How to Prepare Restaurant Style Scallops at Home – Cooking Tips

Have you ever wondered why seafood dishes often taste better when you are dining out?  Could it be that they are sourcing better and fresher fish?  Yes, that is certainly one reason.  The other is that they may be using a different cooking method than you do at home, including lightly smoking their fish prior to cooking it.

I prepare fresh sea or diver seared scallops quite often at home.  While there are a number of different preparations I enjoy, my favorite still remains basic seared scallops with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice or Beurre Blanc.  Now that I have learned a few new techniques in some cooking classes, this slightly richer method of preparation might win out.

Chefs Colin Bedford and Michael Paley both use quite a bit of oil when they saute or sear their seafood.  I usually try to avoid using that much oil for health reasons, but it does make a difference in the final dish.  While you can use Canola oil or Light Olive oil to sear fish and seafood, I chose to use Grape Seed oil since it has a smoke point of about 420 degrees (Fahrenheit) and adds virtually no flavor to the scallops.

Grape Seed Oil has a high smoke point and does not add a distinct flavor to the dish

This is important because I used a cast iron skillet at a high temperature to cook the scallops.  If you use an oil that does not have a high smoke point and cook at a high temperature, you will have a rather unpleasant taste to your food.  Remember, if you choose to use non-stick pans for searing at high temperatures you may be releasing harmful chemicals.  Be careful about the type of pan you use.

In my first Cooking Tip, we smoked scallops as the first step in preparation.  Here are the next steps to searing them properly and finishing them to achieve a beautiful restaurant style seared scallop at home.

I used smoked scallops to prepare this dish

How to Prepare Restaurant Style Scallops

Here is a quick video and the instructions to make perfectly seared scallops at home.


1. Have scallops at room temperature.

2. Pat scallops dry with paper towels.  Wet scallops do not sear properly.

3. Use Grape Seed Oil as it has a high smoke point and will not impart flavor in to the scallops.

4. Do not overcrowd the pan.  Food cooks more evenly when spaced properly.

5.  The perfect sear is achieved when they release easily while turning them over.

6. Scallops should be translucent in the middle.  Be careful not to overcook them as they become tough.

7. Finish with a generous pat of butter to infuse a rich taste and a beautiful sheen.

8. Remove immediately when done.

* If you are plating them with other ingredients, you may want to let them drain for a few seconds on paper towels.

This is a link to information concerning the smoke point of various oils.  It will be helpful in determining which oil you should be using in your kitchen for various types of cooking methods.  Many oils have different methods of processing and refining, so this will also be a determining factor in which brands are better for specific uses.


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