Lemon Chicken Piccata Recipe

Lemon Chicken Piccata Recipe

Lemon Chicken Piccata is a flavorful dish featuring pan-seared chicken breasts. The preparation includes lightly dredging chicken in flour before sautéing it in olive oil. The key to this dish is the distinctive lemon-caper sauce, made from fresh lemon juice, chicken broth, and capers creating a savory tang. This dish often garnishes with parsley and lemon slices, enhancing both the appearance and the zest. You get a delightful balance of savory, tangy, and slightly salty flavors.

The Origin of Lemon Chicken Piccata

Lemon Chicken Piccata has roots in Italian cuisine. The term “piccata” refers to a method of preparing meat by slicing, sautéing, and serving it in a sauce. Originally, veal was used, but Italian-American cuisine saw the transition to chicken. This adaptation made the dish more accessible and affordable while preserving the signature lemon-caper flavor profile. It’s now a popular dish in many Italian restaurants and a beloved home-cooked meal.

Essential Ingredients for Lemon Chicken Piccata

Highlight on Key Ingredients

For an authentic Lemon Chicken Piccata, you need specific ingredients to capture its signature flavors. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Chicken Breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin for even cooking.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour for dredging the chicken, creating a light crust.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil for searing the chicken, adding depth to the flavor.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice for the tangy sauce.
  • Chicken Broth: Low-sodium chicken broth to balance the lemon’s acidity.
  • Capers: Drained capers for a briny punch.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter for richness and smoothness in the sauce.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic cloves to enhance the overall flavor.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley for garnishing, adding a touch of color and freshness.

Substitutes for Common Ingredients

Sometimes, you might need substitutes for these essential ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts: Use boneless, skinless thighs if you prefer a juicier texture.
  • Flour: Substitute with gluten-free flour if desired.
  • Olive Oil: Canola oil or vegetable oil work in a pinch.
  • Lemon Juice: Bottled lemon juice can be used, though fresh is best for flavor.
  • Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth serves as an alternative for a lighter flavor.
  • Capers: Use green olives or finely chopped pickles if capers are unavailable.
  • Butter: Margarine or a vegan butter substitute can replace butter.
  • Garlic: Garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon per clove) can be used if fresh garlic isn’t at hand.
  • Parsley: Cilantro or basil provide a different but fresh garnish.

These ingredients ensure your Lemon Chicken Piccata remains delicious, even with adjustments.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide

Preparing the Chicken

Trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts. Halve the breasts horizontally to create thinner cutlets. Place each cutlet between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound them to even thickness using a meat mallet. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Coat each cutlet in flour, shaking off the excess.

Making the Piccata Sauce

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken cutlets for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside. Pour chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers into the skillet. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes, reducing slightly. Stir in butter and minced garlic, then return the chicken to the skillet. Simmer for 5 more minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Best Side Dishes

Pairing Lemon Chicken Piccata with the right sides enhances the dining experience. Consider serving it with:

  • Pasta: Angel hair or spaghetti complements the tangy sauce. Toss pasta in olive oil and parsley for added flavor.
  • Vegetables: Steamed asparagus or green beans offer crispness. Lightly sauté zucchini or spinach for a warm vegetable option.
  • Potatoes: Mashed potatoes absorb the lemony sauce well. Roasted baby potatoes provide a crispy alternative.
  • Salads: A simple mixed greens salad with vinaigrette balances the richness of the Piccata.
  • Plating: Serve chicken pieces on a large plate. Drizzle the sauce generously over the top.
  • Garnishing: Sprinkle fresh parsley or basil to add color. Lemon wedges enhance aesthetics and flavor.
  • Arrangement: Place the chosen side dish beside or beneath the chicken. For pasta, twirl it neatly with a fork.
  • Finishing Touches: Add a grind of fresh black pepper before serving. A light olive oil drizzle gives a shiny finish.

Nutritional Value of Lemon Chicken Piccata

Health Benefits

Lemon Chicken Piccata offers various health benefits due to its nutrient-rich ingredients. Chicken breasts provide a high-protein, low-fat source of essential amino acids. Protein supports muscle maintenance and repair. Lemon juice adds vitamin C, which boosts immune function and enhances iron absorption. Capers contain antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress. They also add flavor without excess calories. Garlic in the dish contributes to heart health by promoting blood circulation and reducing cholesterol levels.

Dietary Considerations

Lemon Chicken Piccata can be adapted to fit different dietary needs. For gluten-free diets, substitute all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour for dredging the chicken. To lower sodium intake, use low-sodium chicken broth and rinse capers to reduce salt content. Dairy-free versions are possible by using olive oil or dairy-free butter instead of traditional butter. This makes the dish versatile and accessible for varied preferences and restrictions.


Lemon Chicken Piccata is a delightful blend of flavors and textures that caters to a variety of dietary preferences. Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner, this dish offers both simplicity and sophistication. The bold flavors of lemon, capers, and garlic combined with the tender chicken create a memorable meal that’s both nutritious and delicious. With its versatility in serving options and easy adaptations for dietary needs, Lemon Chicken Piccata is a must-try recipe that promises to impress and satisfy. So gather your ingredients and enjoy creating this classic dish in your own kitchen.

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