Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 Mar

Chicken in Buttery Caper Sauce

Chicken in Buttery Caper SauceThe star of this recipe is a simple sauce with bold, memorable flavor. Three easy ingredients – capers, parsley, butter – plus one secret ingredient (the brine from the caper jar) come together into a rich and piquant sauce that will have you licking the plate.

The caper sauce pairs really well with chicken; in this case, boneless, skinless breasts pounded thin to reduce the cooking time to just 6 minutes. However, if you have a little more time on your hands the sauce can certainly be served with thicker skin-on breasts or thighs, a pork chop or tenderloin, a pan-seared fillet of fish or roasted vegetables.

Tiny, briny capers are actually flower buds that have been sun-dried and pickled in vinegar. The tart, lemony flavor of capers adds a bright, tangy boost to food. Keep a jar in the fridge (they never really seem to go bad) to throw into other dishes or to make this fantastic sauce whenever the mood strikes.

Serves: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (60ml)
  • 3 tablespoons of capers, plus 3 tablespoons of brine from the jar (45 ml)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (60 g)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley (80 ml)
  • Salt and pepper


Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally. Place each half between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet (or small skillet) until 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick or less.

Pound Chicken

Generously season chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil. Add half of the chicken and cook for 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate.


Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Add the remaining raw chicken and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the chicken from the pan, adding it to the plate of cooked chicken, but keep the heat on under the skillet.

To the skillet, add 3 tablespoons of brine from the jar of capers.


As the brine boils, scrape up any bits of meat stuck to the pan.

Stir in the butter, parsley and capers. Just before the butter begins to brown, add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated on the plate back to the skillet. Keep the chicken in the skillet just long enough to re-heat it and coat the breasts in sauce.


Serve immediately.

Chicken in Buttery Caper Sauce

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Mmmm – delish! Capers will be on my shopping list this week! Thanks Mark.

    Grokesque wrote on March 16th, 2013
  2. This recipe looks like a keeper. I love capers.

    Shary wrote on March 16th, 2013
  3. YUM! Capers, Butter, how could it not be divine.

    barb wrote on March 16th, 2013
  4. I thought cooking with olive oil was not primal?

    Josh wrote on March 16th, 2013
    • If you type “olive oil” into the “google custom search” at the top of the web page, you’ll get lots of previous MDA info on olive oil.

      anabelle wrote on March 16th, 2013
      • Man, Saturday recipes receive so little comments. Damn shame. Or maybe people are out doing primal stuff. The chef in me prefers Saturday’s recipe post over any other day. Cheers to you Sisson!

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 16th, 2013
  5. Those breasts look just perfectly golden and crispy. Simple but great looking dish. My favourite since the allspice pork with sage/butter butternut squash =)

    Andreas wrote on March 16th, 2013
  6. In France, this is a prime example of just how a few, quality ingredients can create sheer alchemy…Choice, healthful, flavorful offering Mark. Elegant…yet not intimidating…the essence of an everyman approach to gastronomie à la française.

    We do something similar to this recipe at home…using tarragon instead of parsley…and adding a bit of lemon juice and dry white wine or vermouth to finish. Thank you for reminding us to take advantage of the highly flavorful caper brine.

    Donna wrote on March 16th, 2013
  7. Does nobody want to respond to me about the olive oil? This looks really good but I am confused.

    Josh wrote on March 16th, 2013
    • Olive oil is fine, it’s largely mono saturated. Go of good quality extra virgin olive oil, preferably locally grown, as there has been some issues in the past with not getting what you pay for with the Spanish ones. Here in Australia we have some serious quality on our doorstep. Start out with small bottles to taste, as its all different, don’t store it in the fridge, it will go cloudy and hard (wont effect the oil but makes it difficult to handle), store in the pantry out of light. Try searching this website for more info,
      Cheers :)

      Heather wrote on March 16th, 2013
    • If you use the extra light olive oil it’s smoke point is MUCH higher, well over 465degrees. Use the good quality evoo on salads and cold things but the light stuff has been processed differently. It is not light as on lower fat or calories but lighter in taste and color. Still very good for you. I get big jugs at Costco and cook pretty much everything in it.

      Sherry wrote on March 16th, 2013
  8. Holy shit this is good!

    Josh wrote on March 16th, 2013
  9. This looks absolutely amazing! I agree about olive oil, start from small bottles, cause they really taste differently and some even have a strong smell. So I would suggest to try a couple and then stick to one that is better. This oil is very healthy.

    Tam wrote on March 16th, 2013
  10. Thanks for the olive oil advice, I had some EVOO in the cabinet from october when I started to go primal, I hope it hasn’t gone bad at all, tasted fine, just had to make this…I made it with pork chops too, supreme.

    Josh wrote on March 16th, 2013
  11. Yummy! I want to make this asap :)

    Hillary wrote on March 16th, 2013
  12. This looked so yummy so we made it for dinner tonight and it is SO SALTY! It was good, but we will definitely cut down on the “generously season chicken with salt and pepper” next time. May cut out some of the caper brine too. If anyone else made it, what did you think?

    Dustorama wrote on March 16th, 2013
    • Agreed. Made this tonight and it was way too salty! I love capers, but I think the brine is too much. And I love salt.

      Kelly wrote on March 23rd, 2013
  13. We make a similar dish for special occasions that we call “our special chicken picatta”. We serve it over spaghetti squash and add a salad.

    If we use caper brine we do not use extra salt.

    We also use the juice of two lemons to extend the buttery sauce which is wonderful over the squash.

    Cindy wrote on March 16th, 2013
  14. Mark,

    The very title of your post makes me mouth water.

    I’ d probably try it with dark meat of fowl and with the skin on; and maybe with some capers tucked under the skin!

    joetexx wrote on March 16th, 2013
  15. Okay, so, I’ve gotta ask a dumb/newbie question. Do you EAT the capers? Or just season with them?

    Elenor wrote on March 16th, 2013
    • You can eat the capers :) They’re piquant so be ready with a brave tongue! I really love them myself…

      Sarah wrote on March 20th, 2013
  16. Josh, I hear ya.. I’ve also read in many places that olive oil is best cold, as it oxidises when heated.. maybe a little coconut oil can be used instead? or just butter maybe.. or best yet, a little rendered chicken fat?

    Cathy wrote on March 16th, 2013
  17. Mmm, that sounds delicious – guess what’s on my next shopping list!!

    oliviascotland wrote on March 17th, 2013
  18. Yes Elenor you do eat the capers, they are very nice enjoy them

    Hilary Mitchell wrote on March 17th, 2013
  19. All you guys are making me hungry, excellent blog.

    mr kumar wrote on March 17th, 2013
  20. Love this sort of thing! Any time I want to dress up a quick dinner of chicken or pork, I make an easy sauce with any combination of the following that I have on hand: butter, onion, shallots, mushrooms, capers, white wine, heavy cream and fresh or dried herbs of choice. Basically can’t go wrong no matter what you do!

    Chica wrote on March 17th, 2013
    • Forgot to mention:

      I use the same basic ingredient list — plus lemon juice or zest — for any white fish.

      Also, for pork I often throw in a dash of Worcestershire sauce (is that primal?) or some Dijon (especially good with thyme).

      Chica wrote on March 17th, 2013
  21. Made this for dinner last night and it’s scrumptious. Happily, leftovers today!

    Thanks, Mark, and for explaining what capers are. It’s one o’ those things I wondered about but never got around to looking up.

    Lynn wrote on March 17th, 2013
  22. I just went to the organic grocery store and there was only one bottle of capers left. Coincidence? I think not!

    Heather wrote on March 17th, 2013
  23. This looks delicious. I will try it sometime. I’m into body building, and many muscle building diets advise against butter. But a little of it is OK, as it contains Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA) which actually helps fat loss. In moderation it is OK for me, especially if the dish tastes good, it’s worthwhile. Glad you shared it.

    P Sutherland wrote on March 18th, 2013
  24. This was very good, i usually never eat chicken breasts but decided to try this !!! yum yum yum…just lightly salt and pepper .. i use kosher salt, & did throw on poultry seasoning… as i always do when i cook chicken… make roasted root veggies to go with it and have an awesome Once upon a Vine Red blend… yum

    Mary wrote on March 18th, 2013
    • i am such a pig I ate two servings : P

      Mary wrote on March 18th, 2013
      • oh … and Mark… i weigh 145 an need to weigh 125… this recipe is not helping !!!!!! :)

        Mary wrote on March 18th, 2013
        • and … not an…. must be the vino :)

          Mary wrote on March 18th, 2013
  25. Made this tonight. Twas delicious!

    Jackie Kessler wrote on March 18th, 2013
  26. Made this for dinner on Saturday night and it was fantastic! I’ll add this in regularly because it is fast with fairly complex flavor.

    Jennifer R wrote on March 18th, 2013
  27. I also look forward to the Saturday recipe. I made this last night and it was simple and awesome, a definite crowd pleaser. In a quasi response to Josh: I browned the chicken in coconut oil. I don’t think there was a noticeable flavor disturbance as opposed to using olive oil.

    Megan wrote on March 19th, 2013
  28. I made this last night and used some steamed cauliflower as a side. After steaming, I threw the cauliflower in the food processor and served next to the chicken. Covered both in sauce and capers… good! Thanks Grok!

    Ben wrote on March 19th, 2013
  29. Once you get that pan deglazed with the brine, how about taking it off the heat and mounting it with the butter. That way you get a sauce instead of a broken greasy mess.

    Joshua wrote on March 19th, 2013
  30. Yummy post !!! I am usually to blogging and i actually respect your post.

    dana dcosta wrote on March 20th, 2013
  31. It was AMAZING!!! I added fresh garlic and red chard.

    Andrae wrote on March 21st, 2013
  32. Made this last night, excellent. I’ve always, incorrectly, reserved Capers for fish dishes. They’re excellent here with Chicken. Excellent dish that will stay on my primal table.


    Bryan wrote on March 21st, 2013
  33. Made this last night over spaghetti squash with a simple paleo caesar salad, and it was an absolute hit. I agree with adding some lemon juice or wine to extend the sauce. My non-primal boyfriend exclaimed, “If this is what paleo is like, then count me in! I could eat like this every night!”

    Sophie wrote on March 21st, 2013
  34. I made salmon with this tonight and it was fantastic!

    Joshua wrote on March 23rd, 2013
  35. thanks for sharing the recipe. i made this using celtic sea salt with roasted brussel sprouts and grilled eggplant. it was amazing..and so easy. thank you!

    aliseya wrote on March 25th, 2013
  36. I made this tonight and served with a simple salad. HUGE hit. This is going on the rotation.

    Alexis wrote on March 25th, 2013

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