10 Minute Pan Seared Thai Chili Scallops Recipe

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This 10-minute pan seared Thai Chili scallop’s recipe is the secret to perfect pan seared scallops in a Thai chili sauce. Bursting with lemon and Thai basil flavor for a Thai Restaurant quality scallop dinner in under 15 minutes from fridge to plate!

Thai scallops in sauce with lemon and Pasley garnish
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Thai scallops in sauce with lemon and Pasley garnish on a white plate

10 Minute Pan Seared Thai Chili Scallops

If you’re looking for a hearty, delicious, and restaurant-quality Thai Seafood dinner, these Thai Chili Scallops are the perfect easy and impressive meal – they cook in under 10 minutes (with a sauce!!), are bursting with flavor without any hard to find ingredients, and make you look like a pro in the kitchen, regardless of cooking experience.

This Thai scallop dinner can go from the fridge to the plate in just under 15 minutes – and is perfect for dinner parties, romantic evenings, or just a quick filling meal.

To Make This Thai Chili Scallops Recipe, You’ll Need:

This recipe is insanely easy make, start by assembling the following ingredients:

  • Butter – I prefer grass fed butter for the best flavor, butter add a rich fat that will be the base of the sauce.
  • Scallops – scallops are a soft mollusk that have a flakey texture, are high in protein, and absorb the flavor of sauce well.
  • Salt and Pepper – high quality salt and pepper are essential in every recipe to draw out the flavor of the other ingredients and bring the dish together.
  • Garlic – garlic has a strong herbaceous flavor that pairs well with the Thai spices.
  • Thai Basil – while Thai Basil isn’t critical – I LOVE the flavor it gives this easy dish. Thai Basil is usually available at most American grocery stores; you can use regular basil if you can’t find Thai basil or a garlic clove and some fresh mint for a more similar flavor profile.
  • Chili Paste – I love chili paste for all sorts of recipes – it gives a rich, spicy, and almost smoky flavor that is an awesome accent to seafood, chicken, and beef. I prefer this brand – but you can also swap it for sriracha or my favorite sweet chili sauce!
  • Lemon – lemon is the perfect acid hit to offset this spicy seafood dish.
Thai scallops in sauce with lemon and Pasley garnish on a white plate

Once you have assembled the ingredients use the following method:

Heat and season – Heat the butter in a pan on high heat until its foamy. Rinse and pat dry the scallops and season them with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the scallops to the pan and cook with space in between them.

Cook. Cook the scallops on high heat about 4 minutes on each side.

Make sauce. Add the garlic and thai basil and quickly sauté until fragrant. Add the lemon spices and chili paste and stir.

Serve. When the scallops are springy to the touch and browned on both sides remove from heat, serve topped with sauce. Enjoy!

Thai scallops in sauce with lemon and Pasley garnish on a white plate up close

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Pan Seared Scallops

These tips work with any scallop recipe, so be sure to save this post for later! 

Pat Scallops Dry. Scallops really benefit from the delicious buttery seared crunchy crust – which won’t properly form with wet scallops. Be sure to pat scallops dry before searing to get the best results – obviously, scallops are a very watery shellfish and will still be quite moist to the touch, but we want all excess water patted off.

Frozen Scallops are Fine. If you opt for frozen chose scallops that are still frozen from your fishmonger (and if defrosted, don’t be shy and ask to smell them – scallops shouldn’t smell overly fishy, and have a sweet scent when fresh.)

Let frozen scallops defrost naturally in the refrigerator. I you use frozen scallops, put them on a plate, layered in paper towels, to get some of the excess ice off the scallops, fast when defrosting in the fridge.

Cook through, but Don’t Overcook. Like shrimp and lobster, scallops can take on a fishy taste and gummy, tough texture when overcooked. Scallops should be springy to the touch, but not jiggly like jello. It should feel like the fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and finger – not slippery and loose like it is raw, or firm like a well-done steak.

Keep the pan scorching hot. Scallops are best when cooked hot and fast – giving them a lovely, crunchy crust, and cooking the meat all the way through without drying it out or losing it’s liquids.

Don’t form sauce until the last few minutes. The bulk of the time for this recipe is spent searing the scallops – with some time to soften and brown the garlic and lemons – but if you add the chili and Thai basil too early, it can burn or get bitter.

Remove lemons when serving. The lemons flavor will cook quickly into the sauce, but can turn bitter if left in the sauce for too long.

seared scallops in a pan with chopped cilantro and chili sauce on top next to slices of lemon

FAQs

Can I use something besides butter for searing?

If you’re watching fat or cutting dairy, extra virgin olive oil or another heart-healthy oil whose flavor you love (and has a higher smoke point – coconut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil are all good additional options) is an easy swap.

What can I use instead of Thai basil?

Thai basil has a bright citrus and slightly minty and anise flavor that basil doesn’t – so if you’re swapping Thai basil with basil, you might want to toss in a sprig of mint and a dash of lemon juice or a couple fennel seeds to get a similar flavor – however for a quick dinner, regular basil will still give you an outstanding flavor.

Can I make this recipe with anything besides scallops?

Yes! This recipe is very diverse and pairs well with any seafood. I often mix it up with lobster, shrimp, or salmon.

Can I make this vegan?

For a vegan dinner you can substitute tofu or mushrooms for the scallops. Make sure you press your tofu before adding it so it can soak up the sauce. King oyster mushrooms (especially dried) are my favorite mushroom alternative, but any mushroom will work.

What to Serve With Thai Scallops:

If you love these incredible seared chili Thai scallops, you will also love these Sweet C’s seafood favorites alongside like Sesame Ginger Grilled Bok Choy, Wild Rice Pilaf, Spicy Peanut Noodles, or Vegetable Spring Rolls!

Click here to see other one pot dinners!

Thai scallops in sauce with lemon and Pasley garnish on a white plate with the name of the recipe on it

10 Minute Pan Seared Thai Chili Scallops Recipe

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a seared scallop in a pan with chopped cilantro and chili sauce on top next to a slice of lemon

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a seared scallop in a pan with chopped cilantro and chili sauce on top next to a slice of lemon
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10 Minute Pan Seared Thai Chili Scallop Recipe

The Best 10 Minute Pan Seared Thai Chili Scallops Recipe is the secret to perfect pan seared scallops in a Thai chili sauce, bursting with lemon and Thai basil flavor for a Thai Restaurant quality scallop dinner in under 15 minutes – from fridge to plate! Scallops are a great low calorie and low fat choice that are packed with protein for dinner – especially during Lent. 
Course Seafood
Cuisine Thai
Keyword 10 minute seafood dinner, chili scallops, how to cook a scallop, keto thai recipe, lent seafood dinner, low carb thai recipe, perfect pan fried scallops, perfect pan seared scallops, romantic seafood dinner, scallop dinner, scallop lent recipe, scallop pan fried, sweet chili scallops, thai scallops, thai seafood dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 436kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb scallops defrosted, patted dry
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper freshly cracked
  • 2 tbsp garlic diced
  • ¼ cup thai basil diced
  • 1 tsp chili paste add more as desired
  • ½ lemon sliced into half-wedges

Instructions

  • Heat butter in pan on high heat until melted and lightly foaming. 
  • Pat scallops dry with paper towel and generously season scallops with salt and pepper. 
  • Add scallops into pan, with space in between so they can crisp. 
  • After about 4 minutes on one side, flip scallops. They should have a golden crust on the side that was face-down. (If not, increase heat, and let sear a bit more.) 
  • Add garlic and thai basil and stir quickly, let lightly brown and become fragrant, do not let burn (about 2-3 minutes). 
  • Add lemon slices, chili paste, and stir. 
  • When scallops are still springy to the touch, but bright white and opaque and browned on both sides, serve and top with sauce. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 2964mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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21 Comments

  1. Steve says:

    Hi Courtney. I made this recipe using fresh off the boat scallops (I live on Cape Cod) and Thai basil growing in my backyard and it was so easy and delicious. I always have sambel oelek in my fridge too. I served with jasmine rice and gingery sautéed Napa cabbage. Thanks for the recipe.