Celebrating Winter Citrus: Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata
I am such a sucker for seasonal produce, especially winter citrus. This time of year the grocery stores fill up with gorgeous blood oranges, clementines, & Meyer lemons – I can’t resist their beautiful, vibrant colors. A sweet taste of summer in the middle of winter!
The only problem with winter citrus is that they’re always packaged by the dozen. Since I’m #notabaker & there are only so many citrus cocktails a gal can make, I’m always searching for fun, creative ways to use the bags of winter citrus I grab at the grocery store. That’s exactly how this Meyer lemon chicken piccata recipe came to be!
I’ve been making this Meyer lemon chicken piccata for a few years now. Both Chris & I are obsessed with it – we always forget just how much we love it until it finds its way on our menu each January. I figured it’s about time to share it here on PWWB!
If they’re a new-to-you ingredient, Meyer lemons are like a cross between lemons & tangerines with a more orangey hue & slightly sweeter, less acidic juice – such a tasty, refreshing way to welcome a new year! Making chicken piccata sauce with Meyer lemons adds a subtle yet delicious twist to an Italian classic.
This is such a feel-good, fun recipe – perfect for both weeknights & a special occasion meal at home. Plus, it comes together in 30 minutes or less. An easy chicken piccata recipe with rich, creamy, & perfectly juicy results every time – what’s not to love about that?!
Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata Recipe Highlights
This is the absolute best chicken piccata recipe for winter because it’s…
- AN ITALIAN CLASSIC WITH A TWIST! Incorporating Meyer lemons adds a fun seasonal twist to a beloved Italian dish. This chicken piccata recipe is subtly sweet, fragrant, & just as good as the classic.
- SIMPLE. Lemon chicken piccata has minimal prep & calls for only 8 simple, seasonal ingredients. Aside from the chicken & lemon juice, most of the things you need to make it are probably already in your pantry!
- QUICK & EASY. A one-skillet meal made in less than 30 minutes, chicken piccata is perfect for both casual weeknights & entertaining.
A seasonal, feel-good favorite for the New Year! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What is Chicken Piccata?
Though its roots are typically assumed to be Italian, the origins of piccata are somewhat unknown. The dish is most likely a creation of Italian-American immigrants – you’ll find piccata in nearly every Italian-American restaurant, but not as often across the ocean in Italy! The traditional way to make piccata is with veal, but chicken is a more popular choice here in the States. No matter the protein, piccata recipes typically use the same cooking method & flavorful lemon butter sauce with capers.
Chicken piccata is a classic Italian-American dish made with thinly sliced, lightly breaded chicken cutlets covered in a generous drizzle of piccata sauce made from lemon juice, butter, & capers. It’s bright, citrusy, creamy, & extra-juicy – so simple, so good. You’ve probably seen chicken piccata on the menu at your favorite Italian restaurant, but it’s also so easy to make yourself at home!
What’s Chicken Piccata Made of? Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata Key Ingredients
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You need just 8 simple ingredients to make this lemon chicken piccata recipe:
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best for making lemon chicken piccata. They pound well into cutlets for an even cook.
- Meyer lemons – The seasonal star of lemon chicken piccata! Meyer lemons are best found in the grocery stores between December – March. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, conventional lemons also work beautifully in this chicken piccata recipe.
- Flour – Lightly dredging the chicken in all-purpose flour creates that classic breaded chicken cutlet. Need to make gluten-free chicken piccata? Sub your favorite gluten-free flour – easy!
- Olive oil & butter – Cooking chicken piccata starts with olive oil & ends with butter. Oil helps create crispy & beautifully browned chicken cutlets while butter finishes the piccata sauce with a creamy texture & glossy shine.
- Garlic – Essential for a garlicky lemon butter piccata sauce!
- Capers – A defining ingredient in any chicken piccata recipe, capers are the unripened flower buds from a caper bush. Their punchy flavor adds an extra pop of saltiness that balances the bright flavor in chicken piccata’s lemony white wine sauce. Grocery stores sell capers in a jar – hunt for them near the olives!
- White wine – A dry white wine like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio brings brightness & acidity to the chicken piccata sauce, balancing the sweetness of the Meyer lemons & the richness of the butter. If you don’t have white wine on hand or want to skip the alcohol, chicken stock or broth will work too.
People get pretty psyched about Meyer lemon season, & for good reason. But exactly what is different about a Meyer lemon? A few subtle characteristics make them extra-delicious!
- Meyer lemons are only available in the winter & early spring & are a gem to stumble upon. You can spot them at the grocery store based on their deep yellow (almost orangey) skin & smaller, rounder size.
- The inside of a Meyer lemon is also a more vibrant yellow that tastes less tart & more sweet compared to conventional lemons. The rind of a Meyer lemon is also exceptionally fragrant & its zest adds a lot of flavor to any recipe.
- You’ll typically find Meyer Lemons sold in bags in the produce section this time of year. If you can’t find them, then conventional lemons also work well for making lemon chicken piccata.
How to Make Chicken Piccata
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Cut & pound chicken breasts into cutlets. Butterfly chicken breasts by slicing them in half lengthwise, resulting in 2 thin pieces. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap & use a meat mallet or a rolling pin to pound the chicken into thin cutlets. The goal is to have each piece of chicken be the same thickness throughout. Why? ⇢ Creating thin, uniform cutlets ensures that the chicken is cooked through right as the flour on the outside turns golden. If the chicken is too thick, the outside breading will burn before the inside cooks through.
Lightly bread the chicken cutlets. Place a little flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Working one by one, place the chicken cutlets in the flour, coating each piece in a light dusting. Why? ⇢ A light coating of flour helps the chicken breasts turn a beautiful golden brown as they fry in the pan. To streamline this process, designate one hand as a “wet” hand to handle the chicken & the other as a “dry” hand to handle the flour. Then shake off any excess flour to prevent burning in the pan.
Pan fry the chicken cutlets. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, carefully add in the chicken cutlets. Since they’re so thin, they’ll cook in just a few minutes per side. Why? ⇢ A quick pan fry gives the chicken breading a beautifully browned crust while ensuring the chicken stays juicy & tender throughout. Work in batches & make sure not to crowd the pan, then set the chicken aside once cooked.
Prepare the Meyer lemon chicken piccata sauce. Using the same pan as the chicken, add the chopped garlic & capers into the skillet & cook until fragrant. Add the Meyer lemon juice & white wine into the skillet. The liquid will sizzle instantly, releasing all the browned bits at the bottom of the pan – be sure to stir constantly to capture all of this flavor! Once the lemon piccata sauce is simmering, add butter into the skillet little by little, until the sauce is glossy, creamy, & smooth.
Chicken Piccata Prep Tip!
I highly recommend measuring & chopping all your ingredients before you start cooking this recipe. Chicken piccata is the type of dish where everything starts coming together super quickly, so there’s not much time to chop & measure at the same time.
Before cooking, roughly chop the garlic & capers, slice the butter into pieces, & measure the Meyer lemon juice & white wine, placing everything within arm’s reach of the stove for ease. Having all the ingredients ready to go will keep the cooking process easy & stress-free.
What to Serve with Chicken Piccata
The garlic & lemony chicken piccata sauce begs for a pile of pasta! Remember, thin sauces are best paired with thin pasta. I like serving chicken piccata with spaghetti alla chitarra (pictured), a squared spaghetti with the perfect al dente bite. Linguine is a great option, & if you like angel hair pasta – go for it! Other starchy carbs like mashed potatoes & polenta are also great options to soak up all of the delicious lemon piccata sauce.
Chicken piccata is incredibly delicious all on its own, but you can also add some veggies for a well-rounded meal. Some ideas to get you started.
- Roasted vegetables like Brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, or broccoli also pair well. Roast them in the oven while the chicken piccata is frying in the pan! Tip! ⇢ Squeeze some Meyer lemon juice over the roasted veggies just as they come out of the oven for a kiss of brightness to tie the entire meal together.
- Prep a simple green salad dressed with PWWB’s All-Purpose Vinaigrette. It’s simple, bright, & so yum!
Other Chicken Piccata FAQs:
Can you substitute regular lemons for Meyer lemons?
Yes! If you cannot find Meyer lemons or they are not in season, you can replace the Meyer lemon juice used in this chicken piccata recipe with conventional lemon juice.
How to substitute regular lemon for Meyer lemon ⇢ Because conventional lemon juice is more acidic, you’ll need to adjust the ratio of lemon juice & white wine, using a bit more white wine to help balance out the flavors in your chicken piccata sauce. I’ve included specific measurements for this substitution in the Recipe Notes, below.
Is there a substitute for capers in chicken piccata?
It depends! Capers are traditionally used in chicken piccata, adding a whole lot of salty, briny goodness. They’re part of what makes chicken piccata unique, so they’re pretty essential. If you can’t find capers or you’re not a fan, here are some alternatives to try:
- If you don’t have capers, green olives are a great substitute. I LOVE castelvetrano olives, which are meaty, mellow in flavor, & will add some bright brininess to the chicken piccata that would otherwise come from the capers. Pick some up (from a jar, or the olive bar) & finely chop them into little pieces.
- If you’re not a fan of briny foods in general, you probably won’t want to replicate the flavor of capers in this recipe. Why add something that you don’t like in the first place, right? So while it’s not traditional, just omit capers from your chicken piccata. It’ll still be delicious without them – promise!
Can I make chicken piccata gluten-free?
Yes! Swap the all-purpose flour in this recipe with your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour & this chicken piccata recipe easily becomes gluten-free.
What is the best white wine for chicken piccata?
Since chicken piccata is a bright & citrusy dish, I love the way the brightness & acidity of sauvignon blanc amplifies those flavors. Pinot grigio is also a great choice, for similar reasons.
Weeknight cooking tip! ⇢ I always keep boxed wine in my pantry (red & white), solely for cooking purposes. (This is actually a trick I picked up on working in restaurants (where it’s really not uncommon to see a box of red or white on a shelf above the line), & I love putting it to use at home!) Boxed wine, which is typically good enough quality for cooking, is an affordable option that stays fresh for a long time thanks to the sealed bag inside the box –perfect when you need a small amount in a recipe & don’t want to waste a whole bottle!
How do I store leftover chicken piccata?
Meyer lemon chicken piccata is best served fresh when the chicken is perfectly tender & the piccata sauce is nice & creamy. If you do have any leftovers, store them in the fridge, for up to 4 days, & reheat everything in the microwave to enjoy them again. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for full storage & reheating directions.
I can’t wait for you to try this Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata recipe! It’s so easy & makes any dinner feel a little more special – date night, girl’s night, Friday night, you name it! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
More Recipes Like This:
Quick & Easy Chicken Dinners
An Italian classic with a winter citrus twist! Thinly sliced chicken cutlets are lightly breaded & pan-fried until totally golden brown & perfectly juicy. A simple chicken piccata sauce made with white wine, Meyer lemon juice, garlic, & capers adds a beautiful burst of winter citrus brightness. Serve this Meyer lemon chicken piccata with pasta, mashed potatoes, or a simple salad for a seriously delicious & special dinner that comes together quickly & easily.
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3–4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained & roughly chopped
- 2 Meyer lemons, juiced (about 1/3 cup juice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prep: Once you get cooking, chicken piccata is the type of dish that comes together really quickly. Take a few minutes before you get started to get everything measured, chopped & prepped, making cooking a really smooth, easy, & fun process. To prep: roughly chop the garlic & capers, slice the unsalted butter into 1-tablespoon pieces & prep the wet ingredients by squeezing the Meyer lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup & pouring the wine into the same measuring cup – the total liquid should measure between 3/4 & 1 cup. Set aside, within an arm’s reach of the stove for easy, streamlined cooking.
- Cut & pound the chicken into cutlets: Carefully butterfly each chicken breast, slicing it in half lengthwise. Use a meat mallet to lightly pound each piece of chicken into uniform thickness. There’s no need to go crazy here – just pound out the thickest part of the piece of chicken so it’s about the same thickness as the rest. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, you can drape a piece of wax paper over the chicken & pound it out using a rolling pin.
- Dredge the chicken: Season the chicken liberally with 2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Place the flour on a large plate or shallow bowl. Working one by one, place the chicken into the flour, coating it with a light dusting. Shake off excess flour & set aside.
- Brown the chicken: Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, carefully add in the breaded chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until the chicken is golden brown & cooked through. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate & set aside.
- Make the Meyer lemon pan sauce: Add the chopped garlic & capers to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. While stirring constantly, carefully pour the Meyer lemon juice & wine into the skillet. The lemon juice & wine will sizzle as soon as it hits the hot skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the pan. Once the sauce begins to bubble vigorously, add the pieces of butter to the skillet one by one, stirring constantly to combine into a smooth, creamy sauce. As the butter melts, the sauce will thicken & take on a beautiful glossy sheen.
- Serve immediately, drizzling the Meyer lemon sauce over the chicken cutlets. We love Meyer lemon chicken piccata served with some long thin pasta or with our favorite roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Meyer lemon substitute: Meyer lemons are like a cross between a conventional lemon & an orange or tangerine – they are slightly floral, with a slightly sweeter flavor than a conventional lemon. If you cannot find Meyer lemons, feel free to replace the Meyer lemon juice with the juice of 1 conventional lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons), increasing the amount of white wine to about 2/3 cup.
- Gluten-free chicken piccata: Swap the all-purpose flour with your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour to easily make this chicken piccata recipe totally gluten-free.
- Storage & Reheating: While chicken piccata is best served fresh, leftovers will keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: While this Meyer lemon chicken piccata is a quick recipe, you can eliminate nearly all of the active prep time involved by prepping the chicken ahead of time. To prep, pound out the chicken according to Step 2, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. At dinnertime, all you have to do is dredge & cook – easy!
Keywords: chicken piccata, chicken recipes, easy dinner recipes, weeknight cooking, Italian recipes
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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