Creamy Garlic Scallops Recipe

This recipe for creamy garlic scallops is a rich dish of plump scallops cooked in garlic butter and lemon sauce that comes together in mere minutes — just in time for dinner. According to recipe developer, food blogger, and photographer Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table, scallops lend themselves to creamy, rich sauces that bring traditional French cuisine right into your own kitchen. Yet few home cooks know just how quick and easy they are to prepare and how hard they are to mess up. Pretty much everything you make with scallops and cream is going to turn out absolutely divine, but our favorite preparation is these creamy garlic scallops.

Scallops are a bivalve mollusk, aka the muscle part of a shellfish. They are easy to find frozen in most supermarkets, while fresh scallops are a bit harder to source and come mainly from reputable fishmongers. A good scallop smells clean and tastes sweet. So if your scallop smells like the sea, throw it out.

For this creamy garlic recipe, you can use frozen bay scallops, which are smaller in size. Lightly pan-seared and then finished off in a creamy sauce tinged with garlic, lemon, and white wine, our recipe for creamy garlic scallops yields an elegant meal that's surprisingly quick to prepare.

Gather the ingredients to prepare creamy garlic scallops

To prepare creamy garlic scallops, head to your nearest supermarket. There are no fancy, unique ingredients here — just the typical building blocks of French and Italian seafood dishes.

To start, you will need 1 pound of frozen scallops, cleaned and dried. You can get bay scallops or their larger sea scallop cousin. Whatever scallops you find will work well in this dish. To make the creamy sauce for the scallops, you will need to round up butter, dry white wine, and heavy cream. (If you are avoiding alcohol, feel free to use chicken broth in place of the white wine.) From the fresh produce aisle, grab garlic, lemon, and parsley.

You will finish off this dish with salt, pepper, and a few pinches of cayenne pepper. For serving, we recommend pairing creamy garlic scallops with toast or pasta for a more filling meal.

Prep the scallops for sautéing

Bring a large non-stick pan to high heat, and wait until it is very hot. We recommend using a non-stick pan, because your scallops are less likely to stick to the pan at the bottom, causing you to rip off that beautiful golden-brown crust you've worked so hard to achieve.

Lay the defrosted scallops out on a cutting board, and pat each one dry with a paper towel. This may seem a bit tedious, but it's this prep that will enable the scallops to sear perfectly and get that aforementioned crust. Then, season the scallops with salt and pepper on one side.

Sauté the scallops

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the scallops, seasoned side down, then fry them for two minutes until they have a golden brown hue. Season the second side of the scallops with salt and pepper. Working as quickly as possible, turn the scallops over to the other side, and fry for an additional minute.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the scallops, and give the pan a good shake. This helps the lemon sauce distribute throughout all the scallops, flavoring each one in its turn. Turn the scallops over onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Then, set them aside.

Make the creamy garlic sauce

To the same pan in which you cooked the scallops, add the butter. Lower the heat to medium. When the butter has melted, add the diced garlic, and sauté for one minute, until just fragrant. Take care not to burn the garlic, as it can give an unpleasant aftertaste to the entire dish.

Pour in the wine (or broth), and let simmer for two minutes. Add the cream, and let simmer until thickened, which should take an additional two to three minutes.

You should now end up with a white-yellow sauce that has a gentle note of garlic. If your sauce is too thin, add a tad more cream, and wait for it to cook down for a couple of minutes.

Finish the sauce, and return the scallops to the pan

Add the remaining juice of half a lemon, ¼ cup of diced parsley, and a pinch each of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings as needed. You may want to add more salt and pepper, or a bit more lemon or cayenne to attain the perfect taste. The sauce shouldn't taste particularly spicy or sour — these ingredients are just there to accentuate the natural taste of the sweet scallops and to lift up the rich, creamy sauce.

Return the cooked scallops back to the pan, and stir them into the sauce. If you feel like your sauce is too runny, don't worry, because you'll love mopping up all the leftover juices with your toast or pasta!

Serve the creamy garlic scallops with toast or pasta for a complete meal

Like most seafood dishes, scallops do not like to sit and wait to be served. They never taste quite as good reheated as they do when freshly made, as applying heat a second time tends to make them rubbery and dry.

Serve your creamy garlic scallops to the table immediately, topped with additional parsley and accompanied by lemon wedges. We recommend pairing creamy garlic scallops with pasta or toast, and serving them alongside the same dry white wine you used to cook them.

Leftover garlic scallops will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for three days, but as previously noted, they will not taste as good as when you first made them.

Creamy Garlic Scallops Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
This creamy garlic scallops recipe is a rich dish of scallops cooked in garlic butter and lemon sauce that comes together just in time for dinner.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
8
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
two plates of garlic scallops
Total time: 13 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound scallops, cleaned and dried
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup diced parsley
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Optional Ingredients
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • toast or pasta, for serving
Directions
  1. Bring a large non-stick pan to high heat until it's very hot.
  2. Lay the scallops out on a cutting board, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season scallops with salt and pepper on one side.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the scallops, seasoned side down, then fry for 2 minutes until golden brown. Season the second side of the scallops with salt and pepper, then turn the scallops over to the other side and fry for an additional 1 minute.
  4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the scallops, and give the pan a good shake.
  5. Turn the scallops over onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
  6. Melt the butter in the same pan. Add garlic, and sauté for 1 minute, until just fragrant.
  7. Pour in wine (or broth), and let simmer for 2 minutes.
  8. Add cream, and let simmer until thickened, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Add juice of ½ lemon, diced parsley, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Taste, and correct seasonings as needed.
  10. Return scallops to the pan, and serve immediately, topped with additional parsley.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 315
Total Fat 24.2 g
Saturated Fat 11.6 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 83.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 7.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 1.4 g
Sodium 460.5 mg
Protein 14.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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