This delicious lemon chicken piccata comes together in less than 20 minutes! A few tips make all the difference in this perfectly tender, flavor-packed chicken that's made in a bright lemony sauce with capers.
Be sure to check out my tips and tutorial for how to make this easy chicken piccato recipe + ideas for what to serve along!
What is Chicken Piccata?
Lemon chicken piccata may be one of the simplest dinners you can make with just a few wholesome ingredients!
Chicken breast cutlets are dredged in flour or gluten-free flour and pan-seared until golden brown. In the same pan, a rich flavorful sauce of lemon juice, white wine (or broth), and salty capers simmer with the chicken to create a slightly thickened sauce that coats the chicken.
Traditional chicken piccata is made with butter, but for a "cleaner" version, this recipe swaps the butter for quality extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of ghee (clarified butter). You still get all of that buttery goodness in the sauce.
What really makes the recipe shine is the salty, tangy, and buttery lemon sauce and this recipe gives you all of that!
What is in Chicken Piccata Sauce?
This chicken piccata sauce contains only a few ingredients and you probably have most of them at home already:
- Quality extra virgin olive oil. I used rich and earthy Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Ghee (a form of highly clarified butter). If you prefer, you can use butter instead
- White wine (or broth)
- Capers. Brined capers are tangy, salty, and aromatic
The sauce ingredients are added to the same pan the chicken is initially seared in. The leftover brown bits from the chicken are scrapped from the pan to add extra flavor to the sauce.
TIP: The key to a good sauce is depth of flavor and the brown bits from the cooked chicken provide that deep, rich, and yummy flavor to the chicken piccata sauce.
What kind of wine do you use?
This lemon chicken piccata is made with white wine. There are no hard and fast rules for which kind of white wine to use.
However, the best rule of thumb to follow is to cook with a white wine you would also want to drink. If you don’t want to sit down and have a glass of wine with the wine you cook with, find an option you would actually enjoy drinking!
You will want to use a dry white wine as other types of white wine, (like Moscato) are too sweet and are not suitable for the piccata sauce. Some great white wines to choose from are:
- Pinot Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc
How to Make Chicken Piccata + 3 Important Tips!
Step 1: Prepare the Chicken Breasts
Grab your boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides of the chicken.
Using your flour of choice--all-purpose, whole wheat (for Mediterranean diet) or gluten-free-- dip your chicken pieces in the flour until evenly coated and shake off any extra flour. This is just a light coating of flour.
Tip: Butterfly your chicken breasts for more even and quick cooking! Because chicken breasts can be thick and uneven, it's a good idea to butterfly them so that they cook quickly and evenly. By butterflying chicken breasts, I mean to split them in half horizontally, creating thinner cutlets. To do that, start with a sharp knife. Then place your hand on top of the chicken, and carefully slice horizontally. (And if you need to, you can even cut them in halves crosswise, ending up with more smaller pieces. If you started with 2 large chicken breast halves, you can end up with up to 8 smaller pieces.)
Step 2: Sear the Chicken
In a large cast iron skillet or pan of choice, heat your olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. You want the oil to look like it is shimmering, but you don’t want it smoking or your chicken will burn. Cook the chicken for 3 minutes on each side. You are looking for a golden-brown color.
Tip: In order to keep your pan hot for perfectly golden-brown chicken, work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. To keep your chicken warm, place the seared pieces in an oven-safe dish and keep in a 200-degree F heated oven so it stays warm until you are finished cooking all the remaining cutlets.
Step 3: Make the Lemon Sauce
To make the sauce, heat the same pan to medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the ghee (or butter if you prefer) and let it melt. Once melted, stir in lemon juice and wine (or broth) and capers. Bring the sauce to a boil and scrap all those yummy browned bits from the chicken from the bottom of the pan.
Tip: A couple of easy substitutions here if you need to. If you prefer butter, you can use it in place of ghee. And if you can't use wine, chicken broth will work.
Step 4: Add the Chicken to Simmer In the Sauce
Add your cooked chicken back to the pan with the sauce. Lower the heat and let chicken simmer in the sauce for 4-5 minutes. Make sure to baste the chicken pieces with that flavorful sauce! You can do this by using a larger spoon to scoop some sauce from the pan and pour the sauce over top of the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the heat and garnish with parsley for a pop of gorgeous green color and freshness! And if you like, sprinkle some lemon zest on top.
Can I Make Chicken Piccata in the Instant Pot?
I find it easy and quick enough to make chicken piccata in a skillet, but if you want to use your instant pot (affiliate link) or pressure cooker, you sure can! It is pretty much the same steps as cooking in the pan, but with just a few adjustments. Here's what you need to do:
- Prepare the chicken the same way as in the pan version of this recipe. Butterfly the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, and coat in flour shaking off the excess.
- On your Instant Pot, turn on the sauté function and add your olive oil. Once heated, cook chicken on both sides until golden brown. You will likely need to work in batches just like with the pan version.
- When the chicken has all been browned, take out of the Instant pot and make the sauce as per regular instructions. Add more olive oil, ghee, white wine (or broth), lemon juice, and capers. Scrap the bottom to release the browned bits of chicken.
- Add all of your chicken to the pot with the sauce, lock the lid, and pressure cook the chicken and sauce on manual for 4 minutes.
- Once done and pressure is released, garnish with parsley and serve!
If you have any leftovers, you can store your leftover lemon chicken piccata in an air-tight container in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days.
What to Serve with this Easy Chicken Piccata Recipe?
This easy chicken piccata is delicious. If you like, make a bit more of the sauce and toss some pasta to serve along--orzo pasta is a good option.
Many people also like to serve their lemon chicken piccata with rice or potatoes. You may like to pair the chicken piccata with this lemon rice (if you want to keep with a lemony theme) or Lebanese rice. Simple boiled potatoes with garlic and fresh herbs also compliment the flavors from the chicken and are great for soaking up the lemon sauce.
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This flavor-packed lemon chicken piccata comes together in 20 minutes! Chicken are seared in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, then simmered in a bright lemony sauce with capers.
Be sure to read the post for tips and suggestions for what to serve along.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast halves (butterflied into thinner cutlets, then cut in half cross-wise)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ cup flour for dredging (use whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, or gluten free flour of your choice)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO)
- 3 tbsp ghee (or butter, if you prefer)
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup white wine (or chicken broth if you don't want to use wine)
- 3 to 4 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Heat oven to 200 degrees F (this is to keep the chicken warm as you work in batches)
- Pat chicken breast pieces dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. Lightly coat chicken pieces on both sides with the flour (shake excess flour).
- In a large cast iron skillet heat extra virgin olive oil over medium/medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Cook chicken on 1 side for about 3 minutes, then turn over to cook for another 3 minutes. (Do this in batches and do not crowd the pan. To keep chicken warm, place in an oven-save dish and keep in warm oven while you finish).
- Prepare the lemon sauce. To the same skillet, over medium heat, add a little bit more extra virgin olive oil. Add ghee (or butter, if you prefer). When ghee melts, stir in lemon juice and wine (or broth if you prefer), and capers. Bring the sauce to a boil, scrapping any browned bits from the chicken up.
- Now, return chicken to the skillet with the sauce. Lower heat, and let simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, basting the top of the chicken with the sauce.
- Remove from heat and garnish with parsley. Serve with plan orzo (more suggested sides in post)
- Cook's Tip: Because chicken breasts can be thick and uneven, it's a good idea to butterfly them so that they cook quickly and unevenly. By butterflying chicken breasts, I mean to split them in half horizontally, creating thinner cutlets. To do that, start with a sharp knife. Then place your hand on top of the chicken, and carefully slice horizontally. Once you have the thin cutlets, if you need to, you can cut them in halves cross-wise, ending up with smaller pieces (so if you started with 2 large breast halves, you can end up with up to 8 smaller pieces)
- Cook's Tip: For Mediterranean-diet friendly version, use whole wheat flour for dredging.
- Leftovers? You can store leftover chicken piccata in a tight-lid container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or so.
- Visit our online shop to browse our extra virgin olive oils, all-natural and organic spice bundles more!
Keywords: Lemon Chicken Piccata, Easy Chicken Piccata, Chicken Piccata Recipe