Chinese Lemon Chicken is super popular Chinese American takeout dish! The ultra crispy chicken is nicely seasoned, juicy, and coated in a bright, tangy, lemon sauce that pairs deliciously with some freshly steamed rice.
If you’re a fan of Lemon Chicken, you’ll never need to order takeout again after trying this recipe!
Watch the Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe Video Below!
Ingredients for Chinese Lemon Chicken
This Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe is such a winner and perfect for a weeknight meal with a freshly steamed bowl of rice! Here is what you’ll need for the recipe:
- Chicken Thigh (You can also use chicken breast for this recipe)
- Kosher Salt
- White Pepper
- Shaoxing Wine
- All Purpose Flour
- Chicken Stock – I always recommend Kettle & Fire – use code CJPINS for 20% off your order here!
- Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Baking Powder
- Neutral Oil for Frying (canola, avocado, or vegetable work well!)
I like to use chicken thigh in this recipe but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to substitute here!
My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish.
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
Chinese Lemon Chicken: Recipe Instructions
Cut the Chicken
The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 2″ pieces. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook evenly when we fry them.
Next, place the sliced chicken into a bowl with kosher salt, white pepper, egg, and flour. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Next, mix the sauce by combining chicken stock (I always use Kettle & Fire – get 20% off your order when you use code CJPINS!), lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, honey, distilled white vinegar, and cornstarch. I always like to premix my sauce to have it ready to go during the fast cooking process.
Dredge the chicken
Mix together flour, cornstarch, kosher salt, white pepper, and baking powder in a large bowl. Give the chicken a final mix to redistribute the wet batter and let any drip off the chicken. Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots!
Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.
Fry (and double fry) the chicken
Heat a few quarts of neutral oil over high heat until the temperature reaches 350F. Carefully fry the chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. I highly recommend a thermometer to accurately measure your oil temperature, as you do not want the oil temperature to drop below 325F.
Remove the chicken then bring the oil temperature back up to 350F and fry a second time for an additional 1-2 minutes until the chicken is dark golden brown and crispy!
Add Sauce and Chicken
Heat the lemon sauce in a wok or large pan over high heat until the sauce has thickened slightly and looks glossy.
Immediately add in your crispy chicken and give the pieces a mix and toss in the sauce until each piece is nicely coated in the sauce. Serve immediately with some freshly steamed rice and enjoy!
If you liked this Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!
Do not let your frying oil drop below 325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your wings in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
PREMIX YOUR SAUCE
The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.
Chinese Lemon Chicken
- 1 lb chicken thight cut to 2" pieces
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup high-quality chicken stock
- 1/2 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Dry Seasoning Mix
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp baking powder
- neutral oil for frying canola, vegetable, avocado
- Cut the chicken thigh into similar size 2" pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
- Season the chicken with salt, white pepper, shaoxing wine and add egg and flour. Mix until combined and marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together chicken stock, lemon juice & zest, sugar, honey, white vinegar, and cornstarch until smooth.
- In a large bowl, mix together the Dry Seasoning Mix ingredients. Give the chicken another mix to evenly distribute the wet batter, then let any excess drip off and dredge the chicken in the dry mix. Pat the chicken pieces well to ensure there are no bald spots.
- In a large dutch oven or wok, heat neutral oil to 350F and fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and remove.
- Bring the oil temperature back to 350F and fry the chicken again for 1-2 minutes until dark golden brown and crispy.
- In a wok or large pan over high heat, add the premixed sauce and stir until slightly thickened and glossy. Add the chicken and toss in the sauce until evenly coated. Serve immediately with freshly steamed rice and enjoy!