This easy, delicious recipe for Chicken Piccata has crispy breaded chicken cutlets and a buttery lemon-caper sauce you'll want to lick off the plate. It's Italian-American comfort food at its finest.
Make it glorious with easy Baked Rice (or Lemon Rice Pilaf) and a heap of Roasted Asparagus. That way there's room for an indulgent dessert, like my Grandma's take on Reese's PB cups, No Bake Peanut Butter Bars. Or find even more mouthwatering chicken recipes, including a summery Chicken Caprese, or smoked chicken wings.
Any night of the week, Chicken Piccata makes dinner just a little more special. That’s probably because few can resist a scrumptious chicken cutlet in a silky, buttery lemon sauce studded with capers. It's virtually impossible!
This foolproof recipe has been tested and tested to make it the most delicious version out there. Some recipes only dredge the chicken in flour, but this recipe uses Parmesan cheese and lemon zest seasoned breadcrumbs for unbelievable flavor and texture.
You can get the chicken cutlets breaded in advance, then throw them in the pan about 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat. They cook up so quickly—you’ll barely have enough time to set the table.
Making Chicken Piccata for an army, or just you and someone special? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Chicken Piccata—what is it?
Sounds fancy, right? Maybe even too fancy to cook at home. The good news is that it couldn’t be more straightforward. Originating in Italy, ‘piccata’ is simply a way of preparing meat or fish in a lemon butter sauce with capers. Veal and swordfish are common piccata recipes in Italy, often served alongside a pasta.
In America, chicken piccata is the most beloved version, and it’s easy to see why. A little lemon, some tender chicken, and briny capers is the perfect combination.
What you need to make Chicken Piccata:
Just the ingredients that you may not ordinarily have--for the complete list, have a look at the recipe card below.
- Breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs, also known as Japanese breadcrumbs, keep breaded and fried foods extra crispy. You can also substitute fresh breadcrumbs you grind yourself. See my full tutorial on breading chicken if you're interested.
- Capers. A little jar of pickled capers adds briny character to this recipe that's hard to replicate with anything else. They're the flower buds of a French shrub. Caper berries are what the flowers turn into, if left to grow.
- Lemons. Lots of lemons for fresh juice. This recipe uses more than you think, and it sparkles.
- White wine. Dry white wine, like a pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, works best. You can use chicken broth, too.
How to make Chicken Piccata:
This Chicken Piccata recipe takes advantage of a quick-cooking method called shallow frying, where the cutlets are barely submerged in hot oil to cook. For this recipe, you’ll need about 1 cup of oil. Oil can be heated to a higher temperature than butter, which will speed up the cooking time, as well.
- Butterfly the chicken breasts: Cover a cutting board completely with a piece of plastic wrap. Add chicken breasts. Working with one breast at a time, place your palm on top of the breast and slice in half horizontally so you have two cutlets. Repeat with the second breast.
- To keep germs at bay and protect the chicken, pound chicken breasts to an even thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper and prepare breading stations.
- Dredge each breast into the flour, then tap off the excess. Next, dip the breast through the beaten egg; hold the chicken over the liquid to let any extra egg wash fall back into the bowl. Then settle the chicken in the bread crumbs, pressing the breadcrumbs into the cutlet to really get them to stick.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cutlets, two at a time (or more, depending on the size of your skillet) and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through. This should take about 3 minutes per side, flipping as needed.
- As they finish cooking, move the cutlets to a paper towel lined baking sheet or plate, or a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack in the oven to keep them warm.
To make the Chicken Piccata sauce:
Once the chicken is finished cooking, it’s time to make the lemon butter sauce. By the way, if you don’t care for capers, don’t include them! You can use some finely chopped green olives, instead, or just omit them altogether. This is your dinner, after all!
- On medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter until foaming. You’ll use the rest to finish the sauce at the end and give it a velvety texture.
- Add the lemon juice, white wine and lemon slices to the skillet. If you’d like to make Chicken Piccata without wine, substitute chicken stock for wine—it’s just as delicious. Boil the liquid in the skillet for 3 to 5 minutes, until reduced by half.
- Turn the heat off and swirl in the rest of the butter and the capers. If using capers packed in salt, make sure you give them a quick but thorough rinse before you add them, so you don’t over season the dish. Serve the sauce poured over the breaded chicken and garnished with fresh parsley if desired.
Tips, substitutions, and making it ahead:
- Keep the cutlets thin. You want the chicken to cook quickly and evenly without burning.
- Freeze raw breaded chicken for crispy cutlets later. To freeze, arrange unbaked breaded chicken breasts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze 3 - 4 hours or until frozen solid. Then wrap each breast in plastic wrap, and store together in a labelled freezer bag up to one month.
- The frozen cutlets cook better in an oven than in the pan. To bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the frozen breaded chicken breasts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, flip over and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is pierced. The chicken should register 165 degrees on the inside.
- Gluten-free Chicken Piccata. Feel free to switch the breadcrumbs with your favorite brand of GF breadcrumbs.
- Healthy Chicken Piccata. To keep Chicken Piccata healthy, try serving it on a bed of zucchini noodles, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, or a giant pile of Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan.
- Chicken thighs. You can pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs out into breaded cutlets, too. The flavors will all be there.
Best Chicken Piccata sides:
Chicken Piccata Recipe
For the chicken:
- 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts 2 large
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- zest from 1 lemon about 1 teaspoon
- 1 cup olive oil
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), lemon halves sliced and reserved
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon capers
- minced fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Top with a wire rack coated with nonstick spray or olive oil.
- Cover a cutting board completely with a piece of plastic wrap. Add chicken breasts. Working with one breast at a time, place your palm on top of the breast and slice in half horizontally so you have two cutlets. Repeat with the second breast.
- Arrange all four cutlets in a single layer on the plastic wrap-covered cutting board. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness, about 1/4-inch. Remove top layer of plastic wrap and season breasts with salt and pepper.
- In a shallow dish, add flour. In a second shallow dish, add eggs and beat lightly. In a third shallow dish, combine panko, grated Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
- Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Dip in eggs and tap gently on side of dish to remove excess. Add to panko mixture and press gently until crumbs adhere. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining cutlets (cutlets can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours).
- Line rimmed baking sheet or large plate with 3 layers of paper towels. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 cup oil until shimmering. Add 2 cutlets and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
- Drain cutlets well on paper towel-lined plate and transfer to prepared wire rack in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 cutlets.
To make the sauce:
- Wipe out pan with dry paper towel. On medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter until foaming. Add lemon juice, white wine, and reserved lemon slices. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Off heat, swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with sauce, lemon slices, and fresh parsley.