This Lemon Chicken Piccata is a delicious healthier version of the original recipe, that's dairy-free, grain-free, Whole30 and Paleo but tastes just as good
Chicken piccata is one of those comforting delicious Italian recipes that’s usually breaded, fried, then smothered in a rich lemon buttery sauce. There’s a way to make the recipe still as decadent and comforting but with Whole30-compliant ingredients. It’s also easy to modify it to make it dairy-free. It’s not your grandma’s chicken piccata, but it’s a darn good one that you’ll love!
This recipe was excerpted from the new cookbook The Defined Dish (Amazon affiliate link) by Alex Snodgrass, the founder of The Defined Dish. The book is full of similar easy, quick Whole30 recipes and a New York Times Best Seller (for good reason!).
What is chicken piccata?
Chicken piccata is usually thin pieces of chicken breast that are dredged in a flour mixture, fried lightly and cooked in a lemon butter sauce. It’s signature to also include capers with the chicken piccata. This piccata concept can also be applied to veal, which is very popular in Italy, where the recipe originated from.
How to make chicken piccata
Start by cutting the chicken breast into thinner slices. This is iconic of chicken piccata recipes, so it’s important to make sure you’re working with thin pieces. Then dry the chicken with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
Next dredge the chicken in the arrowroot starch on both sides. And then, it’s time to cook the chicken piccata in 4 easy steps.
- Pan sear the chicken on both sides just long enough to get some color. It should not be fully cooked at this point; just seared and lightly browned.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the butter and garlic and cook them together until they’re fragrant. Be careful not to brown the garlic here.
- Deglaze the pan using capers, chicken broth and lemon juice. This is where all the flavor comes in, so scrape the bits from the pan to help thicken and flavor the sauce.
- Nestle the chicken into the sauce and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. You can spoon some sauce over the chicken while it’s cooking to keep it juicy and tender.
And the result is a rich and flavorful lemon chicken piccata made without using all-purpose flour, without using any breadcrumbs or cream and with only a tablespoon of butter (which you can easily swap for more olive oil). The flavor is light and lemony without it tasting too heavy. And the whole recipe is made in a skillet for easy weeknight prep and clean up.
Tips for making healthy chicken piccata
- Avoid pounding the chicken to make it thinner. It works best to butterfly the chicken and use a large knife to slice thin cuts of the chicken breast. It’s then easier to work with and won’t tear the flesh.
- Allow the chicken to rest with the salt and pepper for 10 minutes before pan-searing. This is not necessary, but it will help the chicken retain more moisture and absorb the seasoning better.
- Make sure to dust off excess flour after dredging. It’s all about the light dusting because otherwise you’ll get a thick layer of flour. And that won’t brown quickly enough when you first pan sear the chicken with olive oil.
- Leave out the lemon slices if you don’t like it as lemony. The lemon slices simmering in the sauce for 15 minutes will definitely add depth to the citrus flavor, which is a big part of the lemon chicken piccata. But you can tone it down with smaller slices or stick to just the lemon juice.
- Check out my How to cut garlic post for tips on the easiest way to cut garlic for this recipe.
Frequently asked questions
What is a chicken cutlet?
Alex explains that a chicken cutlet is a chicken breast that has been butterflied so it opens like a book. You can either do this yourself, or purchase it already done. Once you have opened your chicken into “cutlets,” finish the cut through the center so that they are divided in half lengthwise and no longer attached to each other.
You should be left with two separate, thin pieces of chicken to use for the lemon chicken piccata recipe.
What to serve with chicken piccata?
Think of serving chicken piccata with a starchy main dish that will soak up all the lemony buttery sauce goodness. Pasta is a very popular accompaniment especially since the recipe has Italian roots. But these other dishes would be perfect too:
Can you freeze chicken piccata?
I would only recommend freezing chicken piccata if you cooked chicken that wasn’t previously frozen. You can freeze chicken piccata though for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave or on a skillet.
More healthy chicken recipes:
- Breaded Air Fried Chicken
- Spatchcock Chicken
- Cilantro Chicken
- Oven Fried Chicken Tenders
- Pickle-Brined Chicken Tenders
- Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Lemon Chicken Piccata recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Lemon Chicken Piccata
- 1 pounds chicken cutlets skinless, boneless
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup arrowroot starch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons capers drained and rinsed, plus more for serving
- 1 cup chicken broth low-sodium
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 lemon, plus lemon sliced for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for serving
- Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with the salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pour the arrowroot onto a wide bowl. Lightly dredge each cutlet in the arrowroot until evenly coated, then shake off any excess. Set the dredged cutlets aside on a clean plate.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Working in batches so as to not overcrowd the skillet, carefully add the cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The chicken does not need to be completely cooked through, just golden brown. Transfer to a parchment-lined plate.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the butter to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the capers, chicken broth, and lemon juice. Increase the heat to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the sauce and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with the parsley and fresh lemon slices, if desired, and serve.