Since The Artist and I went gluten-free and he had to take soy out of his diet too, we have really missed Asian foods. One way around that is to make some of our favorite dishes at home using alternate seasonings, and today’s Tangy and Sweet Lemon Chicken was at the top of The Artist’s wish list!
Unlike most recipes for lemon chicken, this one is naturally soy-free. It uses chicken stock for the savory component in the sauce instead of soy sauce, making me a very happy camper! It also happens to be dairy-free and gluten-free making it a great option for gatherings.
Even though this recipe has fried chicken pieces, they are dredged in a naturally gluten-free cornstarch batter. A very simple seasoning on the chicken with the burst of fresh lemon flavor from the sauce makes every bite perfect.
The lemons I used were very tart so I added more brown sugar to balance the sauce. This got it to the flavor I was looking for. If you are using Meyer lemons, you probably won’t need as much sweetener. Taste your sauce often and adjust the ingredients until you get the flavor you love. This sauce will thicken as it cools, so feel free to whisk in a little warm water if needed, especially if you make it ahead and are rewarming it.
The chicken is best served straight from the oil when it is hot and crispy. You can cook enough for one meal and serve it, then cook a second batch the next day, rewarming the extra lemon sauce for the second serving. You’ll thank me when you bite into the hot, crunchy chicken, dripping with luscious lemon sauce!
I love this Tangy and Sweet Lemon Chicken and it made a delightful meal for The Artist and me. I hope you like it as much as we did!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!
Key Ingredients for Tangy and Sweet Lemon Chicken:
- Chicken stock, fresh lemon juice, brown sugar, honey, ginger
- Salt, cornstarch, pepper, egg yolks, chicken, cooking oil
- Garnishes: rice, green onions, sesame seeds, lemons
Make sure the oil is within the temperature range given before adding the chicken. If it is too cold, the food will absorb the oil and you’ll wind up with greasy food. An instant read thermometer is great and an accurate way to monitor the temperature.
How to make Tangy and Sweet Lemon Chicken:
- Make the lemon sauce; keep warm stirring often
- Whisk together the dry batter ingredients then in another bowl whisk the egg yolks with the water; combine the dry ingredients with the wet, whisking until smooth
- Heat the oil, dip the chicken pieces into the batter and fry a few at a time in the oil
- Serve steamed rice topped with some of the fried chicken pieces and drizzled with the warm sauce; garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and lemon slices or wedges and serve hot
Doing your prep work will help you with this recipe. This is called mise en place (meez en plahs) in French which means everything has been chopped, cut, juiced, measured, etc. Having the rice cooked and sauce made and warming on a back burner lets you get ready to do the frying and serve immediately. Take a few minutes and get everything ready in advance, you’ll be glad you did!
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Citrus reamer
- Deep skillet/wok
- Instant read thermometer or candy/oil thermometer
- Skimmer spoon
This recipe is naturally gluten-free. If you cannot have corn products, you can use potato starch or tapioca starch instead of the cornstarch. This recipe is also nut-free, soy-free, and dairy-free making it safe for many people with dietary restrictions!
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger, or more if desired
- Pinch salt
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Dash of black pepper
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp water
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, or about 15 boneless chicken thighs, cut in chunks or short strips
- 2 cups cooking oil, plus more if needed
- Cooked rice
- Sliced green onions
- Sesame seeds
- Lemon slices or wedges
- Cook the rice (if you are serving it) and keep warm on a back burner. Line a plate with paper towels and set it beside the stove.
- Prepare the Sauce: Combine the water, stock, lemon juice, brown sugar, honey, ginger, and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk until the sugar and honey are dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes until sauce boils and the sauce is thick and smooth. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more lemon juice for tartness, brown sugar or honey for sweetness, and ginger for spice. Keep warm on a back burner over low heat, stirring regularly.
- Make the Batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the water until blended. Add the yolk mixture to the cornstarch and whisk to make a smooth batter.
- Cook the Chicken: Heat the oil in a large wok, Dutch oven, or deep skillet to about 350°F to 375°F. Dip the chicken into the batter, being sure each piece is well-coated. Working with no more than 6 to 10 pieces at a time (depending on the size of your pan - don't crowd them), cook in the hot oil until golden brown, turning several times. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on the plate lined with paper towels.
- To Serve: Line a platter with hot cooked rice and top with the cooked chicken pieces. Drizzle with the sauce, and sprinkle with the onions and sesame seeds. Garnish the dish with lemon slices or wedges. Pass additional sauce at the table.
- Recipe Source: The Heritage Cook
Adapted from a recipe on celiac.com
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 292mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 40g
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