Made with a flavorful lemon caper sauce and tender chicken breasts, Chicken Picatta is a classic Italian dish that delivers impressive flavor, yet is incredibly simple to make.
Chicken Piccata is a perfect meal to make at home when you want a meal that is worthy of an Italian restaurant, yet you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.
Just like my recipes for Creamy Chicken Marsala and Shrimp Scampi, this recipe for Chicken Piccata delivers restaurant-quality results in under 30 minutes.
What is Chicken Piccata?
Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian dish that is made with chicken dredged in flour and then pan-seared in butter with a rich lemon caper sauce.
According to Wikipedia, Piccata is an Italian term that simply means to pound flat. But when referring to meat, it means sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter, and spices. This technique can be used on any type of meat or fish and is an exceptionally delicious way to prepare chicken breasts.
Chicken Picatta delivers an incredibly intense flavor, thanks to the salty brine of the capers and the bright acidic notes of the lemon, yet comes together with minimal effort and minimal ingredients.
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: For this recipe, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the classic choice. You can purchase thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets, or you can cut regular chicken breasts lengthwise to form chicken cutlets.
- Wine: Dry white wine adds flavor and acidic notes to the simple sauce. You want to select a dry white wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
- Capers: You can find jarred Capers by pickles in any grocery store.
- Lemon: Only FRESH lemon juice--this is not the time to use jarred lemon juice, as the flavor will not be the same.
- Butter and Oil: For searing the chicken, it is best to use a combination of butter and oil. The butter gives the dish richness, while the oil helps the butter from burning while searing the chicken.
How to Make Chicken Piccata
- If using full-sized chicken breasts, cut each breast in half lengthwise so you end up with thin, evenly-sized chicken cutlets that are no thicker than ½ inch. If your chicken cutlets are still thicker than ½ inch thick, place them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until they are no thicker than ½ inch thick.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken evenly with salt and pepper.
- In a shallow dish, mix together the flour with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess flour, and place the chicken onto a plate until ready to pan-fry.
- In a large skillet, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the butter is melted and the oil is sizzling, add half of the chicken cutlets to the pan, being careful to not overcrowd the skillet.
- Saute the chicken until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Remove the seared chicken and set the chicken on a CLEAN plate. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken cutlets.
- Add the wine into the skillet, and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan--this will add great flavor to the sauce.
- Add in the lemon juice, capers, and a dash of salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add the chicken back to the skillet and simmer for 3 minutes, or to warm through and coat with the sauce.
- Remove the chicken to a serving platter.
- Add a bit of butter to the pan and allow it to melt into the sauce.
- Serve the piccata sauce over the chicken and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
Leftover Chicken Piccata
If you happen to have leftovers, allow the chicken and sauce to cool completely. It is best to store the chicken and the sauce separately in airtight containers for up to 3 days. This will prevent the chicken from getting soggy in the leftover sauce.
To reheat the leftover chicken piccata, heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and allow to heat for 1 minute per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add the sauce to the pan, and heat until simmering. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
No. The wine is classic in piccata recipes, but chicken broth can be used in place of wine.
Yes. The chicken is coated in flour to give it a bit of texture and to help thicken up the sauce. To make this chicken piccata gluten-free, omit the step of coating the chicken in flour and instead sear the seasoned chicken cutlets in oil and butter. Prepare the sauce as directed, and return the seared chicken to the sauce to coat and heat through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and thicken the sauce by whisking together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Add to the sauce and simmer until slightly thickened. Add in the butter and serve with the chicken.
Yes! Sear the chicken in olive oil, instead of a combination of oil and butter. And to finish the sauce, add 1 tablespoon of dairy-free butter to give the dish a rich finish.
What to Serve with Chicken Piccata
Chicken Piccata is traditionally served with angel hair pasta to soak up the additional sauce. I love to complete the meal with one of the following recipes:
If you tried this recipe for Chicken Piccata, I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below.
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 6 thin chicken cutlets
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- ¼ cup brined capers rinsed and drained
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley chopped
- Cut chicken breasts in half cross-wise so you end up with 6 cutlets. Sprinkle both sides of cutlets with salt and pepper. If your chicken cutlets are still thicker than ½ inch thick, place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until they are no thicker than ½ inch thick.
- In a shallow dish, mix together the flour with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Place the coated chicken on a plate to prepare for searing.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is sizzling, add 3 of the chicken cutlets to the pan, being careful not overcrowd the skillet. Saute the chicken until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.. Set the chicken aside onto a CLEAN plate to complete the 2nd batch of chicken.
- Add an additional 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and saute the remaining chicken. Once browned, remove the chicken and place them on the plate with the first batch of seared chicken.
- Add the wine or stock into the skillet, and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the lemon juice and capers and a dash of salt and pepper (omit salt if using stock instead of wine) and bring to a simmer--this should only take a minute or two.
- Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and cooked to an internal temperature or 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken to a serving dish.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into the cooking sauce and whisk vigorously. Turn off the heat immediately. Serve the sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley and fresh slices of lemon if desired.
I followed the recipe, the 1/3 c fresh lemon juice made it so tangy, I couldn’t eat it. Don’t know what I did wrong.
Hey Patty! I am sorry you didn't care for the sauce. Did you use the full amount of butter and wine? That should balance out the acidity nicely.
How could I make this for 10 people 36 hours ahead of time? Could I prepare it and reheat in the oven covered with foil?
Hi Ruthie! I personally prefer this dish served fresh for the best flavor and texture. But you can make it up to 2 days in advance. For 10 people, I would triple the recipe, prepare as directed, and then place the chicken and piccata sauce in a shallow baking dish. Let cool slightly and then wrap with foil and refrigerate. When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and bake covered for 20 minutes or so just to warm through.
So delicious and simple to make. The chicken is always tender and juicey. We love the lemon and the capers top it off perfectly.
Thanks for sharing Suzanne! So happy to hear you enjoyed the Piccata!
I thickened the sauce slightly more and it is wonderful! Nice salad and a glass of wine!
Can this be done the day before? If so, how would you suggest?
Yes, I would follow the instructions for storage and reheating. It is best to store the sauce and chicken separately. To reheat the chicken piccata, heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and allow to heat for 1 minute per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add the sauce to the pan, and heat until simmering. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
Can I freeze this
Hi Kay! Yes, you can freeze the leftover chicken with the picatta sauce for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat over low heat in a dry skillet. You may need to add a pat of butter or a splash of stock to keep it from drying out when reheated.
I served this over rice with a side salad it was fantastic, definitely will be making this again.
Wonderful! So happy to hear you enjoyed!
My family loved this and was my first time making it. So delicious!
Thanks for sharing that Mary! I love hearing that!
This was delightful!
Thanks Ange! I love hearing you enjoyed the Chicken Piccata.
Absolutely fantastic! We had it with spaghetti pasta, reserving some pasta water so the sauce blended well with the pasta. Added to my repertoire for my family.
Thanks for sharing Dayyna! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this meal.
I enjoy chicken as much as the next person but this recipe takes it to the next level! The tender, delicious chicken meat is only made better by the flavorful tang of the lemon caper sauce.
I am so happy to hear you enjoyed Izzy! The sauce really is key here.
This looks so delicious and yummy!
I was wondering if I could make this with just chicken drumsticks? Thanks!
Hi Tanya! Yes, you would be able to use drumsticks or bone-in, skin-on thighs if you like with a few changes. Dredge the chicken as directed and then sear for about 8 minutes per side. Remove the chicken, prepare the sauce, and then return the chicken to the skillet and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until it reaches 165 degrees. Enjoy!