My husband absolutely loves eating lemon chicken. He orders it every time we go out to a Chinese restaurant, so I decided to make Chinese Lemon Chicken for dinner this week. It’s sinfully sweet and sour, a great balance of the sourness of fresh lemon juice with white sugar. This is the perfect main dish for your weeknight dinner. You can whip it up in half an hour.
Cooking this Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe is similar to my Orange Chicken recipe. Lemon chicken has a tarter flavor due to the sour flavor of lemons, whereas the orange chicken is more sweet.
Like most of my weeknight dinner recipes, everything you’ll need to make this recipe you have in your house. It’s a very easy recipe – the most time consuming part is coating the chicken pieces with the cornstarch-flour mixture.
You can use any type of skinless, boneless chicken. Chicken breasts work great, but I prefer using chicken thighs. They are cheaper to buy at the grocery, saving your family money, and dark meat has a deeper flavor. But chicken breasts work great too!
If you double the sauce, you can also add your favorite steamed vegetables to the pan and coat them with its sweet and sour goodness.
Easy Chinese Take-Out Lemon Chicken
- 1 lb chicken breasts or chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
For the Lemon Sauce
- 4-5 lemons, freshly squeezed juice (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Coat the Chicken Pieces
- Cut your chicken into large bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk an egg. In another shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch
- Dip the chicken in the egg first, then the flour mixture.
Fry the Chicken Pieces
- Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium-heat. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy. (Be careful not to let the chicken pieces touch, or they'll stick together.)
- Remove from oil and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
Making the Lemon Chicken Sauce
- In a large mixing bowl, juice 4 or 5 lemons (for more sour sauce, use more lemons.) Add sugar, water, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix together to combine.
- Over medium heat, add the lemon sauce into your pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and stir well to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
- Remove from heat and enjoy with a bowl of white rice.