BEST Salmon Piccata (Lemon Butter Caper Sauce)

5 from 14 reviews

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Delicious Salmon in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce (Salmon Piccata)- Easy, light, and fresh, and it is a 20-minute meal! The Ultimate Lemon Salmon Dinner Recipe!

Serve with Sautéed Green Beans Recipe (Easy), or Crispy Brussels Sprouts Recipe.

Salmon in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce, salmon piccata, garnish, green beans on a white plate with fork.
Salmon piccata served with a side of steamed green beans
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BEST Salmon Piccata (Lemon Butter Caper Sauce)

All the flavors you love in “piccata” (lemon and caper sauce) with a salmon twist! Traditionally, a piccata sauce is served with veal or chicken. You will love this simple sauce with salmon. You can also pair this with these Side Dishes to Serve With Salmon Recipes!

I’ve created a salmon version that soaks up that delicious sauce magnificently. If you want to skip the fish and meat, try Ravioli Piccata with Mushroom Asparagus (Easy).

Why I love this recipe

BEST Salmon Piccata (Lemon Butter Caper Sauce)– I love salty capers! This buttery lemon sauce is a great way to serve up fresh salmon. It makes a delicious meal that is ready with little time. I make this recipe in one pan, which makes for easy clean-up!

You will also love Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce (Pasta al Limone), Salmon Steaks, or my stuffed salmon recipe.

Ingredients for salmon piccata on a marble counter.
Ingredients for salmon piccata

Simple Ingredients

  • Salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Capers
  • Butter
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Optional: lemon slices for serving

How to Make Salmon with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce (Piccata)

  • First, pat your salmon dry and season with salt.
  • Then, sear the salmon (use the tips above for cooking salmon on a pan).
  • Fry on each side until golden and cooked to your liking. We love our salmon just cooked — pink in the middle.
  • Next, make your Piccata sauce for salmon in the same pan.
  • Add the salmon back to the pan and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Minutes later, you are left with a delicious version of Salmon Piccata. A quick and easy meal.

Instructions Step by Step with Photos

Instructions of cooking salmon in a pan with oil.

Step by Step Instructions for Salmon Piccata: Sear both sides of the salmon in a pan with olive oil. Remove Salmon from the pan and set it aside.

Instructions of cooking the sauce in a pan for salmon piccata with onions and oil.

Make the butter, caper, lemon, and garlic sauce in the pan. It will be thin at first and then start to thicken.

Instructions for cooking salmon in a pan with sauce for Salmon Piccata.

When the sauce is thick add salmon back to the pan and spoon sauce over the salmon. Garnish with parsley and serve hot!

If you love fish recipes, you will also enjoy this Oven-Baked Flounder Recipe.

Perfect Pan Seared Salmon for Salmon Piccata (Lemon Butter Caper Sauce)

Golden and crisp on top and just barely cooked at the center, this pan-seared salmon is one of my go-to recipes when I crave salmon. Not only is it fast it’s also elegant and perfect for serving for an occasion and a dinner at home on a busy night.

Salmon Piccata in a pan on a counter.
Salmon with piccata sauce in a pan

Lemon Butter Caper Sauce for Salmon

Once you taste the flavors of this caper sauce you will love the unique taste that the capers bring to the bright and delicious salmon recipe.

If you are making this dish as a family dinner and your kids do not like capers, you can leave them out and turn them into a plain lemon sauce.

To brighten the lemon flavor, add a pinch of grated lemon zest to the sauce.

If you love salmon, try these recipes: Best Baked Salmon with Pesto Recipe, Easy Baked Honey Orange Sesame Salmon, Smoked Salmon, Mascarpone, and Petite Pea Pasta, and Baked Salmon with Potatoes and Herb Oil Dressing.

Also try- Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass With Lemon Butter Herb Sauce, and
Squid Ink Pasta Recipe with Shrimp and Cherry Tomato Sauce.

Salmon Piccata with lemon sauce on a white plate.
A plate of perfectly cooked salmon in the piccata sauce.

Tips For Butter Quality

Use High Fat, Good Quality Butter. It will make a big difference in the richness of your sauce.

Why is some butter more “rich” or yellow than others? This is all in the fat content and diet of the cow.

The color difference is primarily due to the higher fat content of butter. Cows that eat grass and flowers store the yellow pigment beta carotene, found naturally in those plants, in their fat.

When you separate out the buttermilk after churning, what remains is mostly butterfat, which is the most yellow of all.

This is where you get the rich flavor and deep color. I love the Kerrygold brand.

There are lots of other good quality high-fat butter varieties. The richer the butter in this recipe the creamier and tastier the sauce!

Salmon Piccata with lemon sauce and green beans on a plate with a fork.
The tasty briny sauce pairs perfectly with succulent salmon

More recipes you will love…

What is Piccata Sauce?

Piccata is true to its name, sharp and puckery, but it’s also quick and luxurious.

It’s essentially a warm vinaigrette that you sizzle together in a frying pan: fat (butter), acid (lemon juice and slim half-moons of lemon), biting alliums (minced shallot and garlic), and capers for briny flavor.

Add some crusty bread for swiping and dipping.

Suddenly, you’ve got a full-fledged meal that’ll take you all the way to Italy! I hope you share this Italian recipe with your family and friends soon!

Bread that goes well with this butter lemon caper sauce: Softest No Knead Bread

Origins of Piccata …

Piccata is an Italian word spelled sometimes as piccata or pichotta. The culinary use of the Italian term means “to be pounded flat” referring to the meat.

Piccata originated in Italy where it is traditionally made with veal. In this recipe, I defy Italian tradition and make it with salmon!!

How to Cook the Perfect Pan-Seared Salmon

Cooking salmon on a pan on the stove is easier than you think. If you are afraid your salmon will stick to the pan, again, let me help!

Follow these easy steps for tender salmon with a perfect crust.

Tips for Cooking Salmon in a Pan

  1. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel.
  2. Season the salmon with salt and a few grinds of pepper (if desired). Don’t skimp on the salt!
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick large skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Your salmon must hit the hot oil- this is one reason salmon sticks to the pan from the start.
  4. Cook the salmon, skin side up, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Resist the urge to touch the fillets as they cook. Letting the fish sear untouched in hot oil creates that lovely, flavorful, golden crust that makes this dish restaurant-worthy.
  5. Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 2 to 5 minutes more.

That’s it! You can add any sauce, such as serving this delicious piccata sauce, enjoy this perfectly seared salmon over a salad, or even the next day with pasta!

A perfect meal for a special occasion or an easy weeknight meal.

Salmon piccata with sauce and green beans on a plate with a fork.

Cooking variations

You can bake the salmon on a baking sheet (or sheet pan) and make the sauce separately. Then, spoon the sauce on top of the salmon.

You can also cook the salmon on your outdoor grill and add the sauce after the salmon is cooked.

Fresh Salmon vs. Frozen Salmon

Frozen wild salmon is sometimes better than fresh salmon because it’s frozen fresh off the boat and then shipped.

The quality of fresh wild salmon starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s harvested, but frozen salmon bypasses that part, making it the superior choice.

You will want to let it thaw in the fridge with frozen salmon. For this recipe, you can use wild or farm fresh salmon.

Wild Salmon vs Farm Fresh Salmon

These days, Atlantic salmon is typically farmed, while Pacific salmon species are primarily wild-caught. 

Wild-caught Pacific salmon are typically considered to be the healthiest salmon. For this recipe, use your favorite variety!

How to Thaw Frozen Salmon for Cooking

3 Ways to Thaw Frozen Salmon

  1. Water: Fill a large bowl with cold water. Place the salmon fillets in a resealable plastic bag, then place the bag in the cold water.
  2. Refrigerator: You can defrost salmon in the fridge overnight.
  3. Microwave: The fastest way to defrost salmon is through microwave defrosting.

Why is Salmon a Superfood?

Salmon has earned a permanent spot on the superfoods list thanks to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acid—a type of good-for-you fat with a long list of health benefits.

Where to begin: Omega-3s may help reduce inflammation throughout the body.

This is a well-loved salmon recipe that you can feel great about eating!

Substitutes for Salmon?

This recipe is delicious as it is with salmon fillets. If you prefer other fish here are some I recommend with the piccata sauce.

What to Substitute for Salmon

  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Mahi-Mahi
  • Trout
  • Sea-bass
  • Wahoo
  • Stripped Bass
  • Any white fish

You will also love this easy cod recipe: Crispy Baked Cod with Panko.

Serving Suggestions

Served with a side of Italian Fennel, Citrus, Pomegranate and Salad, Shredded Zucchini and Cheese Pasta (easy), Easy Soft Italian No Knead Bread you have a meal that tastes like an Italian restaurant!

You will be surprised by how quickly this scrumptious dish comes together and it is a one-pan recipe for easy clean-up. A taste of Italy at your table!

Salmon Piccata with green beans on a plate with a fork.

Storing

If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge in a tight-fitting container for up to three days. Try adding it to a salad or tossing it with pasta and adding extra olive oil to thin out the sauce.

More Delicious Recipes for YOU

Have you checked out my NEW CBE PRODUCTS? Take a look at the 2-in-1 cutting and charcuterie board, gorgeous apron, and unique pasta server that you absolutely need. The wood products are all handmade in Salt Lake City, Utah. They make great gifts as well!

Salmon Piccata with green beans on a plate with a fork.
Nothing beats perfectly cooked salmon with a lemon based sauce!

Baked Salmon with Butter Lemon Caper Sauce is an easy family dinner! Salmon cooked to perfection and topped with decadent piccata sauce.

💙 MADE THIS RECIPE AND LOVED IT? 💙 Please leave a ⭐️STAR rating and COMMENT below- I love connecting with you! Tag me with your creations on Instagram and find me on Pinterest.

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Salmon in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce (Salmon Piccata) in a pan with the delicious sauce and a garnish of parsley.

Pan Seared Salmon Picata Sauce

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5 from 14 reviews

All the flavors you love in a “piccata” recipe with a salmon twist! Traditionally, a piccata sauce is served with veal or chicken. I’ve created a version salmon that soak up that delicious sauce in a magnificent way. Served with a side of pasta and this is an easy 25 minute meal that tastes like you are dining at an Italian restaurant. You will be surprised by how quickly this scrumptious dish comes together. A taste of Italy at your table!

  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 large 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed

Piccata Sauce 

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, about one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, about 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • Optional: lemon slices for serving

Instructions

  1. Pat your salmon fillets dry and seasoning with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Cook the salmon  until golden and crisp on the outside, about 4 minutes. Resist the urge to touch with the fillets as they cook. Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 1 to 2 minutes more, depending on how well done you like your salmon. Using a slotted spatula, remove the fish to a plate to rest.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat and add butter, shallot, garlic, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, capers, and lemon zest. Simmer for 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Place salmon back in the pan and heat for an extra minute. Then, spoon the sauce over the salmon. Garnish with parsley and serve warm. Serve with lemon slices, if desired. 

Notes

If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge in a tight-fitting container for up to three days.

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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28 Comments

  1. This recipe is super good. I keep coming back to it time and time again which says something because I’m not the biggest salmon guy. Quick, easy, and incredibly tasty.






  2. I loved this recipe! Was simple and so good!! Can’t wait for my college kids to come home for the holidays and make it for them, I know they’ll love it!






  3. This was so simple and lovely. The salmon was perfectly cooked and I used chicken cutlets for my non fish eaters. This recipe is already on repeat in my kitchen.






  4. When I splurge and buy fresh salmon instead of frozen, which is never as good, I always have to find a great recipe for it. Made this for dinner tonight with some fresh salmon and it was delicious. Just what I love in salmon–easy and tasty! (Made it with your cheesy parm rice. Also mmmm!)






  5. This recipe is absolutely delicious and it’s so easy to prepare! Hubby and I both loved it and can’t wait to have it again — and again — and again. This is such a brilliant way to enjoy salmon!!






  6. This was my dinner tonight and I loved it! So simple to make but so flavorful. I had to go back for seconds! Thank you!!