We all deserve a luxurious meal – more now than ever. These Seared Scallops and Lemon Parmesan Risotto might just be one of my top five meals and today, I’m showing you how to make this from start to finish. 

Seared Scallops & Lemon Parmesan Risotto

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The body of this post will be short and sweet, because I really just want you to focus all your efforts on scoring fresh scallops and making this recipe. I know not everyone has access to fresh off the boat scallops, but know that this risotto is equally the staring role here. If you can’t find scallops, serve this risotto with seared salmon, shrimp, or even your favorite cut of steak.

But if you ARE lucky enough to acquire fresh scallops, this is just what to make. Living on Martha’s Vineyard, our access to fresh seafood is unlike any other places I’ve ever lived, and I’m from a Caribbean island! But with such a small community on Martha’s Vineyard, versus the 10 million people in Dominican Republic, sourcing local products is a lot easier. These scallops came to me by way of the Fishing Vessel Martha Rose. Locally owned
and operated, this is a 77 feet sea scalloper out of Menemsha, on the upper side of the island. They are sustainably harvesting in Martha’s Vineyard waters, bringing our community the freshest sea scallops straight from the ocean floor within 36 hours and one of the tastiest, sweet scallops I’ve ever had.

Seared Scallops & Lemon Parmesan Risotto

Ok, I’ll let you go read the recipe –  and please – read the full recipe before even beginning. The key to gorgeously seared scallops is a CAST IRON PAN + BUTTER + DO NOT MOVE THE SCALLOPS + HIGH HEAT. With this formula, you can be sure to get the perfect sear. Here’s a Scallop FAQ:

  • Can I use a different type of pan? Yeah, sure but I can’t assure the perfect sear. Nonstick is common, but not my favorite. Ceramic, stainless steel? Give it a try and show me your scallops!
  • Can I use oil? Yeah, sure but I can’t assure you the perfect sear. Plus the butter gives it great flavor!
  • Will the butter burn? No, because you’re literally doing this for a maximum of five minutes total. Will it turn into brown butter? Probably and that’s extra flavor.
  • Can I cook a dozen scallops at a time? No, because you’ll overcrowd the pan, the temperature will drop, and the scallops around the edges of your pan won’t be as nicely seared. But this was just for my husband and I, I literally cooked four scallops at a time.
  • Can I pat my scallops dry? Yes, but I didn’t? I know a ton of chefs recommend this but mine weren’t very “wet” so maybe yes, pat them down if they seem wet.

Seared Scallops and Lemon Parmesan Risotto

Scallops and risotto, quite probably the most perfect meal when you can get fresh scallops!
Print Recipe
Seared Scallops Lemon Parmesan Risotto 819x1024 1
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:55 minutes


for the risotto:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3.5-4 cups stock
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream mascarpone, or creme fraiche
  • ½ lemon zested
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the scallops:

  • 1 pound scallops muscle removed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a deep saucepan, start over medium heat with the butter, onion, and garlic.
  • In a separate pot, heat up the stock - you can use chicken or vegetable stock, or seafood stock if you really want to!
  • Cook the onions/garlic for about ten minutes, until aromatic. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Make sure the rice is coated in the butter, onions, and garlic.
  • For the next 30-40 minutes, you'll do the following steps on repeat: add 1/2 cup hot stock to the rice, stir, and let the stock absorb completely before adding the next installment of stock. Continue to do so for 25 minutes and at this point, start tasting the rice for doneness as well as get ready to cook your scallops by heating up a cast-iron pan with the butter.
  • You do not want mushy rice, you're looking for a bit of a bite when you chew the rice. Continue until the rice is cooked to your liking - you might not use all the stock and that's okay.
  • Over the same low heat, add the milk, parmesan, sour cream, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Stir and taste - add more salt if needed. Take off the heat, cover and quickly turn your attention to the scallops.
  • The cast iron pan should be heated over medium high heat. Drop each scallop and DO NOT MOVE for 3.5 - 4 minutes, depending on size. They will sizzle loudly. After 4 minutes (for large scallops), add the lemon juice, white white, and salt and pepper. Turn heat off, remove the pan from heat source, and flip so they continue cooking on the other side.
  • Be prepared to serve immediately alongside risotto, pour the lemon wine butter over scallops and enjoy!
Servings: 2 servings with possible risotto leftovers
Author: Marnely Murray

DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE? I want to see it! Follow Cooking with Books on Instagram, take a photo, and tag me in it. I love to know what you are making and how you made this recipe your own!

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  1. 5 stars
    Sooo delicious. My husband was my fiancé at the time and he was ready to marry me that instant after I cooked this 😀

  2. 5 stars
    I made this with sautéed spinach and fresh herb bread. YUM!!!

  3. Brittanee says:

    5 stars
    Made this risotto recipe last night. OMG it was amazing! My boyfriend got 2 plates of it. I paired it with meatballs.

  4. This is the BEST risotto I have ever made. I have made it several times now for a few of my friends and it has become a big hit. I have made it with scallops and shrimp when I find that scallops are not available. It is just as good! I have added mushrooms to the first step as well. Yummmm! Thank you for sharing this. ♥

  5. Michele Rankin says:

    I made this risotto tonight to have with roasted chicken. (Not ready to have “Ohio seafood” yet after enjoying it in MV and Nantucket!) This is the best risotto I’ve ever made. Delicious!

  6. What kind of stock did you use? I’m going to try to make this, it looks amazing!

  7. Martha Klein says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing