Spicy Seared Scallops

Spicy Seared Scallops

The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 6 mins
Marinate: 60 mins
Total: 71 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 18 to 20 scallops
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
199 Calories
6g Fat
20g Carbs
20g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 199
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 1133mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 71mg 357%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 531mg 11%
*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.)

Scallops are prized for their sweet taste and delicate texture, and when seared, develop a nice crust on the outside while keeping the inside soft and somewhat creamy. This recipe flavors the mollusks with Cajun seasoning, bringing a bit of spice to the dish. Sea scallops, which are larger than bay scallops, are used here, making for an impressive presentation.

There are a few tips to follow when searing scallops to assure they achieve that golden brown outer crust and tender middle. First, make sure the scallops are thoroughly dried—any moisture will deter them from cooking properly. Second, you need a very hot pan, cast-iron is great, and a high smoke point oil. You should also be careful to not overcrowd the pan so you can easily flip over each one and the scallops sear instead of steam. Once they begin to cook, do not touch the scallops until they are ready to turn over, and, finally, do not overcook them as they will turn tough and rubbery.

This recipe calls for letting the seasoned scallops sit in the refrigerator for an hour so make sure to plan ahead. You can serve these flavorful scallops as an appetizer with lemon wedges, or as a first-course salad with a tasty dressing like honey-lime or mimosa dressing. These seared scallops are also perfect over risotto, pasta, or creamy grits, or alongside rice pilaf and a steamed vegetable.


  • 2 pounds large sea scallops, about 18 to 20

  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

  • Lemon wedges

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spicy Seared Scallops ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. In a bowl or food storage bag, toss the scallops gently with the Cajun seasoning, 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

    scallops and seasonings in a plastic bag

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over high heat. With tongs, arrange the scallops in the hot fat, spacing them apart, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

    scallops cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  4. Serve the seared scallops with lemon wedges for squeezing.

    Spicy Seared Scallops on a plate, lemon wedges in a bowl

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Enjoy.

Buying Scallops

  • When buying scallops pre-packaged, they are either wet-packed or dry-packed. Wet-packed means the scallops are in a brine solution, to extend the mollusk's shelf life, and will need a rinse before using. Dry-packed are simply scallops; they will taste fresher and better tasting and are recommended.
  • Scallops are sold by the pound; if buying pre-packaged, they will be labeled with the letter "U", meaning "under," and a number or range of numbers, which indicate how many scallops are included.
  • Be mindful of fake scallops–they will be uniform in shape, whereas real scallops are shaped and sized differently from each other.