Seared Sea Scallops With Lemon Cream Sauce And Balsamic Drizzle

I’m not big on those pretentious, snooty recipes.  Do you know the dishes with ‘gastric foam’ and ‘smears’?  And, just what is a gastric foam? I don’t want to say what it looks like to me, so let’s just say that if you are a cat owner you’ll know to what I’m eluding.  I can’t stomach putting that in my mouth.

This recipe is ridiculously easy and super elegant. Yea me! Plus, I’m always game to make and devour something that feels tropical and summery.  Don’t you love making a weeknight meal that feels like it’s dinner-party fare? It makes any random Tuesday or Wednesday feel so special.  Just add some wine or bubbly and it’s like an impromptu party.

Sea scallops in a lemon cream sauce and balsamic vinegar drizzle with a sprig of fresh thyme

Sea scallops can be expensive and are one of those things that are easily overcooked and can get rubbery very quickly.  But keeping a close eye on them makes this recipe pretty foolproof.  Remember to start with dry scallops, a hot skillet that is big enough to allow lots of room between the scallops, and keep a watchful eye.

Whether you buy fresh sea scallops or frozen, be sure to clean them to remove any grit or sand.  Simply hold the scallop under running water and gently rub the outside with your fingers. Once rinsed, place the scallop on a paper towel to dry. Don’t soak the scallop. It will result in a soggy, mushy scallop.

Sea scallops in a lemon cream sauce with a balsamic vinegar drizzle with a sprig of fresh thyme

The sauce is a beautiful bed to rest the scallops and is so tasty, that I could lick the plate.  Instead, I would suggest being more of a lady and use a lovely piece of bread.

Then, just to gild the lily, a drizzle of balsamic reduction makes these elegant sea scallops insanely delicious.  Are you familiar with this stuff – balsamic glaze or reduction?

You can make it, but why when there are really good ones on your grocery shelf right beside the other kinds of vinegar. My sister-in-law turned me on to it and I swear I could stick a straw in the bottle and use it like a juice box.  OMG, it is so amazing.

So on to the good stuff.  I usually serve this with some sautéed spinach and crusty bread.  Let me know what you think.



Sweet, delicate sea scallops on a velvety bed of lemon cream sauce with a drizle of balsamic glaze. Quick enough for a weeknight dinner, but elegant enough for a special dinner party.



For the scallops

  • 1 dozen large sea scallops
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I use Maille mustard. It’s only slightly more expensive and so good!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

For the glaze:

  • Store bought, bottled balsamic glaze
  • Fresh thyme as a garnish


For the scallops:

  1. Pat the scallops with paper towels until very dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper and pat seasoning onto the flesh.
  2. Preheat a large skillet on stovetop over medium high heat. Add butter to the pan and allow to melt. Take care not to let the butter brown.
  3. Place the scallops, one at a time, into the pan. Do not overcrowd the scallops or you cannot get a good sear. It is better to sear the scallops in batches if necessary. Let scallops cook, undisturbed, until they become golden brown on one side. If the scallop doesn’t release easily from the pan, let it cook for a few seconds more until it does. Carefully flip and let the other side sear. Both sides of the scallop should be seared to a rich, golden brown and the sides should look opaque all the way through. They should feel firm to the touch, but still slightly soft, like grandma’s jello mold. Don’t overcook or the scallops will become tough and rubbery. Cook the remaining scallops, set aside.

For the Sauce:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the cream and allow it to reduce by half.
  2. Meanwhile, in the same skillet that you cooked the scallops, add the wine, zest, honey, and mustard. Cook, stirring often, until bubbly. Slowly whisk in the thickened cream and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings for salt and pepper.
  3. Plate them ever so elegantly. On your four serving plates, spoon three pools of the lemon sauce. Evenly divide and place the cooked scallops on top of each pool. Lightly and attractively drizzle the balsamic glaze, in a back and forth motion, over the scallops. Top with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
  4. Stand back and admire your abundant talents.


  • Serving Size: Serves 4