Lemon Caper Chicken is a classic Italian dish consisting of simple ingredients for an easy chicken dinner. This creamy lemon chicken piccata consists of chicken pieces that are dredged in a flour mixture and cooked in melted butter in a large skillet until golden brown.
The chicken is then coated in a creamy lemon sauce with tangy capers. Enjoy this easy chicken piccata recipe over a bed of pasta with extra lemony sauce and various side dishes.
Why It's Yummy
Chicken piccata, a beloved American-Italian classic, can be modified for keto and gluten-free diets. The traditional version involves a flour coating and pan-frying for that satisfying crispy texture.
- The flavor is incredible - Lemon caper chicken bursts with zesty and tangy flavors. The refreshing essence of lemon and the savory kick of capers create a delicious balance.
- Ease - Love dinners that are ready in 30 minutes? This Lemon Caper Chicken is for you!
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Chicken - I’ve used a 1 ½ pound thinner chicken breast, cut in half. Chicken cutlets can also be used.
- Flour - for dredging. I use gluten-free all-purpose flour but if you’re not gluten-free, simply use regular all-purpose flour. Another great gluten free ‘’flour’’ for dredging is almond flour, which I like to use for my buffalo cauliflower wings.
- Chicken broth/stock - enhance the flavor of the sauce with chicken broth or opt for the luxury of a dry white wine like pinot grigio. Elevate your dish with a burst of deliciousness!
- Lemon juice - freshly squeezed lemon juice is best. You will also need lemon zest from the lemon to add to this dish.
- Canned capers - bursting with briny goodness, these little flavor powerhouses beautifully complement the refreshing zest of lemon. Use capers in brine rather than salted. If they are salted I recommend giving them a quick rinse before measuring out.
- Parsley - freshly chopped. I like to stir it in the sauce, but it is optional and you can use it only for garnish.
- Shallot - finely diced. Shallot works well for any kind of sauce for its texture, sweeter delicate flavor than regular onion.
- Minced garlic - I prefer fresh, but garlic powder could work too. For a milder sauce, you can leave the garlic out.
- Parmesan cheese - Freshly grated.
- Cooking oil - Olive oil, Canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- Butter - salted or unsalted, you can use both. We also love using ghee.
- Salt and black pepper - to taste, especially if using salted butter.
Lemon Caper Sauce
The caper sauce combines fresh lemon juice, butter, lemon zest, chicken broth, and capers. It simmers and reduces, blending the rich flavors with the caramelized bits from frying the chicken.
To achieve a luscious and thick texture, towards the end, we whisk in more cold butter to create an emulsion. Be sure to incorporate the butter gently over low heat to maintain the sauce's smoothness without breaking.
Substitute for Capers In Chicken Piccata
If you're in need of a simple replacement or don't have capers on hand, explore this guide with 14 easy substitutes for capers.
What Is Chicken Piccata?
Piccata is an Italian method that involves coating thin cuts of protein like chicken, veal, pork or fish in flour before cooking. In this recipe, you'll dredge chicken breasts in a flour mixture and pan-fry them in golden olive oil.
Then, simmer them in a tangy piccata sauce crafted from lemon juice, butter, chicken broth, and capers. For added richness, feel free to include white wine in the sauce.
Chicken Francese vs Chicken Piccata
These dishes are actually similar with a few distinctions. Chicken Francese is a dish where chicken cutlets are coated in flour, dipped in an egg batter, and sautéed in a buttery lemon sauce for a delicate and creamy texture.
Chicken Piccata, on the other hand, features pan-fried chicken cutlets served with a tangy sauce made from lemon juice and capers, offering a briny and distinct flavor.
What Are Capers?
Capers, the pickled flower buds of the Capparis spinosa shrub, bring intense and distinctive flavors to the dish. These tiny spheres offer a spicy, salty, and tangy taste add a unique element to many dishes.
In this recipe, I added a very minimal amount - ¼ cup of capers, but feel free to double or triple it if you love the flavor.
If you don't have capers, there are plenty of simple replacements to substitute capers.
Prepare your chicken cutlets, rinse and then pat dry with paper towels. Pound the chicken breast halves.
Mix together salt, black pepper, flour, and parmesan in a shallow dish. Toss the pieces of chicken in the mixture until fully coated.
Heat 3 tablespoon cooking oil and 3 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
Once the butter melted, cook the chicken on both sides for 3-4 minutes per side. If needed, do it in batches, and don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add shallot, saute for 2 minutes, and add garlic. Add more olive oil if needed. Saute for 30 seconds more.
Pour in chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Allow the mixture to reduce in size by half. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
Add remaining butter (2 tablespoons cold butter), capers, and return the chicken. Coat the chicken a couple of times, and serve with fresh parsley.
- Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Thinner chicken breasts are best for this dish, or you could butterfly the chicken breasts. Chicken cutlets and boneless skinless chicken thighs are also an option. But take care not the overcook them and check for doneness with a kitchen thermometer - chicken is ready when internal temperature reaches 165 F.
- If you don’t feel comfortable with chicken breast, you can use chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken thighs instead (these will take longer to cook and will look darker).
- Don't hold back on seasoning! Be generous with salt and pepper in the flour and make sure to season the chicken before dredging.
- Flatten the chicken for even cooking - Pounding the chicken breast tenderizes the meat and helps to cook the chicken evenly.
- Keep the chicken warm by placing it on a foil-covered plate while you make the sauce.
- For perfectly golden chicken, fry the cutlets on high heat. Each side needs 4-5 minutes of cooking time, so you may need to cook them in batches. Enjoy the crispy exterior and juicy interior of these delicious cutlets!
- Dredging the chicken in flour and seasoning creates a delicious golden-brown crust once pan-seared.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan to ensure the browning of the chicken breasts. You may need to cook in batches.
- Making the piccata sauce in the same pan used to cook the chicken adds more flavor to the sauce.
- Reducing the chicken stock mixture and adding extra butter towards the end of the recipe thickens the sauce.
- This recipe is often made with white wine instead of chicken broth. It's all about the taste, white wine will add acidity that helps to tenderize meat and add more rich flavor and fruity notes to the sauce. Don’t use any expensive wines in sauces, it’s unnecessary. Reducing the wine eliminates any winey taste in the sauce, as the alcohol cooks off and leaves behind a concentrated flavor. This adds depth to the sauce without overpowering it.
- Pour extra sauce over the cooked chicken before serving with fresh parsley or lemon slices.
- Gluten-free piccata is traditionally served with pasta (spaghetti or angel hair pasta) but also pairs well with rice and mashed potatoes.
- It’s best to serve this dish immediately as the sauce quickly starts to thicken after setting.
- This great dish pairs beautifully with a glass of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or other dry white wine.
📋 JULIA'S TIP My most important tip here - if you like a lot of sauce like me, double up the sauce ingredients. The sauce will thicken as it sits and it is always a good idea to have some extra for drizzling over your side dish.
What to serve with chicken piccata?
- Sides. Enjoy this dish with classic mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes roasted green beans for a complete meal. It also pairs wonderfully with gluten-free pasta, zucchini noodles, rice or cauliflower rice, and a side of Mediterranean cucumber or spinach salad. Don't forget to sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on top for an extra touch of deliciousness.
- Top your favorite risotto with a portion of lemon caper chicken.
- Veggies - To keep it low carb, skip the grains and serve with sauteed or roasted cheesy asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, mashed parsnips, eggplant or green beans, and broccoli.
Freezing And Storing Instructions
- To Store leftovers, place your chicken and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Although the chicken won't retain its crispiness, it still makes a fantastic option for a work lunch.
- To Freeze. I don't recommend freezing as the texture of the chicken will change.
Can You Make This In Advance And Reheat?
For the best taste, it's ideal to savor chicken on the same day it's cooked. Reheating is possible, but keep in mind that the flour coating might turn a bit soggy and the sauce may lose its emulsion.
To reheat, place the chicken in a pan with the sauce and warm it over medium heat until it's heated through. Give the sauce a whisk before drizzling it over the chicken. You may need to make some extra sauce separately.
- Seafood Piccata - Create a seafood twist by replacing the chicken with a flaky white fish, salmon, or shrimp. For the fish, follow the same recipe instructions but no need to batter the shrimp.
- Pork Piccata - Another popular version for this recipe is making a Pork Piccata by using Thin boneless pork cutlets.
- Chicken Piccata With Artichokes - Some variations also include a tasty addition - canned artichoke hearts. Dice them very finely and add to the sauce with capers or instead of capers.
- Creamy Chicken Piccata - Stir in ½ cup of heavy cream or coconut cream. Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened.
Traditionally it is not gluten free. However, you can easily turn it into gluten free piccata by using a purpose 1:1 gluten free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 flour.
Chicken piccata creamy sauce consists of reduced chicken stock, lemon juice and lemon zest, butter, and capers.
Piccata means ‘larded’ in Italian. Within the context of food preparation, it refers to sliced or thin meat that’s sauteed in a lemon-butter sauce.
Both chicken piccata and chicken French consist of a lemon-butter sauce, but the process of dredging differs between these two recipes.
Traditional chicken piccata includes chicken breast first dredged in beaten egg and then flour, while chicken French starts with dredging the chicken in flour and then the beaten egg mixture.
Green olives or kalamata olives or pickles are good substitutes for capers. They both come in brine and have a pleasant salty flavor just like capers.
You can find my best suggestions in the Serving section
Creamy Chicken Piccata - Stir in ½ cup of heavy cream or coconut cream. Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened.
More Healthy Italian Chicken Recipes:
- Mediterranean Chicken Thighs
- Creamy Tomato Chicken (Tuscan Chicken)
- Chicken Cacciatore Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Parmesan or vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan
For a full collection hop on to our Dinner recipe collection.
💗I hope you'll enjoy this lemon caper chicken recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations! 💗
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Lemon Caper Chicken (Piccata)
- 1 ½ pound thinner chicken breast cut in half or chicken cutlets
- ⅓ cup flour (gluten free 1:1 flour or regular all purpose flour)
- ½ cup chicken broth/stock
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice + 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
- ¼ cup canned capers
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoon shallot (finely diced)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoon cooking oil
- 5 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted, cold)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Rinse and pat dry chicken. Pound the chicken breast halves until more or less flat and even looking. Or you can use chicken cutlets instead.
- Mix together salt, black pepper, flour, and parmesan in a shallow dish. Toss the pieces of chicken in the mixture until fully coated.
- Heat 3 tablespoon cooking oil and 3 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter melted, cook the chicken on both sides for 3-4 minutes per side. If needed, do it in batches, and don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Add shallot, saute for 2 minutes, and add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds more. Add more olive oil if needed.
- Pour in chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Allow the mixture to simmer and to reduce in size by half. Once ready, stir in lemon zest and juice. Add remaining butter (2 tablespoon of cold butter), and capers, return the chicken and coat it a couple of times, and serve with fresh parsley.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)