This classic chicken piccata is a traditional Italian dish made with lightly floured, pan-fried chicken breasts that are served in a buttery lemon and caper sauce. Quick and easy enough for a weeknight, but elegant enough for weekend entertaining.
We could wax poetic about this classic chicken piccata and its marvelous flavor and easy preparation and indulgent feel. Though it’s not necessary. The simple elegance of these classic Italian pan-fried chicken breasts bathed in a buttery lemon sauce speaks for itself.–Angie Zoobkoff
Classic Chicken Piccata
- 4 (1 1/2 lbs total) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
- Juice of 2 lemons* (about 1/3 cup)
- 3 tablespoons capers
- Small handful of fresh parsley chopped
- Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise to create 8 pieces of chicken. Use a meat mallet (or the bottom of a heavy skillet) to pound the chicken to an even thickness. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and Parmesan cheese. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, turning to coat both sides.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Once the butter has melted, add 4 pieces of chicken and brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. The chicken won’t be cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, another 2 tablespoons butter, and the remaining chicken. Add these to the plate of cooked chicken. Reserve the drippings in the skillet for making the sauce.
- Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers. Bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper.
- Return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat in the sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer, turning occasionally, until fully cooked, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, to the skillet and whisk until it’s completely incorporated.
- Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken, sprinkle with the fresh parsley, and serve immediately.
*How do I get more juice out of a lemon?Sometimes you only have 2 lemons, which should be enough but if you find yourself squeezing and squeezing in vain. Here are a few tips to get the juice you need. 1. Heat those lemons up in the microwave, about 15 seconds on medium. 2. Store your lemons in the freezer. This causes the liquid to expand, breaking the cells inside the lemon. When you thaw and juice them, you'll get more out of it (especially if you thaw them in the microwave!) 3. Take a sharp knife to the fruit before you start juicing. Poke the knife into the lemon over and over, making more holes and breaking up some of the fruit's insides. When you squeeze it, there are more ways for the juice to get out. One last tip, for free—choose the heaviest and softest citrus you can. They're ripe and full of juice.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This classic chicken piccata is a simple but delicious recipe that can be served for an easy weekday meal but is also elegant enough to serve for a dinner party. As I was cooking it, people kept wandering into the kitchen and saying, this smells great. By the time it was ready, and it only took 30 minutes from start to finish, everyone from the 75-year-old to the 10-month-old and his 4-year-old sister couldn’t wait to taste it.
The combination of capers, lemon, and Parmesan cheese works wonderfully in this chicken dish.
This served 3 adults and 2 young children. Translation: 4 servings. I served it with steamed broccoli with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, roasted potatoes, and a large salad.
This recipe is a great reminder that you can have an amazing dish in less than 30 minutes. What's not to love about chicken and lemon? Oh, and then there are the briny capers.
I really appreciated the use of Parmesan cheese mixed in the flour dredge, I thought it added a nice touch. The sauce was perfect and came together quickly. I served the chicken piccata with an orzo salad I made earlier in the week and a loaf of garlic bread. I halved this recipe and it worked perfectly.
This is a wonderfully classic chicken piccata! Tender, flavorful chicken cutlets with a bright and lemony butter sauce and the briny pop of capers. Couldn’t be more delicious or easier to make, especially if you use the shortcut of using packaged chicken cutlets. I only needed to pound out one of the cutlets so they were all consistently the same thickness (no muss, no fuss).
I also really liked the combination of Parmesan with the flour before dredging the cutlets. I’ve usually only done this with panko bread crumbs, but this did add to the chicken’s flavor. No bland chicken cutlets here.
I served the chicken simply over thin spaghetti, allowing the pasta to sop up all that terrific sauce, along with nice crusty bread on the side.
Wow, this was a blast from the past. I can't remember the last time I ate this dish but wow, was it ever good. Just a few simple ingredients but tons of flavor. Even on a weeknight, this is doable (and will make dinner feel special!).
Maybe it's not meant to be saucy but I loved the sauce and wanted more. Served this with French mashed potatoes (purée = loads of butter and cream) and fresh asparagus, lightly steamed. SO GOOD.
I really loved the flavors in this recipe and the ease with which the dish came together.
I didn’t need to pound the chicken breasts because they were remarkably even and used gluten-free flour for the dredge.
I regretted not making rice or pasta or having some crusty bread around to sop up the sauce. A green salad didn’t seem adequate, but that was what I made to serve alongside it. I was able to correct for my lack of foresight in our next meal and made some rice as an accompaniment. Perfect!
The recipe is easy to follow and does result in a very pleasing dish. The cooking method results in moist and deeply flavoured chicken; I pounded some of the pieces to even them out and this resulted in an accurate cooking time.
I really loved the flavor of this dish and how easy it is to make something this delicious in a pretty quick amount of time. The sauce is delicious. I served it with angel hair pasta and sautéed greens and it tasted great on all of it.
I found that the Parmesan didn’t really cling to the chicken but it could just be the type I used. In the end, I just served it with extra Parmesan on the side.
Chicken piccata is a classic dish that's hard to mess up and this recipe is a really tasty version. The great thing about it is that you can ramp up (or down, if you must) the flavors as much as you want. Any way you slice it, the lemon and capers create a tart, tangy foil for the chicken which, cooked in olive oil and butter after being dipped in flour, has a nice crisp to it.
I thought the crunch would be lost when the chicken went back into the sauce at the end but it really wasn't, and I was pleasantly surprised by that.
The recipe is straightforward and very uncomplicated. It's a great recipe for a weeknight. We served it with multi-grain bread and grilled asparagus.
Originally published July 28, 2019