Tangy Lemon Chicken Slow Cooker Recipe

I've been watching Mad Men. It took a long time to get into the show--- a good 9 episodes into the first season before I really started looking forward to the next show. 

It would be on in the background, and I'd half-watch -- instead I was mostly folding laundry or goofing around on the internet. 

And then I got completely hooked.

Betty would make this chicken. 

And Don and her kids would eat it, and then lick the plate. 

She might just sit and watch though (and drink. she drinks a lot...) because she knows how she made it.

 Although the ingredients work and the chicken tastes amazing, and her kids and husband are clamoring for more, she just smiles that slightly impish smile and sits back to watch.

The inspiration for this chicken comes from a freezer full of chicken legs and a box of Lemon Jello and a sleeping baby who wouldn't allow me to get to the store. 

I had to make do; and I'm so glad I did. 

Adapted from CopyKat Recipes Sunshine Chicken and that from the KRAFT website --- this chicken is sweet, tangy, and very (very) surprising.

The Ingredients.
serves 4-6

3 to 4 pounds chicken parts (I used frozen legs and a few breast halves)

1 (6-ounce) box Lemon Jello powder

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes (or one tiny onion, finely diced)

The Directions.

Use a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. 

I used a 4-quart for this one, and didn't brown the legs beforehand. 

The color on the chicken you see up above came only from slow-cooking. If you prefer more of a brown color, or more texture, go ahead and brown beforehand. 

My chicken was frozen solid, too. If you have thawed chicken, shave about 90 minutes off of the cooking time.

Place the chicken into your slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, combine the jello powder, melted butter, dijon mustard, and onion flakes. 

Stir together to make a paste. 

This isn't liquidy at all--- it's sort of a combo between paste and playdough. Smear this onto your chicken the best you can.

Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. 

I cooked our chicken on low for exactly 7 hours, then kept it on the warm setting for another 2 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes, or rice pilaf and something green.

Sit back and watch your family go nuts.

The Verdict.

I decided when I threw everything into the pot that this dinner could go one of two ways: it'd either rock or be an epic fail. 

Adam and the kids LOVED it. They all had seconds. 

I ate a good amount, but not as much as they did-- I liked it, but couldn't quite get over how I made it.

I will make this again; it's already been requested. 

I used full sugar Jello, but would imagine the sugar-free would work the same exact way. 

We had granola bar Rice Krispie Treats for dessert. 


Fall has officially begun (although we're in shorts, today...) and if you need some Fall Friendly slow cooker dishes, this post will be good inspiration for you. 

Enjoy your weekend!

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at September 23, 2012

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What they say about this article

  1. Christine9/23/2012

    This is so funny. This is the same recipe that was given to me a good 15 years ago when the Low Carb diet was all the rage. If you use sugarfree Jello it has like no carbs. I used this sauce for practically all my meat (mostly beef chunks) and I did put it in the crockpot at the time. I thought I invented it! But I used rgular mustard. I bet the Dijob would be better.

  2. This sounds interesting! I saw your tweet yesterday and was waiting to find out if it was great or an epic fail, lol. Glad it turned out well, and I just may try this one! =) xoxo

  3. Ooh! I am thinking ahead here and will try this version of orange chicken, which I love. I think it should work with extra garlic, some ginger and onions and orange Jello. Maybe a little GF soy sauce, too. Good one, Steph!

  4. Wow, interesting. I love tangy lemon, so I may give this one a try!

    Melissa @ The Alchemist


  5. I wonder if it would be as good with boneless, skinless chicken breasts...what do you think?

  6. I love it when one of my favorite bloggers gives another favorite blogger some love... Stephanie at Copycat is fabulous. I may have to dig out a box of Jello and give this a try!

  7. Colleen P.9/23/2012

    You know, I've got to try this, if only to say that I've tried it! LOL! I've got everything except the Jell-O.

  8. Have you ever had the stoneware crack because of using frozen meat? I've always used frozen meat and mine cracked a few weeks ago. I don't know it was the meat or something else. I'm going with something else, I forget to thaw things out.

  9. DeLurking Di9/24/2012

    Since I obviously can't tell the difference between lemon jello & lemon pudding, I'm now making this with orange jello. Threw in some cinnamon, ginger and soy sauce. Hopefully, it will work out. If not, there is always pizza!


  10. I haven't gotten on the Mad Men bandwagon yet but I guess I need to check it out! I have made a crock-pot recipe using frozen lemonade concentrate that was loved by all so I can imagine this would actually work!

  11. Only Stephanie O'Dea could make me regret having given away the only box of jello in my pantry, or have me say the sentence "Could you please get me a packet of Jell-o when you go out today?" - such is the influence this woman has over me - for some reason the more bizarre the recipe sounds the more I want to try it!

  12. Yes! I totally know what you mean about Mad Men! Over the summer I decided to finally try to watch it but it took me until about episode 9 until I got into it too - then it took over my life for about 2 weeks while I watched every episode they had on netflix and promptly got my hands on the most recent season. All I have to say is that the drama gets intense!

    The lemon jello in the recipe sounds so surprising - but I am sure it tastes divine!

  13. This turned out great for me - I added some chick peas as I didn't have much chicken, and a bit of heat - you can see how it worked out here:


    the chick peas were really great - they got a bit crispy roasty and were nice!

  14. i tried this...we didn't like it..so sad.

  15. I made this for my family last week. I followed
    the recipe exactly, but I used fresh onion and I did Broil the chicken a little bit ,for color, before putting in the CrockPot. I loved the chicken and so did my children. My husband did think it was a little too sweet. He still doesn't know what the ingredients were.....Shhhhhh! I love this website!

  16. I am genuinely surprised at how well this turned out. I added salt, and about 30 minutes before serving I added a bunch of lemon zest because it had gotten a bit bland in the cooking. I also added a dash of sriracha on the plate to give it a bit more kick.

    Thanks for this recipe - it was too weird NOT to try!

  17. hmmm...there is something so empowering about secret ingredients that would horrify some if they only knew. I do love your sense of adventure :)

    Erin - ekcantcook.blogspot.com

  18. jessica g10/01/2012

    I made this for company and it was a hit! I mixed in some cornstarch and salt about an hour before serving and it turned out well. Reminds me of lemon chicken from a Chinese restaurant.

  19. Jell-O? Who would have thought. If the kids liked it, I'm sure I would too. I'll have to save this recipe. Thanks!

  20. This was not a hit at our house. Too sweet. Too much of an odd, artificial flavor.

  21. Don't, whatever you do, decide to be cute and try making lemon-lime tangy chicken. It will taste good but the green color is WRONG. That said, it was eaten, quickly, by everyone. LOL Making it again tomorrow, LEMON only. I suspect then *I* will like it better... I could not get over that color.

  22. ohmygosh @JewelyaZ! hahahhahaa! :-)

  23. Ellen Brand10/03/2012

    I made this and it is awesome. A word of warning, though- sugar-free jello is apparently ten times as concentrated as sugared, or something. A pack of sugared jello that makes two cups weighs 3 oz. A pack of sugar-free that makes the same amount only weighs .3 oz. So do not let yourself be confused into adding WAY TOO MUCH if you're making this with sugar-free jello. Also, use a basting brush to get the stuff smeared over the chicken as equally as possible.

  24. Do you think it would be less lemony if I only have 1-3oz package?

  25. I totally plan to make this but I'm going to be just like you, a little weirded out because I know what is in there. I am so NOT telling the family! :-)

  26. Love this blog! I am such a foodie! Check out my lifestyle blog with amazing homemade dishes and recipes made by me. - GluttonforGrandeur.com

  27. Elisabeth Pryde5/27/2024

    My husband and I have Junk Food Fridays. This is regularly in the rotation, and we have a blast watching shows like M.A.S.H or cooking shows we love to binge watch while we are eating. My husband asks for tater tots and baby peas to go with this chicken every time, and if I let him eat his meal out of our bento boxes so it was more like the trays in M.A.S.H he would do it in a Heartbeat. <3