Chinese Lemon Chicken

4.90 from 19 votes
Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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 Chinese Lemon Chicken, you’ll never need to order takeout again after trying this recipe!

Close up of Lemon Chicken on a plate

Watch the Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Raw ingredients for Chinese Lemon chicken in a bowl

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 – I like to use chicken thigh in this recipe but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to substitute here!
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Pepper
  • Shaoxing Wine – If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
  • Egg
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken Stock
  • Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Baking Powder
  • Neutral Oil for Frying – 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. 
Chinese Lemon Chicken top down on a plate with rice

Chinese Lemon Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

The first step in making Chinese Lemon Chicken 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, 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.

Mixing lemon sauce in a bowl

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 Chinese Lemon Chicken 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 your fresh Chinese Lemon Chicken!

Cooked Lemon chicken in a wok

Recipe Tips for Chinese Lemon Chicken


  • 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!)


  • 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.

Cooking With a Wok (Alternatives)

By now, you know that I LOVE cooking with my carbon steel wok! It is my #1 most recommended kitchen tool, as I believe it is perfect for high-heat cooking and results in restaurant quality Chinese food!

If it is your first time cooking with a wok, make sure to read my “How To Season a Wok” post. There is a video included that shows exactly how to season your brand new wok and how to maintain it so it lasts for years.

If you cannot or do not want to use a wok, you can use a large pan, cast iron, or even a dutch oven.

My KEY TIP would be to avoid crowding your pan – crowding can lead to your Chinese Lemon Chicken not cooking thoroughly and becoming mushy. If you think your dish will be crowded, use a larger pan, cast iron, or dutch oven, OR cook in batches.

If you liked this Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!

If you tried this Chinese Lemon Chicken or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
4.90 from 19 votes

Chinese Lemon Chicken

Servings: 3
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Chinese Lemon Chicken top down on a plate with rice
This Chinese Lemon Chicken is perfectly crispy glazed in a bright, tangy lemon sauce and so much better than takeout!


Lemon Sauce

Dry Seasoning Mix


  • 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!


Calories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 1716mgPotassium: 100mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 83IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is absolutely my favorite lemon chicken recipe. Your recipe is easy to follow and make in my kitchen. We all devour the chicken and incredible sauce!