal would taste on this, but something like almond meal would be a good choice. You could easily cook them without the flour too.

  5. These look yummy Kalyn. Do you think you could substitute flaxseed meal for the flour to make them a little more phase 1 friendly?

  6. Hi Angimage,
    I am familiar with Guar gum and have used it to thicken sauces with good results. I use flour here because it’s such a small amount of flour, and most everyone has flour but may not have the guar gum. Also, South Beach isn’t really a low carb diet, so you could use this small amount of flour for any phase except phase one because you’re only eating maybe a tsp. of the flour. Thanks for the suggestion though, which some people might want to try.

  7. Hi Kalyn!
    I plan on making this tonight & just wanted to mention Guar gum to replace flour (or cornstartch) It is a really great thickener for low-carb diets & a little dab’ll do ya! I’m sure it will work to get the browning “crust” that you pic appears to have~~thanks for the great recipe idea, I can’t wait to try it!!

  8. Richelle, thanks. That’s two comments today on this recipe. I just love scallops!

  9. Kalyn, I made this last night using Costco scallops. It was WONDERFUL!!! It is “fine dining” restaurant quality! Thank you for posting it!

  10. Anonymous, thanks so much for the feedback, and thanks to Mark Bittman for the recipes. I haven’t had a bad recipe yet from this cookbook.

  11. I’ve made this twice and shared the recipe with friends. DELECIOUS! I’m making it again tonight.

  12. Hey Kalyn — I agree with Sweetnicks, and I gave in. Based on your drool-inducing posts, I just picked up Bittman’s book. Can’t wait to delve in!

  13. Those scallops look amazing, and you’re making it really hard not to buy this cookbook!

  14. Kalyn- this looks yummy !

  15. Kalyn–I promise not to call the South Beach police! I promise.

    I am glad you have done well on the diet. Especially when you get to eat such tasty food as sauteed scallops with garlic!

  16. This looks really, really good! I just love Mark Bittman … I think he’s kinda sexy! Wish his PBS series was still on the air….

  17. Hi Kalyn, looks scrumptious! And thanks for your review of Bittman’s book – I’ve been coveting it for a while!

  18. oooh!
    this looks yummy
    I will keep an eye out for you christmas message, exciting!