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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. Sarah says:

    I Made The Lemon Chicken And It Was the Best.
    I Have Been Looking For A Good Lemon Chicken Recipe For A Long Time.

    This Lemon Chicken Was Better Than Any Chinese
    Restaurant I Have Ever Been To!!!

  2. Sharri says:

    I love this recipe. It is excellent. My family always enjoys when I make this. Sometimes I change the sauce to spicy thai or whatever suits me that day. Thank you for posting. 🙂

  3. Beth says:

    I made this today for lunch because I was craving Chinese like no other and stumbled across this recipe. I substituted instant pancake mix for the chicken coating since i didn’t have eggs laying around (I haven’t made my grocery run yet XD) and this turned out delightful! I also had to sub. flour for the corn starch, and it gave it a real nice yellow color.
    VERY delicious recipe and VERY easy to make. This is going in my “favorites” recipe slot above my sink, and I’ll be making this again very soon! Thanks bunches, and keep cooking

  4. teleny parrish says:

    I’d use saffron instead of yellow food coloring. Saffron and chicken are natural partners (marigold petals work also, but, sheesh, need your own plant I suppose) and not TOO far off the Chinese herbal pharmacopia….

  5. Christie says:

    I found this recipe and thought I would give it a try. I did up the Lemon Juice to 3/4 of a cup, as we like our Lemon Chicken more tart and lemony!!! But over all very yummy Thank you!!! Def. a staple Lemon Sauce in our house now!!!

  6. Evelyn says:

    Best lemon chicken I’ve had by far! I don’t think the food coloring’s necessary, but to each their own. This takes a while to make but is SO worth it. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

  7. Michelle says:

    YUMMY!!! I made this tonight and I just had to write a WONDERFUL review. I try recipes all the time from various websites and I NEVER write a review, but this was AWESOME!! Super easy and the whole family liked it. That never happens here. My very picky 8 yr old asked for seconds….WOW!!! Thank you for sharing this, I’m sure it will be made very often in this house.

  8. Ashley says:

    This tasted perfect. I added a bit more lemon juice. My only complaint is my chicken wasn’t very crisp. I followed the directions, I just wanted something with more crunch. Otherwise this is now my only go to recipe for lemon chicken. Thanks so much

  9. Mohan says:

    Hi, I LOVE CHINESE LEMON CHICKEN. But so far, I never found a recipe that DOESN’T use dry sherry. But then BOOM ! I found your website and this recipe didn’t use dry sherry. But I was wondering, is it possible if I DID NOT USE THE 1 CUP OF CHICKEN BROTH in making the sauce ? Would it still taste as good as it was with the chicken broth? Is there another option than using chicken broth? Will water do ?

    I’m a new cook… so I’m not really experienced in this. Oh and by the way is it okay if I dont use sugar at all? Will that effect the lemon chicken?

  10. Bobby says:

    Mohan- Cutting down on the chicken broth and not using sugar will have an effect on the taste of this dish.

  11. Mohan says:

    Bobby, what can I substitute the chicken broth with? I’m a little uncomfortable with using preserved things… Is there an alternative?

  12. Mohan says:

    Hm… thats even harder…. I think I’ll stick to chicken stock, just maybe I wont serve this frequently. I guess it’s okay to have this wonderfully scrumptuous looking lemon chicken once in a while…

  13. Mohan says:

    Hi Bobby, I am gonna make this lemon sometime soon, but I’d like to ask in preparing the mkarinade we should use soy sauce. Is that LITE soy sauce or THICK soy sauce? Or do you mean the SWEET soy sauce? I’ll be waiting for an answer before heading out to the supermarket… =)

  14. Bobby says:

    Mohan- just regular soy sauce. I have never heard of sweet soy sauce. However, lite soy sauce will work fine as well.

  15. Mohan says:

    Thank you Bobby, actually I’ve never heard of regular soy sauce. Here in Malaysia we have a range of soy sauce, from lite to thick, sweet to sour, sour to salty. Perhapse it’s not native in non-Asian countries? I donk know… but thank you again! I’m gonna make this for my brothers birthday celebration… =)

  16. Mohan says:

    Hi Bobby, I thought that I’d let you know that I tried this lemon chicken recipe of yours….
    I mixed a little chicken stock cube with some water and used a greatly reduced amount of sugar…
    AND IT TASTED GREAT!!!!!!!!!!! I was worshipping the delicious dish !!! thanks for the recipe and please… keep adding more !! 🙂

  17. Graham says:

    Great sauce but having made it i can add that it would have tasted much better with ginger and black pepper added to the sauce

    lemon chicken also has a ginger taste to it so just thought i would mention that so you could try i have never made the sauce with chicken stock i had always used lemon juice and sugar but it is even better with the stock

  18. Luana Obregon says:

    Hi, I loved the chicken it came out great just had trouble with the lemon sauce. Mine came out too salty? I used Swanson’s chicken broth which I noticed on box it has tons of sodium. I used the amounts suggested in recipe for everything and it was too salty. I did not use the oil in pan and instead of pre mixing like you said I did it all in the pan while cooking…could that be the reason?

  19. Joanna says:

    Thanks Bobby for this delicious recipe…I am cooking it as we speak, omg sooo delicious 😀
    P.S. I did add some ground ginger. My fav orange chicken from Panda Express definitely uses it! Thanks again, love!

  20. Bobby says:

    Luana Obregon- I am not sure of the cause. The sauce should not be too salty. Chicken broth does have alot of sodium in it but I have never had a problem with this recipe being too salty.

  21. Sandy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic recipe. Your instructions were so easy to follow and the lemon sauce was just awesome. Definitely a recipe that will be used again and again.

  22. Lauren says:

    I made this for dinner the other night and it was amazing! My whole family enjoyed it. Thank you for such a great recipe.

  23. Leanne says:

    Amazing..tastes gr8. I added 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice & extra 1/4 cup sugar to sauce recipe. I will never buy lemon chicken again, this one’s better

  24. Silverlady Adams says:

    I had this at Five Happiness in New Orleans, La. It was fabulous. Anyone had this at Five Happiness? If this is the same, it is so good.

  25. Shareen says:

    Tried it today with a few changes to the measurements and thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks. Best recipe of this dish yet.

  26. Steph says:

    Wow, looks delicious! And I don’t even need sherry! This is definately on the menu for this weekend!

  27. hotrox22 says:

    I tried this today. It is such a great recipe. My dad did the dish and made some adjustments to it but it still tasted good. You can also put lime if you dont have lemon. I trie it and ittastes the same! Thnx for the recipe!:):D(lol)

  28. Amanda says:

    I made this recipe last night and loved it!

    I squeezed lemon onto the chicken right when I was done frying it, and I also upped the lemon juice to the juice of two lemons, but that’s personal preference.

    I didn’t need to add any extra sugar or salt, and the breading was perfect! Nice and light. I served it with jasmine rice and broccoli and it was delicious! Thank you SO much! I’m definitley recommending you and this recipe to my friends! =)

  29. M says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely recipe. I’ve never really cooked before, and I tried my hand at this today. It tasted and smelt delicious, and was a big hit with my sister.

  30. Jaide says:

    I made this recipe while on the quest for the perfect lemon chicken. I’ve had lemon chicken many times before and it has always been a gamble (Ive come to the conclusion that most restaurants make their lemon chicken with dish washing liquid, as 9 times out of 10 that’s exactly how it tastes) this recipe restores my faith in just how tasty lemon chicken is… I served it to my very fussy boyfriend and he loved it too!
    Thank you for putting up this recipe (and thanks google, for rightly putting this page at the beginning of my search)
    10 stars!

  31. Sarah says:

    OMG – made this the other night and it was amazing.. Had so much leftover, just meant i got to eat it again 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing such a good, easy to follow recipe.
    I did however do the flour, egg, flour to make a more crispy chicken coating and i used rice flour instead of cornflour in both the coating and the sauce, both did the same trick beautifully, good if you cant eat cornflour…
    Thanks again this will definitely be a repeat on the menu, now off to find the sweet n sour as another one of my favorites…. 🙂

  32. Ina says:

    Tried this recipe for last night’s dinner and turned out exactly like ones I had in my favorite restaurant. Well I didn’t use any coloring but the taste was awesome and frankly, looks more rustic with clearer sauce. Thanks for this recipe.

  33. Gosha says:

    Thanks for this simple and delicious dish. I’ve never tried cooking Chinese before and I succeeded!!! I do a lot of cooking and this is going to be one of my fave. new recipes .One hint-if there’s time -it’s good to have home-made chicken broth(flavor unbeatable). That’s what I used.Thanks again…and You see me browsing your recipes soon-:)

  34. Karen says:

    Family loved it! I served it with brown rice and steamed broccoli (which assuaged some of my guilt about the deep frying and the sugar :))

  35. Shanna says:

    I just finished this recipe. It is really good and for sure is a keeper. I couldn’t stop picking at the battered chicken while i was doing the sauce. It was so tasty and juicy. I do not find the sauce to be very lemony though. Next time I will double up on the lemon juice.
    Thanks 😀

  36. Rose says:

    Out of the blue I was crazing lemon chicken and I just found and made your recipe. The kids were giving me dirty looks but once they tried it…kid approved! Thanks.

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