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Chicken Piccata

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Calories: 435
Chicken Picatta with lemon and capers in a cast iron skillet

Lemony, caper-topped, and just buttery enough, chicken piccata is an easy weeknight supper that’s easy to love, and so very fast—just ten minutes from sauté pan to table.

The TMP Food Philosophy in a Nutshell: When in Doubt, Turn to Italy.

Or at least, Italian-American cuisine. Lemony, caper-topped, and just buttery enough, our chicken piccata recipe makes for an easy weeknight supper that’s easy to love, and so very fast—just ten minutes from sauté pan to table after all, it’s basically thin scaloppine—or “thin pieces”—of chicken, fried in butter and drizzled a tangy lemon-butter pan sauce that’s studded with briny capers. What’s not to love!?

fried Chicken Picatta in a fry pan with lemon sauce and capers

What Is Chicken Piccata?

You think you know, but you have no idea.

But seriously, this is a really interesting question! If you grew up with parents that cooked often—like we did—or grew up eating out at Italian restaurants basically anywhere in America (hello, Olive Garden) you’re probably kind of familiar with “chicken piccata” as we mean it—a pan-fried chicken cutlet, topped with a lemon-butter piccata sauce. BUT! Chicken piccata as we know it doesn’t actually seem to have origins in Italy. It’s likely an Italian-American invention, a derivative of a couple of different classic Italian cooking techniques, like scaloppine which means “thin slices of meat (such as veal) sautéed or coated with flour and fried”. A lemon and butter pan sauce is a classic way of dressing pan-fried meat, and is common throughout Italy, but the (brilliant) addition of capers can’t be attributed to any one place or time. However and whenever it came into being, chicken piccata is—as far as we’re concerned—a very welcome addition to any home cook’s repertoire.

ingredients laid out for Chicken Picatta thin chicken breast, flour, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, shallots
chicken breast cutlet being dredged in flour and placed on a baking sheet
chicken breast dredged in flour and fried in butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet
garlic and chicken stock being simmered in chicken pan juices in a cast iron skillet

Capers and Lemons and Chicken Cutlets Fried in Butter: The Chicken Piccata Trifecta of Awesome.

Sure, chicken breast isn’t the most exciting thing ever. But, it doesn’t take much to perk it WAY up. Just a few, easy-to-find ingredients—ones that you might even have around already—and you’ll be amazed how delicious that humble chicken breast can be. Here’s what you’ll need to make chicken piccata:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Flour for dredging
  • Butter.
  • Olive oil.
  • Chicken stock.
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Lemons
  • Capers
Chicken Picatta sauce being made in a cast iron skillet with capers, butter and lemon
lemon Chicken Picatta recipe finished in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Chicken Piccata Part 1: The Pan-Fry

  1. Slice the chicken breasts horizontally—you’ll need a sharp knife for this, obviously! The reason you cut the chicken breast into thin pieces is so that they can cook evenly during the pan-frying process. Thin pieces of chicken mean that when the outside is crispy and perfectly brown, the chicken will be cooked through. Magic!
  2. Dredge! Season the chicken breast pieces, and then give them a nice coating of flour. For whatever reason, kids really love to help out with this step. If they’re old enough to know to be careful with raw poultry, go ahead and outsource this step to them!
  3. Fry! Fry the chicken cutlets in a combination of olive oil and butter. The oil—use regular light olive oil, not extra virgin—helps prevent the butter from burning, plus, we love the flavor of both!
easy chicken piccata recipe

How to Make Chicken Piccata Part 2: The Piccata Sauce

Our piccata sauce is simply a pan sauce, which means that we use the good crispy, chicken-tinged buttery bits that are left in the skillet after frying the chicken cutlets to make a sauce. Here’s how to make this lemony piccata sauce:

  1. Sauté shallots and garlic in the pan drippings—i.e. the leftover oil and butter.
  2. Add stock! Simmer for a few minutes to reduce it.
  3. Stir in more butter, plus the requisite capers and lemon juice.
  4. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. That's it! You made a pan sauce!
Chicken Picatta with lemon and capers in a cast iron skillet

Tools You’ll Need:

Five Easy Chicken Recipes To Perk Up Your Weeknight Dinners:

Chicken doesn’t have to be bland. Healthy and quick, think of it as the ultimate blank slate. Here are five of our favorite fast chicken recipes to add some flavor to your weeknight routine:

easy piccata recipe with lemon caper chicken

Piccata is the Difference Between “Chicken Again??” and “Chicken Again, YAY!”

We’re crazy about this simple chicken piccata recipe, and hope you love it, too! Snap a photo of your gorgeous finished dish, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Chicken Piccata

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Calories: 435

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Chicken cutlets, tenders or chicken breasts (halved horizontally)
  • 2 ½ tsp Salt, divided
  • ½ tsp Pepper
  • 1 cup Flour for dredging
  • 10 tbsp Butter, cut into pieces, divided
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil, divided
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 Lemon juiced (1 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp Lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp Capers, drained
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Method

1. Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper on both sides. Place the flour on a plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Discard the flour when finished dredging.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet set over medium-high until the butter has melted.

3. Working in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, add ½ the chicken and sauté until golden brown, about 2 ½ - 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Set the chicken aside on a plate when they finish cooking.

4. Add 3 more tablespoons of butter and 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and finish cooking the 2nd batch of chicken.

5. Add the shallot to the pan drippings and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.

6. Add the stock and simmer until reduced by half, about 4-5 minutes.

7. Reduce heat to low, then stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, capers, lemon juice, and zest to taste. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Garnish with parsley if using.

8. Serve the chicken with the piccata sauce poured over the top of the pan-fried chicken, alongside your favorite pasta or salad.