This Crispy Lemon Chicken takes just 30 minutes to prepare! Perfect for busy weeknights or when you have guests over!
Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken drizzled with a sweet and tangy multidimensional lemon sauce that is irresistibly delicious! Your entire family will love this chicken and you will love the one-step batter – so much easier than traditional breading!
Easy Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe
Aloha! I am still in Kauai (follow my Instagram Stories HERE) and enjoying some pretty crazy delicious food. But to be honest, this Chinese Lemon Chicken that I made just before I left is right up there. Yes, it’s that good. The chicken is tender and juicy, infused with flavor through and through, the golden breading is crispy and crunchy and the Chinese Lemon Sauce is the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. In other words, this Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken is about to become a new family favorite!
To make this chicken even more happy to make, I’ve created a one-step batter instead of the multi-step process of marinating the chicken, dredging in flour, egg, flour, etc. I have always wanted to try this method and I am kicking myself for not perfecting it sooner! It makes breading chicken super quick and SO easy, not to mention way less of a messy production.
Simply combine your marinade of lemon juice, honey, soy sauce along with your egg, egg yolk, flour and spices all in one bowl to create a nice sticky batter. Add your chicken and let sit for 20-60 minutes to soak in flavor and tenderize. Now all you have to do is coat your chicken in breadcrumbs!
I first tried to bake these chicken strips after breading with already toasted panko and while the chicken strips were somewhat crispy, they were not crispy enough to even call “crispy” in the title. This texture is totally fine and you are welcome to bake them, but what really made me pause was as soon as the sauce was drizzled over the chicken, the breading not only wasn’t crispy anymore, it become undesirably soggy. No thank you. You could avoid this by dipping the chicken in the sauce instead of drizzling it, and you are welcome to do so, but in my book the pan fried version takes the cake without any competition.
So if you want extra crispy, extra fabulous Chinese Lemon Chicken, pan fry the strips in a pan of shallow oil in two sets, being careful not to crowd the pan and out will come beautifully golden chicken with a nice crunchy texture on the outside and tender chicken on the inside. Patrick could not stop eating these strips plain!
And he definitely could’t stop once I drizzled the breaded chicken strips with the Lemon Sauce. The sauce is a symphony of ingredients, including lemon juice, apricot preserves, honey, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, Asian Sweet Chili Sauce and freshly grated ginger. The Lemon Sauce ingredients simmer together to create a sweet and tart sauce so layered with flavors you won’t be able to stop stuffing your face.
Dinner as it should be.
Breaded Lemon Chicken Ingredients
This easy lemon chicken recipe comes together quickly! Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Make sure you don’t cut the pieces too small or they will overcook and dry out.
- Oil: You’ll be frying the chicken in vegetable oil to make it ultra crispy.
- Chicken broth: Use low-sodium chicken broth so you can control the amount of salt in this dish.
- Honey: Sweetens the sauce and balances out the sour lemon juice.
- Apricot preserves: Adds multidimensional fruity sweetness.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is best in this recipe.
- Soy sauce: Use reduced sodium soy sauce so you can control the amount of salt in this recipe.
- Red wine vinegar: Adds a fruity tang, which complements the lemon juice.
- Asian sweet chili sauce: Just 1 tablespoon adds lots of flavor.
- Asian hot red chili sauce: Something like Sriracha would work perfectly here.
- Ginger: Freshly grated is best.
- Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce.
- Eggs: You’ll need one whole egg and one egg yolk to make the batter.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour, but I’m sure a gluten-free 1 for 1 flour substitute would work too.
- Spices: Garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder, salt and pepper flavor the sauce and give it dimension.
- Breadcrumbs: I chose panko breadcrumbs to ramp up the crispy factor of this Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken instead of just flour. Panko breadcrumbs are larger than normal crumbs so they become even crispier than traditional breadcrumbs for a guaranteed crunch in every breaded chicken strip bite.
How to Make Chinese Lemon Chicken
This breaded lemon chicken is so easy to make! Here are the basic steps:
- Whisk together the batter ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken, then let sit at room temperature 20-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all of the sauce Ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Remove the chicken one piece at a time from the batter, then coat in panko breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet.
- Add enough vegetable oil to a large fry pan to cover 1/4-1/2 inch up the sides.
- Once hot, add chicken to pan and pan fry until golden and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, whisk lemon sauce and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until thickened.
- Drizzle lemon sauce over crispy fried chicken and dig in!
Tips for Making Lemon Chicken
- To make breading chicken even more streamlined and less messy, use one hand to add the battered chicken to the panko and the other hand to coat in the panko then your hands can stay clean instead of caked and crumbly. simple pleasures.
- When frying the chicken, don’t crowd pan or the chicken won’t get crispy. You need to fry it in batches!
- Don’t walk away from the chicken while it is frying become it can turn from crispy to burnt in a flash!
Recipe Variations to Try
If this easy lemon chicken recipe isn’t exactly how you want it, MAKE it how you want it! It is easy to customize the sauce by:
- sweeten it up with additional honey or sugar
- spice it up with additional chili sauce or red pepper flakes
- make it tangier by adding additional red wine vinegar
- amp up the lemon flavor by adding lemon zest
- amp up the garlic and/or ginger for a stronger punch of flavor
- add vegetables by stir frying veggies then adding to the chicken and the sauce and stirring to coat
Can I Prep Lemon Chicken in Advance?
Even though this Chinese lemon chicken is quick to make, you can still prepare it in stages if that works better for you.
- Lemon Sauce: Whisk the lemon sauce ingredients together but do not simmer/thicken. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Batter: Whisk the batter ingredients together in a Ziploc freezer bag. It’ll keep up to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Chicken: Dice into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days before making the recipe.
How to Store Breaded Lemon Chicken
This Lemon Chicken recipe is best served fresh because it is at peak crispiness, sauciness and the chicken is the juiciest. You will find leftover chicken is not quite crispy or as flavorful.
However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat Lemon Chicken
- How to reheat on the stove: Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, even if they are small portions. To reheat, heat a drizzle of vegetable, canola or peanut oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
- Reheating in microwave: Microwaving leftovers is not advised as the chicken can become rubbery and the breading will definitely not be crispy. It is better to reheat in the skillet.
Can I Freeze Chinese Lemon Chicken?
If you are making Lemon Chicken specifically to freeze, then I recommend freezing the fried chicken and lemon sauce separately so the chicken doesn’t get soggy.
TO FREEZE CHICKEN WITHOUT SAUCE:
- Cook chicken according to directions.
- Let chicken cool to room temperature (on the baking sheet) then transfer baking sheet to the freezer.
- Let freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.
- Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air and label.
- Add lemon sauce to a separate airtight container.
- When ready to use, defrost chicken and sauce in the refrigerator overnight.
What to Serve with Chinese Lemon Chicken
Lemon chicken is traditionally served with rice because it soaks up the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. That being said, you still have a few options:
- Rice. I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb. Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles. Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
IN ADDITION TO RICE, YOU CAN SERVE Lemon CHICKEN WITH:
- Appetizers: Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls or Chinese Chicken Wings.
- Veggies: You can stir fry any veggies your heart desires from broccoli, to bell peppers, to mushrooms, to carrots, etc. or you can serve with roasted veggies such as my favorite Honey Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts – so good! You can also serve with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Broccolini, Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Carrots, or Roasted Squash. When roasting veggies to serve with Asian dishes, I like to add a ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice.
- Shortcut Veggies: You can purchase pre-chopped veggies perfect for stir fries or use a frozen stir-fry blend or steam-in-the-bag microwavable frozen veggies.
- Salad: Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, or Asian Pineapple Salad.
More Chinese Chicken Recipes:
- Baked Orange Chicken
- Baked General Tso’s Sticky Wings
- Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Chicken and Broccoli
- Chinese Chicken Wings
- Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken
- Crockpot Sesame Chicken
- Baked General Tso’s Chicken
- All of my Asian-inspired recipes!
Want to try this Chinese Lemon Chicken?
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