Roast Chicken Piccata
This Roast Chicken Piccata recipe is so delicious and unbelievably easy to make! Roast Chicken Piccata is a show-stopping dish that’s perfect for entertaining or a cozy weeknight dinner. Crispy-skinned whole roasted chicken seasoned to perfection and smothered in lemon-caper (piccata) pan sauce. Did I mention that this whole recipe comes together in one skillet?
To build flavor in our bird, we’re briefly dry-brining it before searing it skin-side down in the skillet that it will roast in. This recipe is half chicken-under-a-brick and half chicken piccata! When we sear the chicken, it’s weighed down with another skillet to get a truly crispy skin. Then, we flip it, roast it to perfection and make a drinkable lemon-caper pan sauce from the drippings.
Roast Chicken Piccata feels devastatingly impressive while actually being really easy to throw together!
Roast Chicken Piccata: THE Recipe for Entertaining
Everyone needs a fancy recipe to whip out when company calls and Roast Chicken Piccata is one of my favorites! A whole roast chicken is a classic entertaining recipe! It presents beautifully, feeds a crowd, and is fairly low-effort. Once you add the lemon-caper sauce, this recipe becomes a total show-stopper.
While this recipe feels impressive, it’s actually very hands-off. The bulk of the work comes from spatchcocking the chicken so that it cooks evenly and quickly. Once you sear the chicken, it’s off to the oven to finish cooking. Then, the lemon-caper piccata pan sauce comes together in 5 minutes. What could be easier than that?
I love serving Roast Chicken Piccata alongside some mashed potatoes and a large salad with a bottle of wine for a complete meal!
What is Chicken Piccata?
Chicken piccata is nothing more than chicken breast cutlets, dredged in flour, browned, and served with a sauce of butter, lemon juice, capers, and either stock or white wine.
The exact origin of this dish is unknown, although it certainly has its roots in Italian cooking. In Italy, it’s more common to see veal piccata than chicken piccata, and there’s a chance that the use of chicken is an Americanized version of the Italian veal dish.
How to Make Roast Chicken Piccata
Roast Chicken Piccata is surprisingly easy to throw together! I recommend investing in a high-quality cast iron skillet that’s at least 11-12″ in diameter. A cast iron skillet is a total workhorse in my kitchen and I use it for tons of recipes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken. Since it’s the star of the show, opt for a high-quality whole chicken from your local butcher or meat counter. You’re looking for a 4-5 lb whole chicken.
- Lemons. You’ll need several lemons for zesting, juicing, and slicing to roast the chicken with.
- Shallots. Shallots add a mellow onion flavor to our pan sauce. You could swap in regular onion, but make sure to dice it really finely so that it melts into the sauce.
- White wine. Opt for a dry white wine here, something bright and acidic like Sauvignon Blanc. If you don’t want to cook with wine, you can use a bit of chicken stock.
- Capers. Capers add acidity and brininess to the sauce that is so, so good. If you’re averse to capers, finely chop some green olives and add them in.
- Butter. Finishing the pan sauce with cold butter results in a silky and creamy piccata sauce.
- Herbs. Finish the piccata pan sauce with a bit of chopped parsley or chives and you’re all set!
- Spatchcock the chicken. This is the process of removing the backbone so that the chicken lies flat. Follow the tutorial below on how to spatchcock a chick (including video!).
- Season. Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper including the underside and under the skin. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil in the fridge uncovered for at least 4 hours, up to 48 hours.
- Sear the chicken. Heat a bit of oil in a heavy cast iron skillet that’s at least 11-12″ in diameter over medium heat. Lay the chicken in the pan skin side down and weigh it down with another skillet or heavy pot (see images). Let the chicken sear for about 10-12 minutes, until deeply golden brown.
- Flip the chicken. Gently flip the chicken over so that the skin is facing up. Arrange the chicken so that it’s not hanging over the edge of the skillet and arrange thick lemon slices around and under it.
- Roast. Roast the chicken at 400 F for about 35 minutes, until the thickest parts of the legs and breasts register 165 F on a meat thermometer. Pull from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.
- Make the pan sauce. Return the skillet you used to cook the chicken to the stove over medium heat. Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan, using a silicone spatula to work up any browned bits. Add the minced shallot, and cook while stirring often for 2-3 minutes until the shallot is soft. Add the capers and cook for 1 minute more. Add the white wine to the skillet and use a pan or flat whisk to work up any remaining browed bits. Simmer the wine for about 1 minute, then start whisking in cubes of cold butter. Whisk constantly until melted before adding more to emulsify the sauce. Once all the butter is in, add the lemon zest, juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Finish the chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with the sauce. Top with fresh herbs and more lemons for squeezing.
What is Spatchcocking?
I use this technique for all poultry! It takes a tiny bit of work, but it’s so worth it. You’ll never have a dry chicken or turkey again. Both my HERB ROASTED CHICKEN and my DRY-BRINED TURKEY call for spatchcocking and you’ll never go back after you’ve tried it!
A spatchcock chicken is a chicken where the backbone has been removed prior to cooking. Doing so causes the bird to lay flat and thus everything cooks at the same rate! AKA, no more dry white meat! Cooking in this manner also reduces the cooking time drastically and helps you get dinner on the table faster with less effort. This Roast Chicken Piccata will never end up dry when you use this method.
Reasons to Spatchcock a Chicken
Faster cooking. In a 425 degree oven, a whole chicken takes an hour and a half or more to cook to the proper internal temperature. A spatchcocked chicken takes 45 minutes! Less than half the time!
Even cooking. With the bird laid out flat, everything cooks at the same speed. Say goodbye to dry chicken breasts, folks!
More Flavor. It’s much easier to season every nook and cranny of the chicken, hence a more flavorful end product.
Lays flatter. Have you ever tried to roast a bird and cook other things at the same time? It’s absolutely impossible unless you have double ovens! A spatchcock chicken lays flatter giving you more oven space.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken for Roast Chicken Piccata
First, place the chicken on a large cutting board and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Arrange the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board with the legs facing towards you.
Using good-quality kitchen shears, cut along one side of the chicken spine, separating it from the ribs. Be sure to cut as close to the spine as you can so that you do not end up discarding any more of the chicken meat than necessary. Repeat on the other side of the spine.
Flip the chicken so that the breasts face upward and the chicken legs face outward. Using the palm of your hands, press along the breast bone. You might hear a small crack. This should flatten the chicken completely.
Watch this helpful video below to spatchcock like a pro! Remember to freeze the backbone and save it for homemade chicken stock.
What to Serve with Roast Chicken Piccata
What is a dinner without sides? Here are my favorite sides to serve alongside Roast Chicken Piccata for a true show-stopping meal.
- CREME FRAICHE MASHED POTATOES
- CARAMELIZED ONION AND POTATO GRATIN
- KALE CAESAR SALAD
- Italian Chopped Salad
- GOOEY NUTELLA LAVA CAKES
More Chicken Recipes to Try Now
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Roast Chicken Piccata
- 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, sunflower, etc)
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut into thick slices
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons minced capers
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- 1/4 cup minced parsley and chives
- Start by spatchcocking the chicken (see instructions and video in the blog post). Season the chicken liberally all over, including the underside and under the skin. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil and transfer to the fridge uncovered for at least 4 hours, up to 48 hours.
- Preheat an oven to 400 F.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet (at least 11" in diameter), over medium heat. Add the neutral oil. Once the oil is hot, lay the chicken in the skillet skin side down and weigh it down with another skillet or heavy pot. Let the chicken cook for 10-12 minutes, until deeply golden brown.
- Remove the skillet weighing the chicken down and gently flip the chicken over so that it's sitting in the skillet skin side up. Arrange the lemon slices around and under the chicken. Transfer to the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, until the thickest parts of the breasts and legs register 165 F on a meat thermometer.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the cold butter to the pan and use a silicone spatula to work up any browned bits. Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the capers and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the white wine and lemon juice to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Use a spoon to work up any more remaining brown bits from the skillet. Reduce the heat slightly and whisk in the remaining cold butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk constantly so that the butter emulsifies into the sauce. Add the lemon zest and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour the lemon caper sauce over the top. Serve immediately.