Chicken Piccata is an easy family favorite and this recipe brings it to you two ways: stuffed with asparagus and Parmesan or authentic thinly sliced, golden cutlets – both irresistibly delicious!
This Chicken Piccata recipe is uber simple to make yet looks super impressive! Thinly sliced chicken OR Parmesan asparagus stuffed chicken is dredged in flour, lightly pan fried until golden, then drenched in a creamy lemon, butter caper sauce. Serve this one pot Chicken Piccata over pasta, potatoes or rice with a big green salad and breadsticks and you have one of the most tantalizing dinners of all time!
Chicken Piccata recipe
I am so excited to bring you this Chicken Piccata recipe just in time for Valentine’s Day! But this isn’t just any Chicken Piccata recipe (unless you want to make the traditional version, which is totally fine), this Chicken Piccata recipe is STUFFED with Asparagus and Parmesan! It’s like Chicken Piccata, but more exciting and more delicious but still total accessible with that cheesy, nutty, bright surprise filling. Because chicken + lemon + Parmesan + asparagus = heaven!
Now, before you argue that this recipe is not Chicken Piccata because the chicken isn’t thinly sliced, the chicken is actually thinly sliced, just not all the way through and still is bathed in the same signature sunny, salty, tangy sauce. And if you still want to argue, then make the traditional version 😉.
Here’s why you’ll love this Chicken Piccata recipe:
FAMILY FAVORITE. Golden, juicy chicken swimming in a creamy lemony butter and caper sauce served over pasta or potatoes is a winner with the entire family! And a weeknight dinner winner for YOU because it’s not only delicious, but quick and easy to make with pantry friendly ingredients. This easy Chicken Piccata recipe is bound to become a family favorite!
EASY. Chicken Piccata is an American-Italian restaurant favorite, but did you know how wonderfully easy it is to make at home with just a few ingredients? After you make this fool-proof recipe with step by step photos it will be one of your at-home favorites too!
IMPRESSIVE. Even though this Chicken Piccata recipe is simple and easy to throw together, it’s out of this world flavorful, elegant and will impress family and dinner guests alike – including your Valentine!
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS. If you need a dinner that’s unabashedly flavorful but made with minimal pantry friendly ingredients, Chicken Piccata is the answer! You will be blown away at how the humble chicken breast can transform into something truly spectacular with just a few simple ingredients. Chicken Piccata is essentially chicken breasts, flour, seasonings, Parmesan, asparagus, butter, oil, lemon juice, capers, garlic, shallots, chicken broth and cream. But it all comes together with a light, bright, fresh, addicting spectacular finish.
QUICK. This easy Chicken Piccata recipe can be on your table in less than 30 minutes if you choose the traditional recipe or the stuffed version gets popped in the oven for an additional 15 minutes of hand’s off baking. The chicken is first dredged in flour, stuffed with asparagus and Parmesan, pan fried then finished baking in the easy, tangy lemon cream sauce.
THE CHICKEN PICCATA SAUCE. When sunny lemon juice, briny capers, zippy garlic, luscious cream, and salty chicken broth combine with the golden chicken pan drippings, we get a mesmerizing sauce that’s silky, creamy, tangy, with a punch of intoxicating flavor. The sauce is proud and punchy but not overwhelmingly tart as the lemon flavor get’s balanced by the decadence of cream. Which brings me to my next point, this Chicken Piccata Sauce is CREAMY!
CREAMY SAUCE. The lemony sauce is not weak and watery, but delightfully creamy! The sauce utilizes heavy cream instead of butter to create luscious body that clings to the tender golden chicken.
THE FILLING. The asparagus adds a fresh, tender crunch and the Parmesan adds a salty, tangy bite all in addition to the glorious lemon butter caper sauce. And stuffing takes just five additional minutes – if that!
THE CRUST. Chicken Piccata is often dredged in plain flour or flour with just salt and pepper but that is a huge missed opportunity for flavor. I love dredging the chicken in a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, lemon pepper, and paprika. It elevates the chicken into stand-alone delicious and then absolutely hypnotic with the signature briny sauce. To elevate the Chicken Piccata even more, it gets pan fried in a mixture of both butter and olive oil just like I do in my Chicken Parmesan recipe. If you’ve never added butter to your pan frying, you will never go back! The enveloping, golden crust is deeply flavorful and the chicken stays delightfully moist (sorry, the M word had to be used).
VERSATILE. Chicken Piccata can be served with buttery noodles, mashed potatoes or rice or low carb cauliflower rice or zoodles; you can prepare it as traditional thin cutlets or you can stuff it with asparagus and Parmesan and you can make the sauce as pucker lemony as your heart desires!
LESS EXPENSIVE. This easy Chicken Piccata recipe allows you to serve the entire family in the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the price of dining out!
What Is Chicken Piccata?
Piccata, peek-kah-tah, is a culinary term that refers to any meat (chicken, veal, pork) that is thinly sliced, breaded, fried then drenched in a lemon butter sauce.
Chicken Piccata, specifically, is a classic Italian dish in which chicken is sliced and pounded thin, dredged in flour, fried in oil or butter (I use both), and then a lemon sauce is made in the same pan drippings along with lemon juice, white wine (I use chicken broth), capers, and butter.
In Italy, veal is the most common type of piccata but in the United States, Chicken Piccata is most common, no doubt due to its popularization by Olive Garden. But now, you don’t have to venture to Italy or Olive Garden, but can make your very own Chicken Piccata at home – in your slippers.
What Chicken Should I Use?
You will want to use boneless skinless chicken breasts. If you’re making stuffed chicken piccata, you will partially slice the chicken through the equator to make a pocket. If you’re making traditional Chicken Piccata, you will slice the chicken all the way through to create two cutlets per chicken breast.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Italian Chicken Piccata is traditionally made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If you’re not making the stuffed version, you may try chicken thighs but I prefer the taste of chicken breasts in this recipe – your call.
You will need to stick with chicken breasts if making the asparagus stuffed version because the chicken breasts are thicker and allow you to create a pocket, whereas chicken thighs will not.
What is in Chicken Piccata Sauce?
Chicken Piccata sauce is made with just a few ingredients but delivers an explosive blow of tangy, sultry, intoxicating flavors. You will need:
- Lemon juice: is the star of the sauce, so use freshly squeezed for the best flavor. I use three tablespoons but you can start with two and add more to taste.
- Capers: If you aren’t familiar with capers, they are another key ingredient in authentic Chicken Piccata and should be easy to find by the olives at your grocery store. They are actually flower buds imported from Italy that have been brined to mellow their bitterness. The resulting brined capers are tangy, salty, lemony doses of flavOR. They add both acid and salt which intensify the flavor of the sauce and elevate it to new heights. As always, you can add more or less to taste.
- Shallots: you will need three tablespoons shallots. Please don’t substitute with any other onion as shallots are milder and sweeter in flavor with a hint of garlic and won’t overwhelm the sauce, but just enhance it.
- Garlic: use 3-4 garlic cloves depending on your garlic love.
- Chicken broth: low sodium please so we can control the salt.
- Heavy cream: is labeled “heavy whipping cream” and is what makes our sauce delightfully creamy. It also balances the tanginess.
- Cornstarch: thickens the sauce without making it too thick or making a roux.
- Salt and pepper: awaken the flavors of the sauce.
What Type of Wine Should I Use?
Chicken Piccata is often made with a dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Sherry – a white wine you would also want to drink, not a cooking wine. Some versions however, even Giada’s, don’t include wine.
I don’t drink wine so I omitted it and I was still blown away at how I wanted to guzzle the sauce straight from the skillet. I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all. That being said, if you would like to add wine, then replace half a cup of chicken broth with half a cup of wine.
Do I Have to Add Cornstarch to the Piccata Sauce?
Yes, I highly recommend adding the cornstarch to the Chicken Piccata Sauce. Even with the cornstarch the sauce does not get very thick, but it does help add some body. Without the cornstarch, the sauce is quite runny and you will not reap the creamy results as intended. If you don’t have or want to use cornstarch, you can add double the amount of flour after the shallots have cooked for 1 minute then continue with the recipe.
Do I have to use heavy cream?
This Chicken Piccata is creamy verses brothy. Traditional Chicken Piccata sauce is quite runny but still high in calories because you stir in butter to finish the sauce. This creamy version swaps the butter for heavy cream so we get both flavor and a richer consistency.
So, if you’re looking to cut calories, both versions are indulgent. If you still want to cut calories, you may replace the cream with half and half and increase the cornstarch to 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon or omit it altogether and omit stirring butter into the sauce at the end. Just be aware that fat = flavor so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Can I make Chicken Piccata gluten free?
Yes! Simply swap the flour for gluten free flour and you’re all set.
How to Make Chicken Piccata
This Chicken Piccata recipe is easy to make in just a few steps whether you choose to stuff the chicken with asparagus or not. I’ve detailed how to make the recipe without stuffing it with asparagus in the section below. To make Chicken Piccata with asparagus, you will:
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness
- Slice the chicken
- Dredge the chicken
- Stuff the chicken
- Brown the chicken
- Make the Chicken Piccata Sauce
- Bake the chicken in the sauce
Here’s the detailed breakdown:
How to Pound the chicken
The stuffed Chicken Piccata recipe starts by pounding the chicken to an even thickness. If we were slicing the chicken all the way through to create chicken cutlets, we would wait to pound the chicken to an even thickness after they were sliced.
We pound the chicken even for two main reasons: 1) It tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly all over – without the thinner bottom becoming overcooked while we wait for the thicker top to cook through.
To pound chicken, I like to place my chicken in freezer bags (2 at a time) as opposed to in between parchment paper because it seals in all the mess/germs but you can use whatever you have on hand. Take care to use the smooth side of the meat mallet when pounding chicken. If you don’t have a meat mallet you can use the side of a can. The chicken breasts don’t necessarily need to be thin for the stuffed version, we just want them even.
How to Slice the Chicken
Stuffing chicken might sound complicated or timely, but it actually takes minutes and results in gourmet tasting and looking chicken. To stuff the chicken, we first need to create a pocket. Start by partially cutting each chicken breasts in half through the equator, leaving one side intact. It should open and hinge like a book.
If you were making traditional Chicken Piccata, you would simply slice all the way through the chicken to create two cutlets per chicken breast.
How to Dredge the Chicken
The flour coating not only insulates the chicken and keeps it more moist and tender inside but it also creates crust to carry flavor. To create the crust, mix the flour in a shallow dish with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, lemon pepper and paprika. If you are making traditional Chicken Piccata, you would also add the Parmesan here as opposed to inside the chicken.
To dredge chicken, close the chicken from slicing (we just want to coat the outside) and dip each breast in the mixture, front and back, until well coated then transfer to a dry surface. You don’t want to return the chicken to the same surface (unless you wipe it with paper towels) because the moisture left behind from the chicken will make the coating wet and fall off.
How to Stuff the chicken
Open the coated chicken and add 3-4 asparagus pieces inside each chicken breast then evenly top with Parmesan cheese. Fold the chicken closed and secure with toothpicks, I use about two per chicken breast. Some of the flour might get smudged when you open the chicken, so just rub some of the extra flour mixture over the top.
How to Sear the Chicken
Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering but not smoking. It should be hot enough that a piece of breading dropped into the oil will sizzle, about 350 degrees F. Don’t add the chicken before the butter/oil is hot or it won’t crisp up. Once hot, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate, don’t wipe out the skillet.
How to Make Chicken Piccata Sauce
The Chicken Piccata Sauce is a tantalizing sauce dripping with tangy lemon flavor seasoned with shallots, garlic, caper and those buttery brown bits of chicken leftover from frying the chicken. Here’s how to make the EASY piccata sauce:
- Heat drippings. Heat the leftover drippings over medium heat. If there is more than a tablespoon or so of drippings, you might want to drain some off before you start.
- Sauté aromatics. Add shallot and sauté while scraping up the drippings for 2 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Many recipes don’t call for shallots or garlic but that means missing out on HUGE flavor!
- Add liquids. Whisk the chicken broth with cornstarch and add to skillet along with heavy cream, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper.
- Reduce sauce. Simmer the sauce until it reduces by half and thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Reducing the sauce not only makes it creamy but it concentrates the flavors.
How to Bake Chicken Piccata
The seared chicken will not be cooked all the way through because it is thicker than traditional Chicken Piccata, which gives us the fabulous excuse to finish it in the sauce in the oven. The sauce keeps the chicken wonderfully tender and infuses it with flavor but it also softens the bottom of the chicken just so you’re no expecting impossibly crunchy chicken baked in sauce.
To bake the piccata, add chicken back to sauce and cover with foil. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
If you are making traditional Chicken Piccata, there is no need to bake the chicken as it will already be cooked through from searing because it is so thin.
How to Make traditional Chicken Piccata
There are only a few minor changes you will make to the easy Chicken Piccata recipe if not stuffing the chicken:
- Use Chicken Cutlets: First, you will slice the chicken breasts all the way through to create six cutlets. To do this, place the chicken breast on a cutting board and slice through the equator of the chicken to create two equal pieces. You can also purchase chicken halves at the grocery store or ask the butcher to do it for you.
- Pound to Even Thickness: Your chicken should be pretty thin already after slicing (we’re aiming for ¼-inch), but make sure it is even by placing chicken in between parchment paper, plastic wrap or a freezer bag and pounding with the smooth side of a meat mallet or side of a can. Thin, even pieces of chicken allow the inside of the chicken to be cooked through in the same amount of time it takes for the outside to become beautifully golden.
- Dredge Chicken: Instead of adding Parmesan to the inside of the chicken with the asparagus, add it directly to the flour coating and increase the flour to 1/2 cup.
- Cook Chicken: The instructions for cooking the chicken are the same, but you will need to cook the chicken in two batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan and make sure the chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F) because it is not finishing in the oven.
- Make Piccata Sauce: Follow the same instructions for making the piccata sauce. You can either add the chicken directly to the skillet or for crispier chicken, plate the chicken then pour the sauce over top.
Tips for the Best Chicken Piccata
- Even chicken breasts: Whether you’re making traditional Chicken Piccata or stuffed Chicken Piccata, you want to pound the chicken to an even thickness so it cooks evenly.
- Don’t slice apart. If making asparagus Chicken Piccata, make sure you cut a deep pocket in the chicken without slicing all the way through.
- Thin chicken breast: For traditional Chicken Piccata, start with chicken breasts that have been sliced in half to create thin cutlets. This will provide thinner chicken than just pounding small chicken breast thin. Thin chicken will cook quickly and give you a larger ratio of crispy outside.
- Use a cast-iron skillet: Use a large 12-inch cast iron skillet so you can brown the chicken and make the sauce in the same pan. The brown bits from browning the chicken infuse the sauce with a depth of rich, complex flavor that cannot be achieved any other way.
- Don’t overcrowd pan. If you make the stuffed Chicken Piccata recipe, you shouldn’t have any problem not overcrowding the pan because we are cooking just three chicken breasts. If you make traditional Chicken Piccata, you need to brown the chicken in two batches so each cutlet has maximum room to sizzle in the buttery oil. If the chicken is too close, it will steam instead of brown.
- Keep chicken warm. If working in batches, you can keep the seared pieces warm by transferring to a baking sheet and placing in the oven at 200 degrees F.
- Microwave lemons. Ever since I learned this tip years ago, I use it all the time! Microwave your lemons for 15 seconds and be amazed at how much easier they are to juice (and how much more juice you get)!
- Fresh Parmesan. Use freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor and for the best melting ability. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping chemicals which inhibits their melting ability.
- FINLEY grated Parmesan. When shredding the Parmesan, make sure you are using the smallest, prickly holes of the grater so it becomes powdery.
- Garnish! Often garnish can just be for looks but parsley really enlivens the flavors. Make sure to chop it finely so it’s evenly distributed and discretely flavorful without getting stuck in your teeth.
- Amp up the lemon. If you like more lemon flavor, sprinkle your portion with lemon zest.
What Pan is Best?
I am usually a huge fan of nonstick pans, but for Chicken Piccata, you want some of the brown bits to get left behind so it becomes part of your luscious sauce. So, for best result, ditch the nonstick and use a large, 12-inch cast iron pan. This also allows you to make the entire meal in one pan: sear the chicken, make the sauce and transfer to the oven.
Do I have to use butter and olive oil?
I almost always use a combination of butter and oil whether it’s for making a roux or for pan frying chicken. The butter adds the undeniably scrumptious buttery flavor and the oil prevents the butter from burning. You may use all oil but you cannot use all butter or the butter will burn. I recommend using both for best results. If you want to use a different oil, make sure it has a high smoking point and neutral flavor.
How long is Chicken Piccata Good for?
Chicken Piccata should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Leftovers can be reheated and served for lunch or dinner the next day and an even be chopped up and served in salads, wraps or sandwiches.
How to Reheat Chicken Piccata?
- Air fryer: If you have an air fryer, this is hand’s down the best way to reheat Chicken Piccata. It emerges warm and super crispy. I use the “snack” setting but you can experiment and see what works best for you. I suggest warming the chicken in the air fryer and warming whatever pasta/potatoes/rice with the sauce in the microwave simultaneously.
- Microwave: The microwave will warm your Chicken Piccata so all the flavor is there but will not enhance the texture like the air fryer. To heat in the microwave, place a slice on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 1 minute followed by 20 second intervals until heated through.
- Stove: Sizzle a little butter in a skillet, add Chicken Piccata and heat over medium low until warmed through.
What to Serve With Chicken Piccata
STARCHES: Chicken Piccata is wonderfully versatile and can be served with a number of starches to soak up the delectable lemon sauce. It is fabulous with buttery pasta (my favorites for Chicken Piccata are linguine and orzo), rice, Parmesan risotto or mashed potatoes. If you’re feeling a little fancier, it also is fantastic with Cacio e Pepe – drool.
LOW CARB: You can also go low carb and serve with cauliflower rice, cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
VEGGIES: As far as veggies go, if you choose the stuffed Piccata route you have a built in side of asparagus (literally). Chicken Piccata also pairs well with any number of veggies but particularly well with Roasted Parmesan Broccoli, Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, Roasted Carrots or Glazed Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, or Parmesan Roasted Root Vegetables.
SALAD: If you make the stuffed Chicken Piccata, I suggest serving a side salad as opposed to a side vegetable. It’s yummy with a big green salad, Caesar salad, Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Apple Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, or Green Bean Salad.
BREAD: Of course, every saucy entrée (or arguably any entre) needs a side of bread to ensure no sauce is left behind. You can serve Chicken Piccata with a side of crusty bread or we’re obsessed with my Garlic Bread recipe, Dinner Rolls, or Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks.
FRUIT: Every entree is enhanced by mother nature’s candy. Go simple with a side of grapes, melon or apples or enjoy Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette, or Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.
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