A better Chicken Piccata | RecipeTin Eats

Chicken Piccata is a quick dinner comprised of a crispy pan seared chicken breast with a Lemon Butter Caper Sauce. It’s very, very easy and very, very tasty!

Close up of plate of Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

I realise it sounds totally obnoxious to call this a “better” Chicken Piccata. I should clarify and say that this is a better one to me. Having tried quite a few recipes over the years, being that this dish is a wildly popular Italian-American dish and I felt like I was missing out, I’ve just never been impressed. I always found the lemon sauce lip-puckeringly sour, and it just didn’t have enough (interesting) flavour in it to carry a somewhat bland chicken.

Also, so many recipes called for an insane amount of butter and oil. Sometimes up to half a cup! What the….??

My butt cannot afford that much fat for what’s supposed to a quick, midweek meal.

So this is my version of Chicken Piccata. The sauce is not as sour – just the right amount of lemon tang. I use less fat than most recipes. I reduce white wine to add complexity in the sauce. And as for the chicken? Add a dusting of parmesan. Makes it so much tastier!

Freshly cooked Chicken Piccata in a skillet
Lemon Butter Caper Sauce for Chicken Piccata
Lemon Butter Caper Sauce for Chicken Piccata

What goes in (my) Chicken Piccata

So here’s what you need:

Ingredients in Chicken Piccata
  • Chicken breast – 2 breasts will serve 3 to 4 people once we cut each piece into 3 and pound into thin steaks. You could also use thigh fillets (skinless boneless) or tenderloins;

  • Lemon – You need a fresh lemon here. Kind of defeats the purpose if you try to make this with bottled lemon juice!

  • White wine – Use any dry white wine that’s not too woody, too sweet or fruity. Chardonnay is particularly great because it adds a good amount of flavour.

    The wine doesn’t make the sauce taste winey at all because we reduce it right down to cook the alcohol out and just leave behind the concentrated flavour that adds depth to the sauce.

    Don’t use an expensive wine. The flavour and aroma that you pay for is largely lost during cooking. It’s pretty well documented these days by notable food authorities (such as New York Times Cooking) that you do not need to use expensive wines for cooking.

    Substitution: If you can’t consume alcohol, use low sodium chicken stock/broth;

  • Capers – Use capers in brine, drained. The capers in salt (ie no liquid) are a little too salty to use here;

  • Butter – For cooking and also for the sauce;

  • Olive oil – For cooking the chicken; and

  • Flour & parmesan – For dusting the chicken. Don’t skip this. It gives the chicken a crust that the sauce clings to. Without it, the sauce just slips off the chicken. (PS The additional of parmesan here is a trick that makes this Chicken Piccata a standout!).

Crispy Parmesan Crusted Chicken for Chicken Piccata
Crispy Parmesan Crusted Chicken for Chicken Piccata

How to make Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is a straight forward, pretty quick recipe:

  • Pound chicken so they cook evenly;

  • Dust with flour > pan sear until golden; and

  • Make sauce in same pan (takes 3 maybe 4 minutes).

How to make Chicken Piccata
  1. Cut and pound chicken – Cut each chicken breast into 3 pieces. Then pound each piece until it is 1/2cm / 0.2″ thick. I use a meat mallet and place the chicken between baking/parchment paper, cling wrap or what is called “Go-Between” which is a freezer film used to keep food from sticking together in the freezer. It’s basically like freezer bags in roll form.

    If using tenderloin, there is no need to cut, just pound each piece. If using thigh fillets, halve then pound;

  2. Dust chicken – Drizzle chicken with oil, then coat with the flour and parmesan. Press the chicken into the mixture to make it stick. Shake off excess well.

    See comment under the Ingredients above for why a flour-parmesan coating is essential here!

  3. Pan fry chicken in butter and oil until golden, amount 3 minutes. Turn, then cook the other side for 1 minute until golden (I know that sounds odd, 3 minutes then 1 minute, but the 2nd side really does cook much faster than the 1st side!). Once cooked, remove from the pan;

  4. Clean skillet – The skillet will be a bit dirty which will tarnish what is supposed to be a clean, clear sauce. So before we proceed, it’s best to clean the skillet. Pour out the excess fat from the pan, then give it a quick wipe with a paper towel. No need to be meticulous here;

  5. Reduce wine – To make the sauce, add the white wine and simmer rapidly to reduce by half. In this step, the alcohol will cook out so you won’t have any boozy flavour in the sauce. Then add lemon and bring to a simmer;

  6. Swirl in butter – Turn down heat to low, then add cubes of butter and swirl it to make it melt. This makes the butter emulsify with the wine and lemon juice to form a glossy, clear, slightly thickened sauce. The sauce would not thicken as well and it would split if you let the butter bubble and melt over high heat;

  7. Capers & parsley – To finish the sauce, add in capers and parsley; and

  8. Serve! Then serve the chicken pieces with the Lemon Butter Sauce. You’ll notice that there is not a ton of sauce. You don’t need loads, the sauce has enough flavour. From a practical perspective, the flour-parmesan crust of the chicken gets soaked with the sauce, and that’s all you need really, to enjoy this dish. (And regular readers know I’m a Sauce Girl!).

Plate of Chicken Piccata ready to be served
Close up of cut pieces of Chicken Piccata

Serve this with your starchy side of choice and a side salad to get some greens on your plate. Choose from:

Some suggestions for you:

Enjoy! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Close up of plate of Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata (Lemon Chicken with Capers)


Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. If, like me, you find there sauce of other Chicken Piccata recipes too sour, and the chicken kind of bland, I think you’ll love this version! The lemon tang in the sauce is pleasant rather than lip-puckering, and the flavour of the chicken is boosted with a little parmesan in the flour coating.


Crispy Parmesan Chicken:

  • Cut each breast into 3 pieces. Then place between 2 pieces of cling wrap or paper and pound to 1/2 cm / 0.2″ thickness.

  • Drizzle chicken with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and spread with your fingers on both sides.

  • Mix flour, parmesan, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Coat chicken, pressing to adhere, then shaking off excess.

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Then add butter and let it melt.

  • Place 3 pieces of chicken in the skillet. Cook 3 – 4 minutes until golden, then turn and cook the other side for 1 minute. Remove onto plate, repeat with remaining chicken.

Chicken Piccata Sauce:

  • Pour out and discard excess fat in skillet, then give it a quick wipe with paper towels (no need to clean thoroughly).

  • Still on medium high heat, add wine. Let it simmer rapidly until it reduces by half – around 3 minutes.

  • Add lemon and simmer 1 minute.

  • Reduce heat to low. Add cubed butter and swirl pan to make it melt but not go foamy. Sauce should be glossy, translucent and slightly thickened.

  • Stir in capers and parsley. Serve chicken with Sauce, sprinkled with extra parsley if desired!

Recipe Notes:

Servings – If you use 2 large breasts (450g/16oz), you will serve 3 comfortable. If you use 2 smaller ones, this will serve 2 people.
1. Chicken – can also use tenderloin (no need to cut) or thighs (skinless, boneless, cut in half then pound).
2. Parmesan – or use store bought sandy type grated parmesan.
3. Wine – Any white wine that’s not too woody or sweet will work great here. Chardonnay in particular adds really good flavour. Sub low sodium chicken stock/broth for a non alcoholic version.
Don’t use an expensive wine. The flavour and aroma that you pay for is largely lost during cooking. It’s pretty well documented these days by notable food authorities (such as New York Times Cooking) that you do not need to use expensive wines for cooking.
4. Capers – best to use capers in brine, rather than the dry capers in salt (bit too salty for this dish).
5. Nutrition – assumes 2 tbsp fat is discarded after cooking chicken and 1.5 tbsp flour / parmesan is discarded after coating.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 358cal (18%)Carbohydrates: 5g (2%)Protein: 33g (66%)Fat: 19g (29%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 122mg (41%)Sodium: 800mg (35%)Potassium: 616mg (18%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 365IU (7%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 30mg (3%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Life of Dozer

He’s so stinky, I should put him in for dry cleaning too!

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