Chinese Lemon Chicken CrockPot Recipe

January 25, 2008

Day 25.

Woah. You know how sometimes you make something and it's just so crazy good you wish you didn't decide to cook something different in the crockpot every day for the whole year just so you could eat this one meal every day instead?

Maybe that's just me.

This is one yummy dish, courtesy of my new pal Lynn, who doesn't have a blog. But she did try my CrockPot Cavy Dish.

this is a joke. a very funny joke. save your hate mail.

My gluten-free buddies will attest to how much you miss Chinese Food when you go gluten-free. 

Pretty much the whole menu is contaminated with gluten--but this dish completely satisfied my family's cravings.

The Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces or equivalent
1/2 cup flour (I used Pamela's baking mix because we are gf)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces(1/2 can) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 tablespoon or so olive oil for browning chicken

The Directions:

--cut chicken into strips or largish chunks
--dredge in flour and salt, shake off excess
--brown chicken in a skillet with a bit of olive oil (you are not trying to cook the chicken--just give it some color and get the flour mixture to stick a bit)

--place into crockpot -- a 4-quart is probably the best size or put a piece of corningware or pyrex into a large slow cooker so your chicken doesn't get lost in such a big pot.

--mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the top of chicken pieces

--cover and cook on high for 4 hours, low for 6-8

Serve over rice, drizzle with remaining sauce.

This tastes amazing all on it's own, but next time I might add a bit of red pepper flakes to the grown-up portions for a bit of a kick.

Easy and delicious way to satisfy all your Chinese take out cravings with this gluten free slow cooker recipe! Uses lemonade concentrate, ketchup, and brown sugar. Try this one, it's delicious!

Thank you, Lynn!

I love saving money by skipping the drive through and making Take Out at home! Here's a few more other Take Out Fake Out ideas for you. 

General Tso's Chicken
The Most Simple Thai Beef Recipe
Orange Beef
Fried Rice
Chicken Chow Mein
Mongolian Beef

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at January 25, 2008
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  1. Hello. First let me start by saying, I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I just discovered you, via Kerflop's blog. I recently discovered how WONDERFUL my crockpot could be after it sat in my cupboard for a year unused. (GASP!)

    I'm looking forward to getting some recipes and ideas from you. I HATE to cook, so the Crockpot is kinda nice for me. Kinda like cooking without so much hassle. LOL

    Now, onto the blog. You really scared me. Thought maybe those were your guinea pigs you had cooked. ;) They are about the right size you know. LOL

  2. Now this is something I'd DEFINITELY make!! Thanks so much for sharing with us, not only this but your entire blog!!

  3. I just might try this one too. My kids call lemon chicken "candy chicken" so it's worth a shot. Thanks for the lovely comments you left on my blog. LMK if you do end up trying the recipe. I bet your family will love it!

  4. Hi Steph, this recipe sounds fabulous, I can't wait to try it. As soon as my crock pot stops being a hot & sour soup factory, because I am addicted to that recipe! I look forward everyday to your blog to see what we are trying next! My sister in law, who has celia's is enjoying it too, if only she could overcome her fear of leaving the house with an appliance plugged in! xo, suzy

  5. This looks sooo yummy. I'm kind of too lazy to cook the chicken before I put it in the crockpot though. Because that's COOKING--and I don't want to COOK, I want to CROCK :)! Anyway, how do you think this recipe would taste all kind of shredded up like uncooked crockpot chicken always turns out?

  6. Hoosier, thanks for your sweet words! I'm glad that your crockpot is getting some exercise!

    thank you kelly and tspwlv!

    canadian saver, you consistently give me warm fuzzies!

    jennifer, I think the flavor would be spot on, but the texture wouldn't be reminiscent of chinese lemon chicken, it would be more like...
    shredded chicken. ;-)

  7. this looks so yummy. i may use chick pea flour instead of wheat flower. should work as good.

    it's on my list for dinner next week! thanks again for another supper super!

  8. I've never tried guine pig.......I bet it tastes just like Chicken. :)

  9. I wonder the google hits that will come from guniea pigs tasting like chicken...

    kay, I haven't cooked with chickpea flour before. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

    have your sister-in-law google Rachel's Recipe Box and Glutenfree Goddess. Those two sites were amazingly helpful to me when we went gluten-free.

  10. This one looks really good! You've given me so many great ideas!

  11. Hi--- I think you are one of the funniest people I have ever read. You are a part of my daily ritual. Check email, ignore kids, check your blog, ignore kids, open bottle of wine.... Just kidding (about the ignore part)..

  12. I'm so glad, Amy!

    kpemama, that's my daily ritual, too!


  13. This looks very yummy, I think I may try it! Keep on crockin'!

  14. Oh - this looks REALLY good. I'll be making this one soon.

  15. Hi Stephanie,

    I like the blog and the humor. Keep it up. We don't have frozen lemonade concentrate here in Mulege, BCS, Mexico (too small a town) so I'm going to substitute margarita mix... which we have plenty of. Should be OK I think!!!


  16. Ha, Rick! I should have thought of that---it would have saved me a trip to the store.

  17. Thanks for all the great ideas and recipes! I tried the Chinese Lemon Chicken but all I had was Raspberry Lemonade concentrate in the freezer. What the heck, I'll give it a try...It was pretty tasty and I'm anxious to try it when I have regular lemonade on-hand.

  18. I've been enjoying your blog. I've been trying to go wheat-free and some grain-free.

    I started with the Chinese Lemon Chicken and decided too late to fix it in the crockpot. So I made the sauce half of it I put soaked pepper flakes in and it was wonderful.
    I ended up cooking everything on the stove top (totally not crockpot but like I said I waited too long to start, we didn't want to eat at 8:00)

    We added veggies and it was really good I think it would have been better in the crockpot sauce wise. It was pretty runny. Thanks for the recipe I will try again in the pot.

  19. I made this recipe last night and it was fantastic! I added about half a lemon sliced paper thin to the bottom of the pot first, which made the dish have a bit of citrus bite. Thanks for posting such great recipes. I love your blog!

  20. I just wanted to let you know I made this last night and we LOVED it. It is so freakin' delicious, I almost peed my pants. Thanks!

  21. I just made this tonight and it is AWESOME!! I would be careful if you put it on high for 4 hours though, it more needed 2 1/2 hours on high and 1 1/2 on low. We just served this with steamed broccoli and it was delicious! Thanks and there are so many other recipes that I want to try of yours!! You rock!

  22. I tried this tonight and it was pretty good! I was surprised at how much sauce it made!

    Next time I will definitely brown the chicken a bit more though..I was hesitant to cook it too long before putting it in the crock and it was a little mushier than I would have liked.

    Also, I wonder what it would be like with o.j. concentrate instead of lemonade?


    Love this blog! Looking forward to trying more recipes in the future...

  23. Hi! I came across your blog by looking up chicken crockpot recipes! I cooked this on low for 6 hours, and tasted it. It was soooo yummy! But hubby called and said he wouldnt be home for about 2 hours, so with out thinking to much, I let it sit in crock on low. oops big mistake. It still tasted ok, but chicken was so dried out. and the sauce lost its sweetness and turned dark brown. Hubby still liked it, but I KNEW how it was Supposed to be, so I was upset. I am looking forward again to trying it withOUT cooking it to death! Great blog and I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes! I love how you post about ones that dont work. I am new to cooking, so I am learning all the time!

  24. I just made this. Well, actually I made a version of this. WOW! wonderful. I also reviewed your blog on my cooking blog. You can read about my version and what I said about your blog

    I hope you don't stop after a year, you have the best food blog!

  25. I finally got a chance to try this - and am I every happy I did!!!

    It is so good. Thank you! Thank you, a 1000 times thank you.

    This one will be in our "rotation" forever, I swear. It also inspires me to try to make some other Chinese food in the crock - if lemon chicken, then why not sesame chicken, you know?

    I loved the bite of the lemonade, but hubby isn't as into tart as I am - so as I just read through the comments it was a great AH HA! moment when I read the comment about subbing OJ -

    You and your readers, rock.


  26. i keep finding myself confused by your tablespoons and teaspoons. Until now i've just assumed that a little t means tsp and a big T means tbsp. But now i can't imagine that you use a whole tablespoon of salt and only a tsp of balsamic vinegar...
    I've been confused by other recipes too. Like in the chow mein recipe you said 3T of molasses...3tbsp would've been way to much but 3tsp would be 1tbsp. I love your site but i'm seriously confused, please help!

  27. Hi kelly,

    you're right:
    T means tablespoon and
    t means teaspoon.

    It does sound like an awful lot of salt, but chinese food is salty.

    and I did use 3 tablespoons of mollasses in the chow mein.

    you are more than welcome at any time to email me directly at crockpotladyATgmailDOTcom
    if you need help putting together a recipe.


  28. I have found your blog a few months ago, but forgot all about it!

    I've been really bored with food lately, so I decided this weekend to go through all of the past recipes for ideas for meals.

    I saw this recipe and have most of the ingredients. I want to make this tomorrow, but don't feel like running to the store for the lemonade. I see that I am not the only one who is considering using frozen orange juice concentrate in place of the lemonade!

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  29. I adore your blog - this is my new favorite site! I've really enjoyed many of your recipes.

    I made this last night, and unfortunately, it turned out terrible. But - it was very much my fault - I cooked it on low for 8 hours, and what happened was the chicken became dried out and the sauce lost its sweetness and turned black. Ick. The sauce becomes horribly tart and sour after that long of time. But I know this would have been wonderful, had I taken it out sometime around the 4-5 hour mark, as I taste tested it around that time, and it was awesome !!! (which is why I was so confused why, 3 hours later, it was inedible...)

    So...lesson learned- stick to cooking it (high or low) for NO MORE than 4-5 hours. Thank you - I'm going to try it again!

  30. Hi Katie,
    I am so sorry that your dinner was ruined! I have done the exact same thing. The trick is to click the crockpot over to warm when the food is done, and not continue to "cook" on low. Once I figured out that keeping on low would be the same as keeping food in the oven at about 180 degrees, I learned my lesson!

    but. I'm so sorry this happened. We really, really liked this meal, and I hope next time it works better!

    Also, if your crockpot it a big one, this could happen more easily. I wrote this a bit ago: Help! My CrockPot Cooks Too Fast!

  31. Wow. This tasted so much like the real stuff, that I had seconds. I would of had thirds, but I was so full already. My husband also loved it.

    Great stuff.

    On to the next Gluten Free Crock Pot meal. I may have to make this a Sunday tradition.

  32. This is AMAZING! To me, it tasted just like the stuff they batter up and fry and put gooey, msg-laden sauce on in the Chinese restaurants. But without the unhealthy aspect.

    I would like to make this next time with big slices of onion and carrot in it. How long would you put those in for? I would like them to keep their crunch, but still be cooked.

  33. Just found your blog from some homeschooling Moms. Wow! Making the Chinese Lemon Chicken tonight ... still have to pick up the lemon concentrate!

  34. This is really tasty. I just discovered this blog over the weekend, and this is the first recipe I've made from it. (After bookmarking about 50!) Apparently, my pot cooks really hot - I put it on Low and allowed 7 hours for cooking. About 4 hours into it I checked it out and discovered it was already way past done! Yikes! The chicken still had an excellent flavor, but it was a little dry from the overcook so I added a can of pineapple chunks. Now that I've got about 50 recipes and a pot that's too hot, tomorrow I'll be buying a new pot! Thanks for the awesome blog!

  35. Hi Marshall, I'm glad that you liked this chicken! Before you buy a new pot, note that it may be that your pot isn't too hot, just too big for this dish. THere really isn't that much food here---it may be better to insert an oven-safe dish inside of your big pot, or put a layer of foil down near the meat to create a lid-within-a-lid. For more info: help! My crock-pot cooks too fast!


  36. ok i have been looking for a Chinese lemon chicken recipe FOREVER but to be honest im really scared to use the concentrated lemonade!!!!! is this really sweet like the drink, and i have made deserts with concentrated lemonade maybe you can help calm my fears :P

  37. I know you are busy, and this is a really old post, but I really wanted to ask a you think this recipe would work without flouring the chicken. We are not eating flour these days. Thanks!

  38. hi Jacquelyn,

    sure! the flouring is to try and recreate the deep-fried batter found in Chinese restaurants, but doesn't add anything to the flavor of the dish. You can still brown on the stovetop to create a bit of crust on the chicken if you'd like.


  39. Hi!
    Like all of your other fans, I am so glad you did this "experiment". I love love love using the crockpot instead of heating up the entire kitchen.

    I just made this with OJ, because I didn't have lemonade on hand and I'm not about to take 3 whiny children to the grocery store for just one thing. Anyway, I'm sure it would taste delightful, except that I cooked it too long. :( But we're going to salvage what we can and maybe just have rice and veggies! I will cook this again -- the right way! :) It smelled really good....

  40. I was wondering what you were going to help me cook for dinner this week. Thanks (you saved me again!)

  41. Another family keeper! Loved it!

  42. This is the second recipe of yours I tried and just found your post about cookers that cook too hot. Mine's a 6 litre Rival and I always found stuff overcooked- now I know why! I went upstairs to put some foil over the chicken and.... WOW! THIS CHICKEN SMELLS SO GOOD!! Really, I could have just eaten the sauce with a spoon. YOU ROCK!!

  43. Thanks so much for this recipe. I tried it last week and we loved it. I made a really big batch and took some of it to friends who recently had a baby. I also have a recipe blog and posted about this one today. The only thing I did differently was to change quantities (because I was cooking for so many people) and to toss steamed broccoli with it before serving. Thanks again!

  44. Even after reading all the comments and warnings and tips on how not to overcook this meal. I OVERCOOKED IT!!! Like other people it was perfect when I checked it and I should have just turned it off, stuck it in the fridge and reheated for dinner. But no. I turned it to low and went about my merry way and it was charred. I am so so so disappointed.

    I will try this again. It was one of the most delicious things I've made in the crock pot when I tasted it and since I have the ingredients always on hand, super cheap.

    One thing I wanted to mention was I don't buy lemonade mix. But I do usually have tons of lemon juice on hand (we buy it at Sams) because my husband loves iced tea and we make it with lipton and lemon juice (saves us a ton of money). So instead of lemon mix. I used one cup of lemon juice and 3/4 cups of sugar. It tasted fabulous, before I burned it. *shakes fist to the heavens*

  45. One of my daughters has multiple food allergies and, as a working mom of four girls, I am always looking for great crock pot recipes that we can all eat without having to prepare a separate meal for her...this was TERRIFIC and is now part of our regular rotation. THANK YOU! :)

  46. I recently discovered this blog in my search for good crockpot recipes. It's now bookmarked and I read it every day for dinner ideas. I made this dish last week, but forgot to flour the chicken. I did brown it, then followed the rest of the instructions. Since it is just myself and my son, I only used one large chicken breast, cut into large bite size chunks. I think next time I will try the suggestion of fresh lemon juice mixed with sugar, but I did like the flavor the lemonade gave the dish.

    I've made the chow mein twice; and today I'm doing the 3 packet roast. It's smelling absolutely delicious! Great blog, love it.

  47. I am new to the crock potting world, I stumbled upon your blog by accident when i googled lemon chicken. I made it that night and it was amazing! Thank You! I have already shared the recipe with one friend and one aunt.

  48. Devouring your blog slowly but surely! For this one I only used two chicken breasts, cut into strips, and didn't dredge it in the flour. Also added about a 1/2 tbps of red pepper flakes. My crockpot is a bit too big so I made a smaller bowl inside with tin foil and cooked for 3 1/2 hours on high. Came out great, served with cauliflower and brown rice. Planning a couples dinner this week with the cranberry roast! Thank you so much

  49. has anyone tried this with balsamic vinaigrette???? I'm not sure if balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette are the same?

  50. I made this the other day and it is PERFECT exactly as written. I ended up just doubling the sauce beause I don't drink lemonade, and I should have added more chicken so that I'd have more leftovers! Maybe it was my mind playing a trick, but since the chicken and sauce turned a nice golden orange, I swear mine tasted like a mix of lemon and orange. Yum, even better!

  51. Balsamic vinaigrette is a salad dressing with oil, spices, and balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is near the other vinegars at your grocery store. It can be a little pricey, but it's something I've found all sorts of uses for since I bought it.

  52. I realize I really need to hop on here and say I love this recipe! (Also the orange chicken.)

    I made this for a potluck at a large party at a friend's. Everyone loved it, whether on the rice or separate.

    It is so good! I buy frozen lemonade just to make this. I just put the 1/2 can in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Doesn't last long, though . . .

    Yum! Yum!

  53. Hi! Thank you for all the recipes. I love them all! I've tried this lemon chicken like 5 times and I always get a very DRY chicken. What am I doing wrong? Am I browning them too much in the skillet or I'm burning it in the crockpot?
    Thank you!!

  54. I'm new to your blog. I found your books at my library. Every spring I get a hankering into bust out my crock pot more - because I do like to cook, but hate to cook in the heat! I made this tonight for dinner. I only cooked it on low for about 4.5 hours and I tasted it at about 3 hours and it was great, but at 4.5 hours (dinner time) it had a bit of a bitter after taste. My 7 year old wouldn't touch it, but my 5 year old liked it. Next time I'll stick with 3 or so hours. Thanks for all the great ideas! I immediately bought your books for my mom who was recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance and she is having a hard time finding things she likes after 55 year of eating gluten! I hope loves them. I bought myself a copy too!

  55. I made a double batch using boneless, skinless thighs and breasts. I ended up checking it after 2 hours on high and I'm glad I did. It was perfectly cooked. Still tender and moist. I also added a little slurry of cornstarch and water the last half hour to thicken it up a bit more. The flavor is phenomenal! I will definitely do it again!

  56. I just made this, and it's oh-so-delicious. I didn't have frozen lemonade, so I experimented with bottled lemon juice (I keep Italian Volcano Lemon Juice on hand - it's the best tasting one I've found), and it still turned out great! Thanks for the great recipe!

  57. Hi Stephanie. I know I am late, but just discovered your site today. I am 75 and have just discovered the joys of crock pot cooking for something other than beef stew. Your site is a jewel. I am going to make the Lemon Chicken this weekend. Now all I have to figure out is how to find you again. My memory is not great and I do not know how to bookmark.

  58. When you say high for 4 hours, low for 6-8 does that mean either or? Or 12 hours in total?

  59. Hi Yazmin, it's either one, but not both! :-)

  60. Thank you for this yummy recipe! I made it using the bone in thighs instead of the breast and it came out just as good. Cooked it for 4 hours on high and its perfect! Thanks!

  61. I'm always happy to find new recipes for my slow cooker, and we love Chinese food, so this is a must-do!

  62. I found your blog awhile ago and love it! My husband loved this receive the first time I made it. A few times since then, I have made it with frozen ORANGE juice and a little bit of frozen lemonade. It was amazing! Thank you for all the recipes!

  63. I've got a feeling frozen lemoade concentrate is gonna be hard to find here in Australia . hmmm.

  64. Hi There
    I have recently discovered the joys of using a slow cooker for something other than stew! I am very grateful for the recipes you provide but unfortunately live in the UK and find it impossible to get some of the ingredients. As far as I know, concentrated drinks are not sold here. Is there anything I could use as an alternative? I would really like to try this recipe... Thanks

  65. Hi Kirstin, what a great question. It's just a super strong lemonade mixture -- and then a gallon of water is added to make a bunch of lemonade.
    I'd use fresh lemon juice mixed with sugar, or you could try using a margarita mix.
    This is a pretty sweet dish; I'd probably try to juice three lemons and then stir in a few tablespoons of white sugar and give it a taste.

    thank you for letting me know about the ingredient difference; I didn't know.

  66. We did not like it. Did 8 hours on low, which is way too long. The chicken was very dry. There is no lemon taste, which I doubted when I saw ketchup. It is sort of an Asian taste, with no real definable taste. Certainly no lemon taste. As suspected, the balsamic vinegar and ketchup overpowered any lemon flavor. Would not make again. Horrible.

  67. Thank you. I tried this. Its absolutely delicious. -Michelle

  68. If I double the recipe and add some veggies, is it ok to put in my 7 qt crockpot without putting in foil? I have 2 lbs of chicken tenders I'm planning to use. Chicken is usually done by 4 hours on low in mine.


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