Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 16 2013

Chicken in Buttery Caper Sauce

By Worker Bee

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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66 thoughts on “Chicken in Buttery Caper Sauce”

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  2. Those breasts look just perfectly golden and crispy. Simple but great looking dish. My favourite since the allspice pork with sage/butter butternut squash =)

  3. 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.

  4. Does nobody want to respond to me about the olive oil? This looks really good but I am confused.

    1. 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 🙂

    2. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. Okay, so, I’ve gotta ask a dumb/newbie question. Do you EAT the capers? Or just season with them?

    1. You can eat the capers 🙂 They’re piquant so be ready with a brave tongue! I really love them myself…

  11. 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?

  12. Mmm, that sounds delicious – guess what’s on my next shopping list!!

  13. Yes Elenor you do eat the capers, they are very nice enjoy them

  14. 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!

    1. 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).

  15. 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.

  16. I just went to the organic grocery store and there was only one bottle of capers left. Coincidence? I think not!

  17. 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.

  18. 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

      1. oh … and Mark… i weigh 145 an need to weigh 125… this recipe is not helping !!!!!! 🙂

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.


  24. 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!”

  25. 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!

  26. I made this tonight and served with a simple salad. HUGE hit. This is going on the rotation.

  27. This was so good! And so easy. My husband loves capers and I used extra. It was really yummy!

    I had to modify it a bit. I only had salt-packed capers I picked up in Italy last year. I soaked them to remove some of the salt and used apple-cider vinegar.

  28. This was amazing! I added a bunch of halved Kalamata olives. Next time I’ll add in some fresh garlic and won’t overcook the chicken!

    1. Mmm garlic and olives would be perfect in this… great idea Laura!

  29. Delicious! Made this last night and everyone loved it. Even my little ones like it so much that thet ate theirs and then kept coming up and picking parsley and capers off my plate. They liked it so much that when I finished my plate my son LITERALLY had a tantrum until I served up a fresh plate of small bites for him.

  30. My husband and I really liked this dish. The leftovers were great for lunch, too!

  31. This is absolutely amazing! Made it today and OMG! I want to eat this every single day. Didn’t add any salt but turned out to be salted enough!
    Oh, and I made this with some asparagus with butter and parmesan. YUM.

  32. I’ve never bought or cooked with capers before, but I wanted to try something different, I’ve been trying to get adventurous with my food and ease into more paleo recipes… and I have to say, HOLY YUM! I love love this recipe, this chicken was great, husband and kid-approved in my household! Will definitely add this to my recipe rotation, I’m just glad there are leftovers for me 🙂

  33. I’ve made this twice this week and OMG!! It’s so gooooooood! I made it with broccoli and cauliflower, which was delish cause they soak up the butter. Best dinner I’ve made in a long time!

  34. I’m completely new to this whole paleo diet thing and it is soooooooooo confusing. Butter is paleo??? Or is this more like a “cheat meal”? Oh well… I’m making this regardless. It looks amazing.

    1. Nevermind! I read the link! I get the butter thing now… once again… can’t wait to make this for dinner this week!

  35. A little late to the party, but….this is great. The 2nd time around I added 2 Tbsp lemon juice, which made it fantastic! Served over shaved zucchini and carrot. Mmm, mmm, good!