Chicken Piccata with Capers is thinly sliced chicken breast with a light coat of flour, which is sauteed and served with "piccata" sauce - butter, lemon, white wine and capers. This quick and easy chicken piccata recipe is perfect for any night and pairs well with ratatouille!
The term "piccata" actually refers to the lemon, butter, caper sauce. You may see variations on Italian restaurant menus such as veal piccata, where the veal is thinly sliced and sauteed in piccata sauce--same concept here, but with chicken. If you don't care to add white wine to the piccata sauce, no problem!
Ingredients for Easy Lemon Chicken Piccata
This chicken recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients: chicken breasts, flour, lemon, butter, capers, salt/pepper and white wine (optional.) Because chicken breasts are so large these days, I usually allow one breast per two people.
Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Make Chicken Piccata
This recipe is actually a pretty quick dinner! You can buy a large chicken breast and slice it in half lengthwise or use thin sliced chicken cutlets from your butcher (they're usually in packages-not in the meat case.) Note: this recipe does not call for an egg and flour dredge like fried chicken...just a light coat of seasoned flour works!
- Slice chicken breast in half lengthwise
- Melt butter and oil in large skillet
- Pound chicken breast with a meat cleaver until it is 1/4 inch thick
- Lightly salt and pepper breast
- Dredge seasoned chicken breast in flour
- Place coated breast in melted butter; allow to cook 3-5 minutes on both sides (internal temperture of 165ºF)
- Repeat process for each chicken breast
- Add lemon juice, capers and wine to the skillet; bring to boil
- Plate chicken and drizzle sauce over cooked chicken
What Temperature Should the Oil Reach?
The secret to making a really nice, semi-crisp piece of chicken is to make sure the oil/butter mixture is hot enough, but not too hot (you don't want to burn it!) The oil temperature should be around 310-316ºF. If you're chicken breast is really thin, it will cook to an internal temperature of 165ºF at about 3 minutes on each side. Thicker cutlets might take 5 minutes on each side.
Use tongs and lift the edge to see if it's browning, but don't move it for at least 3 minutes, otherwise, you run the risk of losing the flour coating.
What Type of Wine Do I Use for the Piccata Sauce?
The best wine to use for piccata sauce is a good, dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnary. Definitely use a good wine (one that you'd drink)! Wine is optional in piccata sauce, but it does add a bit of flavor.
Serve this Italian chicken dish over a bed of lemon spaghetti with a side of asparagus or ratatouille. Chicken Piccata with capers has a bit of a salty flavor due to the capers. Balance the lemon and salt with a side of rice pilaf, wild rice, roasted broccoli or Italian green beans.
Chicken Piccata with Capers
- 1 large chicken breast skin-off; hand trimmed; cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons oil not olive oil; canola, vegetable, peanut or grapeseed (see notes)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt divided (1 tsp. for breasts; 1 tsp. for flour)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper divided (½tsp. for breasts; ½ tsp. for flour)
Lemon Sauce Ingredients
- ¼-½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons or 4-6 small lemons)
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
Prep the Chicken & Flour
- Pat dry chicken breast with paper towel
- Slice in half lengthwise
- Pound breasts to 1/4 inch thick
- Lightly season breast halves with salt and pepper
- Place flour and remaining salt and pepper in a shallow bowl; combine well
- Using tongs, dredge each chicken breast through the flour, coating thoroughly
Cook the Chicken Breasts
- Preheat oven to 250ºF (do this if you are cooking the chicken in batches; keeps them warm while you're making the sauce) (see notes)
- In a heavy bottom skillet on medium to medium-high heat, add oil and 4 tablespoons of butter
- Bring oil/butter mixture to a temperature around 310-316ºF
- Place flour coated breast half in hot skillet; allow to cook for 3 minutes (lift the edge of the breast after about 3 minutes to see if the center is browning; if not, continue to cook another 2 minutes) (see notes)
- Turn the breast half over and cook an additional 3 - 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF
- Remove chicken from skillet and place in warm oven, uncovered
Make the Piccata Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter
- Whisk in cornstarch and allow to cook for 1 minute; add lemon juice, wine (optional) and drained capers; taste for salt
- Plate chicken breasts and drizzle piccata sauce over the top
- If you're cooking the chicken in batches, you may need to add additional oil and butter in between each batch; if so, allow it to reach a high temperature before placing the next coated breast in the skillet.
- Everytime you add more butter/oil, the breast coating turns out darker than the first. If this makes you crazy, replace all the oil/butter between each batch.
- If you find your first breast is browning too fast, but it's not reaching an internal temperature of 165ºF, turn the heat down a little.
What Temperature Should the Oil Reach?The secret to making a really nice, semi-crisp piece of chicken is to make sure the oil/butter mixture is hot enough, but not too hot (you don't want to burn it!) The oil temperature should be around 310-316ºF. If you're chicken breast is really thin, it will cook to an internal temperature of 165ºF at about 3 minutes on each side. Thicker cutlets might take 5 minutes on each side. Use tongs and lift the edge to see if it's browning, but don't move it for at least 3 minutes, otherwise, you run the risk of losing the flour coating.