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Better than takeout, healthy lemon chicken is a delicious, sticky chicken stir fry coated in a flavourful, sweet and tangy sauce. The best weeknight dinner. |

Healthy Lemon Chicken

  • Author: Sam | Ahead of Thyme
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (+1 hour to marinate)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 servings
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Better than takeout, healthy lemon chicken is a delicious, sticky chicken stir fry coated in a flavourful, sweet and tangy sauce. The best weeknight dinner. 


For the chicken:

  • 1 + 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts), boneless and skinless and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine 
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon green onions, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced (for garnish)


  1. 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.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Serve 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.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: healthy lemon chicken, stir fried lemon chicken, healthy lemon chicken stir fry, weeknight dinner, chinese stir fry with lemon chicken