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.
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.
Meaning of Piccata
Piccata 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, and white wine. It made with the chicken’s pan drippings, brown bits, then spooned over the top.
Other spellings include: picatta; pichotta.
How to Make the Best Chicken Piccata
Start to finish, this easy chicken piccata recipe cooks in about 25 minutes, fewer if you are speedy.
The chicken piccata sauce is especially scrumptious.
Spoon it generously over the browned chicken, and keep a loaf of bread (like No Knead Focaccia) handy for dipping.
- 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. To give the chicken a light crust on its exterior, thicken the sauce, and help 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 more healthy chicken piccata recipe, I found I could use less than many traditional piccata recipes and still have excellent results.
- Shallot. Once cooked, the shallot becomes helps build flavor for the sauce. You also could use a finely chopped sweet onion.
- Broth + White Wine. The chicken broth and white wine simmer with the shallot to create a luscious, flavorful sauce. Make sure to use a dry white wine.
- Lemon. Both the zest and fresh lemon juice add brightness and acidity to the dish.
- Capers. The final ingredient that makes the piccata sauce pop. They’re delightfully salty and briny!
- Parsley. Fresh parsley is the perfect finishing touch.
- Split the chicken breasts in half horizontally, into even thickness (see this video for a tip). Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. (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. 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 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.
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.
What to Serve with Chicken Piccata
- Pasta. Chicken piccata with pasta is classic (and delish!). Try it with this Pasta al Limone for a fun twist. Any type of pasta works from angel hair pasta to fettuccine.
- Bread. Rosemary Olive Oil Bread is perfect for dunking in the sauce.
- Rice. A side of Lemon Rice would pair nicely with this chicken recipe.
- Vegetables. Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, or Grilled Eggplant would all be tasty with this dish.
- Salad. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad and Arugula Salad are perfect for a light and healthy side.
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.
Yes. If you prefer to make chicken piccata without wine, you can swap it for additional chicken broth.
Any dry white wine you enjoy should work well for this dish. Make sure not to use anything that’s too sweet. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio are great choices.
Lemon Chicken Piccata. Bump the lemon juice up to 1/4 cup to make a lemon-caper sauce.
Garlic. Add 4 cloves garlic minced, for a garlic twist.
Creamy Piccata. Add a splash of cream and parmesan cheese for extra creamy sauce.
- 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 batch(es). 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 remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir to combine, then season with more salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley. Serve the chicken with the sauce spoon 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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