My grilled chicken piccata recipe is a healthy variation on the classic Italian dish. Using barbecue or pan to grill rather than deep-fry or shallow-fry the meat in flour batter, you get succulent and juicy chicken infused with lemon, garlic and capers flavours of the marinade, plus that lovely chargrilled finish. This is as a paleo-friendly, gluten-free, Whole30, low-carb and keto chicken piccata that can be enjoyed in summer or in winter.
8 skinless & boneless chicken thighs, cut in halves
1.5 teaspoon salt pepper
2/3 teaspoon black pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
2–3 tablespoons baby capers, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons of baby caper juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1.5 lemons
25 grams / 1.5 tablespoons butter (optional, can also be ghee or a drizzle of olive oil)
Parsley or mint, chopped or thinly sliced
A few slices of lemon for grilling as a garnish if you like
- Cut the chicken thighs in halves and place on a cutting board or a plate. Season evenly with salt and pepper.
- Combine roughly chopped capers, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a bowl. Pour over the meat in a larger bowl and mix. Transfer to a container or a Ziplock bag. Refrigerate to marinate overnight or for about 4-6 hours (at least for 1-2 to get all those flavours in the meat).
- To cook the chicken, you have two options: barbecue grill or stove grill/electric grill indoors. In my case, we grilled on our Webber BBQ outdoors. In both cases, it is super important to remove the chicken from the fridge for at least 15-30 minutes to come to room temperature so that it cooks evenly.
- BBQ: Heat BBQ to medium-hot, make sure the grill is clean from any burnt bits from the previous grill. Shake excess marinade off the chicken pieces (brush off some of the garlic capers onto a plate, reserve the juices) and places on a hot grill plate. Cook for about 8-10 minutes each side or until well browned and feels cooked to touch (you can cut one of the pieces to check). Depending on how evenly hot your grill plate is, you might need to move the pieces around.
- Stovetop: If you’re using a grill pan or a frying pan, brush it with some fat or oil and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes each side. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan so that it grills rather than braises in too much juice/liquid that might get released initially.
- Prepare the piccata butter sauce: While the chicken is grilling, let’s prepare the sauce with our remaining marinade. Traditionally, the piccata sauce is made with butter and that’s what I used, but you could also go with ghee for a Whole30 or more dairy-free version.
- Stovetop accessible: Heat a separate pan over medium-high heat and add all the excess lemon caper marinade together with any bits of garlic and capers. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter and cook for 1-2 minutes, allowing it to bubble away and crisp up a little. Once you see garlic is changing colour, turn the heat off and set aside.
- Cooking outdoors: If you’re cooking outdoors and have no stove, you have two options. Bring a small pot or a pan that can go on the BBQ grill and do it in that. OR, once the chicken is ready, place a few dollops of butter on top of the hot chicken pieces and drizzle with extra lemon juice; sprinkle some capers out of the jar. It won’t be quite the same sauce but you will get that buttery lemon finish.
- Finish the dish by sprinkling freshly chopped mint or parsley over the top. I love personally love mint here as it’s a little different and adds a beautiful aroma to the dish.
This recipe is for 4-6 servings, depending on what else you’re pairing this dish with. In my photos, I only used 4 chicken thighs but adjusted ingredients for 8 chicken thighs. If making more meat, simply increase the marinade ingredients and the salt and pepper for seasoning chicken.
I decided to use chicken thighs because they are more tender and flavoursome but you can slice a few chicken breasts instead. Breast meat can overcook quickly so depending on the thickness of the slices, you may only to grill them for 4-5 minutes each side. The marinade would also work with chicken wings or drumsticks that could be roasted or/finished on the grill.
Butter can be replaced with ghee for a Whole30/Paleo or more dairy-free version. Otherwise, I would recommend sticking with butter as it really gives it that lovely authentic flavour.
Keywords: Chicken thighs, BBQ, Barbecue, Grilling, Italian, Lemon, Capers, Chicken, Low-Carb, Keto, Paleo, Whole30