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Classic Chicken Piccata in a light lemony wine sauce.
What is Chicken Piccata?
Chicken Piccata is the less expensive American version of a popular Italian favorite, Veal Piccata. It’s a simple one-pan dish with loads of flavor made right on the stove top. Thin sliced chicken is dredged in flour and browned in a skillet.
The pan drippings are combined with garlic, shallots, capers, chicken broth and dry white wine then reduced to a rich, flavorful sauce. Finished with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pat of butter, this chicken is fantastic.
Easy enough for a weeknight!
What’s in Chicken Piccata?
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts – quick frozen then cut in half horizontally to create cutlets. You can also purchase cutlets already prepared. Or use a mallet and pound chicken breasts to an even thickness before brining.
- kosher salt – for making a quick and easy brine for the chicken
- pepper – fresh ground black pepper is great in this dish
- all-purpose flour – for dredging the chicken before frying
- unsalted butter – for browning the chicken, sautéing the aromatics and for adding to the finished sauce
- olive oil – also for cooking the chicken, shallots and garlic
- capers – rinsed and drained
- garlic – minced
- shallots – minced
- low-sodium chicken broth
- dry white wine
- lemon zest
- fresh lemon juice
- lemon slices and parsley for serving
How to make Chicken Piccata
1. Start by cutting chicken breasts into cutlets:
Place your chicken breasts on a baking sheet and freeze for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to cut the chicken into thinner cutlets. Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to equal thickness. Skip this step if you purchased cutlets.
2. Next, prepare a quick brine:
Dissolve the kosher salt in 1 quart of tepid water. Add the chicken cutlets and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and blot dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with plenty of fresh ground black pepper.
3. Cook the chicken:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil. Dredge the cutlets in flour and cook in the hot, melted butter until well browned on both sides. Remove to a plate, cover and keep warm.
4. Prepare the sauce:
Add olive oil and butter to the now empty skillet. Sauté the shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine to the skillet and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits.
Add the capers, chicken broth and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently until reduced by half. Remove the zest and discard.
Do you have to brine chicken cutlets?
No you don’t have to brine the chicken, but I highly recommend it. This simple process ensures you’ll have tender, juicy chicken every time.
Will the chicken be too salty if you use a brine?
If you’re concerned about the dish being overly salty, there’s no need to worry. The chicken is rinsed removing the residual salt before it’s cooked. Also, we use unsalted butter, low-sodium chicken broth and rinse the briny capers before adding to the sauce.
You can add salt at the end if you feel the dish needs additional seasoning. Personally I load up on fresh ground black pepper and never thick about adding extra salt. The dominant lemon flavor and tender chicken cutlets are the stars of this chicken skillet!
What to serve with Chicken Piccata
With the strong lemon flavor in this Chicken Piccata, it’s best served with something complimentary like spaghetti, egg noodles or rice. These starchy foods soak up the sauce without fighting the flavor. For a lower carb option, try serving this chicken over spaghetti squash.
If you’re not doing the low-carb thing, be sure to serve with a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the sauce!
What are some good side dishes for Chicken Piccata?
A nice crisp salad, steamed broccoli, asparagus and green beans are always favorite sides served with Chicken Piccata. Chopped grilled vegetables are great in the summer months and summer squash and onions are perfect year-round. If your family loves it, I’m sure it will be great!
Try this classic Chicken Piccata recipe with tender chicken cutlets quick cooked then simmered in a light lemony, white wine sauce.
Many Piccata recipes are similar but I’d like to offer a few thoughts on this adaptation:
- Thin chicken cutlets can easily overcook and become dry and tough. Soaking the chicken in a brine helps to keep them moist and prevent them from drying out.
- Adding lemon juice as the last step, off-heat, keeps the flavor fresh and in the forefront.
- Make sure you don’t overcook the chicken and the rest is easy … and delicious.
- Leftovers are great too! Rewarm at 50% power in the microwave for about two minutes and dinner is ready.
I’m also happy to recommend our healthy Shrimp Piccata served over Zoodles. Surprisingly flavorful and easy, with a delicious garlic infused white wine sauce.
Chicken with Mushroom Wine Sauce is another skillet meal your family won’t soon forget! Check out all the 5-Star reviews of our most popular post.
Finally, don’t miss our Chicken Francese recipe (Chicken French). This lemony breaded chicken is another popular restaurant quality dish you can make at home with tender chicken cutlets nestled in a buttery pan sauce.
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- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut horizontally into ½-inch thick cutlets
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt (I like Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt)
- fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 shallots minced
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- zest from 1 lemon (in large stips removed with a vegetable peeler)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- extra lemon slices for serving
- cooked spaghetti for serving
- chopped parsley leaves for garnish
To prepare chicken cutlets and brine:
- If using chicken breasts, place on a small baking sheet and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will make them easier to cut in half.
- Carefully slice each chicken breast in half horizontally into cutlets.
- Dissolve kosher salt in 1 quart of tepid water in a large zipper bag or bowl. Seal and shake to dissolve the salt, then add the chicken cutlets. Leave at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes while preparing the other ingredients. Remove the chicken, rinse, drain and blot dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with pepper.
To cook the chicken:
- Add the flour to a large plate and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until melted. Dredge the chicken in the flour and add half to the skillet. Do not crowd the pan. Cook until the chicken pieces are well browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook another 3 minutes on the other side. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and cover lightly with foil to keep warm. Add another tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and repeat by cooking the remaining chicken.
To prepare the sauce:
- Add the garlic and shallots to the now empty pan and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine to delgaze the pan scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Add the capers, chicken broth and lemon zest strips. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until reduced by about half and just starting to thicken. Remove and discard the lemon zest. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan and heat for a few minutes until warmed through.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the last 2 tablespoons butter and lemon juice to the pan. Stir until the butter is melted. Serve over pasta garnished with addition lemon slices and parsley, if desired.
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Originally published March 2014, updated January 2021
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