Chicken wings have a wonderful way of making any occasion feel like a party. Today’s easy baked Lemon Pepper Wings have all the finger-licking fun you associate with a night out with friends. They are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, and the moment they hit your table, everyone in the room is guaranteed a good time.
Unless you are at our house, in which case the Lemon Pepper Wings never make it to the table.
The last three times I’ve made homemade chicken wings, Ben has quietly devoured the entire batch right in the middle of our kitchen. And by “quietly devoured” I mean with dramatic lip smacking, finger licking (is it just me or are the thumbs particularly loud?), and the occasional astonished remark that went something like, “These are really good.”
It’s been a few years since I’ve made chicken wings (these Black Pepper Garlic Chicken Wings were the most recent), and I’m taking his astonishment as a compliment.
Chicken wings give off the vibe that in order to taste great, they need to be ordered at a bar. You’d think they would be too fussy or indulgent to make a decent batch at home.
With all due respect to the establishment, forget the Lemon Pepper Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, et al.
Just like my easy baked Lemon Pepper Salmon (another great recipe if you love that flavor combo!) these easy Lemon Pepper Wings come together with 10 minutes of prep (I’m serious), will be on your table in 30, and bake up surprisingly crisp and juicy, no deep fry required.
Ready to have a party at home, Lemon Pepper Wing style? Let’s make them!
How to Make Restaurant-Worthy Lemon Pepper Wings at Home
You have three basic options to cook chicken wings at home: deep fry, bake, or grill.
- Deep Fry. This is how most restaurants cook their wings. Honestly, I think it is a mess to do yourself (the vat of leftover oil! the splatters!), and I prefer to splurge on fried food when I’m out versus at home. You can get excellent results without deep frying.
(Note: I have not yet experimented with air fryer Lemon Pepper Wings, as I don’t yet own an air fryer. Is this something you’d be interested in me investigating? Let me know!)
- Bake. EASY, delicious, and what we’re doing for this Lemon Pepper Wings recipe. You’ll be so pleased with the results, especially once you’ve tossed the wings in a dynamite lemon pepper wing sauce.
- Grill. I haven’t tried making grilled Lemon Pepper Wings yet but think it could be a worthwhile experiment! It would still be tidy and reasonably healthy, and the grill will give you a nice crispy skin too.
For ultimate, year-round ease though, baked chicken wings are the way to go.
Secrets to Big-Time Lemon Pepper Flavor
Lemon Pepper Wings come down to a few simple ingredients.
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning. Widely available in most grocery stores, lemon pepper is a seasoning blend made of salt, pepper, dried lemon zest, and a few other additions like garlic, onion powder, and sometimes sugar. A few brands may add a celery salt too.
Growing up, adding lemon pepper seasoning to vegetables was the only way my mom could get me to eat them, and it’s still a seasoning you’ll always find in my pantry. If you’d like to make your own from scratch, my friend Rebecca has a homemade lemon pepper seasoning recipe.
- Butter. Part of what makes restaurant wings so darn delicious is that they are often tossed in a melted butter wet sauce after cooking. (Buffalo wings are a stellar example of this). We’ll be doing the same in a more moderate, though still super satisfying, amount.
- Honey. Prior to baking, I tossed the wings in a bit of honey. It caramelized in the oven and makes the wings extra sticky and delicious.
- Fresh Lemon Juice + Black Pepper. Because when we call this recipe “Lemon Pepper Wings,” we should mean it!
Lemon Pepper That’s Twice as Nice
For the best lemon pepper flavor, we’re hitting these wings with the combo not once, but twice.
- First, the wings are baked in a mix of canola oil (great for crisping), lemon pepper seasoning (duh), and honey (for caramelization and because honey is delicious, especially with lemon).
- Second, after baking, the wings are tossed with a wet lemon pepper sauce, which sounds v fancy but is actually a mix of melted butter, more lemon pepper seasoning, lemon juice, and black pepper. It’s easy and the results are spectacular.
As written, these Lemon Pepper Wings are brightly but not overtly lemony, and the black pepper kick is present but not overpowering.
- To up the lemon factor, top the wings with an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice or add an extra lemon’s worth of zest to the wing sauce.
- For hot Lemon Pepper Wings, add additional black pepper. You can also sprinkle on more black pepper to taste prior to serving.
Serving Lemon Pepper Wings
When your husband doesn’t devour the entire pan of wings before they ever make it to your table, you have a few options to serve Lemon Pepper Wings.
- For appetizers, I like to serve these wings with a simple sprinkle of green onions for color and a bit of extra bite.
- For a main, I like these wings alongside a big green salad like this Spinach Strawberry Salad or this easy Arugula Salad.
- For a potluck or similar party, try complementing them with a grain-based salad that can stand at room temperature, such as this Israeli Couscous Salad, this Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Salad, or this Mediterranean Chickpea Salad.
- Looking for a Lemon Pepper Wings dipping sauce? Try stirring together Greek yogurt, honey, and Dijon mustard, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
No need to wait for $1 wing night to score a deal on the best Lemon Pepper Wings! For finger-licking fun that’s ready in less than 30, this easy recipe has you covered.
Lemon Pepper Wings
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice plus additional lemon wedges for serving
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Chopped green onion for garnish
- Place one rack in center of the oven and one in the upper third. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly coat the rack with nonstick spray. Set a large mixing bowl on the counter.
- With a paper towel, pat the wings dry. Trim off the wing tips and separate the drumette from the flat part of the wing: Start by cutting off the wing tip by wiggling your knife edge at the joint “soft spot.” It should separate fairly easily, but if not, put the blade in place, then carefully but firmly hit the top of your knife to apply extra pressure. Discard the trimmed tip. Cut the wing again, this time at second wing joint, slicing down through the skin to separate the small drumstick (drumette) from the flat portion of the wing. Again, feel for the “soft spot” and wiggle your knife as needed. Place the divided wings in the mixing bowl as you go.
- Top the wings with the canola oil, honey, and 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning. Stir to coat, then arrange the wings in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the wings are cooked through. The skin will start to shrink away from the ends of the bones, and the wing juices will run clear when pieced with a fork.
- Move the pan to the upper third of the oven and turn the oven to broil. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the wings darken and crisp a bit more. Do not walk away to make sure the wings do not burn.
- While the wings bake, in a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the wings to a large bowl, then top with the melted butter, lemon juice, black pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper. Stir to coat. Transfer the wings to a serving plate and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Enjoy hot.
- Store leftover wings in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. To reheat, let the wings come to room temperature, then arrange them, skin-side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Warm in a 350 degree F oven until heated through, about 5 to 7 minutes. To perk their flavor back up, squeeze additional fresh lemon juice over the top just before serving.
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