Chinese Lemon Chicken


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Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

The moment I saw Nami‘s review of this recipe from Bee‘s cookbook, I could hardly wait to try it. I expected a flavor similar to the traditional Orange Chicken that we all love, but this was different.

The lemon sauce is tangy, sweet and a bit more tart than I expected; we all really liked it and there wasn’t a drop of sauce leftover after the meal.

If you aren’t familiar with deep frying, do not be intimidated by this recipe. It was much easier than I expected and it required far less oil than I anticipated. I simply used a small saucepan with a couple inches of oil. The chicken turned out beautifully!

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I can’t believe I didn’t think to snap a picture of all of the chicken when it was finished cooking. It was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The whole family declared the chicken delicious.

Once it was drizzled with sauce, there was a very quiet table for our dinner as everyone was focused on eating every simple bite!

Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Chinese Lemon Chicken

Recipe adapted from and with thanks to Just One Cookbook and Easy Chinese Recipes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders this was 9 chicken tender pieces
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • Coconut oil for deep frying (or flavorless oil of your choosing)
  • Optional: 1 cup white vinegar **
  • Marinade Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce use tamarind if GF version is desired
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 2 teaspoons sherry cooking wine
  • Coating Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • * Gluten Free substitutions: ½ cup brown rice flour + ⅓ cup potato starch + ¼ cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch - combine all three of these and substitute for the flour and cornstarch combination listed above
  • Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice this was the juice of 2 large lemons
  • 1/4 cup plum sauce this can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores
  • 1 rounded tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot
  • pinch of salt to taste


  • Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken tenders in a gallon size ziploc bag. Press the air out and squeeze the bag gently to ensure that all the pieces are coated in the marinade. Let rest on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Whisk together the coating ingredients in a pie plate or a flat bottom dish or bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and set aside next to the coating. In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, combine all the sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. This should only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside.
  • Heat 2-3 inches of the oil in a small, but deep (to avoid splattering) saucepan until it is 350 degrees. I didn't test the temperature of my oil, I simply set it to medium high on my stove and it was ready when it barely bubbled, after a few minutes of heating. If the oil smokes, it is too hot.
  • Dip the chicken in the egg, then dredge well in the coating. Turn it a couple of times to evenly coat each piece. Shake off the excess coating and then gently drop the chicken into the oil. I was able to easily cook 3 chicken tenders at a time in the oil. Fry the chicken until it is golden brown, this took about 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oil using kitchen tongs and drain on paper towels.
  • When all the chicken has been cooked, slice each tender into bite size pieces and serve drizzled with the Lemon Sauce. Enjoy!
  • ** Setting a cup of vinegar in a small open bowl next to the stove, works to eliminate the vast majority of the odors associated with frying foods. It really does work (Thanks, Leesa!) and there isn't a vinegar smell that remains later either. Simply toss the vinegar down the drain when you are finished cleaning up after the meal.
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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14 Comments Leave a comment or review

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  1. Joanne says

    Back when I still ate meat, I always found lemon and orange chicken to just be TOO sweet. This balance of flavors sounds perfect though!

    • Mary says

      Yes! It does work. I do it every time I work with oil now. I just updated the recipe to include that tip.

  2. Jenn says

    Yum!! I love lemon chicken! There used to be a place out here that had THE best lemon chicken, but of course, they closed like two years ago! Oh well.. now I have a recipe that I can make at home!

  3. Monet says

    This is one of Ryan's favorite things to order out (actually, he likes orange chicken, but it is basically the same citrus/fried goodness). I can't wait to make this for him! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    Hi Mary! Sorry I am late to come here (and so strange that I didn't get a pingback either). Thank you for trying the recipe and link back to me! Looks so delicious! This is one of my kids' favorite and I have to make it again as I still have plum sauce (I don't use it for other dishes so far). I am intrigued to try the vinegar method. I think a lot of people will change their mind about deep frying once they try this method. I myself can't wait to try. Thank you again!!