Need a winner of a chicken dinner tonight? This simple, beautiful recipe for breaded Chicken Piccata is just what to make; it’s Italian American comfort food at its finest.
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.
How to butterfly a chicken breast:
Boneless chicken breasts can be thick at one end and thin at the other; they also take longer to cook in their original shape.Therefore, before you get cooking, you need to make chicken cutlets, which cook evenly and quickly.
The best way to do this is by butterflying a boneless chicken breast into two pieces. Here’s how to do it:
One at a time, place the chicken breast onto your work surface, and with a chef’s knife, slice horizontally through the fattest part of the breast, using your palm to press down carefully as you cut.
When you get to the end, you can open up the two pieces of chicken to make the “butterfly” shape, and then finish the cut so you have two separate pieces.
At this point, the chicken breasts might still be an uneven thickness. If so, they can be pounded flat between two pieces of plastic wrap using a meat tenderizer, a rolling pin, or an old-fashioned mallet. The plastic cuts down on the mess while you pound.
Once the cutlets are pounded to a uniform thickness, about 1/2” thick or so, you’re ready to start breading them.
How to Bread Chicken:
Whether you’re making fried chicken, Chicken Milanese, or any other irresistible chicken cutlet recipe, it’s important to know how to bread chicken. Here’s a super easy, three step how-to for mouthwatering breaded chicken, every time.
To start, you need three shallow containers. Depending on the quantity and size of food that you’re making, you can use bowls or baking dishes. Make sure there’s enough room in each container to move the meat around freely. The dipping and dredging process can get messy, but using large enough bowls helps keep everything contained. Here’s what to put in each bowl:
Bowl one: Flour. The flour acts as a barrier between the fat in the pan and the moisture in the chicken breast. All-purpose flour is just fine. Use less flour than you think you need--you can always add more when you need it.
Bowl two: Eggs, lightly beaten.
Bowl three: Breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper.
Panko breadcrumbs, also known as Japanese breadcrumbs, keep breaded and fried foods extra crispy. They’re available online or at specialty grocery stores.
You don’t have to use them, though—you can make your own breadcrumbs with stale bread or buy plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs at the store. You can even buy gluten-free panko flakes, to make gluten-free chicken piccata. There's just no reason not to make this recipe.
Breading chicken cutlets is a job best done one at a time. Crowding the chicken in each bowl only makes things more messy.
- First, pat the chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. 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.
Place finished chicken separated by layers of waxed paper on a plate. Cutlets can be wrapped up in plastic film and refrigerated for up to two hours before you need them.
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.
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.
Best Chicken Piccata sides:
My absolute favorite side to go with Chicken Piccata is lemon rice pilaf. However, I love this dish on absolutely anything that soaks up that delicious lemon butter pan sauce: angel hair pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes, you name it! A great meal would be the Best Mashed Potatoes, with some fresh Roasted Asparagus on the side.
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.