Chinese Lemon Chicken

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Lemon Chicken recipe by

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Lemon Chicken - delicious Chinese restaurant classic

What is your favourite dish when getting Chinese take-away? Mine has always been Chinese Fried Rice, until I discovered the deliciousness that is Lemon Chicken.

I just adore the fresh yet sweet citrus flavour that gives tanginess without tasting of vinegar like most sweet and sour dishes (they can easily be a bit too much for me).

The sweet sticky sauce and crunchy yet tender chicken meat are a match made in heaven.

I am to this day confused why Lemon Chicken it is not commonly known in many parts of Europe - while it is a staple in any and all Chinese restaurants in the UK, I have not seen it here in Germany.

So it’s just as well that I have my own recipe that is at least as good, if not better (even if I say so myself) than take-away.

Lemon Chicken recipe by

What you need to make Lemon Chicken at home

  • The meat:
    you can make this dish using either chicken thigh or breast meat. In this instance, I use breast but tenderise it to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out during the frying process. This is achieved by adding baking soda to the marinade.
  • The equipment:
    Outside of very standard kitchen equipment, there are two pieces of equipment that I really recommend having and using for this:
  1. a wok: either a cast-iron wok (*) or non-stick stir-fry pan (*) that allow you to use metal utensils
  2. kitchen tweezers: if you don't already own some, consider getting yourself a pair of kitchen tweezers (*). They are not as clunky as thongs, nor as fiddly as chopsticks.
  3. measuring equipment: a good set of measuring spoons and cups (*) should be a given in any household to ensure consistent results.

    (*) affiliate links
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Is Lemon Chicken a popular dish in Chinese restaurants where you live? Please let me know in the comments below. And now let's put our aprons on, I'll see you in the kitchen.

Xoxo Rena


Chinese Lemon Chicken

Print this recipe

Better than take-away! Cook your own deliciously citrusy and flavoursome Chinese takeout classic - the sticky sauce and crunchy yet tender chicken meat are a match made in heaven. With my easy step-by-step Lemon Chicken recipe, your tasty meal will be ready in under an hour!

Fact Sheet

Category: main Cuisine: Asian Dairy free Main Dishes under 1 hour Cooking Method: frying Diet: Low Lactose Preparation Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes Servings: 2


  • 360g chicken (breast or thigh), in 1" cubes
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko
  • 6 TBSP corn starch
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh minced ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger powder
  • 3 TBSP Shao Xing wine
  • 3 TBSP light soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 cup peanut oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper, ground
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds for garnish


    Lemon Chicken ingredients
  1. For the marinade, combine: juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 TBSP light soy sauce
, of pinch pepper, 
1 tsp baking soda
, 1 garlic clove (minced), 
1 egg (beaten), 
1 TBSP Shao Xing wine
  2. Add chicken. Let marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Then add 4 1/2 TBSP of corn starch and mix well until all chicken pieces are covered.
  4. In a dry bowl, add 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs and transfer chicken pieces into it until everything is well covered.
  5. Cooking Lemon Chicken - breading
  6. Heat your wok, until the frying oil has reached approx 170-180°C / 350°F, then individually add your chicken pieces. You will most likely have to batch fry them, as they cannot touch - they will stick together and not get as crispy as needed for this recipe.
  7. Cooking Lemon Chicken
  8. Fry until dark golden brown on one side, then turn (we use kitchen tweezers or chopsticks) and repeat from the other side. This will probably take around 5-6 minutes in total.
  9. Once done, remove crispy chicken pieces from oil and set aside (on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil).
  10. Cooking Lemon Chicken
  11. When all chicken pieces are fried, give the wok a quick wipe with a kitchen towel, we are going to use it to make our sauce now and we do not want the breadcrumbs in.
  12. Add 1TBSP oil to the wok and fry off ginger and garlic for 30 seconds.
  13. Then add 2 TBSP soy sauce, 2 TBSP Shao Xing wine, juice of 1.5 lemons, 2 TBSP honey and 2 TBSP sugar - stir until all is dissolved.
  14. Now add the chicken stock and bring to a light simmer.
  15. In the meantime, combine 1.5 TBSP corn starch and 3 TBSP warm water to a slurry
  16. Once the sauce starts simmering and reducing, add the corn starch slurry and continue stirring until the sauce has a shiny surface and a sticky consistency.
  17. Transfer chicken pieces back into the wok and stir until everything is covered with the lemon sauce. Add scallion .
  18. Cooking Lemon Chicken
  19. Serve with rice and vegetables and garnish with sesame seeds.
  20. Lemon Chicken recipe by
Bon appetit


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Allison ware

Id love to try making this!! Looks tasty
> Reply < March 4, 2023, 7:20 p.m.

Rena .   moderator

It’s not difficult, give it a go! Bon appetit 😋
> Reply < March 5, 2023, 10:16 a.m.