Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken
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This Lemon Chicken is an easy and crispy Chinese chicken dish that’s sweet and savory, balanced with tangy flavor. It’s a perfect weeknight meal as Chinese lemon chicken can be ready in under 30 minutes, so much better than takeout.
LEMON CHICKEN CHINESE STYLE
Chinese lemon chicken recipe features Chinese fried chicken coated in a sweet and tangy lemon sauce. It’s one of my most popular Chinese chicken dishes along with Sweet and Sour Chicken, Orange Chicken and Bourbon Chicken.
Lemon chicken Chinese style consists of chicken breasts that are battered and deep fried before being coated in a lemon sauce.
LEMON SAUCE FOR CHICKEN
The best part of this recipe is the SAUCE: it’s sweet, tangy and savory. Made with lemon juice, sugar and water and then thickened by cornstarch slurry, lemon chicken sauce is so irresistible!
To make the sauce, add lemon juice, and sugar and water in a frying pan. Bring the mixture to boil. Then mix cornstarch with water and add the mixture to thicken the sauce. Stir until mixture is smooth and thick.
HOW TO MAKE STICKY AND CRISPY CHINESE LEMON CHICKEN
- Start with cutting your chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. In a mixing bowl, add cubed chicken, zest of half a lemon, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well and marinate the chicken for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Coat the marinated cubed chicken with flour.
- Deep fry the chicken for about 3-4 minutes until they turn golden brown. Remove and drain oil. Set aside.
- Make the lemon chicken sauce in a skillet, and then add in the chicken. It’ll thicken more as it cools to become the sticky coating.
I learned this amazing authentic recipe from a friend who used to work at a restaurant in China. The secret to getting the tender chicken is to cut the chicken into small cubes, marinate and then cook through hot oil.
This is a process called velveting, which many Chinese restaurants use to make meat juicy and tender. The secret for getting the crispy coating is to dip marinated chicken cubes into flour, and deep fry them into perfect golden brown.
- Both chicken thighs and chicken breast work for this recipe, but make sure to cut your chicken into 1-inch cubes, allowing for quicker cooking and a crispier coating.
- If you don’t want to deep fry them, it’s fine to pan fry your chicken. It will still taste amazing, but won’t be as crispy as the deep fried ones.
- Taste-test your lemon chicken sauce before you add cornstarch and water mixture. Increasing sugar will give a sweeter flavor, while adding more lemon juice will make it tarter.
- Garnish your lemon chicken with sesame seeds and serve with steamed rice and broccoli or your favorite vegetables. You can also double or triple this recipe and make extra for Meal Prep. Lemon Chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Watch How to Make Lemon Chicken:
Chinese Lemon Chicken (with Video)
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup water, (plus another 3 tbsp for cornstarch mix)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- In a mixing bowl with cubed chicken breasts, add zest of half a lemon, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well and marinate for about 15 minutes.
- Coat the marinated cubed chicken breasts into flour.
- In a medium-sized saucepan heat the oil to 350˚F. Deep fry the chicken for about 3-4 minutes until they turn golden brown.
- Remove and drain oil. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add 1 cup water, lemon juice (about 2 tbsp) and sugar. Bring the mixture to boil.
- Mix the cornstarch with 3 tbsp water, then add the mixture to the frying pan to thicken the sauce. Stir until mixture is smooth and thick.
- Mix in the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Serve and enjoy!
- If you have extra time, marinate the chicken for more than 30 minutes. But if you are in a rush, you can even reduce the marinating time to 10 minutes.
- Make sure not to crowd the pan when you fry the chicken, otherwise, the chicken might stick together and won’t be cooked properly.
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