This easy chicken piccata recipe is a classic Italian American dish with a lemon butter caper sauce that's fast to make at home! A few simple ingredients, 25 minutes, and you're set.
Craving more restaurant-quality chicken dinners? Try my Easy Chicken Madeira!
What is chicken piccata?
It's pan-fried chicken in a piccata sauce, which is a combination of butter, oil, fresh lemon juice, and capers. Simple, right? The secret to making the best chicken piccata is having the perfect amount of lemon, and I've got you covered with this beyond delicious easy chicken recipe.
You can make this dreamy dish two different ways, and we've got instructions for both! One is a creamy chicken piccata, and the other is not. They're both extremely tasty. The cream takes it to the next level, but depending on your mood or dietary restrictions, you may want to try it without!
It's one of those recipes you frequently see on restaurant menus, but since it's so easy to make and has minimal prep, I hardly ever order it and just whip it up for a quick weeknight dinner. It's also special enough for when you've got company over. Everyone will rave about all that buttery goodness!
Just a handful of ingredients
- Chicken - we're slicing chicken breasts in half lengthwise and not pounding them so it's even faster!
- Garlic powder - along with salt & pepper, seasoning the cutlets with it gives a fabulous savory foundation
- Flour - for dredging
- Olive oil and butter - for pan-frying the chicken until golden brown and the base of the irresistible sauce
- Chicken broth - to infuse the sauce with flavor. Sub for a dry white wine like pinot grigio to make it even more luxurious!
- Lemon juice - always use freshly squeezed lemon juice vs concentrate
- Lemon zest - for that extra brightness and zing. I zest the lemon with my Microplane zester/grater (it's super handy and good for parmesan cheese as well). You don't need to worry about getting every bit of zest from the lemon. I really love what it adds to the dish!
- Capers - these briny flavor bombs balance the lemon
- Cream - we're using heavy cream here
- Parsley - completely optional, but adds a little freshness
Can I make it without cream?
- You can definitely make chicken piccata without cream! If you do so, increase the chicken broth to 3/4 cup. You could even do a half chicken broth/half white wine mix.
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for something like milk or half-and-half for a couple of reasons. The acidity of the lemon will likely curdle the sauce, and the sauce won't thicken as well. Either omit it completely or use heavy cream.
How to make chicken piccata
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make thinner cutlets. Sprinkle them with salt & pepper, then dredge them in the flour. Brown for 4-5 min/side. Remove them from the pan and add the chicken broth, lemon juice, butter, and capers, scraping up the brown bits.
Stir in the cream. Return the chicken to the pan, and simmer until the sauce has reduced and the chicken is cooked through. Easy peasy!
Tips for success
- Be careful to not overcook the chicken since we're using thin cutlets! It's cooked when the internal temperature is 165F.
- If using small chicken breasts, you can keep them intact, but they may take a few more minutes to cook through.
- You can try using chicken thighs if you prefer. They may take a little longer to cook as well.
- I love using my splatter guard in recipes like this one since it saves a lot of clean-up hassle.
- I find the recipe is perfectly salted with regular chicken broth, but if you're at all sensitive to salt, use a low-sodium one.
What to serve with chicken piccata
- I love it with a classic combo of mashed potatoes and roasted green beans so that it's a complete meal.
- It's also great with pasta. Try it with these Quick & Easy Garlic Butter Noodles, and then pair it with this Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad!
- I love to top it with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. It's next level amazing.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat in a saucepan over a low heat.
- I don't recommend freezing this recipe, especially if you're making the creamy version.
Have you made this lemon chicken piccata? Got questions? Let me know in the comments below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see your creations.
Easy Chicken Piccata
- 2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Flour (for dredging)
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon brined capers drained
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Garnish (optional) chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Slice chicken breasts lengthwise (I butterfly then cut in half) to make 4 thinner cutlets. Trim off any fat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle with garlic powder. Coat the chicken in flour.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the butter plus the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once the pan is hot, cook the chicken pieces for about 4-5 minutes per side until golden.
- Remove the chicken from skillet and set aside.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the chicken broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and capers to the skillet. Scrape up any brown bits.
- Stir in the cream and return the pan to the heat. Once it's bubbling again, add the chicken back into the pan. If you want to make this recipe without cream, increase the chicken broth to 3/4 cup.
- Cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced to your liking (you may need to turn down the heat a bit if it's bubbling furiously). If the sauce thickens too much, add more broth.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.
- If using smaller chicken breasts, leave them intact (but you will likely need to cook them for a bit longer).
- If you don't want the cream in it, I recommend omitting it entirely vs. using something like half-and-half because the sauce is likely to curdle and not thicken as well.
- Use low-sodium chicken broth if sensitive to salt.
- I highly recommend this lemon zester.
- 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 September 4, 2015. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!