Easy Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe (Homemade Sauce)


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It’s easy to enjoy your favorite Chinese takeout dish at home in under 40 minutes! Chinese lemon chicken pairs crispy deep-fried chicken with a mouthwatering sweet and sour Chinese lemon sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with rice for Asian lemon chicken that will have you tossing your takeout menus in the trash. 

Skillet full of lemon chicken topped with green onions, sesame seeds and three fresh lemon wedges.

Chicken in lemon sauce has an incredible citrus flavor. If you love orange chicken, you will love this Chinese lemon chicken recipe. Crispy nuggets of chicken are served with a tangy Chinese lemon sauce. It has that authentic restaurant flavor that you love but costs less to make. This recipe is always a hit in my house.

Asian inspired recipes are so easy to make at home. My favorites include Easy Orange Chicken, Beef Lo Mein and Authentic Kung Pao Chicken.

Why You’ll Love This Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe

  • Sweet and Tangy. The sugar and the lemon in the sauce are a delicious balance of sweetness and tanginess that’s not overpowering in any way. 
  • A family favorite. Kids will love these crispy chicken nuggets and the flavorful sauce. 
  • Uses pantry ingredients. You likely have everything you need to make this in your pantry. If not, all of these everyday ingredients are available in most grocery stores. 

Asian Lemon Chicken Ingredients

Ingredients for Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe.
  • Chicken Tenders: cut into bite-sized cubes. You can also use chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. 
  • Marinade: marinate the chicken in a simple mixture of cornstarch, soy sauce, egg, salt and pepper before dredging in flour and deep frying. 
  • Oil: for frying.
  • Asian Lemon Sauce: coat the chicken with a sweet and sour sauce of chicken broth, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and cornstarch. Give it even more flavor by adding garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. 
  • Garnish: before serving, I sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions and serve with lemon slices. 

How To Make Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe

  • Prepare the equipment. Heat oil to 375 degrees F for deep frying the chicken. 
Marinade and dredging plate for frying chicken.
  • Prepare the chicken. Combine the cubed chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes. Dredge the chicken cubes in all purpose flour and make sure the chicken pieces are evenly coated.
Crispy fried chicken draining on a paper towel.
  • Fry the chicken. Deep fry the chicken cubes until crisp and golden for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
A white bowl of Chinese lemon sauce with a silver spoon.
  • Prepare the Chinese lemon sauce. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Mix the sauce and keep it aside.
Garlic cooking in pan then remaining sauce ingredients are added.
  • Cook the sauce. Heat a medium pan, add oil, ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the sauce mixture and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce slightly thickens.
Crispy fried chicken in skillet of Chinese lemon sauce.
  • Add the chicken to the sauce. Transfer the chicken back to the pan and toss the chicken until coated.
A large bowl of Asian lemon chicken with a serving spoon.
  • Garnish and serve. Finally, sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions, toss and serve while it is still warm with lemon wedges on the side.

Tips To Make Chinese Lemon Sauce Chicken

  • Chop the chicken into similar sized pieces for even cooking.
  • Allow the chicken to marinate in the cornstarch, soy, egg, salt and pepper mixture before dredging in flour and frying. 
  • For perfectly crispy chicken, make sure the oil is adequately heated before adding the chicken. Be sure the temperature of the oil reaches at least 350 degrees F.
  • If the oil is too hot, it may splatter and will burn the outside of the chicken before the inside is cooked through. 
  • If you have a smaller pot, you may need to cook the chicken in batches. 
  • Drain the fried chicken pieces on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. 
  • Use fresh lemon for the sauce as it will have superior flavor to bottled lemon juice. 
  • For a thicker sauce, you can use a bit more cornstarch. 
Chicken in lemon sauce topped with sesame seeds and sliced green onions on a white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use chicken tenders?

Chicken tenders are a portion of the chicken breast that is very tender. You can certainly chop whole chicken breasts or use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe. 

Can I bake chicken in lemon sauce?

If you prefer to avoid deep-fried foods, baking Asian lemon chicken is a great option. Although the chicken won’t get quite as crispy, you will eliminate a lot of fat and oils from the final dish. 
To bake lemon chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare the chicken as directed. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Once the chicken has baked, prepare the lemon sauce and coat the chicken with it.

Can I make gluten free lemon chicken?

While this recipe is not written as gluten free, you can make a few adjustments for a delicious gluten free lemon chicken. For the chicken, you will want to use coconut aminos, liquid aminos or tamari (gluten free soy sauce) instead of the regular soy sauce, and you will need to dredge the chicken in gluten free flour. For the lemon sauce, use the same gluten free soy sauce alternative you used in the marinade. Cornstarch is typically gluten free but be sure to check the package. 

How do I store and reheat leftover lemon chicken?

Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or a saucepan until heated through. The chicken will not be as crispy as when you first make it. 

What is Chinese lemon sauce made of?

This sweet and sour sauce is loaded with fresh lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Chicken broth gives the sauce some volume and cornstarch thickens everything up. 

Can I freeze chicken in lemon sauce?

To freeze this, we recommend freezing the chicken and the sauce separately. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat the chicken in the oven until crispy and warmed through. Cook the sauce in a pan as directed, then add the reheated chicken, garnish and serve. 

What to serve with Chinese Lemon Chicken?

This chicken pairs perfectly with white rice, fried rice and cauliflower rice. You can also serve with veggies like steamed green beans or broccoli and white rice.

Close up shot of Chinese lemon chicken topped with sesame seeds and a lemon wedge.

More Chinese Takeout Recipes

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it, and share it with your friends and family!

If you try this recipe and liked it, please leave a star rating and comment below. Use my hashtag to share it with me on Instagram so I can see your delicious recreations! Also, follow me at Cookin’ With Mima on FACEBOOK |INSTAGRAM |PINTEREST for all of my latest social posts and recipes.

A white plate with Asian Lemon Chicken and a fresh lemon wedge. A bowl of fresh lemons is off to the side.

Chinese Lemon Chicken

Chicken in lemon sauce has an incredible citrus flavor. If you love orange chicken, you will love this Chinese lemon chicken recipe. Crispy nuggets of chicken are served with a tangy Chinese lemon sauce. It has that authentic restaurant flavor that you love but costs less to make.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 40 mins

Instructions

  • Combine the cubed chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes.

  • Dredge the chicken cubes in all purpose flour and make sure the chicken pieces are evenly coated .

  • Deep fry the chicken cubes until crisp and golden for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

  • Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Mix the sauces and keep it aside.

  • Heat a medium pan, add oil, ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the sauce mixture and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce slightly thickens.

  • Transfer the chicken back to the pan and toss the chicken until coated.

  • Finally sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions, toss and serve while it is still warm with lemon wedges on the side.

Notes

  • Chop the chicken into similar sized pieces for even cooking.
  • Allow the chicken to marinate in the cornstarch, soy, egg, salt and pepper mixture before dredging in flour and frying. 
  • For perfectly crispy chicken, make sure the oil is adequately heated before adding the chicken. Be sure the temperature of the oil reaches at least 350 degrees F.
  • If the oil is too hot, it may splatter and will burn the outside of the chicken before the inside is cooked through. 
  • If you have a smaller pot, you may need to cook the chicken in batches. 
  • Drain the fried chicken pieces on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. 
  • Use fresh lemon for the sauce as it will have superior flavor to bottled lemon juice. 
  • For a thicker sauce, you can use a bit more cornstarch.

Nutrition

Calories: 673kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 1979mg | Potassium: 1062mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 5mg






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