Chicken Piccata, you are a delicious work of beautiful simplicity. Chicken cutlets that are pounded thin, lightly floured, then pan-cooked in a lemon butter caper sauce, piccata is one of those prized Italian recipes that pleases profoundly and demands little effort in return.
No matter how many times a week you eat it, Italian food pretty much always sounds good.
Whether you go pasta (try any of these healthy pasta recipes), pizza (preferably using Whole Wheat Pizza Dough), or simple protein (like Baked Chicken Parmesan), there’s an Italian answer to any dinner situation.
When you’re looking for something fast (aren’t we all?), chicken piccata is it.
As is the way with many Italian recipes, chicken piccata will also make your dinner feel a little extra special, something we all could use more often, even if we don’t realize it until we are taking a bite.
5 Star Review
“This chicken piccata is as flavorful as one you would get out at a top notch restaurant but muuuuuch healthier!! I was so surprised how little butter yet so creamy and delicious!”— Maggie —
Chicken piccata tastes bright with lemon, lightly buttery, and the capers give it saltiness and a subtle tang.
- Like this Lemon Butter Chicken, chicken piccata’s flavor profile is mild and appealing, making it a great meal for the family or for company.
- Like Pan-Fried Chicken Breast, it’s quick-cooking and gives moist, juicy results.
- Like Chicken Francaise, the lemon butter sauce is so yummy, you’ll want to mop up every last spec.
How to Make the Best Chicken Piccata
Piccata (also spelled picatta or pichotta) is an Italian word meaning “larded.”
- It refers to a method of cooking in which meat is pounded thin (traditional piccata called for veal), dredged in flour, then browned and topped with a lemon butter sauce.
- The chicken piccata sauce is made of lemon, butter, capers, white wine, and the chicken’s pan drippings (brown bits and all). It’s rich, creamy, and the perfect accompaniment to the tender, juicy chicken.
Start to finish, this easy chicken piccata recipe cooks in about 25 minutes, fewer if you are speedy.
- Chicken Breast. Lean, tender pan-fry chicken breasts stay perfectly juicy in this chicken piccata recipe. Plus, they’re rich in protein and vitamins.
- Flour. Gives the chicken a light crust on its exterior, thickens the sauce, and helps lock in moisture.
- Butter. A chicken piccata necessity. Cooking the chicken in butter and adding it to the sauce makes this simple recipe irresistible. To make this a healthy chicken piccata recipe, I found I could use just a few tablespoons of butter (which is less than many traditional chicken piccata recipes) and still have excellent results.
- Shallot. Once cooked, the shallots help build flavor for the sauce.
- Lemon. Both the zest and fresh lemon juice add brightness and acidity to the dish. (If you love chicken recipes with lemon, you’ll love this Lemon Basil Chicken, too.)
- Broth + White Wine. The chicken broth and white wine simmer with the shallot to create a luscious, flavorful sauce.
- Capers. The final ingredient that makes the piccata sauce pop. They’re delightfully salty and briny!
- Parsley. Fresh parsley is the perfect finishing touch.
- Extra Lemon Chicken Piccata. Bump the lemon juice up to 1/4 cup to make a lemon-caper sauce with an extra boost of bright citrus flavor.
- Garlic. Traditionally, chicken piccata sauce does not contain garlic. However, you can add up to 4 cloves of minced garlic for a garlic-lovers’ twist.
- Creamy Piccata. For a touch of indulgence, add a splash of cream and Parmesan cheese.
- Split the chicken breasts in half horizontally into an even thickness (see this video for a tip). Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. (No eggs required.)
- Brown the outsides of the chicken, then transfer to a plate.
- Cook the shallot.
- Stir in the wine and broth. Let simmer.
- Stir in the lemon zest and juice, capers, and butter. Let the butter melt, then add the parsley. Serve the chicken with sauce over the top. ENJOY!
Serve chicken piccata with the same dry white wine you use to make the piccata sauce (try Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio). You also can serve it with a dry rosé or pinot noir.
- To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, split the chicken breasts and slice the shallot. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Dice up leftover chicken and toss it with cooked whole wheat pasta noodles, spooning any leftover sauce over the top. This chicken would also be delightful over a bed of greens or on top of a simple Arugula Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Large Skillet. This large, heavy-bottomed skillet would be ideal for making this recipe.
- Instant Read Thermometer. My go-to trick for ensuring meat is cooked through.
- Citrus Juicer. This tool makes it easy to thoroughly juice lemons and limes.
Italian food, forever and ever amen.
Frequently Asked Questions
While chicken piccata and chicken Marsala share many similarities, they are not the same thing. Unlike chicken piccata, chicken Marsala uses mushrooms, Marsala wine, and heavy cream to create its signature sauce. See this Crockpot Chicken Marsala for a recipe.
Yes. If you prefer to make chicken piccata without wine, you can swap it for additional chicken broth.
Sure! Rather than dredging the chicken in regular flour, opt for your favorite gluten free flour. Arrowroot flour would work especially well since it is a great gluten free thickening agent for sauces.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 shallot peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or additional chicken stock
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1/4 cup brined capers rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley plus additional for serving
- Split each chicken breast in half horizontally to create two thinner pieces of chicken. I like to do this by carefully placing my hand on top to give myself a feel for whether or not I am slicing the chicken evenly. To make the chicken easier to slice, you can place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes prior to cutting. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly dredge each piece of chicken on both sides with the flour.
- In a large, sturdy skillet, heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter has melted, carefully lower a single layer of chicken pieces into the skillet (angle the chicken away from you as you set it down), ensuring they do not touch each other in the pan. Cook on both sides until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. If at any point the pan seems dry, drizzle in a little more oil.
- Reduce the pan heat to medium-low. Add the shallot to the now-empty pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is lightly caramelized, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and broth and return the heat to medium. Let simmer, stirring often, until it is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the lemon zest (I zest it right over the pan), lemon juice, capers, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir to combine, then season with more salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley. Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned generously all over the top. Garnish with additional parsley as desired.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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