Made with a flavorful lemon caper sauce and tender chicken breasts, Chicken Picatta is a classic Italian dish that is simple to make, yet delivers impressive flavor.
Chicken Piccata is a perfect meal to make at home when you want something elegant yet easy to make. Paired with pasta, a side salad, and Italian Bread, this is one recipe that delivers restaurant-quality results.
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.
It delivers 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 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 panfry.
- 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 it onto 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 into 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 sauce to coat and heat through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and thicken the sauce by whisking together 1 tablespoon 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 in 1 tablespoon of dairy-free butter to give the dish a rich finish.
Yes! In order to have the best texture and flavor, you must use thin chicken breasts for this recipe. You can opt to purchase thin cutlets or cut chicken breasts in half yourself. 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.
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 a side salad, bread, and or roasted vegetables.
- Homemade Italian Bread--A wonderful addition that is perfect for soaking up the Piccata sauce.
- Oven Roasted Asparagus--The asparagus is a nice pairing to the lemon caper sauce.
- Oven Roasted Broccoli--This recipe for roasted broccoli is finished with lemon juice and Parmesan, making it a perfect complement to the Chicken Piccata.
- Tossed Greek Salad Recipe--A tossed side salad filled to the brim with flavorful additions and a homemade balsamic dressing.
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.