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How to Make Lemon Pepper Seasoning

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Our easy homemade lemon pepper seasoning blend, features fresh lemon zest, coarsely ground black pepper, and savory garlic and onion. Perfect for enhancing the flavor of chicken wings or serving as a zesty marinade, this customizable recipe brings a burst of vibrant, homemade goodness to your Southern kitchen.

One of Marrekus’s favorite hobbies is crafting his own seasoning blends. A few years back, he even offered his unique spices for sale on Cooks with Soul. While they became quite popular, the effort of producing and shipping them out became a bit overwhelming, prompting us to take a break. However, there’s a chance we might revive them in the future 👀.

Meanwhile, our go-to is this Lemon Pepper Seasoning; it’s a staple for flavoring our favorite lemon pepper chicken wings, fried catfish, fried pork chops, cabbage, smothered chicken, and more! It also works great as a marinade.

One of the key advantages of making your own seasoning blend is the control you have over freshness and quality. When you use fresh herbs and spices, your blends pack a more vibrant and authentic flavor.

Another benefit is the freedom to customize. You can tweak the quantities of ingredients to match your personal preferences, giving you a seasoning blend that fits your taste perfectly.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FRESHNESS – The use of fresh lemon zest and coarsely ground black pepper contributes to a vibrant and authentic flavor.
  • VERSATILITY – The seasoning’s adaptability for various dishes, including chicken wings and marinades, makes it a versatile addition to any kitchen.

Ingredients

  • Lemon zest (preferably from organic lemons)
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (start with less and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
  • Granulated garlic
  • Granulated onion
  • MSG Flavor Enhancer (e.g. Ac’cent)

Note: The exact proportions of the Lemon Pepper Seasoning may vary based on your personal preferences. Try different variations including herbs and spices to tailor the seasoning to your taste.

Tools You’ll Need

To prepare this homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning, you’ll need the following special equipment and tools:

  • Microplane or Grater
  • Sheet Pan
  • Food Processor
  • Parchment Paper
  • Small Storage Container
  • Paper Towels

How to Make Lemon Pepper Seasoning

  1. Use organic lemons for the zest (to avoid pesticides). Rinse the lemons under cool running water to remove any dirt or residues, then dry with paper towel. Zest the lemons finely using a Microplane to ensure a robust lemon flavor.
  2. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (usually around 170°F or 75°C). Spread the lemon zest on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Mix in the coarse ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the lemon zest is thoroughly dried out.
  3. Allow the dried lemon zest and black pepper mixture to cool. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until you achieve the desired consistency. Some people prefer a fine powder, while others like a coarser texture.
  4. In a bowl, combine the processed lemon pepper with kosher salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and MSG. Mix thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
  5. Taste the seasoning and adjust salt and pepper levels to your preference. Transfer the lemon pepper seasoning to an airtight container for storage.

What to Make

Lemon pepper seasoning is a blend of spices that combines the bright citrusy flavor of lemon with the bold kick of black pepper. It’s a versatile seasoning mix that adds a zesty and peppery taste to your favorite dishes!

  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings: Toss wings in lemon pepper seasoning for a flavorful and zesty alternative to traditional buffalo wings.
  • Southern Style Braised Cabbage: We use lemon pepper seasoning in our braised cabbage cooked with bacon, onion, and garlic in a savory broth.
  • Fried Catfish: Use it in your fish fry seasoning when making this southern fried catfish.
  • Fried Pork Chops: Sprinkle some in your seasoned flour mixture when making our mouthwatering deep-fried pork chops.
  • Smothered Chicken: Try it out in this smothered chicken recipe featuring fall-off-the-bone tender thighs simmered in rich brown gravy and spooned over a bed of fluffy white rice. 
  • Grilled Chicken: Sprinkle on chicken breasts or thighs before grilling for a bright and flavorful twist.
  • Baked Fish: Season fish fillets with lemon pepper before baking to enhance the natural flavors of the seafood.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Toss vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts with olive oil and seasoning before roasting.
  • Grilled Shrimp or Seafood: Coat shrimp or other seafood with lemon pepper before grilling or sautéing.
  • Rice or Quinoa: Stir lemon pepper seasoning into cooked rice or quinoa for a simple yet flavorful side dish.
  • Marinades: Use as part of a marinade for various proteins, adding a citrusy and peppery punch.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Brush vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper before grilling.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Choose Fresh Lemons: Use fresh, organic lemons for the Lemon Pepper Seasoning zest to ensure a vibrant and natural citrus flavor.
  • Avoid the Bitter White Pith: When zesting lemons, be cautious not to include the bitter white pith. Only use the colorful outer part of the peel for the best flavor.
  • Adjust Pepper Levels: Black pepper intensity can vary. Adjust the quantity to your spice preference, keeping in mind that freshly ground black pepper provides a more robust flavor.
  • Adjust Salt Gradually: Add salt gradually and taste as you go. You can always add more later, but it’s challenging to fix an overly salty blend or wings.
  • Experiment with Additional Herbs: Consider adding dried herbs like thyme, oregano, or rosemary for added complexity. Experiment with small amounts to find the combination you like.

Storage Tips

Store your lemon pepper seasoning in a sealed, airtight container away from heat and sunlight. Keep it in a cool, dark place, like your cupboard or pantry. For the best flavor, use it within six months to a year, and make sure to seal the container tightly after each use.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the best way to zest lemons?

Use a zester or microplane grater. Both of these tools have fine, sharp blades that help extract the zest without getting too much of the bitter pith. Apply light, even pressure and zest each area of the lemon only once.

Can you I dried lemon zest?

Sure! Dried lemon zest can be a convenient option, especially when fresh lemons are not readily available. You can find pre-dried lemon zest in the spice aisle of many grocery stores, or you can purchase it online.

Make sure that the dried lemon zest you’re using is of good quality and hasn’t been sitting in your pantry for an extended period.

Also, since dried lemon zest tends to have a more concentrated flavor than fresh zest, you may need to adjust the quantity in your recipe. Start with a smaller amount and taste as you go, adding more if needed.

What kind of black pepper should I use?

This recipe uses coarsely ground black pepper, which is available in most spice sections. However, if you have a mortar and pestle, consider freshly cracking black peppercorns. This method provides a coarser grind and releases the essential oils for a more aromatic flavor. For a finer seasoning blend, you can use finely ground black pepper.

Can I customize the seasoning with additional herbs or spices?

Of course! Incorporate your favorite herbs or spices for added complexity and depth of flavor. Here are some herbs and spices you should consider adding: thyme, oregano, rosemary, paprika, celery seed, etc.

Can I use the seasoning in a marinade?

Absolutely! Combine olive oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, and your homemade lemon pepper seasoning in a bowl. Adjust the quantities to taste. Whisk the marinade ingredients together until well combined, then pour over meat, veggies, etc., ensuring it’s well-coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to several hours.

Summary

Elevate your cooking game with our homemade lemon pepper seasoning—perfect for flavorful chicken wings and marinades. Crafted for simplicity and bold taste, this staple seasoning adds a touch of freshness to your dishes.

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Lemon Pepper Seasoning

  • Author: cooks with soul

Description

Our easy homemade lemon pepper seasoning blend, features fresh lemon zest, coarsely ground black pepper, and savory garlic and onion. Perfect for enhancing the flavor of chicken wings or serving as a zesty marinade, this customizable recipe brings a burst of vibrant, homemade goodness to your Southern kitchen.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup lemon zest (about 12 lemons; preferably organic)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG Flavor Enhancer (e.g. Ac’cent)


Instructions

If using store-bought lemon zest, skip to step 3.

  1. Rinse lemons under cool running water to remove any dirt or residues.
  2. Zest lemons finely using a Microplane or grater.
  3. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (usually around 170°F or 75°C).
  4. Spread the lemon zest on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Mix in the coarse ground black pepper.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the lemon zest is thoroughly dried out.
  7. Allow the dried lemon zest and black pepper mixture to cool.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until you achieve the desired consistency.
  9. In a bowl, combine the processed lemon pepper with kosher salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and MSG. Mix thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
  10. Taste the seasoning and adjust salt and pepper levels to your preference.
  11. Transfer the lemon pepper seasoning to an airtight container for storage.

9 Comments

  1. We are totally with you on making this lemon pepper seasoning fresh. So much more vibrant and that lemon zest is a flavor bomb! I woukd just omit the MSG, very allergic! 😃 👍

  2. Used this lemon pepper on my wings and I am never going back to storebought! This was easy to make and has a tone of flavor.

  3. I made this lemon pepper seasoning and used it on grilled salmon. It added so much flavor. It turned out delicious.

  4. This is one of my favorite spices and i had no idea how easy it was to make. I loved it on top of chicken and veggies. And now I can make it at home over and over again.

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