Tilapia Piccata ~ pan seared tilapia in a bright, briny and buttery sauce made with lemons, butter and capers.
There’s nothing I like more than being able to put a quick and delicious dinner on the table with ingredients I likely have on hand. That’s almost always the case with a piccata. And while chicken is traditional, I really like it with fish. The bright, briny and buttery sauce is a perfect match for tilapia. And best of all, Tilapia Piccata comes together in about 20 minutes!
Chicken piccata is probably the most popular version, both in restaurants and at home. Thing is, we don’t care for boneless, skinless chicken breasts around here. I rarely have them hanging around in the freezer, like almost never. But I do usually have some sort of frozen white fish in there and lately, it’s been tilapia. Any firm white fish works, like halibut, cod or even swai (try it, very mild and clean tasting and it’s my choice for Greek Baked White Fish).
Let’s get back to that bright and briny sauce, because in my opinion, that’s the beauty of a piccata. It’s essentially butter, lemon, capers, white wine and stock, or some variation thereof. I also add a little shallot and garlic, lemon slices and a sprinkling of fresh parsley when finished. The fish gets dredged in flour and browned first, then it takes a bath in the sauce. Really simple preparation that delivers maximum flavor.
I’ve made Tilapia Piccata on weekends and during the week, and I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to make it for company. This straightforward recipe works just as well with chicken cutlets, but give it a go with tilapia ~ it will be your new favorite way to make a piccata. Best ~ Kelly
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- 2 - 3 tilapia fillets, fresh or thawed if frozen
- Kosher salt and pepper
- All-purpose flour for dredging
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 3 - 4 thinly sliced lemon wheels, seeds removed
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken stock, low salt, preferably homemade
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
- Optional: knob of butter to finish off sauce
- Chopped fresh parsley for serving
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil and butter. Blot tilapia dry and season both sides with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Add to pan and brown 4 - 5 minutes per side. Remove to plate and set aside.
- Turn heat down and add garlic, shallots and lemon slices. Sauté for about 30 to 60 seconds, until starting to soften and fragrant. Pour in wine and stir and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until reduced by half.
- Add chicken stock, lemon juice and capers. Simmer and stir for 2 - 3 minutes until reduced by about half. Stir in a small knob of butter, if desired, to finish off sauce and make it extra silky.
- Taste for salt, pepper and acidity, adjust if needed. Return tilapia to skillet, simmer, spooning sauce over fish until warmed through. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- To make with chicken, halve boneless, skinless chicken breasts horizontally into four cutlets. Prepare as directed above.
- If you want to make this Whole30 compliant, omit the butter and use ghee, swap out the flour with tapioca starch, and leave out the wine. It's just as good with chicken stock only. And, no knob of butter at the end.
- I sometimes add a little more chicken stock, up to ¾ cup, because Meathead loves a good pan sauce ~ the more to drizzle over everything, which lately has been cauliflower rice.