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Easy One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta with Caramelized Scallops

Angel hair pasta tossed with bright and fresh flavors from fresh lemon, briny capers, and a garlic white wine sauce.  One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta is paired with seared caramelized scallops to complete the meal.

One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta

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We are huge fans of one-pot meals around here, and this great recipe is a step above the rest.  This lemon caper pasta recipe uses a handful of ingredients to create something a little more special than your average weeknight meal, yet it’s simple and fast enough to be a go-to recipe for busy weeknights.

This recipe is also amazing with shrimp if you aren’t able to get fresh scallops near you.  The frozen scallops just don’t always caramelize the way that fresh ones do, it’s so hard to get that beautiful brown crust on the outside.  Shrimp is a great alternative and it cooks just as quickly as the scallops do. The best frozen scallops we have found are from Costco.

What are Capers?

Capers are the flower buds of a bush native to the Mediterranean. These little flowers almost look like tiny pine cones and their taste is very salty and acidic almost like a pickle. You can purchase them from the grocery store in a small jar submerged in a briny liquid usually somewhere near the olives. 

If you like a savory breakfast, they are delicious on a lox and cream cheese bagel with tomato.  I also use them in my Instant Pot Picadillo Recipe sometimes when I don’t have green olives.

How to make One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta with Caramelized Scallops

Prep Ahead

First, get a large pot of salted water heating on the stove for the Angel Hair pasta.  While that’s heating up, it’s important to have all of the sauce ingredients ready and prepped ahead of time because this sauce comes together very quickly.  Have your shallot, minced garlic, lemon zest, fresh parsley, and lemon juice all prepped and ready.  Also be sure to measure out the wine, butter, and capers.  It’s a simple sauce and it will come together as quickly as you can boil the thin pasta, in just 3-4 minutes.

Start with the scallops:

Heat a large cast-iron skillet, saucepan, or large skillet over medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil in the pan.  Pat the scallops dry with paper towels to get a good sear.  Season the scallops with a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Once the pan is smoking hot place the scallops in the pan seasoned side down and then salt and pepper the other side as they cook.

After 1-2 minutes and a nice golden brown crust has formed on the scallops, flip for just 1 1/2 more minutes to complete cooking on the other side.  Set the scallops aside on a plate.

Make the sauce and cook the pasta:

Turn the heat in the pan down to medium heat, put the angel hair pasta into the salted water, set a timer for it, and grab your sauce ingredients.

Add the olive oil to the pan with the shallot, saute for about 1 minute, and add the garlic, capers, a little caper brine, and the white wine.  Turn the heat back up to high and let the wine reduce by half (about 1 minute.) Grab about 1/8 cup of the starchy pasta water and add it to the pan with the capers, lemon zest, and a few tablespoons of butter.  

Let it cook for a minute while you drain the al dente pasta.  Turn the heat off under the sauce, add in the lemon juice, and stir.  Toss the cooked pasta in the white wine sauce to coat in the hot pan, top with the scallops, and sprinkle the whole dish with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.  You could try other fresh herbs on top like fresh basil if you prefer.

Recipe Variations

Other ways to use the sauce– Instead of making pasta with lemon and capers, drizzle the lemon caper sauce over pan-seared chicken, grilled white fish or salmon, rice, roasted potatoes, or asparagus. This sauce adds so much flavor to any dish.

Other proteins you could make instead  – Of course, you could make this pasta a side dish or a vegetarian meal by omitting any meat.  Or if you don’t want to use scallops, adding cooked shrimp, grilled chicken, lobster, or clams works well in this recipe too! 

White wine – This recipe uses white wine. If you aren’t a fan, try substituting chicken broth instead.

Creamy Lemon Caper Pasta – Add a little heavy cream to the sauce at the end to make a creamy lemon caper sauce.  This is fantastic with chicken.

How to Store One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta?

The caper pasta sauce will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.  The scallops will be good for 3-4 days.

What wine should I use for the sauce?

Any crisp white wine will do.  I would recommend a pinot grigio, pinot gris, or a sauvignon blanc, and pick one that you like because there will be some left over to enjoy with dinner.

More Pasta Recipes


Easy One Pan Lemon Caper Pasta with Caramelized Scallops

Angel hair pasta tossed with bright and fresh flavors from fresh lemon, briny capers, and a garlic white wine sauce.  This recipe is paired with seared caramelized scallops to complete the meal.
Servings 6 people


  • 1 Lb Angel Hair Pasta or capellini
  • 1 medium-sized shallot diced
  • 6 large cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 large lemon Washed zested, and sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup white wine like a Pino grigio, pinot gris, or sauvignon blanc
  • 1/8 cup capers in brine
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 10-12 Scallops


  • Begin by boiling a large pot of water on the stove for your angel hair pasta. Salt the water.

For the scallops:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat add in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Dry the scallops with a paper towel and salt and pepper them on one side.
  • Once the oil is hot and shimmering place the scallops in the pan, salted side down.
  • Salt and pepper the other side of the scallops.
  • Cook them in the oil for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Then turn them over and cook for 1½ minutes.
  • Remove the scallops from the oil, set aside.

For the sauce:

  • Heat a saucepan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add in the olive oil. Once the olive oil shimmers (gets little ripples) you know it's ready. Add in the diced shallot and stir to coat with the olive oil. Then add in the garlic and capers. Stir continuously for about 30 seconds.
  • Carefully add in the wine and a splash of the caper brine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits of shallot. Let the liquid bubble and reduce by about half.
  • At this point drop your Angel Hair pasta into the boiling water- this will cook for about 3 minutes and then need to be drained. Before you drain it, remove 1/8 cup of the starchy pasta water for the sauce.
  • To the sauce, add in 4 Tbs of butter, and 1 Tbs of lemon zest. Stir and once the butter is melted, remove from the heat. Stir in about 2 Tbsp of lemon juice from the fresh lemon or a little more if you like a strong lemon flavor.
  • Once the pasta is cooked reserve your 1/8 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Stir the pasta water into the sauce and then add the pasta into the pan. Toss until all of the angel hair is coated with the Lemon Caper Sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with the browned scallops and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of good parmesan cheese.


  1. I’m Italian & my grandmother made a version of this! Looking forward to making yours!🤩

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