This Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite weeknight dinners! Golden, thin chicken cutlets served in a silky butter lemon and capers sauce. This Italian-American classic is cooked in one pan, easy to make, and on the table in less than 30 minutes! Serve with something starchy to soak up every bit of the delicious sauce.
Easy chicken dinners should be up everyone’s sleeves, especially if you are constantly busy and struggling to put food on the table! From this Chicken Piccata to a delicious Chicken Marsala, Blackened Chicken Breasts and Sheet Pan Chicken with Spicy Potatoes, I am sure you will find something delicious to cook tonight here at Olivia’s Cuisine!
I have a special place in my heart for chicken piccata! 💛
It is such an easy dish to make yet always such a hit. You can serve it to your family, for a date night or even at a dinner party!
Even my kids love it! It is the perfect amount of lemon-y without being too puckery, and they can always pick the capers out if they happen to not like them that week. (Toddlers, amirite? 😂)
Chances are you already have most (or all) of the ingredients on hand, so I hope you give this recipe a try! I have a feeling you will want to make it over and over again. 😊 😊 😊
What is Chicken Piccata?
Chicken Piccata (pronounced pee-kah-tah) is an Italian-American dish consisting of thin chicken cutlets served in a lemon butter sauce with capers.
Piccata is an Italian word that is a translation of the French pique (meaning sharp, as in “piquant”), participle of piquer. When used in a cooking context, it means “sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices”.
Is it an authentic Italian dish? No. You probably won’t find chicken piccata in Italy, as it is an Italian-American adaptation of the Italian Piccata di Vitello (Veal Piccata). That being said, I personally like it much better with chicken!
To make my Chicken Piccata, you will need:
- Chicken – I recommend getting organic chicken breasts, as they are smaller and therefore you can fit more cutlets in the pan. I like to butterfly and cut my own chicken breasts, but you can definitely buy already cut cutlets from the store.
- Lemons – We’ll need the juice of one lemon (1/4 cup) and an extra lemon for garnishing.
- Flour – Traditionally, you dredge the chicken cutlets in chicken piccata in flour before pan-frying. That contributes to a beautiful golden brown crust and helps them absorb extra flavor. It also helps thicken the sauce. If gluten is an issue, you can use a gluten-free all purpose flour instead.
- Parmesan – I like to add a bit of parmesan to the flour, for extra flavor! Despite the shredded parmesan in my photos, I recommend finely grating it so it blends evenly with the flour.
- Butter – Lots of butter! One whole stick to be exact. I like my piccata sauce extra buttery, but you can reduce if needed.
- Oil – A little olive oil to prevent the butter from burning when browning the cutlets.
- Shallot and Garlic – Aka the flavor duo! I believe anything can benefit from some onions (or shallots) and garlic.
- White Wine – To deglaze the pan. You can omit if desired!
- Chicken Broth – I like my chicken piccata saucy. Some recipes will call for just the wine and lemon juice, but I add a little bit of broth so there is enough sauce for everybody!
- Parsley – Fresh, please!
- Salt and Pepper
- Capers – While purists will say that chicken piccata can’t be called piccata without capers, I come from the famous culinary school of “you do you”. 😆 So, if you don’t like capers, just omit them!
How to Make Chicken Piccata
Chicken Piccata is the perfect weeknight dish for busy families! It cooks quick and in one pan. Who doesn’t love an easy cleanup? I know I do!
The most time consuming part of the recipe is the slicing and pounding the chicken. If you’re strapped for time, you can buy packaged chicken cutlets, but I still recommend pounding them so they are all the same thickness! That way they will cook faster and more evenly.
If serving a crowd, you can easily double, triple or quadruple this recipe! The chicken can stay nice and warm in the oven while you work in batches to brown all the cutlets and make the sauce.
Recommended tools and equipment: sharp chef’s knife, cutting board, ziplock bag, sauté pan.
Here’s how I make this chicken piccata recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Prepare the chicken.
- Place a boneless, skinless chicken breast on a cutting board. Hold it flat with the palm of your hand and, using a sharp chef’s knife, slice it horizontally into two pieces. Repeat with all the chicken breasts.
- Place a cutlet inside a ziplock bag and gently pound the chicken thin using a meat pounder or the bottom of a skillet. You want to get the cutlets as thin as you can without making holes, so go slow and use slight lateral motions to gently coax it into shape. Alternatively, if you don’t have ziplock bags, you can pound the cutlets in between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Mix the flour with the parmesan and season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
- Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on them. Dredge each cutlet into the flour mixture so they are evenly coated.
- Brown the cutlets in oil and butter. You can then transfer them to a 225°F oven to keep warm.
Step 2: Make the sauce.
- Sauté the shallot and garlic in the fat rendered from browning the chicken.
- Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Cook until it reduces by half.
- Stir in the chicken broth, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons butter, capers and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half.
- Add chicken cutlets back to the pan and flip them a few times so they can warm up again. If you have kept them warming in the oven, this step is not necessary, but I do like to do it any way so every cutlet is coated in the sauce. Remove the cutlets to a serving platter if desired.
- Stir in the remaining butter and the chopped parsley, whisking until the sauce thickens. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices.
- I recommend using cold butter in this recipe, especially when adding to thicken the sauce. Cold butter melts slowly, which will allow the butterfat to break into tiny droplets that will slowly disperse through the sauce, ensuring a stable emulsion.
- For best results, use fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of bottled. It tastes brighter and fresher, and has no preservatives.
- While I do recommend seasoning this dish at every step of the way, please remember that capers are salty! So don’t go too crazy, as you can always adjust at the end.
What to Serve with Chicken Piccata?
I like to serve my chicken piccata with a starch, such as pasta (buttered angel hair or spaghetti works great here), rice and mashed potatoes. Something that will soak up all that delicious sauce!
For a more complete meal, you can also serve a side vegetable dish – green beans, broccoli, zucchini – or a nice green salad.
As for wine pairing, chicken piccata pairs nicely with a medium to full-bodied dry white (such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc) or a dry Rosé.
I personally find this recipe perfect as it is, but if you are looking for some variations, here are my suggestions:
- Use fish or veal instead of the chicken.
- Make an Orange Chicken Piccata using orange juice (and orange slices) instead of lemon!
- Not a fan of capers? Omit them or use green olives instead.
- Want a creamier sauce? Add a splash of heavy cream (2-3 tablespoons) at the end with or instead of the butter.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
While I think chicken piccata is best served fresh, sometimes you end up with leftovers! They will keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for 3 months! I like freezing the chicken and the sauce in separate containers.
My favorite way of reheating leftovers is on the stove. I heat a skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, then I add the leftover chicken and sauce to the pan and let it cook until warmed through, turning the chicken every now and then and adding a few splashes of chicken broth as needed to make it saucy again.
Alternatively, you can reheat in the oven, at 350ºF, covered in foil. For both methods, make sure to thaw the chicken overnight in the fridge if it’s frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, I have seen Chicken Thighs Piccata, so you can definitely use them. Cooking times will vary!
Chicken piccata is best served fresh! However, you can cut and pound the chicken cutlets up to 2 days ahead.
Likely your sauce was too hot when you added the butter at the thickening stage. That’s why I recommend using cold butter and adding it over low heat. Do not boil or the butter will separate and the sauce will “break”.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, divided
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅔ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons capers, or to taste
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- 1 lemon, cut in half and sliced
- Sauté Pan
- Ziplock Bags
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and, using a sharp chef's knife, slice them in half horizontally, "butteflying" them. Cut each butterflied chicken breast into two cutlets.
- Place a cutlet in a ziplock bag and gently pound thin with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Repeat with the remaining cutlets.
- Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, and drizzle some olive oil on them, spreading it with your hands so they are lightly coated.
- Mix the flour, parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Dredge each chicken cutlet in this mixture, coating them evenly.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, brown the chicken cutlets until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and, if desired, keep warm in a 225ºF oven.
- Stir in the shallot and garlic, sautéing until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken broth, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons butter, capers and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan and let it warm back up for a couple of minutes. Remove to a serving platter.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Stir in the remaining butter and the parsley, stirring or whisking until the sauce thickens. Do not let it boil! Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Pour the sauce on the chicken and garnish with the lemon slices.
- Serve immediately!
- Stove: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, then add the leftover chicken and sauce to the pan and let it cook until warmed through, turning the chicken every now and then and adding a few splashes of chicken broth as needed to make it saucy again.
- Oven: Reheat in the oven, at 350ºF, covered in foil.