Chinese Lemon Chicken

Easy and delicious Chinese Lemon Chicken which tastes better than your local take-away! Crispy pieces of fried chicken tossed in a fresh and vibrant sticky lemon glaze. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

chinese lemon chicken with fresh coriander in skillet

Lemon Chicken

A classic dish found on many Chinese restaurant menus is Lemon Chicken. It is typically a plate of chicken pieces deep-fried in batter, and tossed in a sticky lemon glaze.

The advantages of making Chinese Lemon Chicken at home is that you can make a healthier version of fried chicken, and a more vibrant and fresher-tasting lemon sauce.

chinese lemon chicken in skillet with fresh herbs

Lemon Chicken Recipe

My Lemon Chicken recipe starts with my Homemade Popcorn Chicken recipe. This is an easy fried chicken recipe which I use as the basis for several dishes, including this Chinese Lemon Chicken and my Crispy Honey Chicken.

The sticky lemon sauce is very similar to the sauce that I use for my Crispy Honey Chicken, but with the addition of freshly squeezed lemon.

Chinese Lemon Chicken

In many Chinese restaurants, this dish is often served with small pieces of chicken fried in batter.

You can also use large pieces of chicken breast fillets in this recipe. In which case, I recommend thinning the fillets with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper, so that you have fairly thin and evenly-sized fillets (about 1 cm/0.4 inch thickness). Marinate and coat the chicken breast fillets as per the recipe below. To serve, thickly slice the breast fillets before drizzling the sauce all over.

chinese lemon chicken in pan with cilantro

How to Make Chinese Lemon Chicken

To make Chinese Lemon Chicken, you need to make two components:

  1. Crispy, fried chicken (see below); and
  2. A sticky lemon sauce.

How to Make Crispy Chicken

To make tasty, bite-sized pieces of crispy chicken, please see my recipe for Homemade Popcorn Chicken with step-by-step photos.

how to make popcorn chicken process photos
{Homemade Popcorn Chicken recipe with step-by-step photos}

The sticky lemon sauce is super easy to make. Simply whisk all of the ingredients (minus the lemon juice and lemon slices) in a large jug, or straight into a pan. Bring the sauce to the boil and let it simmer until it has thickened slightly.

Take the sauce off the heat, and then add the lemon juice to taste. I generally start with the juice of half a lemon, and keep adding until the sauce is to my liking.

fried chicken in lemon sauce in skillet

What to Serve with Chinese Lemon Chicken

Steamed Jasmine Rice is best accompaniment to Chinese Lemon Chicken, to which I would also recommend some steamed vegetables, such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Cauliflower
chinese lemon chicken with lemon slices in pan

More Chinese Recipes

For more Chinese recipes, you might also like:

Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)

Chinese Chicken & Corn Soup

Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken


Chinese Lemon Chicken

5 from 9 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Easy and delicious Chinese Lemon Chicken which tastes better than your local take-away! Crispy pieces of fried chicken tossed in a fresh and vibrant sticky lemon glaze. Recipe with step-by-step photos.


For the Marinade

  • 700 g (1.5 lb) chicken breast fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese shaoxing wine
  • 1 egg white

For the Crispy Chicken

  • 300 g (2 cupsplain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • vegetable oil for shallow frying

For the Sticky Lemon Sauce

To Serve


For the Marinade

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, about 2 cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Place the chicken into a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add the marinade ingredients.
  4. Mix everything together until the chicken is well-combined in the marinade.
  5. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

For the Crispy Chicken (Please see my recipe for Homemade Popcorn Chicken for step-by-step photos)

  1. Heat a large saucepan with enough vegetable oil to about 2 cm (1 inch) depth.
  2. Place the flour into a large bowl or baking tray.
  3. Pour the chicken, together with all of the marinade, onto the flour.
  4. Use your hands to coat the chicken in the flour. The liquid in the marinade will mix with the flour to form a light batter.
  5. Press the flour into the chicken to help form a craggy coating on the chicken. It is this craggy coating which will make the chicken crispy and crunchy.
  6. The oil is ready when it reaches 165°C or 325°F, or when a wooden chopstick inserted in the oil creates lots of small bubbles.
  7. Cook the chicken in batches until golden in colour.
  8. Drain the chicken pieces on kitchen paper or on a wire rack.

For the Sticky Lemon Sauce

  1. Mix all of the ingredients, except for the lemon juice and lemons, together in a bowl or measuring jug.
  2. Heat a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Pour the sauce into the skillet.
  4. As the sauce starts to simmer, use a whisk to stir the sauce to prevent any lumps from forming.
  5. The sauce needs to come to a boil to activate the cornflour (cornstarch), which will thicken the sauce.
  6. Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, take the pan off the heat.
  7. Whisk in the lemon juice. Start by adding the juice of half a lemon, and keep adding more to taste.
  8. Once you are happy with the Sticky Lemon Sauce, add the lemon slices. These are mostly to serve as garnish or decoration.
  9. This recipe makes a lot of sauce so there is enough to drizzle over some steamed rice or vegetables. If you don’t want a lot of sauce in this dish, remove half of the sauce and store it in the fridge for another time.

To Serve

  1. Add the Crispy Chicken pieces to the Sticky Lemon Sauce.
  2. Use a spoon to quickly toss the chicken pieces in the sauce.
  3. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Jenny 22 March 2021

    Wow! This recipe was amazing! I wanted to try your popcorn chicken recipe but thought I might as well make the lemon sauce as it looked so easy. And I’m so glad I did. Family gave 10/10 for this dish!

  2. Mike 22 March 2021

    Delicious! I made extra sauce to serve with some steamed greens.

  3. Karen Tran 26 March 2021

    So delicious and very easy to make. The lemon sauce was so good. The chicken was also really tasty and crunchy. I will be making this again for sure!

  4. Maya 9 May 2021

    Excellent recipe! Loved the fried chicken and loved the lemon sauce.

  5. Sharon 13 May 2021

    Lovely recipe! The lemon sauce was very fresh tasting and addictive. The fried chicken was addictive too! Can’t wait to try your other recipes.

  6. Elaine 8 August 2021

    Thank you for this recipe— it’s the first one I’ve made from your site and it was amazing! The chicken was tender and the coating so crispy. The lemon sauce delightful. We loved it. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. They all look so good.

    • Eat, Little Bird 14 August 2021

      Hi Elaine,
      That’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this recipe 🙂 Thank you for visiting my site and I hope you will enjoy many more recipes from here!

  7. Johnny 14 April 2022

    Delicious recipe! The crispy chicken and the lemon sauce were so good! Family loved it.

  8. Hong Kim 27 April 2022

    We loved this recipe so much. The lemon sauce was so fresh tasting and zingy. We won’t be ordering this out anymore!

  9. Aimee 1 June 2022

    This was amazing!! The chicken was so crispy that I had to stop myself from eating it all before serving the family! And the lemon sauce just made them even more delicious.