Here’s how to make an easy sauce for scallops! This lemon herb butter is a quick pan sauce that makes seafood taste divine.

Sauce for scallops

Looking for an easy and delicious sauce for scallops? Have we got one for you. Try this Lemon Herb Sauce! It’s full of tangy, garlicky flavor and makes scallops taste infinitely better. That’s saying something, because seared scallops taste pretty darn amazing on their own. We created this sauce recipe to go with our Pan Seared Scallops method. Honestly, we usually go right into making this sauce after we sear them up. That post has all the info on our master method…and this one breaks down just the sauce component. You are going to want to bathe in this…promise.

Ingredients for this sauce for scallops

This sauce for scallops has just 4 ingredients that pack in major flavor. If you could combine them in a name, we’d call it Garlic Herb Lemon Butter. But since that’s a little intense, we went with Lemon Herb Sauce. Here’s what you’ll find in this flavor-popping sauce:

  • Salted butter: Salted brings the best savory flavor; you can also use unsalted and add a few pinches of salt
  • Lemon juice: Fresh only! Don’t even think about using lemon juice from a bottle
  • Garlic: Fresh only! Again, no jarred garlic or garlic powder
  • Herbs: We used a mix of tarragon, thyme and parsley. Keep reading for more about herbs…
Sauce for scallops

What herbs go with scallops?

There are lots of fresh herbs that pair well with this seafood, but some are more natural choices than others. For this sauce for scallops you can use whatever fresh herbs are easiest to find. Here are the top herbs that pair well with scallops:

  • Thyme: The delicate flavor of thyme and French-vibe make it the top fit for scallops.
  • Tarragon: It’s got a subtle licorice nuance and fresh flavor. It’s harder to find, but well worth it.
  • Parsley (Italian or flat leaf): The fresh bite of parsley is another natural choice.
  • Chives: The delicate onion garlic flavor works well here.
  • Basil: The fresh peppery flavor of basil also pairs well with scallops.
Pan seared scallops

How to sear scallops: some tips

The full tutorial for how to sear scallops is over at Pan Seared Scallops. But if you’d like a little breakdown of the steps, here’s a cheat sheet:

  • Use fresh or frozen sea scallops.
  • Brine the scallops in a water and salt solution for 10 minutes. This freshens the flavor and seasons the insides of the scallops. (We also use this trick in our baked salmon.)
  • Use a large metal or cast iron pan. Don’t use non-stick: it won’t brown as well!
  • Pat the scallops dry before cooking. Any extra moisture will prevent browning.
  • Cook 2 to 3 minutes without touching, then flip and repeat. Do not move the scallops in the pan! Keeping them in one place creates the crispy brown surface.
  • Add the sauce for scallops! Remove the scallops from the pan, then make this sauce. Keep reading…

More with scallops? Try 12 Easy Scallop Recipes.

Sauce for scallops

Make the sauce for scallops right after searing!

Once you’ve seared the scallops, you’ll remove them from the pan and set them aside while making the sauce. Here are a few tips to know about making the sauce:

  • It takes just 1 to 2 minutes to cook! You’ll simply melt the butter and let the herbs infuse.
  • Scrape the bottom with a spatula to release the browned bits. All those beautifully browned bits of scallop are incorporated right into the sauce. So don’t even think about removing them from the pan!
  • Serve immediately. Then add the scallops and serve. The amount of flavor it infuses is unreal!

Sides to go with scallops

How to pair your beautifully saucy scallops to make it a complete meal? Here are a few of our favorite ideas for what to serve with scallops:

Lemon herb sauce for scallops

This sauce for scallops recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian (with scallops, of course!).

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Sauce for scallops

Lemon Herb Sauce for Scallops

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (enough for 1 pound scallops) 1x


Here’s how to make an easy sauce for scallops! This lemon herb butter is a quick pan sauce that makes seafood taste divine. This sauce makes enough for 1 pound of scallops.


  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley, etc)


  1. Sear the scallops, following the instructions for Pan Seared Scallops.
  2. Remove the scallops from the skillet to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter, lemon juice, minced garlic and chopped herbs. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release flavor from any browned bits stuck to the pan. Cook 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the scallops and cover them with sauce. Then remove from the heat and serve immediately.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Sauce for scallops

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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    1. This recipe was awesome and real easy to make. Thank you for this recipe. Just needed a little extra butter for the sauce. Definitely will make again.

  1. Your instructions for searing scallops are missing information. You never mention using oil and what type in the pan nor the temperature the heat to cook with. Otherwise I appreciate the explanation of wet/dry scallops and how to correct wet ones. I never knew about that.

      1. I also struggled with the temperatures for searing the scallops and again for the sauce. I thinks my scallops pan should have been hotter so that it took less time to sear and brown without over cooking the centers. Ovens definitely vary but I’d try a 6 out of 10 next time. Then my butter for the sauce went into the pan but it was still too hot and it burned right away. The meal was okay, but my pasta was brown. Regardless, having learned from these mistakes it will be way better next time.

  2. A question for you.

    We are staying at a rental property that appeared to have a cast iron skillet.

    They only had olive oil, no neutral oils. Seared the scallops on high heat with virgin olive oil. After 2:30 minutes I tried to turn one scallop and it stuck to the pan. I waited 30 more seconds and still had that problem.

    They were cooked after 3 minutes on the other side.

    Was the sticking due to the problem with the cast iron skillet…if it actually was cast iron or with using virgin olive oil versus a neutral oil?

    Thanks for your advice

    1. Hi! The pan was probably poorly seasoned. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is almost non-stick but if it is washed with soap a lot it loses that attribute. The only downside to the olive oil is that it can burn more quickly.

      Sorry it didn’t work out!

  3. When I was stationed in Key West in the Navy one of my favorite things was the pan seared scallops at a little hole in the wall restaurant. I have been trying to duplicate those scallops for the past 40 years! I always figured you needed dry scallops to do it right, boy was I wrong! Your recipe made it happen first time out! THANK YOU!! Absolutely perfect and delicious.