Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets


Although I use chicken quite a lot in my bentos, I realized that I have very few bento-appropriate chicken recipes up here on Just Bento, or even over on Just Hungry. I am going to rectify this situation over the next few days, so if you are a chicken fan, stay tuned!

The first chicken recipe is one I have made for years and years - tender, lemony white meat nuggets that are infused with lemon. They very quick to make, good hot or cold, and versatile. They are pan fried, not deep-fried, so they are not crispy on the outside, but are delicious nevertheless. You can use them in a rice based bento, with noodles, or as a sandwich filling. They can be eaten as-is with a cocktail stick or the fingers too.

Recipe: Panfried lemon chicken nuggets

This makes about 15-16 nuggets, enough for 2 large bentos or 3-4 smaller ones. Cooking time: about 10 minutes.

  • 300g / about 10.5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cornstarch
  • 1 lemon
  • Soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tbs. olive oil

Blot the moisture off the chicken breast meat with paper towels and cut into bite sized pieces. Put into a bowl and season with salt (go light on the salt, especially if you plan to drizzle on some soy sauce later), pepper, and the juice of half a lemon and toss well. Leave to marinate for a couple of minutes, then drain off the excess moisture.

In the meantime, heat up a large frying pan with the olive oil.

Coat the chicken pieces well with cornstarch. Lay each piece flat in the pan, taking care they don’t overlap. Let cook over high heat until crispy and golden brown (about 3-4 minutes), then turn over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until browned on the other side. Optionally drizzle a tiny amount of soy sauce over the chicken to give them a caramelized color. Finish off by squeezing the juice from the other half of the lemon over it all.

Take off the heat, and let cool before packing into your bento box. If you want it even more lemony, pack a lemon wedge alongside the nuggets.


Try using white wine, sake, mirin or Masala wine instead of the lemon juice, or in addition to it.

A couple of other chicken recipes that are perfect for bento: Bite size chicken teriyaki; Karaage (deep fried) chicken.

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These look so delicious for

These look so delicious for when I do lunches with meat, is there any sort of nutritional information available?

For the entire amount, it

For the entire amount, it would be about 470-520 calories (depending on how much oil is left on the chicken pieces), so divide that by 15 or 18 to get a per-nugget calorie count. (mostly from protein and fat, plus a little carbohydrate from the cornstarch.)

Mmm! This sounds so yummy

This sounds like a perfect alternative to deep frying… almost like kara-age but not (well, not really, but the wedge of lemon alongside reminds me of it). And sounds like a good option for someone like me who doesn’t like white meat but this could work :) Thanks!

yummy !

Hmmmmmmmmm it looks so yummy ! With sake it would be very tasty. I’ll try it.

You need to stop posting

You need to stop posting such yummy stuff on your blogs, I have to keep track of all the stuff I need to try. I’m only kidding though, keep posting please. :)

Mmm…I’ll have to make

Mmm…I’ll have to make these. Chicken nuggets that are gluten-free? My son will fall to the ground in glee. ;)

Made fresh today!

I went out and bought ingredients for this as soon as I read the recipe. I served them up with a salad, rice, and the corn recipe from Just Hungry. It was wonderful! Such a nice change of pace from eating fast food nuggets! Every recipe I’ve tried from Just Hungry or Just Bento has always been delicious!

Hum, I think I’m going to

Hum, I think I’m going to give a try tonight. Thank you for this recipe.


I made these last night, half for dinner, half for the hubbster’s bento today. Mine don’t look as nice as yours, but they were very tasty!

Holy Yumm!

These were SO good!!! I made them this morning to take for lunch. I didn’t have any lemons so I subbed lime juice and ponzu for the lemon and soy. I didn’t have time to let them cool before I had to run out the door so they got a smidge soggy in my bento - but they were still delicious!!!

Oh My Goodness!

This was delicious! I’ll be using this one again and again! I wonder how it would taste as onigiri filling…hmmm…

Made these this morning with

Made these this morning with chicken breast and they’re wonderful! I didn’t expect the cornstarch to cook up crispy, but it’s really good - and lemony. This is the third recipe of yours I’ve tried, and all are excellent and have become family favorites.

i did this recipe

I did it and it was worth it! delicious!


Thank you for this recipe, it was really easy to make and so delicious! I served it with white rice and some furikake and my husband really loved it! I will definitely make this again :)

This was really easy and

This was really easy and delicious. And the lemon juice made the meat very tender.

239437056 uses!

This is my favorite and most used recipe ever! Yep, I use it even more than my best pancake recipe!

Yesterday I made this using tamarind paste instead of lemon juice to marinate the chicken. Then I mixed some chili paste into the soy sauce before pouring over at the end. It was the most delicious tangy/sweet/salty/spicy combo!

They’re especially good with carrots when made this way - either shredded to eat along with each bit or just on the side.


Great recipe, I was looking for something like Pei Wei's Lemon Pepper Chicken and this is PERFECT. This is also GREAT with shrimp! Thanks very much for this recipe!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets


The rents REALLY enjoyed this one! I bearly was able to save enough for my bento! :D This one will definitely go into frequent rotation! :)

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

They sound so yummy! I always make chicken but never thought to make it bite size. Thanks for sharing your chicken recipe.

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

If you really like lemons (as I do) You could zest the lemon before cutting into it for the juice. Then sprinkle the zest in the marinade, or after they are fried. :3

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I had this tonight and this was the best chicken nuggets I've had. And my baby nephew, who will not eat anything with meat, also liked this chicken nuggets. I will have to try some of your variations ^^

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I made this for dinner tonight, with planned leftovers for bentos tomorrow, but I added the marsala wine (because I recently bought some, and I've never cooked with it, so I wanted to try it!) I also added some thyme, as well as soy sauce. Unfortunately, i forgot to dip them in cornstarch! So they're not really chicken nuggets, but it was still amazingly tasty chicken and very moist! I can't wait to try this again WITH the cornstarch!

Served with simple white rice and steamed broccoli.

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

Aaaannndd then my boyfriend had to go and eat the leftovers all on his own, so I didn't get any. >_>

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I tried making this for my teeny tiny bento box and these were delicious! I was skeptical about the cornstarch, but it made the nuggets golden and crispy! The lemon juice added tons of flavor without fat or salt!


I made these for my very first bento and they were AMAZING! I packed the chicken nuggets, some stir fried bean sprouts (recipe found on this site, bento no. 44), white rice, and edamame. Amazing! It took me longer than 15 minutes, but I assume that's because I'm not as practiced. :) It was worth it, anyways, and now I have enough for the rest of the week! Huzzah!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

Just tried these out earlier, they were a resounding sucsess and me and mum love them!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

Oishi! I was reading one of the recent "The Guy Does Bento" posts and decided to try this recipe for giggles. It turned out amazing! I was having trouble saving enough of the finished nuggets to pack in my bento for lunch tomorrow^^;; Matched with a couple of onigiri and some lemon carrots, my friends at my lunch table are going to be envious :D Thanks!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

made these just now and they are amazing! i didn't have olive oil so i used canola oil but still yummy! =] thanks!~

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I've been eyeing these forever! I finally tried it and I am really happy with the result! From the taste test they will be awesome <3 Serving them with balsamic-Parmesan roasted cauliflower, brown rice and orange slices c:

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I finally made these this afternoon during a baking lull - I added the zest of the lemon to the marinade along with a splash of sake. They turned out wonderfully! The only problem was I'd made them to take in for lunch this week and turned around and saw my guy happily snacking on them...someone is in deep doo-doo...

The sake is an excellent touch, you can taste it at the end of the bite :)

soooooo good

Hi Maki! My younger brother and I made these for dinner last Sunday, and they are absolutely delicious! Too bad there were none left for making a leftover bento... We even got compliments from our parents - which is something *very* rare, and even more when it comes to cooking. Thanks a lot!!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I made these today - they were great! dasHusband and I had the main portion for our lunch, and then I packed the second portion in his lunch bento. This recipe is totally a keeper. Thank you, Maki-San!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

These look really nice, I have all the ingredients apart from corn starch, I wonder if I can replace it with arrowroot.

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

These were sooo yummy! Made them for dinner just to try them out and they were so yummy scrummy! Having the left overs with salad tomorrow for lunch! Can't wait!

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

also great if you use flour or breadcrumbs

Re: Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

I made these for lunch today, I used corn flour instead of starch, they turned out quite tasty and crispy on the outside and very moist inside. Thanks for the recipe, definitely will be making these on a regular basis!

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