Weeknight Chicken Piccata

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This Shortcut Lemon Chicken Piccata is a light and refreshing Instant Pot dinner, served over pasta and made with chicken tenders, capers, and plenty of zesty fresh lemon. 

Instant Pot lemon chicken piccata on a white plate with a fork, served over pasta, carrots, and zucchini, with a lemon slice on the side.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This is a flavor-packed dinner recipe that comes together in minutes and is easy to serve over your family’s favorite pasta.

This recipe is adapted from Barbara’s chicken piccata, made a little easier for nights when we don’t have time to flour and pan-sear the chicken. You’ll still get juicy, golden chicken and a light, silky sauce, in a fraction of the time. 

We love to use our pressure cooker for easy weeknight chicken recipes like this.

You can serve piccata over any kind of pasta, or even rice or mashed potatoes!

Ingredients for Instant Pot lemon chicken piccata, including chicken tenderloins, spices, white wine, butter, capers, lemon, chicken broth, corn starch, and lemon juice.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s what you need for this Instant Pot dinner recipe:

  • Seasonings. You’ll season your chicken with garlic and onion powder. 
  • Chicken tenders. These are thinner than regular chicken breasts and cook up quicker. 
  • Butter. We generally use unsalted butter and then salt to taste at the end.  
  • Oil. The combo of butter and oil adds richness and a nice browning to your chicken.
  • Wine. Choose a white wine that you like to drink, not cooking wine. We like to use the mini bottles of wine for recipes like this. 
  • Broth. We recommend using low-sodium broth or homemade.
  • Cornstarch. This is used to thicken up the sauce so it coats the chicken. 
  • Lemon. Be sure to use fresh lemon juice for this lemony chicken picatta. 
  • Capers. We like using small non-pareil capers. But you can use the larger ones if that’s what you prefer. We also tend to add double the amount called for in the recipe for that delicious salty flavor. 
  • Parsley. This adds a nice fresh green garnish. 
  • Pasta. We use thin spaghetti to serve this chicken piccata, but any kind of pasta will work. Regardless of what type of pasta you’re using, be sure to salt your pasta water well. 
  • Carrots. Adding matchstick-cut carrots to the noodles while they’re cooking adds extra texture, nutrition, and color. 
  • Zucchini noodles. We use store-bought frozen zucchini noodles (zoodles) to add extra veggies to our spaghetti, but you can also make your own with a whole zucchini.
Chicken tenderloins in a white bowl seasoned and ready for browning in an Instant Pot.

How to Make Lemon Chicken Piccata in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

To make this quick and easy chicken piccata, start by seasoning the chicken tenders with garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Then preheat the pressure cooking pot using the Sauté feature.

Melt the butter and heat the oil in the pot. Then add half of the seasoned chicken tenders and sear the chicken until browned on one side and the tenders easily release from the pot. Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. 

Browning the chicken tenderloins in an Instant Pot for lemon chicken piccata.

Add the wine to the empty pot and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Bring the wine to a simmer until it’s reduced by half, then stir in the chicken broth and salt and return the chicken to the pot

Cook the chicken at high pressure for 3 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. While the chicken cooks, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. When you remove the Instant Pot lid, add the cornstarch slurry and stir well. Select Sauté again and stir the mixture until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. 

Finish the sauce by stirring in the lemon juice and capers. Finally, serve your chicken picatta over cooked pasta with parsley for garnish, and enjoy!

Overhead picture of lemon chicken piccata cooked inside an Instant Pot with a wood spoon used to stir.

Important Tips for Making Lemon Chicken Piccata

  • We always add matchstick carrots and zucchini noodles to the pasta for the last 2 minutes the pasta cooks. Whether it adds a few extra nutrients or not, this is a super easy way to add extra veggies to dinner without any extra pots and pans.
  • We add the zucchini noodles directly from frozen and the matchstick carrots from the fridge. We start a pot of water to boil before we start measuring any ingredients, and then we wait to add the pasta to the boiling water when the Instant Pot reaches pressure. 
  • Browning the chicken at the beginning of the recipe will add an extra layer of savory, umami flavor to the dish. 
Overhead picture of Instant Pot lemon chicken piccata served on a white plate with pasta,carrots, and zucchini.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shortcut Chicken Piccata 

How should I store leftovers?

Store leftover chicken piccata in an airtight container for up to four days. 

Can I use chicken breasts?

Yes, you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts. However, you’ll need to pound them or cut them horizontally into thin cutlets to ensure they cook through.

Can I skip browning the chicken?

Skipping the first step of browning the chicken in the pressure cooking pot will save you some time, but you’ll miss out on the delicious caramelized flavor. If you’re in a pinch, you can skip this step and simply combine all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker. 

What should I serve with chicken piccata?

If we’ve planned ahead, we love to serve chicken piccata with homemade garlic bread. However, on busy nights, we’ll grab a can of pizza dough from the refrigerated section at the store and make up the butter/oil mix in step 4 of this Garlic Knots recipe.

After baking the dough, we cut the bread into small bites, then toss them with the butter/oil blend.

Can I omit the capers?

Yes, if you’re not a fan of capers, you can simply leave them out of this recipe. However, they do add a unique salty flavor that you’d miss. For a similar briny flavor, you could try chopped green olives. 

Picture of lemon chicken piccata served over pasta, carrots, and zucchini, placed on a white plate in front of an Instant Pot.

MORE Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

Try these other quick and easy chicken dinner recipes next:


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Overhead picture of Instant Pot lemon chicken piccata served on a white plate with pasta,carrots, and zucchini.

Lemon Chicken Piccata

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Chicken
Cuisine: Italian
This weeknight Lemon Chicken Piccata is made flour-free in the Instant Pot with chicken tenders, fresh lemon juice, and capers, served over pasta for a satisfying weeknight dinner.
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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth we use reduced sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • Juice from 1 lemon 3 to 4 tablespoons, depending on how lemony you like it
  • 2 tablespoons jarred non-pareil capers drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

For Serving

  • Cooked thin pasta prepared according to package directions (we use thin spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots if desired**
  • About 1/2 cup frozen spiralized zucchini noodles if desired**

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Add chicken tenders and toss to coat the chicken with spices.
  • Select Sauté and preheat the pressure cooking pot. When hot, add the butter and oil and stir until butter is melted. Add half of the chicken tenders and sauté on one side until browned and the chicken releases easily from the pot. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. (Make sure not to crowd the pot—if needed, divide into three batches. Add more oil if needed to make sure the pot doesn’t brown.)
  • When all the chicken has been sautéed, add the white wine to deglaze the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits. Let the wine simmer until reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and salt, then return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the cooking pot. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 3 minutes cook time. When the cook time ends, use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water. Push the chicken to one side of the pot and add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Select Sauté and stir constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the lemon juice and capers, and stir until combined and the chicken is coated with the sauce. 
  • Serve chicken and sauce over prepared pasta, garnished with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled with parsley.

Notes

**We always add matchstick carrots and frozen zucchini noodles to the pasta on the stove for the last 2 minutes the pasta cooks.

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originally published March 11, 2023 — last updated June 1, 2024
Categories: Chicken