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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

Top 3 Ingredients for Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe

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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. grace says:

    who could go back to takeout after eating something like this? i certainly couldn’t and wouldn’t, because really–who knows what those places are doing to their food… 🙂

  2. Bobby says:

    grace – haha, it’s true you never know what they could be doing 🙂

    My Sweet & Saucy – exactly, who needs take out? You would love it.

    Kevin – thanks, it tasted great.

  3. Bobby says:

    Pokerstars – Thanks for the kind comments on my blog. I hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know how it turns out.

  4. I love lemon chicken…I love anything sour…LOL…Sweet and sour is even better! My husband makes a kickin’ General Tso chicken! Thanks for sharing!

    Kimberly 🙂

  5. Bobby says:

    Kimberly – I actually have an amazing recipe for sweet and sour chicken on here :). Hmm, General Tso chicken? I will have to put that on here sometime as well.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    This looks great, and can easily be modified for tofu. I am going to try this substituting the lemon for orange to make an Orange Tofu!

    Any ideas on how to do Sesame Chicken? Now that is my weakness.

  7. Sean says:

    I just made this and it turned out great. I used potato starch instead of corn starch (much easier to find here in Prague), but they are practically the same thing. I was a bit skeptical about the breading mix, I’m used to using flour or smashed corn flakes with a separate milk batter mix, but this made a very nice light crust and was a lot less trouble.

  8. Bobby says:

    Indian Food – it tastes amazing as well 🙂

    parastoo – no problem, always glad to help.

    Sean – I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think the breadeding is nearly perfect for this chicken. Many more good recipes to come.

  9. Bobby says:

    The Grub Hound – Thanks. It isn’t difficult at all. To make it a little healthier I would suggest cutting down a little on the sugar or replacing the sugar with honey. Hope this helps and let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  10. Mitzie says:

    I tried it substituting tofu for chicken and it turned out pretty well!

    The sauce tastes good 🙂

  11. JMB says:

    I made this tonight. Aside from being much easier than expected, it was a HUGE hit! My picky eater of a partner asked for the leftovers for lunch. Slightly less lemony than expected (and I added a ton) but still really delicious and not too bad of a clean up. Thanks for posting this!

  12. Bobby says:

    JMB – I’m glad you enjoyed it. If you want more lemon flavor try adding a little grated lemon zest to the sauce.

  13. Brad says:

    I have been looking for ways to cut down on my eating out costs. The cost has been getting out of control. I made this last night and was absolutely amazed with how it came out. I packed the leftover up for lunch at work and ended up eating it as soon as I got to work this morning. Ooops. Anyhow, that just means I have to go home for lunch and eat what I thought was going to be my dinner. It will be okay because now I will have to give your sesame chicken a shot tonight and maybe the sweat and sour chicken tomorrow. Hmmm, I will have to see what else you have here. This is going to be a great dish to serve at my Sushi parties for my non-fish eating friends. Thanks a bunch!

    BTW, I tried using the lemon zest for a stronger lemon flavor and it was fantastic. Keep up the great work my new friend.

  14. Bobby says:

    kbtruong – no problem, I hope you enjoy it.

    Brad – Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I hope you enjoy the sesame and sweet and sour chicken as well. I also so have a recipe for orange chicken on here. Many more good ones to come.

  15. cindy says:

    yes! i have been hunting for a tried and tested lemon chicken recipe since i found good ones for both sesame, orange, and cashew chicken. with this, i will practically have a chinese-take-out menu in my repertoire.

  16. Bobby says:

    cindy – great work on the chinese takeout menu. This will be a great edition for sure. Let me know how it turns out!

  17. Vic says:

    Congratulations on the excellent site ! It makes mine look a bit lame, you’ve got some great pics to go with the recipes.

  18. tye says:

    This was yummy. I made it tonight. The lemon sauce is to die for. I made a modification though. I used about a Tbsp. or grated lemon peel and skipped the lemon slices. Next time, I will not deep fry the chicken. I will skip the breading process and cook the chicken in a little oil in a pan to lighten it up a little. GREAT recipe. Thanks.

  19. Adam says:

    Hey, this is a nice recipe. Just tried it. Was waaaay to sweet, so I will have to half the amount of sugar used next time. I might also skip the batter, since it wasn’t crusty after I covered it ith lemon juice – unless I’ve done something wrong.

  20. Bobby says:

    Adam – Yeah, the breading isnt suppose to be crispy because its a batter. If you want crispy chicken trying dipping the chicken pieces first in egg and then shaking with flour before deep frying. Dusting the chicken bits with corn starch is another option.

  21. Victoria says:

    Thanks for LC recipe. I prefer dark meat. Could you pls tell me how you would do this with chicken thigh meat like Safeway? They told me it was thigh meat but wouldn ‘t devulge the recipe at all.

  22. Bobby says:

    Chef Tom – This recipe should do the trick!

    Victoria – Sorry, I have no idea what safeway’s lemon chicken tastes like but if you want to use thigh meat just replace the boneless chicken breasts with boneless chicken thighs.

  23. Ron says:

    I made this last night, and it was EXCELLENT! I can barely cook at all, but my wife was wowed with this.

    On a side note, I poured all of the sauce over the chicken for serving it, and my seven year old said it was too sweet! Next time I’ll use a little less of the sauce, maybe even serve it on the side so everyone can spoon their own.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  24. Mikael says:

    I don’t know how many thank you’s I can write here, but it certainly wouldn’t be enough. I’m from Norway, and I’ve looked for lemon chicken everywhere, but it just doesn’t exist. Everytime I’m in London or some other decent “Chinese-country” I order lemon chicken, and everytime I get home I search the net, but never find a recipe that looks similar and makes me want to try to make it.

    However, this has changed. Your recipe just looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it. I’ll run to buy a lemon first thing tomorrow morning.

    Thank you so much, you saved my day! I’ve never visited you before, but I’m sure I’ll continue to look around now…

  25. Bobby says:

    Ron – I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

    Mikael – No problem, let me know how it turns out! Many more great recipes to come.

  26. sharon says:

    WOW! The chicken looks absolutely perfect & delicious. Definitely better looking than the crappy Chinese delivery we had last night!

  27. Martin says:

    Hey, I was really looking forward to making lemon chicken. I was going to summer school the last 4 weeks and discovered a Chinese panda express restaurant that served lemon chicken. I ate it every day and knew i just had to learn.
    I got a hold of your recipe and tried cooking it but came short.
    I finished making the chicken and placed it on paper towels, at that point i was confident thinking all i had now was to make the lemon sauce and im on my way to a wonderful meal.

    But, when i made the lemon chicken, i followed every instruction perfectly but i did not come close to getting that lemon sauce taste that i tasted at the restaurant. I tried a second time but again the taste was just not there, not even close. I wonder what im doing wrong?

    If you could, can you give me more specific instructions for the lemon sauce.
    Also, does it matter what type of Chicken broth i use? I went to the store and there were different types.

  28. Arika says:

    I saw your recipe on Tastespotting and knew I had to make it. It wwas dinner tonight and both my husband and myself really enjoyed it.
    The only modifications I made were to use 3 tbsp. lemon uice instead of 2, cut the sugar to 1/4 c., and skip the oil in the sauce at the end.
    This lemon sauce is genius. Definitely one I am going to file away for future use on veggie strifrys.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I had some questions about frying, I’d never done it before, and posted about it on chowhound. I linked to your blog though and gave it a favorable review.
    Anyhow, thanks for the great sauce!


  29. Bobby says:

    Martin – Sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe. I have no idea what the lemon chicken at panda express tastes like so I can’t help you there. I don’t even have a PE close to me but I have been wanting to try their food because everyone talks about it! You shouldn’t have any problem making the sauce it’s very easy. If you are looking for stronger lemon flavor try adding a little grated lemon zest to the sauce. If you think it’s too sweet cut down on the sugar a little bit. I hope this helps, if you have any more questions I will be glad to help you. Thanks.

    Arika – I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! I love the sauce as well, it’s so good. Thanks for the link on chowhound, people seemed like they were really helpful there. I am a guy though, not a girl 😀 If you need any help I will be glad to help you. Thanks.

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