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Veal Escalopes (in Lemon Sauce)

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Incredibly tender veal escalopes served with lemon sauce. This classic Italian dish – Scallopine al Limone – is simple and delicious, and it’s made with only four ingredients.

overhead view of scallopine al limone in a skillet.

These delicate veal escalopes look and taste like high gastronomy, but they are easier to cook than you might think. A perfect dish to serve guests and something so quick and easy that you could cook any day of the week. Although, I must admit I tend to serve veal on special occasions.

What are veal escalopes?

Escalope is the French word for the English “scallop” or the Italian “scallopina,” meaning a thin piece of meat pounded flat. It is the cut used for making Wiener Schnitzel or Veal Marsala, two dishes you should also try. The scallops are delicate and delightful; they are super quick to cook and pair perfectly with today’s tangy lemon sauce.

Recipe ingredients

raw veal, lemons, spices, oil, butter and parsley on the table.
  • Meat: Small scallops weighing more or less 3 oz/ 85 g each. You will need two pieces per person; anything less would not be enough. And if you happen to have more, don’t stress; we never have leftovers.
  • Lemons: At least one of them should be organic and unwashed, as you will need its zest.
  • Olive oil: Good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Unsalted butter: It should be ice-cold.

Recipe steps

  • Pound the scallopine between two layers of cling film until they are about 0.2 inch/ 5 mm thin. Season them lightly on both sides. Place in a non-metallic container; I use a large glass casserole dish.
pounding escalopes between two sheets of cling film with a large mallet.
  • Make the marinade: Wash and dry the organic lemon, zest it and juice it. Whisk lemon juice with 4 tablespoons olive oil, stir in the zest (1). Pour over the meat pieces and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to one hour (2) (See tip).
bowl of lemon marinade and meat pieces marinating in a casserole dish.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Remove the meat pieces from the marinade and shake them to remove the excess. Reserve the marinade to make the sauce.
  • Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and keep warm (3).
frying small pieces of veal in a cast-iron skillet.
  • Lemon sauce: Pour the marinade into the pan and add the juice of the second lemon. The pan is still very hot, so that the sauce will bubble almost immediately. Let it simmer gently for one minute, then gradually stir in the cubed ice-cold butter (4).
  • Finish: Adjust the taste of the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the veal scallops to the pan and heat them gently for one minute. Sprinkle with parsley and some freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately (5).
collage of two pictures of making lemon sauce for meat in a skillet.

Expert tips and FAQ

  • Don’t marinate the meat for more than 1 hour; the lemon juice helps tenderize the meat and adds tons of flavor, but when left for too long, the acidity will break down the proteins, making the meat white around the edges, tough and rubbery.
  • Never marinade in a metallic container: the acid of the lemons can react with the metal.
  • It is preferable to cook the veal escalopes in two batches. I have a large pan (12 inches/30 cm), but even that is not large enough to hold them all in one layer. Also, don’t overcrowd the pan, or the meat will steam in its juices rather than being nicely fried.
veal scallops and lemon wedges in a cast-iron skillet.

Recipe FAQ

Can I use other meat instead of veal?

I often make the dish with thin chicken breast escalopes. Thinly sliced pork or beef is delicious as well.

Why should the butter be cold?

The cold butter added gradually and in small pieces to a hot sauce helps it emulsify, making it smooth and shiny.

What about leftovers?

Should you have any, store them in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Reheat them gently in a saucepan and add a small splash of water or chicken stock to loosen the remaining sauce. However, this dish is best served immediately; the meat will be drier after reheating.

What to serve with it?

Choose delicate-tasting side dishes like boiled potatoes, risotto, or crusty white bread. We love to serve veal escalopes in lemon sauce with French-Style Green Beans, Buttered Vegetables, or Buttered Peas when it comes to vegetables.

close up of many pieces of golden brown veal served with lemon wedges.

More escalope/schnitzel recipes:

close up of many pieces of golden brown veal served with lemon wedges.

Veal Escalopes (in Lemon Sauce)

Incredibly tender veal escalopes served with lemon sauce. This classic Italian dish – Scallopine al Limone – is simple and delicious, and it's made with only four ingredients.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beef, Pork and Lamb
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 421kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients 

  • 8 small veal escalopes about 3 oz/ 85 g each
  • 2 lemons divided (Note 1)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter ice-cold
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 sprigs of parsley

Instructions

  • Pound meat: Place the veal escalopes between two pieces of cling film on a cutting board. Pound them carefully to make them thinner, about 0.2 inch/ 5 mm. Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Place in a non-metallic container.
  • Marinade: Wash and zest the organic lemon. Juice it as well. Whisk 4 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice in a small bowl, stir in the lemon zest. Pour over the scallops. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (Notes 2,3).
  • Cook: Heat a large cast-iron pan or nonstick pan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Remove the meat from the marinade (reserve marinade), shake them to remove the excess.
    Fry them for 2 minutes per side. If the pan is not large enough, fry the meat in 2 batches (Note 4). Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  • Lemon sauce: Pour the reserved marinade back into the pan. Add the juice of the second lemon. Let bubble well for 1 minute. Gradually, stir in the cubed ice-cold butter.
  • Finish: Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Return the escalopes to the pan and warm for 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. At least one of them should be organic and unwashed, as you will need its zest.
  2. Don’t marinate the meat for more than 1 hour; the lemon juice helps tenderize the meat and adds tons of flavor, but when left for too long, the acidity will break down the proteins, making the meat white around the edges, tough and rubbery.
  3. Never marinade in a metallic container: the acid of the lemons can react with the metal.
  4. It is preferable to cook the veal escalopes in two batches. I have a large pan (12 inches/30 cm), but even that is not large enough to hold them all in one layer. Also, don’t overcrowd the pan, or the meat will steam in its juices rather than being nicely fried.

Nutrition

Serving: 2escalopes with sauce | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 699mg | Potassium: 699mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg
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