Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian-American dish comprised of thinly sliced and floured chicken breasts in a white wine, lemon and caper sauce. It is a simple sauce that pairs with so many different types of proteins, but also vegetables and pasta.

close up of chicken piccata with lemon slices


 

This dish basically thin scaloppini (thin pieces) of chicken, pan-fried in butter and aromatic olive oil and topped in a tangy lemon-butter sauce that’s laced with briny capers and shallots.

What is Piccata?

Piccata is actually a method of cooking and the piccata sauce opposed to a type of protein. Meat, butterflied or pounded thin, dredged in flour and then fried in butter. Delicious!

The term “piccata” is an Italian word, the feminine form of the word piccato, meaning “larded”. It is also spelled “pichotta.”

chicken in piccata sauce in a white cast iron skillet

In Italy, they actually serve very little chicken and the dish is usually prepared with veal. While in the states, you see much less veal and a lot more chicken and it is considered an “at-home” dish and rarely served in restaurants.

In the states, piccata sauce starts with a base of butter and lemon, but then can include white wine or chicken broth. I prefer white wine for flavor.

close up of chicken cutlets with piccata sauce

Ingredients

These simple ingredients combine for a bright sauce.

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts– As noted below, many other types of meat or vegetables can be used for this dish. If you want to skip the step of tenderizing, buy thin cut chicken breasts or chicken cutlets, sometimes even labeled chicken Milanese. Plan for one cutlet per person. Large chicken breasts can be cut into two pieces.
  • Salt and pepper– For seasoning.
  • All-Purpose Flour– This is for breading the chicken, but the excess bits will also tighten the sauce a tad.
  • Unsalted Butter & Olive Oil– The fats used to elevate the natural flavors of the food. Why use two fats? See our explanation below!
  • Shallots- A type of onion, some are pungent, but most offer a blend of sharp and sweet, which is perfect for such a delicate sauce. Slicing ruptures fewer membranes, resulting in a less oniony flavor. For more onion, mince or dice it.
  • Garlic- The same goes for garlic as onion. The more membranes that are cut, the more garlicky flavor you’ll get. Slicing provides an essence without being overwhelming. Mince, grate or press for robust taste.

  • White Wine– Wine gives this dish its signature flavor, so I don’t suggest omitting, but if you must, swap it will additional broth. Cooking with wine imparts flavors while the alcohol burns off. Pick the undertone flavors of the wine wisely because these will shine through in the sauce. Heavy cream can also be used to make a creamy piccata sauce.
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth– I always use a low-sodium broth so I have more control over the saltiness. Vegetable broth is also an option, especially for vegetarian piccata variations.
  • Fresh Lemons- There is no substitute for fresh lemon in this simple pasta dish. Zest can also add bright citrus flavor.
  • Capers- Briny and bright, these little bulbs pop in your mouth and provide a flavor and texture that can’t be replicated by other ingredients.
  • Fresh Parsley– Italian parsley is sometimes called flat parsley and has a flatter leaf compared to curly parsley, which is better used for garnish opposed to flavor. This can be omitted and should be fresh (no dried parsley flakes on this one!)
  • Pasta of Choice– See our suggestions below.
angle view of chicken in piccata sauce

How to Make Chicken Piccata

  1. Tenderize the chicken using a meat mallet, if necessary. Season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge each piece of the chicken, shaking off excess.
  1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken to the hot pan, working in batches, sauté 3-4 minutes on each side or until done. Be careful not to overcook or the chicken can become rubbery. Remove chicken from pan. Be careful to not crowd the pan or the chicken will steak instead of brown, which is what creates deep flavors for the chicken and the sauce. Set cooked chicken aside to finish the sauce.
  1. In the same pan, add a small amount of oil and then the shallots, cooking for 2-3 minutes, and garlic until fragrant.
  2. Add the wine, bringing to a low simmer and scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until liquid reduces by half.
  1. Add the broth to pan bringing back to a low simmer.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining butter, lemon slices, capers and parsley.
  1. Add the chicken back to pan, spoon sauce over pieces and allowing to rewarm, but not continue cooking, it should be fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F already. Use an instant read thermometer to check chicken temperature.
  2. Serve over cooked pasta of choice.
spoon sauce over chicken cutlets

Why Use Butter and Olive Oil?

Many people have asked why we use two fats together. This is very common in the process of pan frying and does have a purpose, mainly to enhance the flavor of the food you are preparing.

Both of these fats help carry the flavors of the food through to the other elements. Heat accentuates this property. Butter is a dairy, smooth, creamy, and rich, while olive oil provides a unique, complex flavor that can vary.

close up of piccata on spaghetti

What Pasta Is Best with Piccata

Serve chicken piccata with any sort of pasta you prefer, although it is best paired with light and smaller statured pasta. Capellini or angel hair are the most traditional.

The shape of pasta is important to pair with the correct sauce. A long stranded pasta, versis tubal or short and round, will cling the best.

Thinner sauces, like a piccata sauce, don’t need nooks and crannies or a hearty pasta to latch onto. So while you can use any pasta you prefer, it coats well with a thinner, long noodle. Some people even use rice or risotto.

chicken piccata over pasta

Protein for Piccata

In the US chicken is the most customary, but in the Italy, veal piccata is the most iconic. But piccata sauce is so verstile that it can literally be paired with nearly anything. All of these proteins can be simply seared or dredged in flour and lightly pan fried, like the chicken in this piccata recipe.

Other cuts of chicken are also options. Chicken thighs or drumsticks, just make sure that everything is browned and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. These are thicker cuts, so they will take longer. You can even make chicken piccata meatballs!

Here are some favorites.

  • Pork cutlets
  • Veal cutlets
  • Artichokes
  • Sole
  • Shrimp
sliced chicken piccata

Storage & Reheating

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Chicken piccata can be reheated in a skillet or the microwave. It can be made ahead, but is best enjoyed freshly prepared.

I do not suggest freezing this recipe.

collage of chicken piccata images

More Italian Chicken Recipes

Walnut Crusted Chicken is a deliciously healthy, crunchy chicken with a cool dipping sauce! Made with chopped walnuts, panko bread crumbs, and fresh rosemary! #walnutcrustedchicken #rosemarychicken www.savoryexperiments.com

Walnut Crusted Chicken Recipe

4.64 from 19 votes
Walnut Crusted Chicken is a crunchy, oven-baked chicken with a zesty yogurt dipping sauce. Perfect for those craving crispy chicken cutlets, but without the fat.
See The Recipe!
plate of chicken cacciatore and pasta

Chicken Cacciatore

4.91 from 10 votes
Easy Chicken Cacciatore uses tender chicken in a tomato sauce with mushrooms, bell peppers, olives and herbs. Only takes 30 minutes from stove to plate!
See The Recipe!
close up of olive cheese bread

Olive Cheese Bread

4.88 from 8 votes
Don't have time to make homemade olive bread? Check out my hack for making this easy Olive Cheese Bread recipe. It takes no more than 15 minutes from start to finish!
See The Recipe!
close up of chicken piccata with text overlay
angle view of chicken in piccata sauce

Chicken Piccata Recipe

4.76 from 57 votes
Classic Chicken Piccata is an easy Italian recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes and explodes with flavors of lemon, caper and shallot.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place each piece of the chicken on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound to 1/2 inch or less thickness using a meat mallet.
  • Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Place the flour in a shallow dish, pie plate or dredging bowl. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour and shake off excess.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add the chicken to the hot pan, working in batches, sauté 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan. Add the shallots, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add the wine, bringing to a low simmer and scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until liquid reduces by half.
  • Add the broth to pan bringing back to a low simmer. Cook until reduced by half, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, lemon slices, capers and parsley.
  • Add the chicken back to pan, spoon sauce over pieces and allowing to rewarm.
  • Serve over cooked pasta of choice.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Notes

*Instead of manually tendering the meat, you can purchase thin cut chicken, sometimes called “thin chicken cutlets.” 

Nutrition

Calories: 503 kcal, Carbohydrates: 342 g, Protein: 83 g, Fat: 24 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 91 mg, Sodium: 734 mg, Potassium: 1536 mg, Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 13 g, Vitamin A: 505 IU, Vitamin C: 12.2 mg, Calcium: 117 mg, Iron: 6.9 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 503
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: chicken piccata, chicken piccata recipe, piccata recipe, piccata sauce
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This chicken piccata is a new favorite dish at our house. The chicken is cooked perfectly. We absolutely adore this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Your Chicken Piccata recipe was a delightful surprise! The flavors blended beautifully, and the dish had just the right amount of zest. It was easy to follow your instructions, making the cooking experience smooth and enjoyable. This recipe is a keeper for sure – perfect for both a quick weeknight dinner and impressing guests. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    The blend of flavors in this dish was incredible. I also loved the fact that I could make this in my cast iron. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Chicken piccata is one of my favorite dishes. This was delicious! I found the recipe easy to follow and I didn’t change anything. Thank you for the inspiration for a very nice dinner.