Most restaurants and home cooks rely heavily on dairy butter, and sometimes cream and cheese, when making this Italian classic. But this flavorful recipe for dairy-free chicken piccata gains most of its richness from olive oil. The sauce is bold on its own, but melds perfectly with the lightly coated chicken cutlets. It’s a wonderful dish that we can’t eat in restaurants, but can easily make at home!
Bring a Taste of Italy Home with Dairy-Free Chicken Piccata
This dairy-free chicken piccata is quite rewarding for such little effort. The chicken is pounded thin for tenderness and even cooking. And the quick complementary sauce is highlighted by tangy lemon, rich olive oil, and pungent capers. Each bite makes me feel like I’m dining in the Italian countryside!
Are Chicken Cutlets Dairy Free?
There are prepared chicken cutlets at grocery stores, and some of those contain dairy. In this recipe, chicken cutlets are simply a pre-sliced, faster option to cutting and pounding the chicken breasts. They’re raw, and shouldn’t have any added ingredients. They’re sometimes called “thin-sliced breast filets” in the meat department. You could also use chicken tenderloins, which are more like chicken tenders in size.
What Type of Wine Do You Recommend for this Recipe?
Truth be told, we typically make this dish with just broth and stock. But, if you are using part wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Blanc are excellent choices. Chardonnay can also work in a pinch. Just try to stick with a dry white wine and avoid ones that are even slightly sweet.
What Can I Substitute for the Capers?
Capers are one of the ingredients that makes this chicken piccata. But you can simply make lemon chicken by omitting the capers. Or for a substitute, use sliced or chopped olives.
Can I Make this Dish “Butter-Free?”
I’ve tried it without the finishing dairy-free butter alternative and it is still good! The pat of dairy-free butter just helps to round out the flavors and richness. We prefer it with the added touch of butter, but you can make this dairy-free chicken piccata without any form of “butter” if you prefer.
Can I Halve this Recipe?
Yes, I typically make chicken piccata for two! Cut all the ingredients in half. This equates to 2/3 to 3/4 pound chicken, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup broth (or 1/4 cup each broth and wine), 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and capers, and 1 tablespoon each butter alternative and herbs. A half batch also makes the cook time much quicker, since you can cook the chicken in one batch if your frying pan is large enough.
Special Diet Notes: Chicken Piccata
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and optionally soy-free. Just be sure to choose the butter alternative that suits your dietary needs. See the post above for the dairy-free butter-less option.
For gluten-free dairy-free chicken piccata, you can substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend for cooking.
For vegan chicken piccata, see our recipe for Plant-Based Chickpea Piccata.
- 1⅓ to 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or cutlets
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 5 tablespoons olive oil (scant ⅓ cup)
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock OR ½ cup chicken broth or stock + ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free butter alternative
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, basil, or thyme
- If using chicken breasts, cut them in half horizontally to butterfly. Place the halved breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with the smooth side of a meat mallet until about ½-inch thick. If they are quite large, you can cut each cutlet into halves or thirds.
- In a pan or baking dish, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper.
- Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour to coat.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. If you have any remaining flour mixture, dredge the chicken again, and add half of the pieces to your pan. Cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken cutlets.
- Add the chicken broth/stock (or broth/stock and white wine), lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits as you stir. Cook the sauce until nearly reduced in half, about 5 minutes. If it reduces too much (the flavor is too strong and/or salty), just whisk in a little water.
- Whisk in the butter alternative. Return the chicken to the pan and warm for a couple of minutes.
- Plate the chicken and pour on any remaining sauce and capers. Sprinkle with the herbs.