Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe

Chinese Lemon Chicken
Why order take out when you can make your own Chinese lemon chicken at home?  There are a few different versions of lemon chicken out there, all coming from different countries. Probably the most popular type of lemon chicken would be baked in the oven. We all know baked lemon chicken is great but here is the Chinese version – just like take out or at the buffets.  The Chinese version varies greatly from that of other cultures. Like most types of Chinese chicken the chicken is first cut into small chunks, battered, and then deep fried and covered with a sweet-lemon sauce. I do have a confession to make, I used yellow food coloring to get the sauce that amazing bright yellow color. If you have some yellow food coloring on hand, just add a drop or two into the sauce before you heat it. This recipe goes great served with rice and broccoli. Enjoy.
Chinese Lemon ChickenChinese Lemon Chicken
2 1/2lbs boneless-skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1” cubes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch white pepper
oil (for frying)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chicken broth
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
3 slices of lemon (peeled)
2 tablespoons oil
yellow food coloring (optional)

Cooking Instructions:
Chinese Lemon ChickenChinese Lemon Chicken
Step 1: Place cut chicken breast pieces into a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Step 2: To make the batter – beat 2 large eggs with ¼ cup of cornstarch, a pinch of white pepper and baking powder.  Coat the chicken with the batter.
Step 3: Heat deep fryer to 350 degrees and deep-fry in batches until chicken is fully cooked. Drain on paper towels and set aside. You can also cook the chicken using a wok if you don’t have a deep fryer.
Chinese Lemon ChickenChinese Lemon Chicken
Step 4: Now, to make the lemon sauce – combine 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt (if using food coloring you can add it now). Mix until well combined and add 3 slices of lemon to the sauce mixture.
Step 5: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok and stir in the lemon sauce mixture and heat until well mixed and sauce becomes clear. Remove lemon slices and pour the sauce over the chicken and mix. Best served with rice and broccoli.
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229 Responses to “Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe”

  1. Misty — January 14, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    My daughter is allergic to wheat, corn & sesame. I’ve had success making “chicken nuggets” like this in the oven and on the stove using the “Gluten Free Bisquick” mix.
    My question is about the sauce…what do you think would work better as a substitute: GF bisquick, potato starch, or xantham gum?

  2. Bobby — January 14, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

    Misty- Sorry I do not know how to answer this question because I have not used any of those ingredients. If you do try one of them, please let everyone know how it turns out.

  3. Kelli — January 19, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    Looks fantastic! But about how long do you deep fry the chicken for?

  4. hana — January 19, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    Hi dont u add garlic?? Please advice…. Cant wait to make it and serve it…thanx..

  5. Bobby — January 20, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    Kelli – I would say about 5 minutes, but it really is going to depend on the size of the chicken pieces. Please make sure the chicken is fulled cooked (the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F).

    hana – No garlic is needed for this recipe. I have never tried adding garlic to this dish. If you do try it, please let everyone know how it turns out. Thanks.

  6. Emily — February 10, 2013 @ 3:12 am

    OMGOSH! It’s was amazing! I didn’t marinate as didn’t have a gf soy sauce on hand, everything I followed the recipe, I used everything gluten free even my stock was gf free, onion and garlic free as I’m on a low fodmap diet. I can’t eat out a Chinese restaurant unless I just order fried rice. I’m making this for my parents one night next week I was so impressed it tasted exactly like it should. Thankyou.

  7. Trish — February 23, 2013 @ 3:21 am

    So yummmy 🙂

  8. rita faye — March 10, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

    i love take out lemon chicken but i dont think they use broth in the lemon sauce and i would also like to make it with orange and other citrus flavors (chinese orange chicken is too hot and sauce is not on the side)

  9. Ducks — March 12, 2013 @ 10:17 am

    Just made it, just ate it… Perfect. Tasted just like restaurant lemon sauce.

  10. Sarai — April 14, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    Just made this with my 7year who had been begging to cook Chinese! He was happy with how much of it he could do on his own and everyone was happy with the end result. With 2 coeliacs in the family it’s always great to be able to make a gluten free version of a restaurant favourite – and as long as you use a gluten free stock & corn flour this one is a definite winner!!

  11. quishes — April 18, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

    thanks for sharing. i made one for my hubby and he like it so much.

  12. Lena — May 5, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

    I was wondering if the chicken could be marinaded over night?

  13. Lina — July 13, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    Hi, thanks for the great recipe. I made this tonight, taste is great but the sauce was a bit too thick, and after sometime it kinda turns into a gel-like substance.. Do u think i put in too much of the cornstarch? And how to make it turn perfect like yours… Any advice ? If i put in more water would it be better? But i dont want to mess with the taste as it is already nice the way it is…

  14. Bobby — July 14, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

    Lina – Yeah, it sounds to me like you used too much cornstarch. Try adding less next time and see what happens. The sauce should be thick but not like a gel.

  15. Mary — August 31, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    The best lemon chicken recipe by far!!! It’s delicious! 🙂

  16. dayna — September 4, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

    I’ve made my own lemon chic for awhile now and always had cornstarch in the house. However now I really wanted to branch out to diff recipes, I planned for tonight to make it and didn’t have 1 thing….cornstarch! Is flour going to work in breading and sauce? Plz help,my husband and my own belly are relying on this meal lol. Any suggestions?

  17. Bobby — September 5, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

    dayna – Hopefully it turned out okay. Sorry, I am not sure if flour will work in the breading and the sauce. If you did try it, please let everyone know how it turned out.

  18. Kirk — September 21, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

    Hello, just wondering if you have a recipe for the ginger pork/beef that chinese takeouts usually have? The lemon chicken is great by the way!

  19. Ricky Leiderman — October 8, 2013 @ 12:06 am

    I have done a chicken paprikash for years that everyone who likes paprika raves about. Your choice of the type of paprika. Sautee chicken pieces until almost cooked. Remove, use pan for diced onions and garlic, add sour cream, then paprika. Salt and pepper taste, put chicken back in and finish cooking. One pan, easy cleanup, and delish. I like it with egg noodles.

  20. rita welch — November 23, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    I made something using this recipe. I omited the part where you batter and fry. I used chicken thighs and marinaded in 2tablespoons low sodium soy sauce for 4 hours. Put butter and olive oil (1T ea) in skillet. Put chicken with soy and cook til done. Make sauce with 2T honey instead of sugar. Do everything else the recipe calls for. Serve over rice. Yum

  21. Kayzzy — November 26, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    @dayna – You can use flour instead of cornstarch. I know I’m late, but I hope I can help someone else.

    I always use flour instead of cornstarch and it’s still delicious.

    Anyway, I’m making this tonight, I found the recipe on Pinterest :).

  22. Sara — January 28, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

    Today was cheat day and I was feeling like chinese food – on a budget ! This recipe was AMAZING. I loved how easy it was, I do not own a fryer but I pan fried the chicken in avocado oil and it was simply delicious. Even better than alot of restaurants… I will DEFINITELY cook this one again, thank you !!!

  23. Robin — February 4, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    We love this recipe so much. I can’t believe I haven’t commented yet. We found it a few years ago and make it several times a year. Thanks for a wonderful recipe that is as good if not better than take out!

  24. Shirley — July 23, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

    how long does it take to complete the whole dish?

  25. Bobby — July 24, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

    Not sure exactly, sorry. I would say 45 minutes to an hour but that is just a guess.

  26. Janice — March 1, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the lemon sauce recipe. We had it this evening for dinner with rice and frozen chicken tenders I baked in the oven. To suit our taste, I increased the sugar and added some lemon zest; really good.

  27. Steph — September 7, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

    Tried making this tonight but my version looked nothing like yours.
    One part of your recipe that I found not clear enough, was what to do with the chicken when you take it out of the marinade. Following your instructions I put it straight into the batter mix from the marinade. I felt that the batter was not sticking. I was hoping for crunchy chicken but got a crunch deep fryer basket instead.
    So was there a step missing or am I just that bad of a cook

  28. Jackie — December 15, 2015 @ 4:11 am

    I made the sauce,but the measurement of cornflour are totally wrong ! I put 2 Tablespoons in as said and it kept thickening,had to keep putting lemon juice and stock in.I think you meant teaspoons that would be about the right concistency.

  29. Deb — February 6, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

    Absolutely the best Lemon Sauce! I love Chinese food but I have some food allergies that make eating at a Chinese restaurant impossible (two of many is Corn/Wheat). I miss Lemon Chicken so much. I substituted Gluten-Free Flour for the corn starch for frying portion. i have done this many times before and it works the same. For the sauce I used tapioca flour in place of the corn starch. It turned out wonderfully. It was sweet but not too sweet…it was perfect. I have saved this in what I call my recipe bible to make again!

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