How are Capers Used in Cooking?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 April 2020
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The small, round closed plant buds of the caper plant can be used in many different ways in cooking. Since the plants grow wild in Mediterranean countries, many dishes from these regions call for capers. The sharp-tasting caper may be substituted for any type of olive. The caper may be used in salads, sauces or as a garnish for a plate of smoked fish. One of the most popular classic Italian caper dishes is chicken piccata.

To cook chicken piccata, thin boneless pieces of poultry are first coated with flour before being fried in olive oil. The cooked chicken is then removed from the frying pan and wine, herbs, garlic and lemon slices are heated while being stirred to create a sauce. Capers are added at the end of the cooking time. In any cooked caper dish, the capers should be added near the end to prevent them from becoming too mushy.

Some cooks like to pan fry capers to make them extra crispy before adding them to dishes. There are also different types of caper products available that affect the texture and taste of a dish. There are salt-packed as well as pickled caper products. Many cooks have a preference of using one type over the other, but both types can be used in all kinds of hot and cold recipes.


The caper may be used to create sophisticated versions of potato, egg or tuna salad. The flavorful plant bud can be added to the prepared tuna, egg or potato along with mayonnaise, olives, red onions, vinaigrette dressing and freshly ground pepper. In France, the caper is often used in a mayonnaise-based sauce to serve alongside seafood. For a cold summer dinner, capers may be added to a fish and rice salad; this may be served on a bed of greens such as a mixture of lettuce, spinach and finely grated cabbage.

Wine, lemon, herb and caper white sauces may be served hot over cooked seafood such as scallops. The herbs used may include dill or tarragon. Mustard and caper sauce can complement cooked chicken breasts. The flavor of different types of pasta sauces can be enhanced by adding capers. While capers are almost always used whole in cooking due to their small size, slicing them first tends to intensify their flavor.

Since most types of caper products are high in salt, they shouldn't be used when cooking for those on low sodium diets. Capers are said to be a good source of the antioxidant rutin. Antioxidants are thought to help relieve the body from stresses and free radicals that may cause disease.


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Post 3

Capers can be great on a pizza, especially if you have some Italian meats on there as well. Meat, cheese, capers, bread, tomato sauce, what more could you want.

Post 2

My mom was famous for her lemon caper chicken recipe. It was a staple at her dinner parties. I have fond memories of it because it was very fragrant and the smell would fill up the house on the nights of the parties.

I wish I had the recipe but it got lost in the mist somewhere. I have tried other recipes but none is quite as good as my mom's.

Post 1

My favorite way to cook with caper is to add them to egg salad. I will also add some celery. The celery provides crunch and the capers do a lot to elevate the flavor of the egg salad. The creamy eggs and mayonnaise are complimented by the sharp capers.

I would eat this more often but capers are really expensive.

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