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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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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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!