Light & Refreshing Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe: Can You Say Wow? by Ann Marie Patitucci

Light & Refreshing Crispy Chinese Lemon Chicken Recipe: Can You Say Wow?

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through social media, noticing your friends’ food posts? I do, but to be honest not many inspire me to stop scrolling. However, my friend Beth’s recent post made me pause immediately. Beth posted photos of the chicken dinner she had made, a Chinese lemon chicken, and it looked absolutely delicious. My mouth was watering!

I am fortunate to have gotten the easy recipe from her. And the pictures you see here are her photos. Doesn’t this chicken recipe look fantastic? I highly recommend this light and lemony chicken recipe. I’m a big fan of chicken dishes in general, but this one is a standout. The ingredients work beautifully together, creating a light, lemony and tangy flavor.

If you’re unfamiliar with Shaoxing wine, or Chinese cooking wine, here’s what I’ve learned: It has a stronger flavor when compared to other Asian cooking wines. This is why most recipes only call for small quantities of it, such as 1 to 2 tablespoons for stir fry and for the recipe below. Shaoxing wine is also commonly used in marinades. You may be wondering, what if I don’t have Chinese cooking wine? As far as I can tell, the best substitute for Shaoxing wine is dry sherry.

Serve this lemon chicken with rice and a vegetable and you’ll have a tasty dinner on the table in under an hour!

Cuisine: Chinese / American
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4



  • 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into cutlets (you could also cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I prefer light or low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 1 cup flour
  • vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (dissolved in 2 tablespoons water)
  • green onions, for serving (optional)
  • lemon slices, for serving (optional)


  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I prefer light or low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing wine
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Place the chicken and the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. This will help to break up the egg white. Allow everything to marinate for about 20 minutes.
  2. While the chicken is marinating, mix together the chicken stock, soy sauce and sugar in another bowl. In a third bowl, mix together the lemon juice and zest.
  3. Place the flour in another large bowl or on a cookie sheet. Add the chicken pieces and the marinade. Using your hands, pat and press the marinade and flour together around the chicken pieces to form a coating.
  4. Fill a saucepan about 1/3 of the way with oil. (I personally use EVOO for just about everything but I know others who prefer vegetable oil for frying.) Heat over high heat (you’ll want the oil to reach 325 degrees F). Shake the excess flour from the chicken. Cook the chicken pieces in two or three batches until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Make sure chicken is cooked through! Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  5. In a clean saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 10 seconds, then add the chicken stock mixture. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Simmer for another 30 seconds or so before adding the cornstarch mixture. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about another 30 seconds.
  6. Add the chicken pieces and toss until all pieces are evenly coated with the sauce. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If desired, garnish with green onions and/or lemon slices.

Photos courtesy of Beth Melton

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Shaoxing Wine $8 & Up
Soy Sauce $3 & Up
Sesame Seeds $3 & Up

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Crispy chicken, lemon chicken. Both are winners, so amazing that you combined them.
Elisa Schmitz
Oh, how delicious, Ann Marie Patitucci . Many thanks to Beth, and to you, for sharing such a yummy chicken dinner recipe!

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