When people think of piccata they often think of a classic Italian dish made with breaded chicken cutlets covered in an lemony sauce. However, piccata sauce can be way more versatile than that.
With just a handful of ingredients you can whip up a piccata sauce in no time. The real stars of the show in this sauce are the lemon, wine, butter, and capers — it’s a classic salt, fat, and acid combination.
The brininess of the capers marries well with the creaminess of the butter. The tart lemon then brings a balance of flavors to anything you want to use it on.
From poultry and fish to veggies, this sauce dresses up any dish. It’s most known for dinnertime dining but you can incorporate into breakfast and brunch dishes, too.
Whether you’re looking to whip up an easy weeknight dinner or you want to create a fancy meal for a gathering, this sauce is sure to impress.
What is Piccata Sauce?
Piccata-style refers to the preparation of a dish that typically incorporates a protein that is sauteed in a sauce that contains butter and lemon as well as a variety of spices. This recipe is just for the sauce, but it mixes well with nearly all proteins and vegetables.
This easy lemon piccata sauce has a bunch of basic ingredients that are probably already in your fridge or kitchen cabinets.
- Olive oil – For this recipe, using extra virgin is your best option for its clean flavor.
- Shallots – Make sure to cut these shallots so that they are finely chopped.
- Garlic cloves – Mince or very finely slice the cloves of garlic so that they mix well with the sauce.
- White wine – Always cook with a wine that you’d drink — Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc all work well. But you can also use lesser known varietals if they’re your favorite!
- Chicken stock or chicken broth – You can make your own broth or use a favorite brand from your local grocery store.
- Butter – This buttery sauce is best made with unsalted butter — the capers bring a sufficient amount of salt and brininess to the table. Make sure to use softened butter — you want to melt butter easily when you’re preparing the sauce.
- Lemons – Make sure your lemon slices are thinly cut.
- Capers – Briny capers add an extra layer of tangy flavor to this sauce. Be sure to drain them before adding.
- Italian parsley – Definitely use fresh parsley and roughly chop it for a pretty presentation.
How to Use Piccata Sauce
The most typical use for piccata sauce is with chicken piccata. However, there are plenty of other ways to serve up this sauce.
- Vegetables – Toss veggies in this delicious sauce to entice picky eaters or just dress up your vegetables.
- Fish – Since it’s a delicate sauce, it goes well with virtually any kind of fish fillets but it pairs perfectly with light white varieties of fish as well as salmon.
- Potatoes – Skip the sour cream and load up your potato (mashed, smashed, or baked) with this sauce. Really dress it up by sprinkling some mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese over top.
- Rice – Spoon this over rice or mix it all together for a savory side dish.
- Eggs – Trade out hollandaise for this delicious lemony sauce over eggs benedict or any omelet.
- Asparagus – Instead of coating your asparagus with lemon and garlic try drizzling this sauce over top.
- Pasta – Swap out plain old buttered noodles for pasta covered in this buttery lemon garlic sauce. You can also upgrade your typical shrimp scampi by trading in this sauce to make a creamy lemon pasta with shrimp.
- Garlic bread – You can serve garlic bread alongside any dish with piccata sauce or you can just use the sauce as a dip for the bread.
- Salad – Cool the sauce in the refrigerator and then pour it over greens for a fresh take on a Caesar salad.
- Meat – While chicken thighs or breasts are most often associated with mingling with piccata sauce you can try other meats as well. Veal piccata is a popular riff on the traditional but you can also try pork, duck, or even wild game.
Like nearly any savory sauce, piccata sauce is a perfect canvas for your creativity. Change it up or add extra ingredients to suit your taste.
- Olives – Try replacing all or some of the capers with sliced green olives or black olives.
- Fresh herbs – Basil is a no-brainer in most sauces that go well with proteins and pasta but try any of the herbs that are fresh from your garden to add layers of flavor to the sauce.
- Heavy cream – You can make this a creamy lemon sauce by adding some heavy cream. If you want to thicken it you can use all purpose flour.
- Lemon – For more lemon flavor, try adding some fresh lemon juice.
- Garlic powder – If the cloves of garlic don’t provide enough garlicky flavor, try adding in a few dashes of garlic powder.
- Vegetable broth – Want to make this a vegetarian sauce? Just use vegetable broth instead of chicken.
- Garlic – For an interesting flavor profile you can roast garlic cloves before slicing or smashing and mixing them into the sauce.
- Pepper – Add some black pepper for just the slightest hint of heat.
- Spiciness – Want to add a heaping amount of heat to this dish? Toss in some crushed red pepper, cayenne, or diced chiles.
Storage and Freezing
If you’re storing this sauce it’s best to store it separately from any protein that you are serving it with.
Make ahead: Piccata sauce can be made ahead of time. Reheat over a low temperature on the stovetop.
Refrigerator: Store this sauce in an airtight container or a ziploc bag for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Freezing: Pour piccata sauce into a freezer-safe container or a ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Also, you can first freeze it in an ice cube tray, then portion it out into ziploc bags.
More Homemade Sauces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 shallots thinly cut
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 lemons cut into slices
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley roughly chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute.
- Add the wine, bringing to a low simmer and scraping pan to loosen browned bits (if you’ve cooked something in the pan before to pair with it). Simmer until liquid reduces by half.
- Add the broth to pan bringing back to a low simmer, allowing to reduce for another 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then add the lemon slices, capers and parsley.
- If serving with a protein, add to the sauce for 1-2 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Otherwise, spoon over or toss with pasta.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.