The Best Chicken Piccata

We love this recipe because the chicken breasts, which can often be dry and tasteless, come out so moist and tender.

What’s our secret? Seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper 1 hour before cooking ensures that they stay juicy. First the salt draws some moisture from the meat, but then the meat re-absorbs the salty liquid, leading to perfectly seasoned cutlets. And that bright lemony butter sauce? There is enough to serve with the chicken plus a side of pasta or crusty bread.


2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large lemon

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup brined capers, drained

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped


Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Cut two 12-inch sheets of plastic wrap.

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, making 4 roughly equal pieces; they should look like large chicken tenders. Place one sheet of plastic on a clean cutting board. Put a chicken piece in the center of the plastic and top with the other sheet of plastic. Pound the chicken with the flat side of a meat mallet, starting in the center and working your way to the edges, until the chicken is 1/4-inch thick and 6 to 8 inches long. Transfer to the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken, one piece at a time. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the chicken cutlets uncovered for 1 hour.

Remove the zest from half of the lemon in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, leaving the bitter white pith behind. Halve and juice the whole lemon.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and melt. Working in 2 batches, cook the cutlets, adding another tablespoon of butter to the skillet between batches, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side (it’s ok if the chicken is not completely cooked through, it will finish cooking in the sauce). Transfer the cutlets to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet and cook until the garlic is tender and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the capers, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1/4 cup water and the cutlets with any accumulated juices and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Turn the chicken to coat in the sauce and cook until the butter melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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