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Pan seared scallops with chorizo are quick and easy to make, but also super-special. Dressed to impress in 10 minutes. Here’s how to do it.

pan seared scallops with chorizo over basmati rice pilaf on plates with forks
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Why we love this recipe

Pan seared scallops take virtually no time to make. And once you know a few basics, they’re truly easy to master. Yet they seem so special — I don’t know how they do it.

This recipe:

  • Brings out the natural sweetness and succulence of scallops
  • Enhances it just enough with pops of chorizo and chives
  • Is sheer perfection for date night, a small dinner party, or even weeknight dinner
  • Loves to be nestled over a bed of basmati rice pilaf or lemony orzo

You’ll find detailed instructions and advice below, but all you really need is two simple tips:

  1. Success with scallops is at least 70% achieved at the store.
  2. Quit while you’re ahead.

I first published this recipe here in 2018. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

How to buy scallops

  • Buy a pound of the freshest scallops you can find. Like all fresh seafood, they should smell good and briny like the sea.
  • Buy sea scallops, not bay scallops. (Bay scallops are much smaller and typically used in different types of dishes.)
  • Perhaps most importantly, buy “DRY scallops, meaning they haven’t been injected with a chemical solution to plump them up. Dry scallops both taste way better and sear way better.
  • And finally, buy “10-20” scallops which means there are 10 to 20 of them in a pound.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • The key ingredient here is a pound of 10-20 dry sea scallops. See the section above for everything you need to know.
  • A little bit of Spanish-style chorizo adds tons of flavor and a nice textural contrast. This is a dry-cured sausage that’s already fully cooked, and it’s totally different from Mexican-style chorizo. If you don’t do pork, you can leave it out and still have a phenomenal meal.
  • Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  • Use a really good-quality butter if you can. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price.
  • A few snips of fresh chives brighten up the meal.

How to prep scallops for pan-searing

You don’t have to do much to prep dry scallops for searing, but there are a couple of easy tricks to getting the best results. Watch the video in this post to see it all in action.

  • First, you’ll remove and discard the tough little muscle on the side of the scallop.
  • Then you’ll pat both sides dry with a paper towel to ensure they sear as well as possible.
  • If you like, sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. (I don’t usually add salt since they’re naturally savory.) That’s it — they’re ready to sear.

How to make them

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make pan seared scallops with chorizo. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Prep the scallops according to the instructions above. Dice the chorizo and cook over high heat for a couple of minutes, until browned. Remove the chorizo and heat the oil. Add the scallops and cook for 60 seconds without disturbing.
  2. Add butter and cook until golden brown on the underside, usually just 30 to 60 seconds more.
  3. Turn scallops once and cook until just shy of opaque on the inside, which may only take another minute or so, depending on size. They’ll continue to cook a bit off the heat, and you want them to be perfectly tender inside.
  4. Arrange some scallops, chorizo, and chives over rice or orzo on each plate. That’s it!

How to serve them

I usually serve these scallops perched atop a bed of basmati rice pilaf. They’d be equally good over lemony orzo or brown butter white bean purée.

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

This recipe is extremely quick to make, and it’s at its best shortly after cooking. I don’t recommend going out of your way to make it in advance.

That said, leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in a nice, cold fridge for a week. You can reheat them gently on the stovetop, or even at half power in the microwave just until warmed through.

More favorite easy seafood showstoppers

pan seared scallops with chorizo over basmati rice pilaf on plates with forks

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pan seared scallops with chorizo over basmati rice pilaf on plates with forks
4.79 from 14 votes

Pan Seared Scallops with Chorizo

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Pan seared scallops make a quick and easy yet special-feeling meal. Smoky, spicy Spanish chorizo adds some complexity to scallops' sweet, mild taste, and some textural contrast too.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (454 grams) dry sea scallops, 10-20 (see note 1)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) Spanish-style chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter
  • Fresh chives, to garnish

Instructions 

  • If your scallops still have the little piece of muscle attached to the side, remove and discard it. (Refer to video and photos above for technique.)
  • Pat scallops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with pepper.
  • Dice the chorizo into small cubes (about 1/4-inch).
  • Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan over high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on several sides — just a few minutes. Remove chorizo to a small bowl. 
  • Add oil to pan and keep over high heat. When very hot, add scallops without crowding.
  • Cook 60 seconds without moving, then add butter and continue cooking until golden brown on the underside, which will probably only take about 30 seconds more.
  • Use tongs to flip each scallop and cook just until done to your liking. I like to pull the pan off the heat before they're opaque in the center, which, depending on size, may mean just 30 to 60 seconds or so on the second side. You can leave them in the pan on a cold burner or trivet so that they continue cooking a bit from the residual heat.
  • To serve, place a few scallops and some of the chorizo on each plate and sprinkle with chives, if using. These are great over basmati rice pilaf.

Notes

  1. There's a lot of information in that ingredient line about scallops! Here's what it all means. You're buying one pound of scallops. They're sea scallops, not bay scallops. (Bay scallops are much smaller and typically used in different types of dishes.) They're "dry," meaning they haven't been injected with a chemical solution to plump them up. (Dry scallops both taste way better and sear way better.) And they're "10-20," which means there are 10 to 20 of them in a pound. (This tells you about what size they'll be.)
  2. Spanish-style chorizo is a dry-cured sausage that's already fully cooked, and it's totally different from Mexican-style chorizo. If you don't do pork, you can leave it out and still have a phenomenal meal.
  3. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  4. I usually serve these scallops perched atop a bed of basmati rice pilaf. They'd be equally good over lemony orzo or brown butter white bean purée.
  5. This recipe is extremely quick to make, and it's at its best shortly after cooking. I don't recommend going out of your way to make it in advance. That said, leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in a nice, cold fridge for a week. You can reheat them gently on the stovetop, or even at half power in the microwave just until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 271kcal, Carbohydrates: 6.5g, Protein: 26.8g, Fat: 15.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Fish + Shellfish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.79 from 14 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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