Lemon Garlic Pasta with Pan-Seared Scallops

Perfect pan-seared scallops and lemon-garlic pasta are ready in under 10-minutes! What’s the secret to achieving that beautiful brown sear? Come in and I’ll show you how!


A plate of lemon garlic pasta with pan-seared scallops


Scallops are one of my favorite types of seafood. They have a very light, almost sweet, flavor all their own but also very similar in texture and sweetness to lobster.

Pan searing scallops is the best cooking method to coax out even more flavor. The most important factor here, however,  is to not overcook them. Overcooking sea scallops cause the meat to become tough and rubbery.


Scallops getting patted dry and ready to be seared.


Ten minutes before searing your sea scallops set them out at room temperature on a plate lined with paper towels, then cover the top with another layer of paper towels and pat them dry. If the scallops are at all moist, you will not get a good sear on them; they will steam in their juices instead of sear. 

Scallops in a skillet with garlic and butter.


Lightly coat the pan with oil and heat it over high heat until it is almost smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper just as you are ready to start cooking, and then place the seasoned side down into the oil. Cook the scallops in two batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. Start at 12 o’clock when adding your first scallop to the pan. Then work around the pan clockwise adding each new scallop. This gives you a place to start when you flip them to the next side; start again at 12 o’clock.


Pasta tossed in lemon garlic pan sauce.

Toss the pasta with olive oil and reserved cooking liquid. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. 

A plate of lemon-garlic pasta with pan-seared scallops.



Want To Try This Recipe?

Pin it to your FOOD AND BEVERAGE OR RECIPE board & SAVE it for later!
Find me on Pinterest – I am always pinning quick & easy new recipes!
©Kitchen Dreaming by KitchenDreaming.com


Perfect pan-seared scallops and fresh pasta are ready in under 10-minutes! What's the secret to achieving that beautiful brown sear? Well, I'm about to tell you!

Lemon garlic pasta with pan-seared scallops

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Perfect pan-seared scallops and fresh pasta are ready in under 10-minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 810 kcal


  • 1 large lemon , grated for zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice , divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic , minced
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (about 16) large sea scallops [See Note 1]
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh pasta noodles
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese


  • In a four-quart saucepan [paid link], bring three quarts of liberally salted water to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, reduce heat to simmer until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
  • While the water is heating up, grate the skin of the lemon into a small saucepan [paid link]. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 1 tablespoon of the juice into the pan, removing any seeds. Reserve the other 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for step 5. Add the garlic and one tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan [paid link]. Stir to blend well. Place on stovetop on low heat.
  • Heat a large nonstick pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper.
  • Place the scallops in the hot pan seasoned side down in a clockwise fashion beginning at 12 o'clock. Sear for 1 minute until golden at the edges, then turn them in the same order that you placed them in the pan, and cook the other side for no longer than another 1 minute on the second side. The perfectly seared scallop is seared yet still soft, white and glistening with juices in the center.
  • When both sides of the scallop are nicely golden brown in color, add the lemon juice to pan, making sure to coat the scallops with the lemon juice.
  • Meanwhile, after turning the scallops to the second side, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to package directions.
  • Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return the drained pasta to the pot, and toss with the warm lemon-olive oil mixture and the reserved pasta water - to keep it from sticking.
  • Divide the pasta equally among four plates (about one cup per plate). Top each plate with four scallops.
  • Garnish each dish with shredded Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Serve immediately. [See Note 2]


  1. Sea scallops are larger scallops and Bay scallops are the tiny ones. I prefer sea scallops over Bay scallops but you can certainly use Bay scallops if that's what you prefer. The cooking times will be much different due to the size of the Bay scallops.
  2. Scallops are not the best reheated. They are best enjoyed freshly cooked.
  3. This recipe is easily doubled or halved.


Serving: 1half recipeCalories: 810kcalCarbohydrates: 100gProtein: 45gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 1265mgPotassium: 792mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 43IUVitamin C: 36mgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 13µgCalcium: 114mgFolate: 66µgIron: 3mgZinc: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “Lemon Garlic Pasta with Pan-Seared Scallops”

  1. Recipe says to cook scallops no more than one minute per side, then coat with lemon while pasta is cooking. What is total time to cook the scallops? It never says to remove scallops and set aside or anything, so do you keep cooking them until pasta is done?

    • Hi Scott,

      Fresh Pasta takes about two minutes to cook – so they should come out at the same time. If you use dried pasta, you would want to wait until your pasta is done to cook your scallops off real quick.

  2. I see the lemon jc being added to a pan with the zest, etc. and kept hot to add to the pasta, but also some lemon jc is added to the scallops after searing. Are the 2T divided?

  3. What a beautiful sear on those scallops! Thanks for the directions – I never thought to pat them dry first. What an easy brunch this was!


Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating