20-Minute Chicken Piccata Recipe

Looking for an easy weeknight dinner that the whole family will enjoy? This 20-minute chicken piccata is incredibly simple to make, so it's the perfect choice for busy weekdays. It's full of warm and comforting flavors, with a sauce that's bright and acidic from the lemon juice, salty from the capers, and with just enough butter to give the dish a rich finish. It's easy to make on a budget since it's made with affordable boneless skinless chicken breasts, but it tastes every bit as good as a restaurant meal.

This recipe takes only 20 minutes — including prep time — so it's almost as easy to make as getting take-out. If the first step of butterflying or pounding the chicken into 1/2-inch-thick pieces seems too overwhelming, pick up a package of chicken tenders instead. The leftovers taste great, too, and the recipe is easy to double (or triple) if you're meal planning for the week.

Gather the ingredients for this 20-minute chicken piccata recipe

Our 20-minute chicken piccata recipe is a great last-minute dinner idea because you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. It all starts with boneless skinless chicken breasts, which are coated with all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and ground black pepper and cooked in a little olive oil. The sauce is made by simmering a dry white wine (like chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc) with capers, water or chicken broth, unsalted butter, and a little lemon juice. Finally, the dish is finished with fresh chopped parsley.

If you prefer, you can use boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenders for the chicken breasts. To make the dish gluten-free, try dredging the chicken in almond flour instead of all-purpose flour.

What's the difference between chicken scallopini and chicken piccata?

You may recognize this dish by several different names: chicken scallopini, chicken Milanese, chicken Francese, or chicken marsala. What's the difference between all these dishes? Each has a minor variation that makes it unique.

For starters, all these dishes are a version of chicken scallopini. Scallopini refers to thin slices of meat that are coated in flour and sauteed. Bon Appetit goes on to explain that chicken Milanese has a crunchy exterior thanks to its breadcrumb coating, and it's generally served without a sauce. Chicken piccata is softer because it's breaded in flour and is served with the lemon-caper sauce we make in the recipe below. Chicken Francese is served with a similar sauce, but it's battered with egg to give it a fluffier exterior. Finally, chicken marsala has the same flour breading as scallopini, but the sauce is rich and made with onions and marsala wine.

Do you need to use capers for this 20-minute chicken piccata recipe?

Chicken piccata isn't really chicken piccata without capers. These unripened flower buds of the caper bush are brined to give them a salty flavor similar to olives (via The Spruce Eats). They're a big contributor to what gives the chicken piccata sauce its signature flavor, and they burst in your mouth with lemony flavor when you eat them.

If you find capers off-putting, we have a few recommendations for preparing them. For starters, it's always best to drain and rinse capers before using them. Rinsing them under cold, running water is the best way to remove some of the brine and make them taste less salty. If you dislike the texture, feel free to chop them before adding them to the sauce.

Prepare the chicken breasts for our 20-minute chicken piccata recipe

To ensure the chicken cooks to a safe temperature in such a short cooking time, we'll need to make the boneless skinless chicken breasts thinner. The easiest way to accomplish this is to butterfly the chicken breasts — a fancy way of saying to slice them in half horizontally.

Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and rest your non-cutting hand on top of the meat. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice horizontally through the center of the breast, starting at the thickest part. You can either slice all the way through or open the chicken breast like a book and smooth it out with the palm of your hand. The end result will be a 1/2-inch-thick chicken breast.

There's another option if you don't have a sharp enough knife or are worried about your knife skills. Wrap each chicken breast with plastic wrap and pound it using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to tenderize your chicken before cooking it for many different applications. A sturdy pot with a flat bottom works well for this process, too. When the chicken breasts are 1/2-inch thick, cut each one in half to create four pieces.

Dredge the chicken in flour to start this 20-minute chicken piccata recipe

The first step to making this 20-minute chicken piccata recipe is dredging the chicken breasts in seasoned flour. The flour adds flavor and texture to the chicken, and it also helps thicken the sauce later.

In a shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of flour with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Place the chicken breast pieces into the flour one at a time, turning them until they're well coated on both sides. Shake the pieces to remove the excess flour and set the chicken aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with an oven-safe rack or a piece of parchment paper. You'll use this later to keep the chicken warm while the sauce cooks.

Cook the chicken and sauce for this 20-minute chicken piccata recipe

Once the chicken is all coated in flour, heat a large skillet with three tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast pieces, cooking them in batches if they won't all fit in the pan at once. You'll want to cook them for about three minutes on each side until the chicken becomes golden-brown and lightly crispy. Remove the chicken pieces to the prepared baking sheet and keep them warm in the preheated oven.

Add 1/3 cup of dry white wine or, in a pinch, a substitute for cooking wine, along with two tablespoons of the drained and rinsed capers to the hot pan. The liquid will immediately begin to bubble and steam. Use a sturdy spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, incorporating all of the remaining flour into the sauce. When the wine has almost evaporated (about three minutes later), add 1/2 cup of water and three tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan. Swirl the pan and stir constantly until the butter is melted and emulsified into the water, creating a rich sauce.

From here, the only remaining step is to add the chicken back to the pan along with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Simmer the sauce for about two minutes, until it's nice and thick. Top the chicken with fresh chopped parsley.

What do you serve with our 20-minute chicken piccata recipe?

This 20-minute chicken piccata recipe tastes great on its own, so don't feel like you need to serve it with any sides! If you're enjoying the chicken without any sides, we recommend serving one full chicken breast per person. Otherwise, this is a four-serving dish, with one piece of chicken per person.

The classic pairing for chicken piccata is pasta, so cook two ounces of angel hair, spaghetti, linguini, or bucatini per person. Place the noodles on the plate and top each serving with a piece of chicken and a large spoonful of the sauce. It may be less classic, but we also love serving this chicken over cooked rice or mashed potatoes, especially mashed potatoes made with the Yukon Gold variety. Other great sides include roasted vegetables, sauteed greens, or a simple side salad.

20-Minute Chicken Piccata Recipe
4.6 from 13 ratings
This 20-minute chicken piccata is incredibly simple to make, so it's the perfect choice for busy weekdays.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
10
minutes
Servings
4
servings
how to make 20-minute chicken piccata recipe
Total time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine (like chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 tablespoons brined capers, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chicken stock or water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  1. Place the boneless skinless chicken breasts on a cutting board. Butterfly each chicken breast by slicing it in half horizontally with a sharp knife, cutting it almost all the way through. Open the chicken breast like a book and smooth it out with the palm of your hand to create a thin, ½-inch thick chicken breast. Alternatively, you can wrap each chicken breast with plastic wrap and pound it to ½-inch thickness with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a sturdy pot.
  2. Cut the butterflied or pounded chicken in half to create four pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, and black pepper.
  4. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, ensuring flour adheres to each side. Shake the breasts to remove the excess flour and set the chicken aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with an oven-safe rack or parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast pieces and cook for about 3 minutes a side, until the chicken is browned on both sides.
  7. Remove the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven while you make the sauce.
  8. Add the wine and capers to the hot pan, using a sturdy spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  9. Add the water and butter to the pan, swirling and stirring constantly until the butter is melted and emulsified to create a rich sauce, about 1 minute.
  10. Add the lemon juice to the pan along with the chicken. Simmer the sauce until it's thickened, about 2 minutes.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat. Plate the chicken and top it with the sauce and chopped parsley. Serve with buttered noodles, rice, roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or sauteed greens.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 389
Total Fat 22.9 g
Saturated Fat 7.8 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 123.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 8.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Total Sugars 0.9 g
Sodium 445.0 mg
Protein 32.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe