Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Caper Pasta

4.64 from 433 votes
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Pan seared scallops with lemon caper pasta is a gourmet recipe for any occasion! Light angel hair pasta is tossed with a citrus white wine sauce and tomatoes.

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Caper Pasta

The holiday season is here which means more great meals enjoyed with the people you love! Are you looking for a meal that will delight any day of the week, or to share with others for a special occasion? A dish that’s always a winner with my family and friends is a comforting plate of Italian pasta, but I like to add a more gourmet twist.

Pan-seared scallops with lemon caper sauce will wow any hungry guests at your dinner table. Not to worry, it’s straightforward and effortless to recreate, plus I’ve got a special ingredient that takes the flavors to the next level!

ingredients laid out on a white marble counter

There are two essential ingredients in this pan-seared scallops and lemon caper pasta recipe that makes it so irresistible, the pasta and wine!

I wanted to make this dish light, flavorful and bright. Barilla Angel Hair Pasta adds great tasting, high quality and wholesome, tender pasta to the dish. The thin pasta does an excellent job of absorbing and getting coated with the lemon caper sauce to infuse the flavors into each delicious forkful!

tongs lifting angel hair pasta out of a pan

Hey, there wine lovers! I know you traditionally think of enjoying a nice glass wine to pair with your meal, but the flavors of wine can add some beautiful notes to your cooking as well. For the lemon caper sauce, I use Clos du Bois Chardonnay as my secret ingredient to make the taste pop!

If you’ve ever been wine tasting, you’ve experienced that each wine has its unique character. This Clos du Bois Chardonnay is bright and refreshing, with lots of fruit-forward notes of ripe apple, pear, and sweet lemon drop.

The French style of winemaking under the warm California sun also provides toasty oak, vanilla bean, spice, and butter notes. As you can imagine, all of these complex flavors get infused into the sauce and complements the caramelized scallops like a dream.

several seared scallops cooking in a frying pan

Whenever I want to create a special dish, scallops are on top of my list. It adds an element of elegance to the recipe, and it’s very simple to prepare.

Tips for Caramelizing and Cooking Scallops

  • Dry: The trick to achieving a golden-brown crust on scallops is making sure both sides are very dry. Use a paper towel to soak up any moisture before salting and adding to the pan. Any excess moisture will cause the scallops to steam instead of sear.
  • Keep it hot!: A smoking hot pan and scorching oil are going to give a dark caramelized color on the scallops. Don’t move the scallops until you are ready to flip. They will brown and release from the pan on its own. I use a stainless steel pan to get a more attractive surface.
  • Time: Scallops cook very quickly, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Keep a close eye so that you get a tender, buttery texture from the scallops, not tough and rubbery.

plate of seared scallops and pasta served with a glass of white wine

The caramelized scallops have a nice golden brown crust and a very mild sweet flavor. The delicate seafood and light angel hair pasta are an excellent pair. If you are looking for other ways to enjoy seafood, try my scallops with roasted red pepper sauce recipe!

Now that you’ve got beautifully caramelized scallops and lemon caper pasta to bring to the table don’t forget to pour a glass of chardonnay! Not only do you have the versatility to cook with the wine, but you also get to sit back and enjoy each delicious sip with your meal.

top down view of a plate of scallops and pasta

It’s hard not to devour this entire plate of pasta! The delicate angel hair pasta tossed in the fresh, savory and tangy lemon caper white wine sauce and herbs is something you can just eat all on its own. The fresh seafood and light pasta are sure to please for any low key or more fancy occasion!

What other pasta and wine pairings have you tried? Do you cook with wine often? I would love to hear your marvelous creations in the comments section.

What are capers and how do you use them in cooking?

Those tiny olive green spheres pack a mighty flavor punch! The taste has is very salty and pungent with vinegar notes, so a small amount adds incredible layers of flavor to any dish. Capers are dried flower buds from a shrub-like bush (Capparis spinosa) that have been pickled and are still in the brine when sold. Before adding them to your recipes make sure to rinse them well since they will have residual brine. Capers are grown in different sizes, but the smallest called nonpareil can be more commonly found at stores and used most in cooking. Capers are often used in Mediterranean and European cooking, and in appetizers and main entrees. They are essential in dishes like chicken piccata and work very well with seafood, soups, salad dressing, pasta, and salads. If you need a quick boost of sweet and tangy flavor, capers are magical. (Source: The Huffington Post

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Caper Pasta

Pan seared scallops with lemon caper pasta is a gourmet recipe for any occasion! Light angel hair pasta is tossed in a citrus white wine sauce and tomatoes.
4.64 from 433 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 pound scallops, jumbo size, about 20 pieces, 1-inch wide
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • black pepper, freshly ground, for seasoning
  • ½ pound angel hair pasta
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup chardonnay wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated



  • Dry the scallops very well with a piece of paper towel. Season both sides with salt.
  • Heat a stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until it ripples and begins to smoke.
  • Add scallops to the hot pan without crowding. Cook without moving them, until the bottoms are a golden-brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Turn the scallops and caramelize the other side, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat but do not discard the pan.
  • Transfer scallops to a clean plate and lightly season with freshly ground black pepper. Lightly cover to keep warm while making the pasta.

Lemon Caper Pasta

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meanwhile make the lemon caper sauce.
  • In the same pan used to cook the scallops, turn heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of butter and garlic. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant but not browned.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add ½ cup white wine. Simmer, stirring as needed until the wine is reduced by half and you can no longer smell the alcohol, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, zest, and capers, turn the heat to high. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half (½ cup) about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Cook angel hair pasta in boiling water about 4 minutes until al dente, 5 minutes for more tender pasta. Drain and add to the sauce.
  • Add parsley and toss to combine. Add sliced tomatoes and gently mix. Season pasta with salt and pepper as desired. Evenly divide among serving dishes.
  • Top with scallops and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • This recipe serves 4 smaller portions or 2 large portions.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 563kcal (28%)Carbohydrates 53g (18%)Protein 30g (60%)Fat 25g (38%)Saturated Fat 6g (30%)Polyunsaturated Fat 5gMonounsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 72mg (24%)Sodium 792mg (33%)Potassium 412mg (12%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 250IU (5%)Vitamin C 15.7mg (19%)Calcium 140mg (14%)Iron 2.5mg (14%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4.64 from 433 votes (423 ratings without comment)

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123 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Leeann says

    Made this tonight – it was great! I put in the cherry tomatoes when I added the lemon juice, broth & capers so the tomatoes would about burst. Delicious! Thanks for your recipe!

  2. John says

    Made this last night. Really good! A little salty, tho. Will not salting the scallops have an effect on their sear?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The salt will not impact the sear. Perhaps use less salt when seasoning the scallops next time? Did you use table or kosher salt?

  3. Aluisio from Brazil says

    I had never made scallops and was afraid to try. This recipe seemed interesting, especially coz it didn’t take cream to hide the delicate scallops flavor. I tried it and totally loved it. The change I made was to use a good Portuguese white since I can’t stand chardonnay.

  4. Gidget Snyder says

    After reviewing a number of different recipes for Lemon Caper Pasta, to go with my Maine imported scallops, I chose Ms. Gavin’s recipe because it encompassed the best of the ingredients without any weird requests. (eg: One recipe required a small can of cherry tomatoes. There is no such thing?!) I’m lucky to get a regular can of tomatoes in the store these days.
    The directions were straight forward, even supplying good information about handling the scallops. I think I’ll get a stainless steel pan to work with next time. This recipe is a keeper and would also work with shrimp or chicken. This was super delicious.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for trusting me with your scallops, Gidget! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe. Shrimp or chicken sounds delicious too!

  5. Haley P. says

    Have been making this dish for a few years now and it is packed with all the best flavors! Is the perfect mix of light and savory. I love the addition of citrus and capers! It’s easy to follow and is honestly just as delish as any restaurant pasta if not more! Would be great for special occasions or just because!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, what a wonderful review. Thank you, Haley! I’m so happy that you have enjoyed this scallop recipe over the years.

  6. Vicki Taylor says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My husband and I both love it. Husband has had a rough weekend (knee pain) so I made this as a special treat for him and he really enjoyed it. It’s a great recipe. We’ve made it several times now. When the price of scallops is out of sight, I substitute shrimp. It’s still a very good dish although we prefer the scallops. Truly yummy!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are amazing, Vicki! I hope that your husband is feeling better. I love that you use shrimp as an affordable swap.

  7. Faith says

    I love this recipe. I make it often because I keep the pasta ingredients on hand. I even serve it without the scallops sometimes. It’s a well balanced side dish to go along with meats as well as fish. Thanks, Jessica!

  8. John says

    Made this dish last night and can say that it was perfect … the dish was light and very flavorful. We love capers, so I might have used a few more.

    The Clos du Bois Chardonnay was also right on!
    I like to mix up some recipe’s at times and make some slight modifications; however I don’t think I’ll mess with this one; it was so good! The family loved it!
    This recipe will definitely be on our menu on a recurring basis! Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for your feedback, John! I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the scallops, more capers are always great! Love the wine pairing too.

  9. Ethel Palm says

    Just finished dinner. excellent recipe. The freshness of the lemon with the sauce went perfect with the scallops. Thanks.

  10. Fatima says

    I want to try this for dinner, but wondered if I could use regular spaghetti?…also can I add Delicata Squash rather than tomatoes?…Just trying to use what I have in my pantry. Thank you. FY

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