Lemon Chicken Recipe

Celebrate Chinese New Year with this succulent chicken dish — serve over rice for dinner.

The clean, tart flavour of fresh lemons combines well with a range of herbs and spices to create the perfect accent for rich, succulent chicken. Although this dish appears, with slight variations, throughout China, Chinese cuisine fans throughout the West have enthusiastically embraced it. In this version, panko bread crumbs add extra crunch to the fried boneless chicken breasts and the lemon sauce gets an infusion of ginger. If you prefer, the chicken breasts can be replaced with boneless chicken thighs.

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 slices ginger root
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 eggs
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups panko-style bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
12 romaine lettuce leaves, shredded


Step 1: In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Step 2: Remove ginger slices. Stir in lemon juice and lemon zest; return to a boil.

Step 3: Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp cold water. Stir into lemon mixture. Cook until thickened; remove from heat.

Step 4: Place chicken between two sheets of waxed paper.

Step 5: Pound chicken with a mallet or roll with a rolling pin until flattened to about 1/2″ thick.

Step 6: Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Stir to blend.

Step 7: Whisk together egg, water, soy sauce, and garlic in another bowl. Put the panko bread crumbs in a third bowl.

Step 8: Dredge chicken in the flour mixture, coating each piece completely.

Step 9: Dunk each piece in the egg mixture, and finally coat each piece with bread crumbs.

Step 10: Place a wok over high heat. Add oil to a depth of 2″. When oil is hot, fry chicken 3-4 minutes a side until golden.

Step 11: Place fried chicken over a bed of shredded romaine lettuce. Slice each piece horizontally.  Drizzle with lemon sauce and garnish.

Reprinted with permission from Belinda Hulin and Kian Lam Kho’s Knack Chinese Cooking: A Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic Dishes Made Easy (2009 Knack).

Liesa Cole