Chinese Lemon Chicken is the classic Chinese takeout recipe cooked with coated chicken breast in a sweet and sour lemon sauce in just 30 minutes.
We love Lemon Chicken (Orange Chicken‘s less popular cousin, haha), paired with Chicken Lo Mein or Classic Chinese Chow Mein. Add Crab Rangoon as an appetizer and this makes for an easy Chinese takeout meal at home!
Chinese Lemon Chicken
Chinese Lemon Chicken is a close match to the super popular Orange chicken in flavor but not presentation. The classic orange chicken is made with chunks of dark meat chicken that are tossed in a sweet, tangy and spicy sauce which lemon chicken is a fried chicken cutlet that is sliced and covered in a freshly made lemon sauce.
Though they may have similar flavors many people have very strong feelings about which dish is better. Many love that lemon chicken is the healthier version of orange chicken because of the use of white meat chicken, similar to Sweet and Sour Chicken.
If you’d like to make the sauce more yellow (some restaurants have it looking incredibly neon yellow), you can add 2-3 drops of yellow food coloring. I don’t suggest it, but if you’re looking to match the colors that would be the way to do it.
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Recipe:
Much like in my Orange Chicken recipe, I used to actually make this recipe in the slow cooker when Tyson made raw chicken tenders. I’d just put the tenders in the slow cooker with the sauce, cook on low for 3 hours, then add in a bit of cornstarch/water slurry and cook an additional hour. If you have any other raw chicken tenders or nuggets you can do the same, in fact Trader Joes has great breaded chicken tenders that are raw inside so you don’t overcook the chicken.
Chinese Lemon Chicken Batter:
You can make a wet batter for Chinese Lemon Chicken but this recipe calls for a standard wet and dry breading station which will lead to crispy batter similar to that of Orange Chicken.
If you’d like to try to make this Chinese lemon chicken recipe healthy you can skip the breading stage and just sear the chicken in chunks before adding the sauce. You can cut the sauce down by at least a third and also add in a number of vegetables like carrots and broccoli to make a Chinese lemon chicken stir fry recipe.
How do you make lemon sauce?
Orange Sauce is a mixture of lemon juice, cornstarch, sugar and water that thickens in a pan that is poured over.
Want more Chinese Food Recipes?
- Crispy Sesame Chicken
- Chinese Honey Chicken
- Easy Mongolian Beef
- Panda Express Recipes… every single one in fact: Panda Express Recipes Index
- Many more Chinese food options…
Tools used in the making of this Chinese Lemon Chicken:
Wok: The best way to cook quickly and over high heat for Asian dishes, this wok is the perfect stir fry pan.
Citrus Juicer: This juices your citrus perfectly without hurting your hands or covering them in lemon oils.
Chinese Lemon Chicken
- 3 chicken breasts boneless skinless
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch divided
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- Slice the chicken breasts in half butterflied into two thinner pieces each.
- To coat the chicken add the egg, salt, pepper and oil into a bowl and whisk together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, add 1/2 cup corn starch and 1/4 cup flour and mix well.
- In a large frying pan or a wok, heat more canola oil in a wok 375 degrees (medium high heat).
- Dip chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then dredge in the flour mixture.
Fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, then drain the oil.
- Add the lemon juice, sugar, water and remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch to the pan and whisk to combine.
- Cook until thickened and smooth.
- Slice the chicken into thin strips then serve with lemon sauce poured over.