Chicken With Capers And Lemon

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Chicken with capers and lemon is a simple Italian chicken recipe with only two main ingredients; chicken & capers. Honestly, I really needed only one ingredient to make this recipe – lemon. However, it was not the most practical option, so I ended up making a chicken breast dish filled with capers and lemon flavor.

Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce

A rich chicken dish, perfect for a special meal.

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Recipe Summary

Prep:

10 mins

Cook:

20 mins

Total:

30 mins

Servings:

2

Yield:

2 servings

Ingredients

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Original recipe yields 2 servingsIngredient Checklist

  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 lemon wedges

Directions

Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1Mix together salt and flour in a small dish or plastic bag, then coat chicken and shake off excess. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from chicken, then brown in hot oil until both sides are golden-brown, and the inside has turned white and firm, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Step 2Remove the chicken, and set aside in a warm place. Pour white wine into the skillet, and allow to boil as you dissolve the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice, and allow to come to a boil, cook for a few minutes until reduced by half.
  • Step 3Sprinkle the cubed butter into the boiling sauce. Swirl and shake the pan vigorously to dissolve the butter, thus thickening the sauce. The butter must never come to rest, or the sauce will separate and become oily. Once the butter has completely incorporated, remove from heat and stir in capers.
  • Step 4To serve, pour lemon-caper sauce over the chicken, and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Chicken Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce

Chicken piccata is a quick and easy weeknight meal. Lightly breading and pan-frying create a beautiful golden-brown crust that allows the tangy lemon sauce to cling onto.

Chicken Piccata with lemon caper sauce cooking in a pan

Chicken piccata is a classic Italian dish, and while the name might sound fancy, it’s pretty simple to prepare. This recipe uses lean poultry meat with a simple dredging technique and skillet cooking. But the sauce is so good that if you want to switch it up, veal or fish can be substituted.

I use everyday pantry staples and fresh ingredients to create a rustic and satisfying meal. The contrast of lightly breaded and pan-fried cutlets cradled in a lemon caper reduction sauce is a beautiful combination. You’ll want to serve this with pasta or rice to soak up all the luscious flavors.

lightly breaded chicken cutlets frying in a pan

What is chicken piccata?

Piccata is an Italian preparation for dredging thin protein pieces like chicken, veal, or fish in flour before cooking. You dip chicken breasts in a flour mixture for this recipe, then pan-fry in olive oil until golden brown. Simmer in a tangy piccata sauce made of lemon juice, chicken broth, and capers to finish. You can add white wine to provide depth to the sauce if you like.

Flatten the chicken for even cooking

Chicken breasts are thicker on one end and taper down on the other side, which can cause overcooked and/or raw sections. To prevent this from happening, you want to make the pieces thinner.

You can either cut each breast in half lengthwise or use a meat tenderizer, mallet, wine bottle, or rolling pin to pound the meat to an even thickness. If flattening, aim for ½-inch thick pieces, then cut each piece into two portions.

golden brown chicken cutlets cooking in a pan with lemon caper sauce

What coating do you use for chicken piccata?

Traditionally, chicken piccata has a light coating of flour on the surface that forms a subtle golden crust when cooked in a little olive oil. Flour has a neutral taste, so I add more seasonings to the mixture for a savory coating. Each cutlet is dredged in flour before hitting the hot pan. Use the standard breading procedure if you want a thicker and crunchier exterior.

Lemon caper sauce

The piccata sauce is a reduction of fresh lemon juice and zest, chicken broth, and capers. It simmers until concentrated, and the flavorful brown bits from frying the chicken dissolve. The trick to thickening the sauce and creating a silky texture is to whisk in cold butter at the very end to create an emulsion. Incorporate the butter over low heat to prevent the sauce from breaking.

What are capers?

Capers are pickled flower buds from a shrub-like bush called Capparis spinosa. These tiny spheres are sun-dried and brined or salted and, when added to a dish, provide an intense, spicy, salty, and tangy flavor. It’s an acquired taste, but they make this dish unique and exciting. I like to add a generous amount, ¼ cup, to pack massive flavor into the sauce.

butter being whisked in a pan with lemon caper sauce

What is a substitute for capers?

If capers aren’t available or not your thing, olives are the next best choice. They are both brined and provide a similar salty, piquant taste. Use green olives, then thinly slice or chop them into smaller pieces. Kalamata would work as well for this dish.

Can you make this in advance and reheat?

It’s best to enjoy chicken on the same day for the best taste. It’s possible to reheat. However, the flour coating will be slightly soggy, and the sauce may not hold an emulsion. If reheating, add chicken to a pan with the sauce and reheat over medium heat until warmed through. Whisk the sauce before pouring it on top of the meat.

What to serve with chicken piccata

I like to serve this with angel hair pasta, rice, or crispy roasted potatoes to complete the dish. The pasta helps to soak up all those luscious flavors. For vegetables, try broccoli or sauteed green beans are healthy pairings.

Chicken Piccata in a pan with lemon wedges and capers

How to prevent the chicken from drying out when pan-frying

The key to evenly cooking chicken, especially when pan-frying is to pound out the pieces or cut them in half to the same thickness. About a ½-inch is good, you don’t want to go paper-thin. If you have an instant-read digital thermometer, check the doneness temperature, and stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71ºC).

Lemon Chicken Piccata

This Lemon Chicken Piccata is a simple, yet impressive dish! Delicious chicken in a tasty lemon, butter and capers sauce. Made entirely in one pan, it’s perfect with pasta for a quick and delicious dinner.

freshly made chicken piccata in a skillet garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.

This chicken piccata is the perfect romantic dish for a special occasion. You know they say “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” It’s true! And if you don’t believe me, I dare you to try it, cook him a meal like this!

My lemon chicken piccata is an impressive dish, yet it’s so simple to make. It’s amazing how you can turn a few basic ingredients into a fabulous and totally delicious dish!

Easy Chicken Piccata

  • One Pot Meal
  • Easy To Make And Ready In Just 40 Minutes
  • Impressive and Delicious
  • Simple and Short Ingredient List

It’s such an easy dish to make and so full of flavor! The ingredient list is incredibly simple and the entire meal takes just over 40 minutes start to finish. Plus, you only need one skillet, which makes cleanup a breeze! If you love the bright taste lemons, this dish is for you!

Ingredient Notes

  • Chicken Breasts – You want them boneless and skinless. You can also do this with boneless skinless chicken thighs, for the dark meat lover. If using larger breasts, make sure you cut them in half lengthwise. My breasts were fairly small and thin so I didn’t need to cut them.
  • Flour – All purpose flour for dredging our chicken through.
  • Butter – I always use unsalted, this way I can control how much salt is in my food.
  • Olive oil – Pretty much my oil of choice all the time, especially for dishes such as this. Substitute sunflower, safflower or avocado oil.
  • Lemon juice – This is the star of this recipe, so you want to make sure is freshly squeezed for best flavor.
  • White wine – A dry white wine will work great such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. See “FAQs & Expert Tips” for more info.
  • Capers – This is another key ingredient in this recipe, they’ll give the dish more lemony, oily and salty flavor.

How to Make Chicken Piccata

  1. Prep Chicken: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off any excess.
  2. Cook Chicken: In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of butter with the olive oil, over medium to high heat. Add chicken pieces to the skillet and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until browned. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the skillet.
  3. Add Ingredients: Remove skillet from heat. Add lemon juice, chicken stock or wine, capers and scrape up the brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Return skillet to heat and bring to a boil. Taste the sauce and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Add chicken back to skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Add remaining butter to the sauce in the skillet and whisk for about a minute. Sauce will thicken a bit.
  4. Finish and Serve: Pour the sauce over the chicken garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
process shots showing how to make sauce for chicken piccata and how to finish the dish.

FAQs & Expert Tips

FAQS

What Is Chicken Piccata?

Piccata is a method of preparing food where meat is sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce. The dish is Italian as the name would imply, but it is originally made with veal. Here I chose to make mine with chicken breasts, thinly sliced, or butterflied.

What Type Of Wine Works Best?

It’s important to deglaze the pan, and the wine adds a nice depth of flavor. I would recommend using your favorite dry white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc! If you want a non-alcoholic version, you can substitute chicken broth! It will work just as well.

How To Serve

This lemon chicken piccata is perfect over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes. You can also serve this over rice, with a side of roasted broccoli or green beans.

freshly made chicken piccata in a skillet garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.

TIPS

  1. Make sure to scrape all those delicious brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. That’s where all the flavor is, so you want to make sure you scrape really well.
  2. Substitute chicken broth for the wine if you’re looking for an alcohol free version.

I had Lemon caper chicken piccata at a restaurant recently and so enjoyed it. Found your recipe and it is every bit as good and exactly what I was looking for… AND I had everything needed on hand (even better)! Thank you!!!

freshly made chicken piccata in a skillet garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.

Leftovers

You can store this chicken piccata easily in the fridge. In an airtight container, it will keep for 3 – 5 days, just be sure it’s properly cooled before storing.

FREEZING

If you’d like to make and freeze this chicken piccata ahead of time just place it in the fridge until it’s completely cooled. Store in an airtight container, then transfer to the freezer. It should last for 3 months.

When ready to serve, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before popping it back in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could heat it up in a skillet.

15 MINUTE LEMON CAPER CHICKEN BREASTS (GLUTEN FREE)

Quick, easy and delicious, this Lemon Caper Chicken one pot is packed with flavor and you’ll be amazed by how easy it is to make. Pan seared chicken breast is served in a silky lemon, caper and butter piccata sauce, all in under 20 minutes!

If you have kids (or anyone in your household for that matter) who don’t like capers, just leave them out. The citrusy butter sauce will still be flavor packed.

This one pan chicken dish is based on a traditional Italian recipe, but this is chicken piccata without flour. I find this makes the dish lighter and also means its gluten free.

WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS LEMON & CAPER CHICKEN DISH:

  • You need just 8 simple ingredients. This makes it ideal for those busy weeknights when you want to eat well but don’t have long to spend in the kitchen.
  • Any chicken dish cooked in one pan is a winner for me, not only does it save you time but it cuts down on the dishes.
  • Don’t let the speed of this recipe fool you. There is so much flavor packed into this dish that its perfect to serve when entertaining too.
  • If you love a one pan main with sauce dish as much as I do, why not try my Salmon with Spinach Cream Sauce, another quick and tasty family dinner.

HOW TO MAKE LEMON & CAPER CHICKEN:

Find the full printable recipe below.

Carefully cut the chicken breasts into two through the middle. Season well and sear on both sides in a hot skillet.

Remove the chicken and make the sauce with chicken stock, garlic, butter and lemon juice.

Stir capers into the sauce and add back the chicken to reheat.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and lemon slices then serve!

ISN’T THIS CHICKEN PICCATA?!

Piccata is an Italian terms meaning “to pound flat” and usually refers to the treatment of meat, usually chicken, pork or veal, which is sliced and flattened out. The meat is then dredged in flour and cooked in a sauce flavored with lemon, capers and butter.

My recipe for Lemon Caper Chicken is close to a traditional piccata, only I prefer to leave out the flour. And rather than pounding the meat I simply cut the chicken breasts though the middle to make two thinner pieces of meat. They are then seared in a hot skillet with olive oil.

HOW TO TELL WHEN CHICKEN IS COOKED?

If you have a temperature probe you can put it into the thickest part of the chicken breast and check the internal temperature of the meat. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 160f/75c when cooked.

Don’t have a meat probe? No problem. Simply insert a knife into the thickest part of the breast, remove it and if the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. Whereas, if they still look pink then the chicken needs a little more cooking.

VARIATIONS OF LEMON CAPER CHICKEN:

Don’t like capers? Simply leave them out of the sauce.

For something a little different try adding a small glass of wine to de-glaze the skillet then reduce it down before adding the remaining sauce ingredients.

If you’d like a dairy free sauce, replace the butter with some additional olive oil instead.

If you love briny ingredients, try adding some black olives to the finished dish.

TIPS FOR MAKING LEMON CAPER CHICKEN:

  • My top tip is to slice the chicken breasts in half through the middle to make them thinner before pan frying. It keeps them moist and juicy and avoids the dreaded chicken breast dry out.
  • Once cooked, remove the chicken from the skillet and allow it to rest while you get on with making the sauce. Resting the chicken like this allows all the juices to be absorbed back into the breast, leaving you with tasty and moist pieces of chicken.
  • When making the lemon caper sauce ensure that you get all the browned crispy bits off the bottom of the pan that have been leftover from cooking the chicken. This will add real flavor to your sauce.

HOW TO SERVE LEMON CAPER CHICKEN:

This delicious chicken dish with the lemon caper sauce is packed full of flavor so keep any side dishes simple. Here are some suggestions:

  • buttery mashed potatoes
  • pasta tossed in olive oil
  • crusty bread to mop up those juices
  • steamed greens: brocollini; green beans; spinach; kale
  • roasted vegetables: asparagus; zucchini
  • dressed salad with lemon vinigraitte
  • Easy Quinoa Caprese Salad

HOW TO REHEAT CHICKEN PICCATA?

Make the dish earlier in the day and set it aside until you are ready to eat. Gently heat up the sauce and the chicken until the chicken is warmed through. Take care not to cook too long as you don’t want the chicken overcooking and drying out.

HOW TO FREEZE LEMON CAPER CHICKEN?

You can freeze this lemon chicken dish. I would suggest freezing the chicken and the sauce separately. Both will store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, defrost thoroughly. Then gently warm up the sauce, before adding the chicken in to heat through.

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