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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 to cut into small chunks, battered, and then deeply 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

Chinese Lemon ChickenChinese Lemon Chicken

Chinese Lemon ChickenChinese Lemon Chicken

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Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe

  • Author: Bobby


  • 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)


  1. Place cut chicken breast pieces into a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the batter – beat 2 large eggs with a ¼ cup of cornstarch, a pinch of white pepper and baking powder.  Coat the chicken with the batter.
  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.
  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.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok and stir in the lemon sauce mixture and heat until well mixed and the 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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  1. Misty says:

    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 says:

    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. Bobby says:

    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.

  4. Emily says:

    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.

  5. rita faye says:

    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)

  6. Sarai says:

    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!!

  7. Lina says:

    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…

  8. Bobby says:

    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.

  9. dayna says:

    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?

  10. Bobby says:

    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.

  11. Kirk says:

    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!

  12. Ricky Leiderman says:

    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.

  13. rita welch says:

    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

  14. Kayzzy says:

    @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 :).

  15. Sara says:

    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 !!!

  16. Robin says:

    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!

  17. Janice says:

    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.

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