There aren't many things more delicious than a perfectly seared scallop. Cooking cast iron scallops are a sure way to deliver flavor and texture with each bite. You are sure to enjoy this easy to make recipe.
Seafood seems special in our house since many nights we eat chicken or pork to keep our grocery costs down, like this Cast Iron Chicken.
We love making a scallop recipe for special occasions like birthdays or date night. But this pan-seared scallops recipe is so easy that any time we can get scallops on sale we need to make it.
Ingredients for Cast Iron Scallops Recipe
This is an easy one. Scallops, salt, pepper, and butter. Oh, and of course a cast iron pan or skillet. You can even use a cast iron dutch oven if that is what you have.
Sea Scallops - Scallops weigh 1 - 2 oz each. You will want approximately 5 or 6 per person for a reasonable serving. If you purchase frozen scallops, be sure to thaw them thoroughly. Rinse them with cold water, then dry them with a paper towel. This is important to remove any excess moisture. We want to be able to give them a perfect sear. If they are still slightly frozen or just wet sea scallops, they will quickly steam and overcook and they will not be the sweet soft texture that we are looking for.
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper - These are crucial for a perfectly seasoned and balanced dish. You can always add a little more fresh black pepper when you serve them.
Butter - We will use butter to sear them. Butter in a cast iron pan can be tricky because if not watched closely, you can easily over-brown and quickly burn the butter. You only need enough butter to give you a thin layer across the bottom of the cast iron skillet. We aren't butter-poaching scallops.
Expert Tip: If you are worried about burning the butter you can use some olive oil or grapeseed oil in conjunction with the butter. This will elevate the burning temperature to help you to avoid burning the butter.
Cast Iron Pan - Not so much an ingredient as much as equipment. Cooking scallops in a cast iron pan will give you perfect scallops. Cast Iron Pan is the perfect pan because it is a great heat conductor. It can get hot and stay hot very well. You can use a pan, a dutch oven, a large skillet, or whatever you have. And don't worry, if you don't have a cast iron pan, give this recipe a try with whatever thick-bottomed skillet that you have. It will still deliver a nice sear.
How to Cook Scallops in Cast Iron Pan
Once you have the scallops thawed, rinsed, and dried. Take the dry scallops and place them in a bowl. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. Roll them around in the bowl to ensure they are evenly seasoned on all sides.
Heat your cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Allow it to preheat for about 5 minutes. You want a hot pan in order to get a good sear.
Then add your butter. You can either roll the pan around or use a spatula to evenly coat the pan with the melted butter.
As the butter begins to brown, add the scallops to the cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Give them plenty of space in the pan so they can all cook evenly.
Continue to cook them over medium-high heat. After about 2-3 minutes, flip them over to the second side and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Scallops are small, so it doesn't take a lot to cook them. You are looking for perfectly seared scallops and a final internal temperature of about 125°F to 130°F.
Once the scallops are finished cooking, plate them immediately and serve. Enjoy!
Herbs - Add a sprig of fresh rosemary or fresh thyme to the pan while the scallops cook. Or sprinkle them with chopped basil or chopped cilantro when plating.
Garlic - Add a few cloves of fresh garlic to the pan as the scallops saute. Garlic butter scallops are amazing.
Onions - Add a slice of two of onion along with the butter before adding the fresh scallops.
Seasonings - Try adding lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, or onion powder.
Citrus - Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or fresh lime juice after the scallops have finished cooking.
Wine - Add a splash of white wine to the pan during the last minute or two of cook time.
Spicy - Add a few red pepper flakes to the pan.
What is a scallop?
Scallops are a type of bivalve mollusk. Bivalve means they have two shells. The part that we eat is the large interior abductor muscle that holds the two shells together. You can buy these fresh or frozen. You can typically find bay scallops and sea scallops. The sea scallops can be up to three or four times the size of bay scallops. Bay scallops are great to be used in a seafood chowder or seafood medley pasta dish. The sea scallops, being larger, tender to be served more as the centerpiece, the star of the dish.
How to serve Cast Iron Scallops?
Sea Scallops can make a very elegant appetizer or starter. Hit them with a lemon slice or squeeze some fresh lemon juice on them for a bright pop of acidity. Add a few lemon slices or fresh herbs for an easy garnish. You can also use the butter you were cooking in to make a beautiful lemon butter sauce to drizzle on top of the scallops.
If the scallops are going to be the main course, you can pick your favorite side dish or try a few of ours to create a delicious meal. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to accompany Cast Iron Scallops. Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Potato Fritters, Smoked Mac and Cheese, or Fried Rice. You can also pair it with a delicious Smoked Ribeye for a beautiful Surf and Turf meal.
Cast Iron Scallops
- ½ lbs sea scallops approximately 10 - 12 scallops
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- Rinse the scallops in cool water then dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Add butter to the skillet. Once the butter is melted and is starting to turn golden brown, add the scallops to the pan in a single layer, allowing a little space between each one.
- Cook the scallops over medium high heat for approximately two to three minutes per side, until the outside, is seared and the internal temperature reaches 125°F.
- Remove from skillet and serve.