Honey Lemon Chicken

Honey Lemon Chicken that is baked – not fried – then slathered in an amazing 5 minute glaze of honey, lemon, ginger and garlic for better then Chinese takeout Chicken!

This Chinese Honey Lemon Chicken is one of those meals that is so amazingly delicious I would love to eat its leftovers 7 days a week.  But that would never happen because there are NEVER any leftovers of this tantalizing, sweet, tangy, ginger-kickin’ Chinese Honey Lemon Chicken!  It is better than your favorite Chinese takeout but made healthier in the same amount of time it takes for you to drive to the store!

up close of sweet, tangy, ginger Honey Lemon Chicken on a plate

Easy Honey Baked Chicken Recipe

Patrick couldn’t even wait for me to finish taking pictures before he had polished off almost the entire meal of Honey Lemon Chicken.  This is a 100% candid shot of him caught in the act…

And I don’t blame him when Sticky Honey Lemon Chicken means a sweet honey sauce with a splash of citrus and a slight zing from the fresh ginger smothering crispy, spiced and breaded  baked chicken morsels.  It is SO good, my sister-in-law texted me pictures of her family licking their plates clean!  So this is officially “lick-the-plate-delicious!” Chinese chicken!

It  joins the ranks of my takeout fakeout Chinese recipes like Beef and Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Sweet Fire Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Mongolian ChickenCashew ChickenSweet and Sour Chicken and Kung Pao Shrimp that are BETTER made right in the comfort of your own home while wearing your slippers.

Honey Lemon Chicken is only as good as the sauce and this honey lemon ginger sauce is epic!  It’s sweet and tangy all balanced by zingy ginger and just plain drinkable delicious It’s also SO easy made with garlic, ginger, honey lemon juice, lemon zest, rice vinegar and sriracha to taste.   You will love it so much, I promise you’ll be making up your own recipes so you can smother this honey lemon sauce on everything!

Honey Lemon Chicken Ingredients

The ingredients list for this honey ginger chicken is fairly short. Here’s what goes into this dish:

  • Chicken breasts: Need to be pounded thin and cut into even-sized pieces.
  • Eggs: The chicken is dipped in an egg wash first so the breading sticks to it easily.
  • Coconut oil: You can use olive oil if desired, but I think coconut oil complements the honey lemon flavor nicely.
  • Flour: If stir frying, use extra cornstarch rather than flour.
  • Cornstarch: Makes the chicken super crispy.
  • Spices: I used a blend of garlic powder, paprika, ground ginger, and more to flavor this dish!
  • Garlic: Just three cloves flavors the sauce nicely.
  • Ginger: I used a combination of fresh and ground ginger in the honey chicken sauce.
  • Honey: Sweetens the sauce and complements the sour lemon flavor.
  • Lemon: Lemon juice and zest goes into this recipe.
  • Rice vinegar: Cuts through the sweet honey and sour lemon.
  • Asian hot chili sauce: Something like Sriracha would be perfect.
op view of easy Honey Lemon chicken with honey lemon sauce on a white plate

How to Make Honey Lemon Chicken

  • Prepare Baking Sheet. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and place a cooking rack on top; lightly spray cooking rack with cooking spray.   If you don’t have a cooking rack, then line your baking sheet with foil then place it in the oven.  This allows the baking sheet to get piping hot so you can add your chicken directly to it and it will crisp up immediately instead of getting soggy.
  • Make Flour Breading. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  All the seasonings round out the flavor of this Honey Lemon Chicken recipe so it isn’t just one note but instead multi-dimensional yum.  You will be eating the seasoned, juicy chicken morsels plain!  The spices also cut through the sweetness of the honey.
  • Bread Chicken.  Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash (2 eggs whisked with 2 tablespoons water) , let excess drip off (I like to dab with paper towels) then place chicken in the flour breading mixture and shake until evenly coated. I like to use one hand to dip the chicken and the other hand to bread the chicken so your hands don’t become a gooey mess.  After the chicken has been shaken, I like to use a dry hand and rub any pieces in the breading that might not be evenly coated evenly.    Next, evenly space chicken on cooking rack and lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.  The cooking spray helps the chicken crisp up.
showing how to make Honey Lemon Chicken by adding chicken to a baking sheet ready to go into the oven
  • Bake Honey Lemon Chicken.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then move baking sheet 8-10 inches away from broiler and broil to desired crispiness (approximately 3-5 minutes). For extra crispiness, flip chicken over and broil the other side of chicken to desired crispiness, being careful not to burn chicken.
  • Make Honey Lemon Sauce.  While the chicken is baking, heat ½ oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds, Add the remaining Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce ingredients EXCEPT for the sriracha and whisk to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens (approximately 2 minutes). Taste and stir in sriracha if desired. 
  • Coat Chicken.  In a large bowl, toss baked chicken with Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce using a spatula until evenly coated. It will seem like not enough sauce, but keep mixing until it covers all the chicken.
showing how to make Honey Lemon Chicken by adding honey lemon sauce to chicken in a glass bowl

Can I Stir Fry Honey Lemon Chicken?

Yes!  Just be aware that if you stir fry Honey Lemon Chicken, it will not get crispy.  It will only become crispy if baked or fried.

If you stir fry the Honey Lemon Chicken,  swap the ratio of cornstarch and flour so you will have 1 cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons flour.  You can see my Honey Coconut Cashew Chicken as a reference (in that recipe I use a marinade and in this recipe we use an egg wash for the breading to stick).

To stir fry: Heat 1 tablespoon olive/coconut oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add chicken and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

Can I Fry Honey Lemon Chicken?

Yes! Here’s how:

  1. Add enough vegetable oil to a large nonstick pan to cover 1/4-½ inch up the sides.
  2. Heat over medium high heat.
  3. Working in 2-3 batches (don’t crowd pan so chicken can get crispy), add chicken to pan and pan fry until golden and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Remove to paper towel lined plates/baking sheet. Repeat.
showing how to make Honey Lemon Chicken by stirring chicken with honey lemon sauce

TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY HONEY LEMON CHICKEN

  • Chicken:  You can substitute the chicken breasts for chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • Ginger:  the one tablespoon ground ginger might sound like a lot but please don’t skimp!  It is needed to cut through the sweetness of the hone lemon sauce.
  • Cornstarch:  Cornstarch helps the chicken breading crisp up so please don’t replace it with flour.
  • Garlic:  You can add more garlic if you love garlic
  • Lemon Juice:  Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.  You will need one large lemon.
  • Lemon Zest:  The lemon zest is a must, please don’t skip it or your sauce will be way too sweet.
  • Sriracha:   I personally don’t add any sriracha to this Honey Lemon Sauce but if you feel the sauce is too sweet, then add sriracha to taste to cut through the sweetness.  You can also use any other favorite hot sauce like Frank’s Hot Sauce.  
Chinese Honey Lemon Chicken in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon

Can I Prep Honey Ginger Chicken in Advance?

Even though this homemade honey lemon chicken is quick to make, you can still prepare it in stages if that works better for you.

  • Honey Lemon Sauce:  Whisk the sauce ingredients together but do not simmer/thicken.  Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Breading:  Whisk the flour breading ingredients together in a Ziploc freezer bag.  You can store the breading for weeks or proceed to dredge chicken then refrigerate.
  • Chicken:  Prepare chicken through dredging and place on a greased cooking rack placed on a baking sheet. Cover the chicken tightly with foil or plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.  

HOW TO STORE Honey Lemon Ginger CHICKEN 

This honey 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, leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

HOW TO REHEAT Honey Baked 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 Honey Lemon Chicken?

If you are making honey ginger chicken specifically to freeze, then I recommend freezing the chicken and sauce separately so the chicken doesn’t get soggy. 

TO FREEZE CHICKEN WITHOUT SAUCE:

  1. Cook chicken according to directions.
  2. Let chicken cool to room temperature (on the baking sheet) then transfer baking sheet to the freezer.
  3. Let freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.
  4. Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air and label.
  5. Add sauce to a separate airtight container.
  6. When ready to use, defrost chicken and sauce in the refrigerator overnight.
up close of best Honey Lemon Chicken on a bed of rice on a white plate

How Much Honey Lemon Sauce is there? 

The Honey Lemon Chicken recipe makes just enough sauce to coat the chicken. If you want more saucy chicken or if you are going to toss in some stir fried veggies, the you might want to double the sauce.

WHAT GOES WITH Healthy Honey Lemon Chicken?

We like to serve this Honey Lemon Chicken with white or brown rice but you can also serve it in lettuce wraps, with zoodles, or cauliflower rice.

This Honey Lemon Chicken is also a blank canvas to add any veggie you want!  You can add them directly to the chicken (you may want to double the sauce as previously discussed) or serve them stir fried on the side.  Here are a few veggie ideas:

  • broccoli
  • bell peppers
  • snap peas
  • zucchini
  • celery
  • water chestnuts
  • bok choy
  • mushrooms
  • carrots
  • cabbage
  • asparagus

If you’re looking to serve this Honey Lemon Chicken a part of a complete Chinese buffet, you’ll also love my Asian SaladPotstickers,  Chinese Chicken Egg Rolls and Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

baked Honey Lemon Chicken on a white plate with vegetables

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Honey Lemon Chicken

Honey Lemon Gingerr Chicken that is baked – not fried – then slathered in an amazing 5 minute glaze of honey, lemon ginger and garlic! Skip the takeout with this tantalizing, sweet, tangy, ginger-kickin’ chicken!
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts pounded thin, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil (may sub. olive oil)

Chicken Breading

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tsp EACH onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, paprika
  • 1/2 tsp EACH salt, pepper

Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce*

Instructions

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and place a cooking rack on top; lightly spray cooking rack with cooking spray (if you don’t have a cooking rack, you can place chicken directly on foil that has been greased).
  • In a large bowl, whisk 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons water together. Combine Chicken Breading ingredients in large freezer bag. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash, let excess drip off (dabbing with paper towel if necessary) then place chicken in the flour mixture and shake until evenly coated. Evenly space chicken on cooking rack and lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then move baking sheet 8-10 inches away from broiler and broil to desired crispiness (approximately 3-5 minutes). For extra crispiness, flip chicken over and broil the other side of chicken to desired crispiness, being careful not to burn chicken.
  • While the chicken is baking, heat ½ teaspoon coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds, Add the remaining Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce ingredients EXCEPT for the sriracha and whisk to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens (approximately 2 minutes). Taste and stir in sriracha or Franks Hot Sauce if desired.**
  • In a large bowl, toss baked chicken with Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce using a spatula until evenly coated. It will seem like not enough sauce, but keep mixing until it covers all the chicken.

Notes

*This makes just enough sauce to coat the chicken. If you want more sauce then you might want to double it.
**Use 2 teaspoons in the sauce for a more mild ginger kick – as for our house, we love 3t 🙂
***I don’t add any sriracha to this dish but if you feel the sauce is too sweet, then add hot sauce to taste.

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66 Comments

    • Jen says

      Hi Julia, You are so welcome! Thank YOU for letting me know you both loved it – that means a lot to me! Have a beautiful day!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, I hope you love it!

    • Jen says

      Hi Megan! I am so happy everyone loved it, even your one year old – yay! Thank you for trying so many of my recipes!!

  1. Stacey says

    Hi. Looks delicious. Is it possible to freeze this and then combine it altogether before serving? I want to make it for my church luncheon, feeding about 100 ppl. The church has an oven and an electric stove. If freezing is okay, at what point is best? Hope I’m making sense.

  2. Corie says

    My kids were literally licking their plates clean after eating this dish, and I can’t say that I blame them. Not one drop of this should go wasted. It is a perfect blend of flavors and was better than chinese takeout by a long shot. Can’t wait to make this dish again.

    • Jen says

      YAY! So happy everyone loved it enough to lick their plates! Awesome! Thanks Corie!

  3. Tiffaynay says

    Just made this! My only regret is not adding enough chilli purée! I will definitely make this again.

    • Jen says

      Happy you enjoyed this enough to make it to the “repeat” menu – the ultimate compliment 🙂 Thanks Tiffany!

  4. Kelli W says

    I made this recipe a few months ago, and it was absolutely delightful! I loved that it was a lighter recipe and had such bright flavors. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I am thrilled you found it “delightful” – just that word makes me smile 🙂 Thanks Kelli!

  5. Vicky says

    This was awesomely good! You would never know the chicken I baked, it is so crispy and flavorful. I made half a recipe because it is just me, but now I don’t have any leftovers…guess I will have to make it again tomorrow, lol – uh, seriously. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy you loved it enough for no leftovers 🙂 that makes me so happy – thank you Vicky!

  6. Irene says

    Delicious! My husband can be hard to please, but he rated this a 5 out of 5! I added a little more fresh lemon juice and downplayed the ginger a tad. I doubled the sauce recipe, and used the extra to cover some sautéed peppers, onions and broccoli. Sprinkled some sesame seeds on top, served with brown rice, and it was a very filling meal for the two of us, with just one serving of leftovers. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I am so thrilled you and your “hard to please” husband love it as well – the ultimate compliment! Doubling the sauce for veggies sounds perfect as well! Thanks Irene, I hope you find more recipes to love here!

  7. swarnkaur says

    Yummyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy chicken recipe , awsome, I will try it.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much! I hope you love it!

  8. Chelsi Biehl says

    It won’t let me pin any of your recipes. It says “We blocked this link because it may lead to spam.” Can you tell me why it would say this? And how do I save your recipes? they all look so delicious

    • Jen says

      Yes Pinterest has erroneously marked me and hundreds of food bloggers as span yesterday (even Pilsubry’s account!). Their “spam bots” must have had a glitch! Sorry for the inconvenience, I hope it gets resolved soon!

  9. Alice says

    The sauce was good, and the flavor of the breading was good. However, no matter how many times I try, the breading is not crunchy. It’s chewy. It’s not terrible, but I don’t like to eat it on its own without the sauce and is far from being “good”. Frying the breading gives me good results, but I wanted to avoid the fryer. Any advice?

    • Jen says

      Hi Alice, my only advice would be to broil the chicken for longer- not sure what else to tell you other than to eat it with the sauce 🙂

  10. Amy says

    Thank you for your awesome blog! I stumbled across it on Pinterest, I made your baked sweet and sour chicken tonight, it was devine! I look forward to making more of your delish recipes. Thank you for sharing your talents.

    • Jen says

      Hi Amy, I am so happy you stumbled across my blog and loved the Sweet and Sour Chicken! I hope you have fun exploring and trying new recipes! Thank you!

  11. Phoebe says

    I’ve only recently been learning to cook and trying new recipes (college kid here), and this recipe was so delicious. I made it for my family tonight and they just loved it. Very simple to follow and I am definitely glad I doubled the sauce recipe because I could eat that all day. Thank you for sharing, will be trying more of your recipes soon!

    • Jen says

      Hi Phoebe, I LOVED your comment! I love hearing that you are diving into the world of cooking (isn’t it fun?!) and that you found this recipe both easy and delicious- win-win- and that you made this for your family! I hope you have fun exploring more of my recipes! Best of luck to you and your studies!

  12. Asia Huff says

    How many calories is this?

  13. Joanna says

    100 times better than take out, and a perfect blend of flavors! No left overs again in this house, which includes kids. Super delicious. Thanks!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Joanna, I’m thrilled it was such a hit! Thank you!

  14. AllieKat says

    Hi Jen, Bit confused here. Your notes state: **Use 2 teaspoons for a more mild ginger kick – as for our house, we love 3t. However, the recipe states 1 Tbsp. Ginger does that mean to add 2 more teaspoons to the 1 Tbsp? Also, is Sriracha just an optional addition (you said you don’t add to this dish.)

    Another subject: Is there any way for people who comment to receive a notification that you have responded to our comments?

    You have a wonderful site with the best info., pics, and recipes. Thank you so much for all your work and caring.

    • Jen says

      Hi Allie, yes you will receive in email with my response 🙂 Thanks for the kind words! The 2-3 teaspoons ginger is for the sauce where it calls for “2-3 teaspoons ginger” and not the 1 tablespoon ginger in the chicken breading. Yes, sriracha is optional. Some readers thought it needed sriracha to balance out the sweet, but I think the ginger and garlic balance it out. Enjoy!

  15. Lorri H says

    Hi can I use brown surgar to substitute the 1/2 cup of honey.

    • Jen says

      Hi Lorri, that should work just fine! It will have a slightly different taste as honey is more floral and brown sugar has hints of molasses but still delicious.

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