You’ll never need to buy takeaway again with this classic crispy Chinese lemon chicken recipe. It’s super easy to make and can be on your table in 30 minutes!
If you have been following our blog for some time now, you would have noticed that we absolutely love Chinese food.
But if I had to pick one recipe that we love the most, it would be Chinese lemon chicken.
The chicken is super crispy, and the lemon sauce is absolutely amazing.
Ingredients you’ll need to make Chinese lemon chicken
The recipe will generously serve 4 people, and there will be plenty of lemon sauce to go around.
Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
Lemon Sauce Ingredients:
- Chicken: I’m using skinless chicken breast. I don’t slice the breast in half because I prefer a thicker chicken. Thighs are also a great alternative.
- Chinese cooking wine/Shaoxing wine. A marinade to add more flavour to the chicken
- Soy Sauce: Combined with Chinese cooking wine to make an amazing marinade
- Seasoning: I am only using white pepper as soy sauce has plenty of salt. Salt and white pepper are also used to season the batter. Garlic powder: is used because I just love garlic 🙂
- Cornflour and plain/all-purpose flour: is used to thicken the batter and lemon sauce.
- Water: Used to create the batter.
- Egg: The egg is used to help the flour and cornflour stick to the chicken.
- Vegetable/canola oil: Used for deep frying the chicken.
- Chicken stock/broth: I use chicken stock as a base to create the lemon sauce.
- Lemon Juice: You can use fresh lemons or lemon juice. Lemon juice is naturally weaker in flavour. If you love a really punchy lemon, then use freshly squeezed lemons.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar brings the citrus down to manageable levels, creating the right balance of tang and sweetness.
- Yellow food colour (optional): Purely used for presentation. After all, this is Chinese lemon chicken.
How to marinade the chicken?
As mentioned in the ingredient notes above, there is no need to fillet the chicken breast.
Although please feel free to fillet them if you think the breast meat is too thick.
You can use the filleted piece to make more battered chicken if required.
Before starting lightly, tenderize the meat using a meat tenderizer to help break down the muscle fibres in the breast.
Leading to a juicer chicken as the end result.
In a small mixing bowl, add 1 ½ tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine/Shaoxing wine. Add 1 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp white pepper, mix well to combine.
Grab a large ziplock bag and place the chicken inside with the marinade.
Toss the chicken until it’s thoroughly coated in the marinade.
You can also place the chicken into the bowl to marinade. I just find the marinade coats easier in a ziplock bag.
Set the chicken aside for 30 minutes.
How to make batter for lemon chicken?
The batter is quite runny, but don’t worry, it will stick to the chicken well and create a nice thick, crispy batter.
Add ½ cup plain/all-purpose flour and ⅓ cup of cornflour/cornstarch in a bowl.
Season the flour with ⅛ tsp of salt and ⅛ tsp white pepper and combine.
Then beat 1 egg and add to the flour together with ½ cup of water.
Whisk until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth and runny.
How to deep fry chicken?
In a deep fryer or Dutch oven/wok, preheat vegetable/canola oil to 180°C (355°F).
It’s crucial to maintain a temp of 180°C, so the chicken cooks evenly.
Too hot, and the batter will burn with uncooked chicken inside. The chicken will cook, but the batter won’t be crispy.
Drop the chicken into the batter to coat and pop into the hot oil.
Pro Tip: Always place chicken into hot oil away from your body to avoid burning yourself or others.
Add another piece of chicken to the oil, but don’t overcrowd the pot. Only fry as much chicken as your pot will allow, and the temperature doesn’t fall too quickly.
Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness or until the chicken is a lovely golden brown.
If using an instant-read meat thermometer, fry the chicken until it’s 71°C (160°F) internally.
The temperature will rise 3-4 degrees while resting, bringing it to a safe eating temperature.
Repeat steps with any unfried chicken.
While the chicken is resting, it’s time to make our Chinese lemon chicken sauce.
How to make the Lemon Sauce?
Over high heat, measure ⅓ cup of lemon juice or freshly squeezed lemons and add to a small pot.
To the pot, add 1 cup of chicken stock/broth, ½ cup of sugar, ¼ tsp salt, ⅓ cup of cornflour/corn starch, and whisk until the cornflour has dissolved.
Whisk until the lemon sauce begins to boil, then optionally add yellow food colouring until you’ve reached your desired shade of yellow.
Bring the sauce to a boil and take off the heat.
Pro Tip: If you find the sauce isn’t thick enough, combine 1 tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp of water and whisk and add to the sauce.
Slice the chicken into fingers, drizzle the lemon sauce over the top, and then serve.
What can I serve with Chinese lemon chicken?
We have created some great serving suggestions on JustSoYum!
Can I store the lemon chicken for later?
Fridge: To store any leftover chicken, keep in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator to keep for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Place in an airtight container to be stored for up to 3 months.
Before reheating, allow thawing in the refrigerator to be heated in the oven, stove or microwave later.
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Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken (Better than Takeaway!)
- 4 skinless chicken breast
- 1 ½ tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine aka: Shaoxing wine
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup plain flour aka: all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cornflour aka: corn starch
- ½ cup water
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- vegetable oil or canola for deep frying
- 1 cup chicken stock/broth
- ⅓ cup lemon juice or freshly squeezed lemon
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp cornflour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4-5 drops yellow food colour (optional)
- Lightly tenderize the chicken breast using the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Then in a small bowl, add 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp of Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp of garlic powder, and ¼ tsp of white pepper. Mix well to combine, then place the chicken into a ziplock bag and add the marinade making sure to coat all of the chicken. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Preparing the batter
- To a bowl, add ½ cup plain/all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup cornflour, ⅛ tsp of salt and ⅛ tsp white pepper and mix. Beat 1 egg then add to flour mixture together with ½ cup of water. Whisk thoroughly until the batter appears runny.
Frying the chicken
- In a dutch oven/wok or deep fryer, preheat the oil until it reaches 180°C (355°F). Use a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer to assist.
- Coat the chicken breast in the batter mixture and carefully drop it into the hot oil, making sure to face it away from you. The temperature will lower to around 170°C (340°F) (This is normal).
- Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness or until the chicken is a lovely golden brown. If using an instant-read meat thermometer, fry the chicken until it's 71°C (160°F) internally. The chicken will continue to cook once removed, bringing it to a safe eating temperature.
- To a pot, add 1 cup of chicken stock/broth, ½ cup of sugar, ⅓ cup of lemon together. Then add ¼ tsp salt and finally 1 ½ tbsp of cornflour/corn starch.
- Stir over high heat and bring to a boil, then add two drops of yellow food colour if you like and stir. When the sauce thickens, remove from the heat and set aside. Slice the chicken into fingers, drizzle the lemon sauce over the top and serve.
Alternatively, you can leave a comment below and tell us how you went.