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Air Fryer Lemon Chicken

Hello and welcome to Djalali Cooks! Today I have a popular Chinese Takeout recipe – Lemon Chicken. I wanted to see if the Orange Chicken recipe would translate to the air fryer and so we have an Air Fryer Lemon Chicken recipe. The recipe didn’t translate exactly, I had to make a few modifications, but overall it’s a great way to go if you want to avoid deep frying. Let’s get right to it!

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Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Sauce

Depending on how much lemon flavor you like, you can use more or less lemon zest and juice. For the sauce we have strips of lemon peel, zest and juice; brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, white vinegar, chicken broth, Sriracha sauce, corn starch, grated fresh ginger and garlic. Go with 4 strips of lemon peel, zest of half a lemon and 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

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Combine lemon zest (strips and grated) and juice, broth, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, sriracha, and oil in medium saucepan and whisk to dissolve cornstarch. Bring sauce to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook until dark brown and thickened, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Prep the Chicken

In a bowl, combine the egg whites with the chicken pieces and toss to coat the chicken in the egg whites. Salt the chicken with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and toss again. Combine the flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a double-bagged paper bag, roll the top of the bag to shake and mix the dry ingredients.

Then add the egg white-coated chicken to the dry mixture in the bag. Roll down the top of the bag and hold it securely as you vigorously shake the chicken in the bag to evenly coat it in the dry mixture. Set the bag aside and preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees.

Air Fry

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Once your air fryer is preheated, spray the the inside of the basket with cooking spray and add about half the chicken in a single layer in the bottom of the basket. I was able to get all the chicken air fried in 2 batches. Once you have the first batch in the basket, liberally spray the chicken with cooking spray. Slide the basket into the fryer and set the temperature to 375 degrees and set the timer for 8 minutes.

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Air Fried Chicken at the 8 minute mark

At the 8 minute mark, remove the basket from the fryer and give it a good shake. Liberally spray again with cooking spray and fry for another 6 minutes. While that first batch is frying for its last few minutes, set a wire rack in a sheet tray to catch the first batch. Set your oven to 200 degrees – we will keep the first batch warm in the oven while the second batch is frying.

Repeat with the second batch of chicken. While the second batch is frying, replace the sauce over medium heat to get it bubbling and hot again. When all of the chicken is done, transfer the chicken to a large bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken, toss to coat.

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken

Transfer the sauced chicken to a serving dish and top with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

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The air fried chicken is not as golden brown as it would be if it were deep fried, but the chicken is tender and the exterior is satisfyingly crispy and crunchy. It holds up under the sauce and overall, this is a very good alternative to deep frying. The one drawback is that air frying takes a little longer. But when you consider the cleanup and the lingering fry station aroma in your kitchen from deep frying, it’s not a bad trade off!

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Thank you so much for joining me today for Air Fryer Lemon Chicken! Do let me know if you make this recipe and what your thoughts are on the difference between air fried and deep fried chicken. Take care and be well, xo Kelly

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Equipment and Tools Used in Today’s Recipe

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken

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Dinner, Main Course Chinese
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cooking Time: ~28 Minutes Total Time: ~50 Minutes

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken is an easy take on the classic Chinese takeout dish. Crispy, crunchy chicken cloaked in a sweet and sour lemon sauce.

Ingredients

  • Lemon Chicken Sauce
  • 4 Strips of Lemon Zest
  • Grated Zest of Half a Lemon
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Chicken
  • 1 ½ lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 1.5 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 Scallions, sliced thin or chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds for garnish

Instructions

Lemon Chicken Sauce

1

Use a vegetable peeler to remove four 2-inch strips of zest from 1 lemon.

2

Use a rasp-style grater to grate zest from half a lemon.

3

Squeeze 2-3 lemons to get 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

4

Combine lemon zest (strips and grated) and juice, broth, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, sriracha, and oil in medium saucepan and whisk to dissolve cornstarch.

5

Bring sauce to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook until dark brown and thickened, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Chicken

6

Combine chicken, egg whites, and salt in bowl.

7

Place cornstarch, flour, and baking powder in double-bagged large paper shopping bag.

8

Roll top of bag to seal and shake gently to combine.

9

Add chicken mixture to cornstarch mixture in bag, roll top of bag to seal, and shake vigorously to thoroughly coat chicken; set aside.

10

Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees.

11

Once your air fryer is preheated, spray the the inside of the basket with cooking spray and add about half the chicken in a single layer in the bottom of the basket.

12

Liberally spray the chicken with cooking spray. Slide the basket into the fryer and set the temperature to 375 degrees and set the timer for 8 minutes.

13

At the 8 minute mark, remove the basket from the fryer and give it a good shake. Liberally spray again with cooking spray and fry for another 6 minutes.

14

Set a wire rack in a sheet tray to catch the first batch. Set your oven to 200 degrees – we will keep the first batch warm in the oven while the second batch is frying.

15

Repeat with the second batch of chicken.

16

Replace the sauce over medium heat to get it bubbling and hot again.

17

When all of the chicken is done, transfer the chicken to a large bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken, toss to coat.

18

Transfer the sauced chicken to a serving dish and top with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

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  • Loya
    January 13, 2022 at 9:19 am

    Your food always look delicious and your photos are so helpful. I enjoying reading your posts everyday.

    • Kelly Djalali
      January 13, 2022 at 9:26 am

      Thank you so much, Loya! Have a wonderful day! xo Kelly

  • Suzanne Smith
    January 13, 2022 at 9:24 am

    That sounds good! I need to send it to my son, the air fryer king!

    • Kelly Djalali
      January 13, 2022 at 9:26 am

      Lol, Suzanne! Let me know how he likes it! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    January 13, 2022 at 10:37 am

    I love this version using an air fryer. I can’t wait to try this. I love lemon chicken maybe this weekend. I’ll keep you posted… have a great Thursday ❤️? mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      January 13, 2022 at 11:28 am

      Let me know how it goes for you, Mom! xo Kelly