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. Audrey — July 23, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    Tried this recipe lastnight and it turned out great! My family could not stop complimenting and saying how I need to make this often. I’ve tried a locally made package mix and didn’t really care for it so kinda dropped the idea of making this meal till I googled and found this recipe. Thanks much, am going to find the oange chicken now!

  2. don goudge — August 7, 2009 @ 12:39 am

    I’ve tried five different lemon chicken recipes. this is by far the best. The batter does not seem enough, but it is. I also added garlic, tsp of soy sauce, and 3 tbls of lemon juice to the sauce . I also recommend microwave, steam, or sautee, vegetables such as 3\4 inch cut bell pepper, onion, carrot etc. mix it right in.
    Great recipe. Crowd pleaser.

  3. thyblues — August 8, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    This was great… I will never order take out!

  4. Stacy — August 25, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    The best i’ve ever had!! Simple and Amazing!!

  5. Marilee — August 25, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

    This was great! We may use a little less salt and a bit more lemon next time, but otherwise perfect. So much better than others I’ve tried. And fast, too.

  6. RV Quilter — August 27, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

    My husband is asking for this every few weeks. He never asks for anything. He will eat most anything I fix. But he loves this.

  7. lizziejoe — September 2, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

    This lemon chicken is delish, my children loved it. It is just like chinese take out. Only cheaper. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  8. Scott — September 9, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

    My boyfriend and I love this! Thanks for sharing, you are fantastic!

  9. tony , charbel — September 12, 2009 @ 5:29 am

    its z best recipient iv ever made, we got 10000 L.L. for each taste ;)-

  10. Joannelec — September 20, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

    My adult son has been asking me for “Lemon Chichen” for the past year. His deceased father made his own but I did not have the recipe(he keep it a secret). All your ingrediants are what he used but now you have given me my own recipe. Thanks from my son for this d-lish looking dish. Thank you from me for the road down memory lane.

  11. David from Stockholm — October 9, 2009 @ 1:14 am

    What a great recipe! I made it for the family last week, we all loved it. I plan to do it again tonight, a new Friday night tradition! Thank you SO much!

  12. Amy — November 11, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    Just made this and it was absolutely gorgeous!

    Only thing I’ll say it that next time I will make a bit more sauce as I like a bit more lemon-y-ness.

    Fantastic recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Nikki — November 11, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

    Wow this Chicken was great and I will Definitely be making it again! I didnt bread and fry the chicken, i just seared chicken cutlets on a griddle and then cut it up to make it more figure friendly, i also added some garlic and red pepper flakes just because i really like the flavors, although the sauce was excellent without it. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  14. paul — December 20, 2009 @ 10:14 am

    simply cracking recipe. more than reached expectation. Only done it 8 times in the last month – most sincere thanks, an absolute gem

  15. josie — December 29, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

    this is my favorite recipe at north park chinese restaurant in greenhills but now i can make it on my own….thank you for sharing this recipe, i can save my budget too!

  16. Di — January 3, 2010 @ 12:24 am

    I made this today and my bf loved it! Thanks for this recipe. =) I will try orange chicken next time.

  17. Shelley Cohen — January 7, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    This is the very best lemon chicken recipe I have made and my family love lemon chicken. I have made this recipe from you many times and they just love it. I rate this recipe 150/150 well done it is fantastic.

  18. Markopolo — January 15, 2010 @ 6:20 pm


  19. SimpleSongtress — February 2, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

    What an absolutely wonderful recipe! This is my first time using your recipe, my family is incredibly pleased with it. Absolutely delicious! I taste tested the chicken after frying it, very good!

    We did it with Chinese Green Beans and rice. I look forward to trying other recipes of yours!

  20. Cathrine — February 26, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    Made this last night, not quite what I wanted the sauce to taste like but still very yummy. thank you.

  21. Alexis — March 13, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

    This is a terrific recipe. I made it for the second time tonight and it was a smash. The sauce is so nice and light, not jelly-like. A definite win.

  22. Alexander — March 23, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

    This recipe was awesome!! Came together quite easily and tasted so good.. just like any decent Chinamerican restaurant! Wonderful!

  23. Theresa — March 26, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

    Thank You for this fantastic easy recipe. I cooked it the other night and my hubby and I loved it. It will be a regular now.
    Gluten free too which is awesome.
    thanks again

  24. Sophie & Kiri — May 3, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

    This is the best Lemon Chicken we have ever had. Even my fussy son was asking for seconds! Thanks Kiri & Sophie

  25. Gosia — May 4, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    My husband and I made this Lemon Chicken yesterday and we both liked it!! Thanks!!

  26. Josanne — June 24, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

    Got all the ingredients..just tried your Kung Pao Chicken..looking forward to this lemon chicken recipe! Trying this tomorrow!! Thanks! Your recipe’s are so easy to follow!

  27. Amy — July 2, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    THANK YOU THANK YOU!! This has become an instant family favorite. I shared it with some girlfriends and now it is one of their family favorties as well!!

  28. Sean — July 24, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

    Just wanted to say that this is an excellent recipe. My wife has celiac desease, so with a little gluten free soy sauce, she can enjoy a crispy chinese chicken recipe (always her favorite before she was diagnosed)!

  29. Gaetan — August 21, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    Awesome recipe! I just finished making it at home. Delicious!

  30. walter — September 3, 2010 @ 1:12 am

    deep frying the chicken isn’t necessary. just coat the chicken with some flour and shallow pan fry. then pour the sauce over it. much simplier!

  31. kayla jones — September 6, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    this is really hard to make but it tastes great.
    who needs take out? cook it yourself.
    much more yummer

  32. Mesha — November 7, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

    Bobby–I almost cried while I was eating this the other night. It tastes exactly like the chinese delivery we used to order from during finals week when I was pursuing my undergrad. They were amazing, so was this. Thank you so much!

  33. Holly — December 4, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe it’s the best lemon chicken I”ve ever tried and much better than my local take out. It was a BIG hit in my house and really enjoyable to make.

  34. Jocelyn — December 29, 2010 @ 4:23 am

    I tried doing this recipe and you what? It’s the most delicious lemon chicken I had in my entire life! The lemon sauce is just great. Can’t believe this amazing recipe is so easy to make. Thank you so much!

  35. dubay — February 9, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    i’ve been staying in an italian household for the last 3 months. i made them this lemon chicken recipe and they loved it, and in fact wanted more. thank you and cheers!

  36. Jade — February 21, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    I was wondering if I don’t have a cooking wok, Can I just use a frying pan?

  37. Bobby — February 21, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    Jade- Yes, fry pan will work.

  38. Jade — February 23, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    I was wondering if I don’t have a cooking wok, Can I just use a frying pan?Also, instead of deep frying can you fry the chicken in a pan with oil? thanks.

  39. Bobby — February 23, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

    Jade- yes to both. A fry pan will work fine.

  40. Kevin — March 10, 2011 @ 7:09 am

    Hey, Great recipe! but i do have one question. My chicken turned dark. I think because of the soy sauce? I don’t really know. Can you maybe tell me how i could lighten up my chicken a bit? Thanks.

  41. Bobby — March 10, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    Kevin- I am not sure what you mean by dark. If you mean the breading was dark, you probably overcooked it.If you mean the chicken itself was dark, yes, it probably was the soy sauce. You could just try skipping the marinade using light soy sauce.

  42. Kevin — March 11, 2011 @ 2:17 am

    alright.. thanks alot! 🙂

  43. steph — March 24, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

    veryyy veryy goodd i’ve tried it :)))

  44. Peg — April 5, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    Made this tonight, except I used a panko coating so that the lemon sauce would be optional (and the chicken would be crispy if someone didnt like it). Everyone loved it, no one thought it was too sweet. The consistency was wonderful. Looking for more of your recipes now.

  45. Sunny — April 26, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    I only used 2 chicken breasts, not 2 1/2 lbs.
    I didn’t use salt in marinade & used low sodium shoyu.
    I didn’t change anything with the batter.
    I DID double the sauce as we like to have plenty. I didn’t quite double the chicken stock but I did add more freshly squeezed lemon juice since I HAD it & didn’t want to waste it. So, of course, I added a little more than double the sugar too, to keep the balance of sweet/sour. I also added just the tiniest amount of smashed/minced garlic (a very small clove)and 1/2 tsp. peeled & grated fresh ginger. You don’t really need the yellow food coloring.
    Being from Hawaii where we have this a lot at restaurants, I can tell you that it turned out as good if not better than the best location I’ve had it at. AND as economical as it is to make at home, its nice to be in able to make sure there’s no msg and very little salt in it. This a definite “KEEPER”. Congrats on a winning combination!

  46. Jennifer — June 14, 2011 @ 9:51 am

    What is the best oil to fry this in? Looks delicious, can’t wait to try it!!!

  47. Dani — June 16, 2011 @ 8:13 am

    Is this cookable in a frying pan ?
    It looks delious. 🙂

  48. Bobby — June 16, 2011 @ 8:23 am

    Dani- Yeah, its cooking able in a frying pan. Just add about an inch of oil.

  49. sheila balsamo — July 3, 2011 @ 5:56 am

    my child said it’s delicous

  50. becky — August 29, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    how do you make chicken broth? will chicken stock do?

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