Lemon Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian dish made with a creamy lemon butter sauce and then topped with salty capers. You simply dredge and cook the chicken in a skillet, then whip up a simple but oh-so-good sauce to top it off. This healthy and easy chicken breast recipe can be served over a bed of pasta or eaten on it’s own for a low-carb main dish recipe the whole family with love.

Easy Chicken Piccata with capers and a creamy lemon butter sauce in a skillet.

Chicken Piccata with Capers

With spring just around the corner the house has been exploding with all things lemon!

From Garlic Roasted Asparagus as a fancy side dish, to this Chicken Piccata as a main dish…

There are so many healthy and easy ways to enjoy lemon in your savory recipes.

Yup, lemon goes BEYOND just those sweet desserts you know and love!

But this recipe…The acidic bite from the lemon juice, the juicy and tender chicken, lick-your-plate worthy buttery sauce, and saltiness of the capers…

It all makes this main dish one that is absolutely worthy of your next dinner party or date night at home.

(If you love this recipe, you’ll definitely want to check out this Salmon Piccata next!)

Healthy chicken piccata on a white plate with capers and sauce next to a lemon.

What is Chicken Piccata?

If you’ve ever been to Olive Garden, or maybe you’ve watched Giada or the Barefoot Contessa on TV, you have probably heard of this classic Italian dish.

Chicken Piccata consists of chicken that is pounded thin, dredged in flour, and then cooked in a skillet with a buttery lemon sauce. Unlike Chicken Francaise, piccata dishes are finished with salty capers and do not use an egg in the battering process.

This easy chicken breast recipe is a great dish that can either be served on its own for a low-carb option, or plated with a side of pasta, rice, or risotto.

Chicken breasts, gluten-free flour, lemons, garlic, butter, capers, and chicken broth.

Ingredients

There are only a few simple ingredients that you will need for this chicken piccata recipe:

  • Chicken. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are pounded to 1-inch thick and then cut into 4-ounce portions. If you opt for chicken tenders or chicken cutlets, you might need to adjust the cooking time.
  • Flour. This recipe was tested with a gluten-free 1-to-1 flour blend, but regular all-purpose flour can also be used.
  • Butter. Since this is a key ingredient in the sauce, opt for a higher-quality brand for the best results. Feel free to substitute a vegan “butter” if you are dairy-free. While extra virgin olive oil will work, the sauce won’t be as creamy. While salted is best, you can go for unsalted butter if necessary.
  • Lemon. Fresh lemons are crucial in this recipe. Pre-packaged lemon juice is not recommended as it tends to have a more acidic taste than freshly squeezed lemon juice. Plus, a sprinkle of lemon zest at the end is perfect.
  • Garlic. Once again, opt for fresh garlic cloves and not garlic powder. You can either crush it with a garlic press or finely mince garlic.
  • Broth. A regular sodium chicken broth is recommended, but a low sodium broth may be substituted if you’re limiting your salt intake.
  • Capers. Arguably the star of the show. Right at the end of cooking, capers are mixed in for a salty bite that only this cute green berry can deliver.

How to Make Chicken Piccata

The simple steps to make this easy chicken piccata recipe are:

Prep the Chicken

Before you get started cooking up this dish, you’ll first want to prepare the chicken. This step is especially important if you have large chicken breasts.

A very important step in getting juicy and tender chicken is to tenderize the meat using a meat mallet.

Do not skip this step!

Not only does it break apart the tough fibers, but it also makes the chicken portions an even thickness and size so they cook at the same rate.

After you have pounded the chicken breasts to less than 1-inch thick, cut them into 4-ounce portions if they are not already.

Chicken breasts pounded thin and cut into 4-ounce portions next to a meat mallet.

Dredge the Chicken

Place flour, salt, and black pepper in a shallow bowl and whisk the mixture. The dish needs to be big enough to comfortably hold a chicken breast.

Dredge each chicken breast in the flour mixture, liberally coating all sides.

A hand dredging a chicken breast in flour.

Cook the Chicken

Over medium or medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan or cast-iron pan. Be sure to let the butter get good and hot—it should be sizzling.

Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Be sure none of them are touching to ensure you get a crisp, golden sear on the surface.

Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature on a meat thermometer reaches 165℉. The breasts should be a golden brown color.

Remove chicken from the skillet and set on a plate to the side.

Make the Lemon Garlic Sauce

Add the remaining butter and minced garlic cloves to the hot pan. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. You should smell the garlic.

Pour in the fresh lemon juice and broth.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking ever 20-30 seconds. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so nothing sticks and you incorporate all the pan flavors into the lemony sauce.

Pull it All Together

Add the chicken back into the skillet. Continue whisking the sauce for another 2 minutes. You should notice it thickening some and becoming quite creamy.

Spoon the sauce over the top of the chicken pieces to completely coat them, and keep them in the pan until the breasts have heated back up.

Top the chicken with capers just before serving.

Serve it Up

For an impressive plating, sprinkle some lemon zest and place some lemon slices on the chicken along with the capers.

Often you will find chicken piccata served either over a bed of penne, linguine, or spaghetti pasta.

It also tastes delicious when paired with Instant Pot White Rice or a serving of risotto.

Cooked chicken breast in a skillet with a lemon butter sauce and capers.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can pound the chicken breasts and slice them to 4-ounce pieces up to 24 hours ahead of time.
  • To Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: You can also freeze this dish in a freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: Warm up chicken in the oven until heated through. You can also reheat the chicken and sauce in a skillet.

Is chicken piccata healthy?

Because chicken is a lean meat, this dish is overall healthy. However, the addition of butter and flour add extra calories, so that is something to be aware of.

What is chicken piccata sauce made of?

Chicken piccata sauce is a flavorful mix of butter, garlic, flour, broth, and lemon juice. The richness of the sauce comes from the process of how it’s made. By making a base of sautéed butter and garlic, then thickening it with flour and broth and adding lemon juice, the sauce is perfect for chicken.

What can I use instead of capers in chicken piccata?

If you don’t have capers or prefer not to use them, you can sub in green olives instead! Look for large green olives packed in water if possible. Definitely avoid the filled type, as well. Roughly chop them, and you’ll have a similar topping to capers.

Easy Lemon Chicken Piccata in a large skillet next to a bowl full of capers.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already low-carb as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Gluten-Free: Be sure to use a gluten-free variety of flour.
  • Dairy-Free: Instead of traditional butter, go with plant-based alternatives.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Keep it even. Ensuring that each chicken breast is the same weight and thickness helps everything cook at the same rate.
  • Get it hot. Be sure the pan is sizzling before you add the chicken to the butter for a crispy outside.
  • Leave it alone. Don’t touch the chicken while it’s cooking so you get a nice, crusty sear on each side.
  • Just a little bit. Take your time adding in the broth, and be sure to whisk well after each addition for a smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Top it off. Don’t forget the capers and lemon zest! They both take this dish over the top.
A spatula picking up a chicken breast out of a lemon sauce.

What to Serve with Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is an impressive, classic Italian-American dish to make at home with any of these sides.

For a hearty side, go with Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes, Melting Potatoes, or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes.

Green Beans Almondine and Crockpot Glazed Carrots are leaner sides if you prefer.

More Chicken Recipes

Chicken is such a versatile meat. Try one of these healthy recipes next.

Chicken Marsala and Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce are so full of flavor.

Opt for Chicken Cordon Bleu or Baked Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus for an impressive dinner.

Air Fryer Boneless Chicken Thighs are perfect for any night of the week.

Tap stars to rate!

4.88 from 8 votes

Easy Lemon Chicken Piccata

Lemon Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian dish made with a creamy lemon butter sauce and then topped with salty capers.  This healthy and easy chicken breast recipe can be served over a bed of pasta or eaten on its own for a gluten-free and low-carb main dish recipe.
Yield 4 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup flour gluten-free 1-to-1
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup lemon juice fresh
  • ½ – ⅔ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ¼ tsp. salt optional

Instructions 

  • Using a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts to 1-inch thick. Cut into 4-ounce portions.
  • Whisk together flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a medium-sized shallow bowl.
  • Dip each chicken breast into the flour mixture, liberally coating all sides.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Wait for the butter to sizzle and add coated chicken breasts.
  • Cook chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
  • Remove chicken from the skillet and add remaining butter and garlic cloves. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic becomes fragrant.
  • Pour in lemon juice and broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking ever 20-30 seconds.
  • Once the sauce begins to thicken add chicken, and optional ¼ teaspoon salt, back into the skillet and continue whisking sauce for 2 minutes.
  • Top chicken with capers just before serving with pasta or rice. Enjoy!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

4.88 from 8 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can cut and marinate salmon fillets for a couple of hours before cooking. However, fish should never sit in the sauce for more than 24 hours.
  • To Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: You can also freeze this dish in a freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: Warm up chicken in the oven until heated through. Or, you can also reheat the chicken and sauce in a skillet.

Nutrition

Calories: 290kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 1032mg, Potassium: 459mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 511IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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