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Chicken Piccata

April 11, 2024

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.

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Chicken Piccata with lemon and capers in a cast iron skillet

What Is Chicken Piccata?

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.

Chicken Piccatta in a skillet with lemon sauce and capers

When in Doubt, Turn to Italy.

Or at least, Italian-American cuisine. Lemony, caper-topped, and just buttery enough, our easy 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!?

ingredients laid out for Chicken Piccata thinly cut chicken breast, flour, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, shallots

What you'll need

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, they brighten everything, including our Lemon Butter Chicken.
  • Capers
chicken breast cutlet dredged in flour and placed on a baking sheet
chicken breast dredged in flour and cooked in butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet
shallot, garlic and chicken stock simmering in chicken pan drippings in a cast iron skillet
Chicken Piccata sauce in a cast iron skillet with capers, butter and lemon

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 helps prevent the butter from burning, plus, we love the flavor of both!
lemon Chicken Picatta recipe finished in a cast iron skillet

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! This is your chance to scrape up those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  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!
easy chicken piccata recipe with lemon and capers

Tools You’ll Need

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!

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Chicken Piccata

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 457

Video

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cutlets or breasts, butterflied to create thinner pieces
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1¾ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 4-6 cloves)
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon), plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, optional

Method

  1. Season the chicken all over with the pepper and 1½ teaspoons of the salt. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Dip each piece of the chicken in the flour, turning to coat and shake off any excess. Discard the flour when finished dredging.

    chicken breast cutlet dredged in flour and placed on a baking sheet
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet set over medium-high until the butter has melted. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more butter and oil to the skillet as needed. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.

    chicken breast dredged in flour and cooked in butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet
  3. Add the shallot to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute more. Stir in the stock and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then stir in 4 tablespoons of the butter, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.

    Chicken Piccata sauce in a cast iron skillet with capers, butter and lemon
  4. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley before serving.

    lemon Chicken Picatta recipe finished in a cast iron skillet

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories457
  • Protein27 g
  • Carbohydrates19 g
  • Total Fat30 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol109 mg
  • sodium536 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Chicken Piccata

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Inez

    Can I omit the dredging step to make it Keto friendly?

    Sure!

  • Dolly

    How far ahead can I pan fry the breast if I’m making for a crowd?

    Not too much in advance you don't want it to get too cold. but if you keep it warm in the oven or crock pot on warm that could work if you need to do it in advance.

  • classiblogger

    I think this is an excellent recipe which is easy to make and seems to be delicious as well. But can i make it without adding capers to it?

    Absolutely!

  • Ginger

    Can you make ahead and just reheat

    Sure! Hope you enjoy!

  • Fairie

    I just want to tell you this looks delicious and just the way I expect it to look when I order it in a restaurant! I make it like this and everyone loves it! Thanks!!!

    Thanks Fairie!

  • Victoria

    Delicious! I used just one chicken breast, sliced and pounded thin, and a little extra lemon juice made the leftovers perfect. Served with angel hair pasta and sautéed homegrown green beans.

    Thank you, we are so glad you loved it!

  • iva

    Really good. Didnt get the same colour and I blended the sauce, but all in all, fantastic!

    Thanks Iva, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Valerie

    Delicious! Easier than I thought to make my favorite dish! Only wish I had doubled the sauce to serve over pasta but that’s my mistake! 10/10!

    Thanks Valerie, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Heather

    This was a great Thursday night dinner, the whole family liked it.
    Also, the recipe and steps were clear and that made it super easy, which I appreciate, I hate having to read then go back and re read steps. I like how you gave me the cooking times for the chicken breast that was accurate so it wasn't dry♥️
    This will now be on my monthly dinner list.

    Thanks Heather, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Macie

    Fantastic recipe, this came out perfect and delicious!

    Thanks Macie, glad you loved it!