New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
Shelley Shepard Gray

Mission: 7-Up Chicken

Posted Jan 19 2012, 7:47 am

For almost the last year, I’ve been on a mission to make 7-Up Chicken. When Tom and I were invited to an Amish wedding last April (can’t believe almost a year has passed!), 7-up Chicken was served at the reception luncheon. We loved it.

Correction~I liked it a lot. My husband Loved It.

He loved it so much that he talked about it all the time, and asked me to get the recipe.  The only ingredient that we knew for sure was in it was the chicken-and that the chicken had been soaked in 7-up the night before it was cooked.  

Getting the recipe sounded easy enough. I wrote the mother of the bride, thanked her for the invitation, etc., and asked, when she had time, if she could please send me the recipe. Then I waited. And waited. Two months went by. No response.


Not ready to give up, I asked my Amish friend Clara (who was the bride’s aunt) if she knew how I could get the recipe. She very kindly wrote me back and told me that the only recipe they had served about 100 people. That was surely too many people for me. So, no recipe.

Feeling a little silly-after all, I make Great Fried Chicken, if I do say so myself-I reported back to my husband that the recipe was a no-go. He looked horrified.  He said he’d be happy to do all the math to reduce the recipe…just get that recipe. Please.

 Grudgingly, and kind of feeling a little foolish, I wrote another letter and  asked again.

Then I started worrying that this ‘7-Up Chicken’ was a special ‘family’ recipe, kind of like my mother’s chicken pie. Maybe the family didn’t want to give out the recipe, they were just too polite to tell me that.  So when Amy, Vannetta, and I were on the Amish book tour and stopped at Clara’s house for breakfast, I asked if that was the case.

Clara thought my latest question was very humorous. Turns out, no…it wasn’t a secret, it was just that her sister hadn’t had time to write it out. That made sense. These ladies are busy. 

And, well, there always comes a time when you know you’re being a pain. I had felt that time had come with my asking and asking about that recipe. So I told my husband just to remember that meal and let it rest in peace. After all, we’d certainly done that with excellent restaurant meals!

Then, right before Christmas I got a Christmas card from Freida…With The Recipe For 7-up Chicken. Yay!! Big cheers here. 7-Up Chicken, Here We Come!

Then, of course, ‘Life’ happened. My mother passed away and off we went to California. Next, I came home to revisions on a book and had another book due. Tired of the Christmas mess, I put all the Christmas cards we received in a box and set them in the basement. And pretty much forgot about my recipe quest.

Until last night. I was watching American Idol and got kind of bored. Then I started looking through cookbooks…and then I remembered that recipe.  Yikes! Off I went into our storage room, dug out the box, sorted through all the cards…and found Freida’s card.

Success!  I called up my traveling husband and told him to get ready-his favorite meal was going to be prepared on Saturday night.

But now that’s not to be. When I reread the recipe, I discovered that  two of the ingredients (Emma Yoders Coating Mix and runion) were bought from the Walnut Creek Cheese Shop. Now the meal is on hold again until:

 a) I get a chance to go to Keim’s Market in Adams County (in the Amish community an hour away) to see if they have these ingredients


 b)I get back to Holmes County to the Walnut Creek Cheese Shop (four hours away) 

So, my husband is going to have to wait just a little longer, because by now I’m determined that there will be no substitutions!  I’m going to make this recipe exactly how it is written. We’ve waited this long, we can wait a little longer, for sure. <g>

I just hope when I finally do make the meal, it tastes just as good as we remember. 

Between you and me? I kind of doubt it will. We had 7-Up Chicken on a prettily decorated table under a white tent alongside an amazing amount of wonderful side dishes.  The meal was served by friends of the bride wearing lovely green dresses.

Outside, it was warm and sunny, we had just watched a beautiful exchange of wedding vows, and everyone was teasing me about putting the wedding-and all of the attendents- in my latest book.

Tom and I were happy, laughing, and enjoyed every bite of that meal. That afternoon had felt just about perfect. It’s going to hard to replicate, I think.

But I’m going to give it a try. My quest for Amish 7-Up chicken has actually been kind of fun. It’s been a fun challenge to try so hard to get something just right.  

Has anyone else been on a recipe quest before? What was the recipe for? And, by any chance, did it turn out as good as you remembered?

with blessings to you,




25 responses to “Mission: 7-Up Chicken”

  1. Dorcs Mills says:

    You got me excited.. I would like to know how to make amish 7 up chicken too., sound delicious.. you will have to share your recipe..I kept reading thinking you had it.. dont forget to share..

  2. What a wonderful story. Maybe in the future your husband will get his 7-up chicken. Good luck as you quest continues.

  3. WHERE’S THE RECIPE???? You got us all hungry for it now, we are drooling at the mouth, are we going to have to wait a year or longer for the recipe now, lol?

    When you find time, it the next year or two, lol, you could send me a copy of the recipe, it sounds great.

  4. i agree…i want the recipe. Have never gone to any work to find a certain recipe, but glad you were successful. Now, i don’t expect a Christmas Card with the recipe in it, but Shelly, would love if you posted it! The staple at our house is…you guessed it, chicken! Thanks for taking me along for the ride as you searched for this.

  5. Melissa L. says:

    I would love to have the recipe also. Love cooking and baking and trying new things.
    I did the same thing with my Aunt’s Pumpkin Bread. She makes it every Christmas as part of a gift for everyone in the family. I joked with her for a couple of years that I would love to have the recipe. She kindof put me off each time. Then one day out of the blue a got a letter from her with just the recipe typed neatly inside. No letter or explanation just a copy of the recipe. I am so glad to have it now that I have moved out of state and no longer get it every Christmas. Plus with a turn in her health, makes it even more precious. It is the most moist pumpkin bread I had ever tasted or made. Yes! It does taste very similar to hers. The only thing missing is her time and love that she put into making it for us.

  6. Jeanette Styer says:

    Since it is not a secret, do post the recipe.

    What I find difficult, is when I or somebody makes something by just throwing ingredients together adding a bit at a time and it is really good but there is no actual recipe, making it practically unable to be duplicated.

  7. Rosemary Ditter says:

    Would love to have the receipe too. It sounds so good. Looking forward to reading “Missing”.

  8. Theresa says:

    Hi Shelley,
    The whole idea of what that chicken that soaked in 7up overnite intrigues me, lol. I imagine that it made it juicy, but was it sweet? I wouldn’t mind both recipes to be honest. The one your husband recalculates for regular size meals and the 100 for when I have a party. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Evangeline says:

    Hi Shelley,
    I to would love to have the recipe for the 7-up chicken.
    You have all of us drooling and wanting to make this.
    So please share.

  10. Alice Bessonett says:

    Shelley, I know how your quest feels very well. There was a restaurant chain here in New England named Bigfords. They used to make these “Big Apple” pancakes. They weren’t really a pancake though they had more egg than normal pancakes. The restaurant went out of business and I have been trying to make them for my familly since. Never have I made it the way they remember it.
    Good luck in your quest for the perfect 7up chicken.

  11. Patricia says:

    I would love the recipe also. Please share

  12. Dottie Gill says:

    I spent a lot of time looking for ShooFly Pie at one time. My husband had eaten in Penn and was crazy about it. I finally found it and made it for him. Too sweet for me!! He loved it every time I made it for him. Sadly, he is gone now, but I know that I always made things for him even if I did not like them. LOL

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  13. What a nice story. It sounds like a beautiful occassion. The recipe has me intrigued. Can’t wait to hear the ending of the story. Do tell when you can. 🙂


  14. Donna says:

    I once had these Greek cookies my mother’s next door neighbor brought over for us. They were wonderful, and definitely not sweet, which is what I prefer. I asked her for the recipe and she gave it to me. It called for 10 pounds of flour, 4 pounds of butter, etc. You see, her family makes huge amounts of everything! So I have tried to get it right by dividing the ingredients out, but I have never gotten it exactly to what I remember!!!

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