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Brown Butter Scallops with Tarragon

If you're a fan of scallops, then trust me, you NEED to make these Brown Butter Scallops with Tarragon. They are seared in nutty brown butter until ultra crispy, and then bathed in the same brown butter plus lots of lemon juice and plenty of tarragon.  Even better? You only need five simple ingredients to make this restaurant-quality meal. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword seared scallops, brown butter scallops, easy scallops, shellfish
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 14 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 161 kcal
Author Nicole


  • 1 lb sea scallops
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tbsp capers


  1. Remove the small muscle on the side of the scallop if they have one. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. You want them to be VERY dry so they can sear properly.

  2. Heat a large skillet or cast iron skillet to a medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and once it starts to brown on the edges, swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep brown color and smells very nutty, it should take about 3 minutes.

  3. Season the scallops with salt (generously) and a little bit of pepper on one side. Reduce the heat on the stove to medium and add the scallops, seasoned-side down in the skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan. If needed, work in two batches, browing one tablespoons of butter at a time with half of the scallops. They need plenty of room, otherwise, they will steam and won't sear.

  4. Let the scallops sear for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Season the unseasoned side with salt and pepper. Once they are ready they should easily release from the pan with a spatula or tons. Flip the scallops over and repeat on the other side. They should need about 1-2 minutes on the other side.

  5. After the scallops sear for 1 minute on the other side, add the lemon juice, tarragon and remaining butter. Shake the pan to combine the ingredients. Use a spoon to baste the scallops in the lemon tarragon butter until cooked through. Sprinkle with capers. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Scallops only need about 3-4 minutes to cook fully otherwise, they will get tough.

  6. Remove scallops to a serving dish and serve with lemon brown butter and extra tarragon if desired.

Nutrition Facts
Brown Butter Scallops with Tarragon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 161 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 50mg17%
Sodium 502mg22%
Potassium 285mg8%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 336IU7%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.