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Lemon Chicken Piccata

4 from 2 votes
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posted: 02/07/21

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Lemon Chicken Piccata is an easy dinner recipe that our family loves. The simple pan sauce that accompanies this is made with just a few ingredients, but is deep in flavor and has bright notes of lemon, capers, and fresh parsley.

Chicken Piccata over pasta is a crowd pleaser for sure!

overhead view of a skillet full of chicken piccata

I remember many many years ago my brother made us some amazing Chicken Piccata at a family get together. He had even purchased lemon flavored to serve it over.

My memories of that family meal make my heart feel full. Really that is the memory of most of my family’s meals – my heart full around the table with people I love.

I hadn’t paid attention to him cooking, but I was left thinking that Chicken Piccata is a fancy meal that you slave over. But, you guys, that’s just not true.

This easy Chicken Piccata shows you that you can have a delicious family friendly meal that feels like a luxury without it being high maintenance. If you are worried that your kids won’t eat this, I would beg you to give it a try. Kids often surprise us.

What is Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is the United States version of an Italian dish typically made with veal that has been pounded thin. The veal is dredged in flour and then pan fried. A deep and rich sauce is then made from the pan drippings with broth and fresh lemons. Topped off with more lemon juice, capers, and parsley, this is a dish that has both the deep flavors of browned meat, and the bright pop of lemon, capers, and fresh herbs.

I love that Italians eat in courses. There is this flow of food that starts lighter and ends with deep rich dishes. My grandmother held up this tradition in her small little Wisconsin kitchen, never sitting, always just adding plates.

Chicken Piccata would belong in the second course, after the pasta. In our house, we fully Americanize this dish and serve it right on top of pasta and with chicken.

overhead view of a platter full of spaghetti and chicken piccata

How to Make Lemon Chicken Piccata

This is a brief overview of how to make this easy dish. For the full list of ingredients and all of the instructions, make sure you check out the recipe card below.

  1. Start your pasta: If you are serving this over pasta, boil your water before you do anything else. Then as you are making dinner, add the noodles, cook and drain them.
  2. Prep your oven: We are going to cook the chicken in batches. To keep it warm until dinner is ready, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and put in a casserole dish.
  3. Prep the chicken: To prepare the chicken, pat it dry. Then season it with salt and pepper, and finally, coat it lightly in flour. (We are cooking chicken cutlets, see how to cut them below.)
  4. Pan fry the chicken: Heat oil in a skillet until it is smoking. Then add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side. Work in batches, adding chicken to the warmed oven when it is cooked through.
  5. Sauté shallots and garlic: Add the shallots and garlic to the left over oil and sauté until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Make the sauce: Add in chicken broth and lemon slices and scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan – they deepen the flavor of the sauce. Bring it to a simmer and cook until it thickens, about 8 minutes.
  7. Finish it off: Finally add in the lemon juice, capers, and drippings from the plate with the chicken. Taste and decide if it needs extra salt and pepper.

We love our chicken piccata with pasta, but you could certainly eat the chicken on it’s own or with a side salad.

close up overhead view of a pice of lemon chicken piccata

Cutting Chicken Cutlets

One of the reasons that this recipe is so quick is that we are using chicken cutlets instead of full breasts. Cutlets are typically half the thickness of a chicken breast. You can buy them at the grocery store, but they are easy to cut at home too.

Start by putting your hand on top of the chicken breast while cutting with a very sharp knife.

a hand on top of a chicken breast as a knife cuts it in half to make chicken cutlets

Cut all the way through to make two chicken cutlets that are between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick.

a hand pulling back the top half a chicken breast as a knife cuts it in half for chicken cutlets

That’s it! Just make sure they aren’t too thick. If they are thicker than half an inch, you will want to pound them a little thinner.

overhead view of four chicken cutlets on a cutting board

Cooking Chicken Until Just Done

A key to making sure this recipe turns out perfectly is not overcooking the chicken. The chicken really only needs 4 minutes on each side to be done assuming the chicken breasts are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. One way to know for sure is to check using an instant read thermometer.

What are Capers?

Capers add so much to this simple dish. They are unripened flower buds that are often sold in a brine. Their taste and texture remind me a little bit of olives, but with a slightly different, deeper and more intense flavor.

I love them on bagels with smoked salmon and in my Puttanesca.

If you aren’t familiar with capers, I would urge you to pick up a bottle and try this recipe. I love the taste and texture they bring to this dish.

side view of a skillet full of easy chicken piccata

What to Serve with Chicken Piccata

If you were eating this in Italy, it would be veal and not chicken and it would be served as a second course and not with pasta. That being said, we love chicken piccata with pasta. But here are some other options:

  • Make this recipe low carb: You’ll want to keep in mind that the flour you add to the chicken is key to this recipe, but to lower the carbs you could serve it on a bed of mashed cauliflower.
  • Stretch this meal further by serving it with my Caesar Salad.
  • Eat it with these amazing Roasted Brussel Sprouts. The flavor combination would be great.
side view of a platter full of spaghetti and toped with chicken piccata recipe

FAQ

Can Chicken Piccata be made ahead of time?

This is not a recipe that I would recommend making in advance. Since a key is cooking the chicken just until done, cooking it more to reheat will dry it out.

Can I leave out the capers?

I wouldn’t recommend leaving out the capers. I think they add the perfect layer of flavor to this dish. If your kids are against them, I would still use them and serve the chicken to the kids without them.

Is Chicken Piccata gluten free?

No, it is not. Even if you choose not to serve this dish over pasta, you are still dredging the chicken in flour, an essential step in this recipe.

If you make this delicious Chicken Piccata recipe or any of my other recipes please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

side view of a skillet full of easy chicken piccata
4 from 2 votes

Easy Chicken Piccata

Serves: 6 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
This Lemon Chicken Piccata is a 30 minute dinner recipe that our family loves. The simple pan sauce that accompanies this is made with just a few ingredients, but is deep in flavor and has bright notes of lemon, capers, and fresh parsley.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into cutlets (see post for step by step photos)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 lemon sliced into half moons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons curly parsley minced

Instructions

  • If you are serving this with pasta, start the water boiling before doing anything else.
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  • Add the flour to a shallow dish.
  • Pat the chicken dry, season with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour so it is lightly coated.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet until smoking. Working in batches, cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and place in the oven to keep warm. (See note in the post about overcooking.)
  • Add the shatllot and the garlic to the remaining oil left in the skillet. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened.
  • Whisk in the chicken broth and lemon slices. Scrape up any browned bits. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, capers, and any drippings from the plate of chicken. Turn down the heat and stir in the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
side view of a skillet full of easy chicken piccata

did you make this

Easy Chicken Piccata

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This easy Chicken Piccata comes to you from America’s Test Kitchen.

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. SS says

    Some wine and artichokes would add to the dish.
    Great recipe!

  2. Faye Touve says

    3 stars
    Tried this recipe for two of us last night. I found the lemon rind very bitter and it seemed to overpower the dish. There wasn’t enough sauce either. I used just regular lemons — any suggestions?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Faye! First question is did you scale the recipe down significantly? If so, that could account for the lack of sauce. I think this recipe is fine to cut in half, but not quarter. Second question, if you didn’t scale it down significantly, it is possible that the heat was too high when you were thickening the sauce in step 7. That would account for the lack of sauce and the overpowering lemon flavor. Either way, I’m so sorry that you didn’t enjoy this dish.

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