This creamy salmon piccata recipe is a simple yet decadent weeknight treat! It's easy to make this tender salmon in a bright lemon caper cream sauce.
Big fan of these flavors? You'll also want to try my Easy Chicken Piccata next.
Why you'll enjoy it
Salmon is actually one of my favorite things to cook. It's nothing to be intimidated by, and once you get the pan frying technique down, you'll wonder what you were nervous about in the first place! This lemon salmon piccata makes an easy and elegant meal with perfectly pan seared fish in an irresistible creamy sauce.
Let's talk about that lemon cream sauce, though! It's so vibrant, has lots of buttery goodness, and is simple to make with a few pantry staples. I love pulling this easy salmon recipe out of my back pocket for dinner parties, date night, or a quick weeknight dinner since it's just so simple to make and is ready in about 20 minutes.
What is piccata?
- It's typically meat or fish that's sautéed in a sauce that has lemon, butter, and capers, and it's a hassle-free Italian-American classic. Garlic will also usually make an appearance.
What you'll need
- Salmon - we're using fresh salmon that's cut into four pieces
- Garlic powder - for seasoning the fish directly along with salt & pepper to start it off right
- Flour - coating the salmon in flour gives it a beautiful crust, and it's also a way to thicken up the sauce quickly without overcooking the fish
- Butter & olive oil - for pan frying and making the base of the sauce
- Chicken broth - to give the sauce deeper flavor. You're welcome to use a dry white wine like pinot grigio, chardonnay, or sauvignon blanc instead for a fancy touch!
- Lemon - we're using both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for maximum brightness. I like to use my Microplane to zest the lemon effortlessly.
- Capers - you'll find a jar of these in the pickle aisle. They're briny little bundles of flavor to give that signature piccata taste.
- Heavy cream - to add a luxurious touch to the sauce
How to make salmon piccata
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut the salmon into four pieces. Season each one with garlic powder, salt & pepper, and dredge in flour on all sides. Sauté the salmon in butter and oil. Transfer to a plate. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken broth, lemon juice and zest, and capers. Let the sauce reduce.
Stir in the cream, and then let it thicken for a few minutes. Add the fish back to the skillet, and simmer until it's cooked through. Season as needed with salt & pepper, top with parsley if desired, and enjoy immediately.
- Use your eyes to guide the cooking process! Watch for the color change as you're pan searing the salmon. It will start off as a brighter, deeper pink and change to a lighter shade of pink. If it's sticking to the pan, don't force it. Simply let it cook more, and it will naturally release.
- I don't recommend substituting the heavy cream for anything with a lower fat content. Given the amount of lemon juice, it's highly likely anything other than full-fat cream will break and won't thicken up as it should.
What to serve with it
- The piccata sauce is fabulous over my Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Rice will work too, as would my Quick Garlic Butter Noodles or any kind of pasta you have on hand.
- For veggie sides, try steamed broccolini or green beans, my Easy Stovetop Asparagus, or corn.
- Some freshly grated parmesan over top would be *chef's kiss* for this one.
- A side salad would complement it really well too! Try this Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad or some mixed greens with this Olive Garden Italian Dressing.
Leftovers and storage
- While this and any other seafood is best served fresh, this salmon will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.
- Reheat over a low heat in a small saucepan. If it's heated up too fast or over a high heat, the sauce will possibly separate.
- Freezing this one won't work because of the cream.
Will you make this salmon piccata with a creamy lemon sauce? Questions? Ask me in the comments below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram with your creations.
Creamy Salmon Piccata
- 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Flour for dredging
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons brined capers drained
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Fresh chopped parsley optional, for serving
- Cut your salmon into 4 pieces. Sprinkle it with the garlic powder and season it generously with salt & pepper. Dredge each piece in flour on all sides.
- Add the butter and oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the fish. Cook it for 3-4 minutes/side or until it's browned. Be sure not to overcook the fish; it shouldn't be cooked fully yet. Remove salmon to a plate and set aside.
- Add the chicken broth, lemon juice/zest, and capers to the pan. Let it cook for about 2 minutes (or until it reduces by half).
- Pour in the cream. Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes.
- And the salmon back into the pan. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or so (you may want to turn the heat down) or until it's cooked through and it flakes easily with a fork and the sauce has thickened up some more.
- Season with extra salt & pepper as needed. Serve immediately with fresh parsley sprinkled over top if desired.
- This is the lemon zester I use and recommend for this recipe.
- The timing on this recipe is designed for a piece of salmon that's about 1" thick. Do the searing step a bit longer for a thicker piece of salmon.
- If your salmon has skin on it and you don't want to eat it, simply peel it off after the searing step.
- I do not recommend subbing the cream for something with a lower fat content as the sauce is likely to curdle and/or won't thicken properly.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on July 25, 2018. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!
AMAZING! I loved this SO much. Thank you for sharing with us! This will be added to my weekly rotation 🙂
Excellent! 😀 So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for your review!
Paula Buckingham says
This is one of my go to salmon dinners! My husband loves it! Easy to make!
Fantastic!! 🙂 Thanks for your review, Paula!
Yum! So easy and flavorful. We had it over riced cauliflower
So happy you liked it!!
Possibly my favorite main dish on this entire blog! This recipe is relatively easy, but wow -- is it impressive! I pulled it out for a meal for the in-laws and they all licked their plates clean. 😉
If you try this and love it, I recommend trying the easy Boursin Chicken or Creamy Bacon Pork Chops next. So good!
Thank you so much, Lacey!! So glad it was a hit! 😀
Soooo good! I usually make your tuscan salmon which my family loves, but this is definitely the new favorite in my house. Perfect with your arugula salad too.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
That makes us so happy to hear, Joanna! Thank you 🙂 And we're glad you're enjoying the arugula salad too.
Chef Mimi says
Well this is lovely! Salmon lends itself to so many different preparations and ingredients, including cream and capers! Fabulous.
Deeelish!! My husband and I gobbled it down. I might add a Clove or 2 of garlic next time but we loved it. I may add another T of capers too. I served it over whole wheat penne pasta and asparagus.
I'm so glad you two enjoyed it!!
Delicious. Served over orzo with green beans My boyfriend and I licked our plates.
That's awesome!! Thanks for commenting, Angela! 🙂
Flavors - a strong 4 stars! Tasty and I added asparagus and spaghetti to round out the dish. Directions - 3 stars, my cream curdled and I was confused do I cook the salmon and make the sauce in the same pan? Would be helpful for a little more clarity when making so others can avoid my newbie mistakes!
Hi! Yes, always assume it’s the same pan if it doesn’t specify otherwise. Occasionally, a recipe will advise you to wipe out the pan (eg if there’s a lot of excess oil). I think as you cook more, you’ll see how other recipes are worded similarly/use similar techniques as mine does. The delicious brown bits from cooking the salmon (or any protein) adds flavors to any sauce (you’ll see the word “deglaze” a lot and that just is a fancy way of saying what I did in step 3). 😊 Not sure if you’ll see my reply but if you do, did you use heavy cream? If you used something like half and half, then I’d expect it to curdle, but I use heavy cream because it is very good at resisting curdling even cooked at a high heat and with the added citrus (that can easily curdle something with a lower fat percentage). ♥️
Do you have the nutrition information for this recipe?
Hi! Just added it for you. Please keep in mind that it's only an estimate (I just plug data into a nutrition program), and ingredients vary. Unless you actually weigh out what you're eating, chances are it'll be way off.
Bella Wilson says
Can you use yogurt or sour cream I lace of the cream?
Hmmm I wouldn't. It'll taste a lot different and give a different texture. It's definitely not a one for one sub. Sour cream and salmon is a good combo, so you could try if you wish, but it won't be the same recipe at all.
Andrea McCarthy says
Just made this...it was very good! The hubby doesn’t like salmon so I made him chicken and I had the salmon. I just added a bit more salt to taste. Will make again.
Yay! So happy you liked this recipe, Andrea. 🙂
Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy says
Love this twist on a piccata!
Lindsay Cotter says
Totally drooling over here! This is a must make!
Thanks so much, friend!
Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says
Looks delicious! Can't wait to try!!!
Thanks so much, Alice!
Leigh Ann says
Looks so creamy and delicious! Love a new salmon recipe!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
I am absolutely drooling over here Natasha! That sauce looks amazing!
Aww thanks, Mary Ann!! 🙂 It was definitely tasty.
Matt Robinson says
I love salmon and can’t wait to make this!
Oh my gosh, this recipe was DELICIOUS!! My husband and 2 kids agree that it is the best salmon we have ever had. We fought over the last piece of salmon in the pan! Haha. I subbed gluten free flour. Can't wait to make this again!
Aww that's so nice to hear!! 😀 Thanks for your review, Julie!!