This Chinese lemon chicken is crispy battered chicken breast pieces smothered in a sweet and tangy lemon sauce. A remake of the take out classic that tastes just as good as what you’d get in a restaurant!

I always order lemon chicken at Chinese restaurants, but it’s actually quite easy to make at home! Add some steamed rice and veggies for a complete meal that the whole family will love.

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Chinese lemon chicken in a frying pan, garnished with lemon zest, sesame seeds and green onions.

I am on a quest to make all my Chinese food favorites at home. So far I’ve conquered some of the classics like beef and broccoli, kung pao shrimp and egg rolls. Next up is this crispy Chinese lemon chicken, and it’s a good one!

How do you make Chinese lemon chicken?

The first step to making Chinese lemon chicken is to batter and fry your chicken pieces. I use chunks of boneless skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs will also work just fine. The chicken pieces are dipped in a seasoned egg mixture, then coated in a blend of cornstarch and flour.

Chicken breast pieces coated in egg, flour, cornstarch and seasonings.

The chicken pieces then go into hot oil and get fried to crispy perfection. I use canola or vegetable oil for frying, and I always use a thermometer so I can keep track of how hot the oil is. The oil should be in the 350-375 degrees F range. If the oil is too hot, the coating will burn before the chicken is cooked through. If the oil is too cold, the chicken coating will absorb a lot more of the oil and be greasy.

Fried pieces of chicken breast for Chinese lemon chicken.

What is a lemon sauce?

While the chicken is frying, I make my lemon sauce, which is a simple mixture of fresh lemon juice, sugar, water and cornstarch. Do not be tempted to use store-bought lemon juice here, fresh squeezed lemon juice is an absolute must. The sauce may look a little pale in color compared to the chicken at your Chinese restaurant. This is because some restaurants use yellow food coloring to enhance the color of the sauce, which I haven’t done in this recipe.

The chicken gets coated in the lemon sauce and then topped with lemon zest, green onions and sesame seeds for garnish.

Fried chicken pieces in a pan of lemon sauce.

What goes well with lemon chicken?

My favorite way to serve Chinese lemon chicken is over steamed rice. I also serve a simple steamed veggie like broccoli or asparagus. You could also serve this lemon chicken with a side of Chinese noodles such as chow mein.

Chinese lemon chicken served over rice with chopsticks.

This Chinese lemon chicken is best served immediately, as the crispy coating on the chicken will start to soften once it’s tossed with the sauce.

Your whole family will go crazy for this crispy lemon chicken! There’s no need to call for takeout when it’s so easy to make your own Chinese food at home.

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4.95 from 34 votes

Chinese Lemon Chicken

AuthorSara Welch
Chinese lemon chicken in a frying pan, garnished with lemon zest, sesame seeds and green onions.
This Chinese lemon chicken is crispy battered chicken breast pieces smothered in a sweet and tangy lemon sauce. A remake of the take out classic that tastes just as good as what you'd get in a restaurant!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Asian
Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • oil for frying canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


  • Place the eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Place the flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Stir to combine.
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the egg mixture, then into the flour. Repeat the process with all of the chicken.
  • Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees F.
  • Add 7-8 pieces of chicken to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. Place the lemon juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the lemon juice mixture. 
  • Bring the sauce to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • Toss the lemon sauce with the chicken. Stir in the lemon zest. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions, then serve immediately.


Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 471mg | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 9.2mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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4.95 from 34 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Worked great. I followed the recipe as closely as I could. Although had only panko crumbs instead of flour. Maybe could benefit from some extra spicy add ons. Sriracha sauce definitely helped!

  2. 5 stars
    Amazing. My entire family was in love, I made 12 servings for 8 people with sides and we had no leftovers. I made a little extra sauce and I couldn’t get it to thicken (which I am 100% was my error) but holy moly it was the best lemon chicken sauce we have ever tried.

  3. 4 stars
    I didn’t have any chicken in the house but had a head of Cauliflower. If you’re vegetarian, try it out! Love the entire concept but maybe 1-2 tablespoons of sugar instead of 1/3 cup.

    I would also recommend adding 1 diced carrot (cut at an angle) and 1 celery stake. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp of rice vinegar, 1 clove of garlic (minced) and the whites from the spring onions. Add your aromatics to hot wok, sizzle for 1 min . Add carrot and celery. Cook for 2 -3 min. Then add the cooked lemon cauliflower (you’ve already fried cauliflower and mixed it with sauce in a separate pan or bowl)

    . Garnish with greens from spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.

    Thank for this easy to follow recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    This is really delicious and my 4 year old requests it fairly often, so I oblige. To make it a little healthier, I skip coating the chicken in the egg (mostly because I’m lazy) and coat in 1/4 c. brown rice flour along with 1 tbs. cornstarch and then shallow fry. I also cut the sugar down to 2 tbs for the sauce and it’s still sweet enough. Overall, it’s a hit with our family!

    1. Thank you for the idea for coating it with brown rice flour. I have out myself on a diet which cuts out breads and pasta. I was thinking of a way to substitute the all purpose flour with something else that I could use. Off to the store I go!

  5. 5 stars
    The recipe was tasty although I did find the lemon sauce a bit to time making the recipe I would recommend using 1/4 cup sugar instead of 1/3.

      1. 5 stars
        This came out wonderful. Used a rice flour for Allergie reasons .

        Will be making again for sure.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! Such a treat to have it fresh and the zing of the real lemon was fantastic. Was really fun to make and will definitely make again.

  7. Why post a review when you haven’t even made it. What do you think reviews are for? Here’s mine. It’s easy and tastes like authentic lemon chicken you would get at a higher end Chinese restaurant. Followed the directions exactly and had no changes or leftovers for that matter. Served with rice and steamed snap peas. Definitely a keeper. Kudos to Sara!!

    1. 5 stars
      I have made the sauce for this recipe several times now and absolutely love it! It takes very little effort and has minimal ingredients which works like a charm when making several other dishes at the same time.

      I cheat and just get frozen breaded chicken pieces that I can pop in the oven and then toss in the sauce when they are cooked. Makes for a really quick and low effort dish. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂