chicken picatta
chicken picatta

Lemony Chicken Piccata

5/5
Lemony Chicken Piccata involves pounding chicken breasts until thin and pan frying in olive oil for that signature crispy coating. Flavor layering white wine, lemon, butter, and capers creates a dynamic sauce for the chicken. See notes for adapting for vegan, paleo, keto, and gluten free diets.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

chicken piccata with lemon sauce, capers, white wine, and broccoli rice

Chicken piccata’s robust lemony sauce juxtaposed with savory, crisp chicken is a delight to the senses. It’s a dish you want to come back to over and over again for its bright flavor and luxurious mouthfeel.

When I picture piccata, I immediately think of an Italian method of pounding meat thin and serving with a balanced sauce. It’s traditionally prepared with veal, but I always make it with tenderized chicken paired with a buttery, acidic sauce studded with capers; the sauce alone is worth memorizing for those occasions when you want to show off that wild fish or those farmer’s market greens.

Technique Video: Poultry

The Merits of Caper Berries

Would you believe that I’ve had a jar of caper berries in my fridge continuously for 10 years? Mind you, not the same jar. I just habitually grab a jar as a fail safe. Trust me, you don’t ever want to run out of caper berries in the middle of making chicken piccata!

What seasoned cooks understand intuitively is that capers and lemon will enhance savory food by counteracting the richness. We humans are complex, we want the rich flavors, yet we crave contrast. Capers add bitterness and sourness, as does lemon, making them among the best ingredients to add to savory foods.

If you want to create balanced and exciting flavors, try adding brined caper berries to Caesar salad or use them inside of fish-based burgers like these salmon cakes.

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How to Make Chicken Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce – Step by Step

Carefully halve large chicken breasts and pound until 1/4 – inch thick. This tenderizes the chicken while creating an even surface area for complete contact with the pan. Season generously with salt and pepper prior to dredging (see photo below for what “generously” looks like).

tenderized chicken breasts halved on cutting board with meat mallet

You can dredge the chicken directly into a bowl of all-purpose flour. If you are avoiding wheat, try an egg wash followed by fine almond flour for a gluten free alternative. Chicken is also a great protein to pan-sear if you’d like to skip the dredging step entirely.

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Proceed to pan fry the chicken, then make the sauce using the same pan. Please note that you may need to clean the pan in between the first and second batch of chicken to avoid any burnt tastes and setting off the smoke alarm. *************(this is really important for deglazing properly)

chicken piccata with caper lemon white wine sauce and broccoli rice

Serving Suggestions

Serve chicken piccata on a platter with lemony sauce drizzled generously over herb infused mashed potatoes or broccoli rice for an elegant and easy presentation.

A sprinkle of fresh parsley adds a fresh aroma and vibrant pop of color. You may also add thinly sliced lemon so that people can increase the lemon flavor if they wish.

Top Tips for Perfect Chicken Piccata

To successfully pan-fry chicken, you need the right amount of oil, a hot skillet, and timing. Once the chicken touches the pan, don’t move it around. It needs 3 minutes of contact with the heat to develop a crisp layer. You want the chicken to be a dark gold color before flipping.

Since you are working diligently to create a crispy exterior, you want to pair the chicken with the wet, thin sauce while hot just before serving. The longer it sits, the more the chicken will give way to the sauce.

More Chicken Recipes You Might Like

Is this your first time using wine to deglaze a pan? Since this sauce has a few layers to it, I’m wondering if you found the instructions easy to follow…let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

Lemony Chicken Piccata

Lemony Chicken Piccata involves pounding chicken breasts until thin and pan frying in olive oil for that signature crispy coating. Flavor layering white wine, lemon, butter, and capers creates a dynamic sauce for the chicken. See notes for adapting for vegan, paleo, keto, and gluten free diets.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: capers, chicken, gluten free, hot sauce, keto, lemon, paleo, piccata, vegan, wine
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 323kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts halved lengthwise
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, fine almond flour, or no flour *

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine optional*
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, ghee, or olive oil
  • fresh parsley finely chopped for garnish

Instructions

For the Chicken

  • Pound the chicken cutlets on both sides until 1/4 inch thick. Season generously front to back with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat a large skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place flour in a large bowl and press 2 pieces of chicken into the flour on both sides. Shake to remove excess flour and place immediately in the hot oil. Pan fry for 3 minutes each side until gold and crispy (with an internal temperature of 160°F). Repeat with the remaining chicken. Set cooked chicken onto a platter while you make the sauce.

For the Sauce

  • Over medium-high heat, add the capers and let sizzle for 10 seconds. Follow quickly with the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spatula for 30 seconds. Add the stock, the juice of 1 lemon, and butter. When the butter melts and the sauce is simmering, sprinkle chopped parsley into the sauce and immediately spoon over the chicken.

Notes

Dredging Options: AP Flour, Almond Flour, No Flour

Option 1: All-purpose flour sticks to the chicken directly.
Option 2: For almond flour (paleo, gluten free), you should pre-cook the cutlets, then dip in an egg wash and then into the almond flour. Cook for 1 minute each side on medium heat to get the almond flour crispy (any longer and it may burn).
Option 3: Skip the dredging entirely if you want to cleanly pan-sear the chicken only.

Wine (Alcohol) Free Variation

You can make an alcohol free chicken piccata by adding a Tablespoon of caper juice or white wine vinegar to the pan. This acid will deglaze the pan in seconds and will add the characteristic sour flavor sans the alcohol.

Vegan Tempeh Picatta Variation

At the Natural Gourmet Institute, we made a vegan picatta using blocks of tempeh that we sliced into squares and steamed. There’s no need to dredge the tempeh in flour, simply cook in olive oil until crispy and use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.
This recipe is adapted from mostly plants cookbook.

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 222mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 192IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

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