Better than takeout, healthy lemon chicken is a delicious, sticky chicken stir fry coated in a sweet and tangy sauce packed with lemon juice and zest for the best flavour. It is stir-fried for a healthier twist on this classic Chinese-American dish that is traditionally deep-fried. Marinate it ahead of time and spend just 15 minutes cooking. The best weeknight dinner.
I am all about quick and easy weeknight dinners, especially delicious better than takeout meals. Which is why this Chinese lemon chicken is always on the top of my list. Some other easy Asian stir fries that we like to whip up in under 30 minutes on busy weeknights are Vegetarian Fried Rice, Shanghai Style Fried Noodles, and Chicken Pad Thai.
Healthy Lemon Chicken Ingredients
To make healthy Chinese lemon chicken, you will need the following ingredients:
- chicken breast - 1.5 lbs. chicken breast, about 2-3 breasts.
- chicken marinade - made with soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing cooking wine), apple cider vinegar, and cornstarch.
- vegetable oil
- sugar - helps caramelize the chicken.
- lemon juice + lemon zest - because it is lemon chicken.
- liquid honey
- soy sauce - feel free to use gluten-free soy sauce to keep this dish gluten-free.
- cornstarch dissolved in water - helps to thicken up the sauce.
- white sesame seeds - for garnish.
- green onions - for garnish.
- lemon slices - for garnish.
How to Make the Best Healthy Lemon Chicken
- Marinate the chicken. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chicken, soy sauce, cooking wine, vinegar and cornstarch. Mix until the chicken is fully coated. Place the chicken and marinade in ziploc bag and squeeze out all the air. Place the bag in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 1 hour. If you have time, let it marinate longer.
- Cook the chicken. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat for 2 minutes until the hot oil sizzles and shimmers. Add the chicken to the frying pan and stir fry continuously for about 7-10 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink inside.
- Make the sauce. Add sugar and stir to coat the chicken for a minute. The melted sugar will caramelize the chicken, which makes it turn brown. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and soy sauce. Stir well to combine and coat the chicken.
- Thicken the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk to combine water and cornstarch. Pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir well until the sauce starts to thicken and forms into a smooth consistency. Mix evenly to coat chicken. Sprinkle sesame seeds and sliced green onions on top.
- Serve. Serve Chinese lemon chicken over a bowl of steamed rice and garnish with extra sesame seeds and lemon slices.
- How to serve: Serve healthy lemon chicken over a bowl of steamed rice. I also like to pair this with a Chinese garlic cucumber salad and green onion dinner rolls.
- How to store: Store any leftover lemon chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, heat on the stove over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until warmed through. The sauce may have thickened up a bit when stored, so add a little water to thin it out, as needed.
More Chinese Recipes
- Shanghai Style Fried Noodles
- Vegetarian Fried Rice
- Stir Fried Rice Noodle Rolls with Peanut Butter Sauce
- Spicy Chili Oil Wontons
- Crispy Fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls
- Vegetarian Steamed Buns
- Spicy Dan Dan Noodles
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.
This post was originally published in 2016. It has been completely updated with new photographs.Print