Forget store bought Lemon Pepper seasoning. The best way to make homemade Lemon Pepper Chicken is with lemon zest (no juice!), black pepper, garlic and olive oil. Simple, fragrant and delicious. Make this with any cut of chicken you want, grill it, bake it or sear it.
So simple and easy to make, you can make this tonight!
Sometimes, the simplest of ideas turn out to be annoyingly difficult to achieve. All I wanted was to make a homemade Lemon Pepper Chicken i.e. without using a packet of Lemon Pepper seasoning.
Making a homemade Lemon Pepper seasoning to sprinkle onto chicken requires slow baking lemon zest to dry it out before mixing with salt and pepper. So essentially making a flavoured salt.
But I wanted something I could make tonight, any night, on a whim. Because Lemon Pepper Chicken is definitely a midweek-meal-type-food, don’t you think? Something you should be able to make right now.
As it turns out, finding a short cut way of making a chicken with a real lemon flavour (i.e. not just lemon sour flavour) wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be because the actual lemon flavour in lemons is not in the juice, it’s in the zest. The juice is a bit lemony, but mostly it is sour. But Lemon Pepper Chicken is not sour or even tangy.
So anyway, I won’t take you through the various methods I attempted before landing on “the recipe”. Suffice to say the challenge was figuring out an easy way to get the zest and pepper to actually stick to the chicken, along with garlic (or onion) powder for extra flavour.
So this is how I do it: mix zest and olive oil to make a rub, slather it onto the chicken, then dip into flour seasoned with pepper, garlic (or onion) powder and salt.
Not a drop of lemon juice in sight. Only because I wanted to replicate store bought lemon pepper seasoning which is not tangy. You can definitely add a squeeze of lemon juice into the lemon zest slather (is that what it’s called??). But just a bit. Because I find that the key to getting the lemon zest to stick to the chicken is to only use a bit of oil. Too much oil and the zest just runs off.
I don’t use the lemon juice for the seasoning but what I like to do is slice it up and pan fry it, partly for garnish and also to give people the option to squeeze some over the chicken.
Got lemons? Got chicken? Then try this for dinner tonight! – Nagi x
A homemade version of lemon pepper chicken made without store-bought lemon pepper seasoning. It tastes incredible - fresh, fragrant with lovely pops of heat from the pepper. No marinating time required. Great for pork and seafood too! RECIPE VIDEO BELOW.
- 2 chicken breasts (~250 - 300g / 8 - 10oz each)
- 2 lemons (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper (adjust to taste) (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or sub with onion powder) (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Fresh parsley , for garnish
Cut the chicken in half horizontally to make 2 steaks. Optional: pound to make them even thickness around 1cm / 2/5" thick (I do this).
Zest the lemons to make 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp lemon zest. Avoid grating too much of the white part - it's bitter.
Place zest into bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and mix to combine. Add chicken and use your hands to slather oil mixture onto chicken.
Mix flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.
Dip chicken into flour mixture, shaking to remove excess.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden.
Optional: Slice zested lemon and cook the slices, like pictured.
Serve chicken, garnished with fresh parsley if using.
1. You need enough lemons to make around 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp of lemon zest. 2 medium size lemons is usually enough.
2. I make cracked pepper using my mortar and pestle to roughly crack whole peppercorns because I like large pops of black pepper. You can just use a coarse pepper grinder. If you only have fine ground pepper (like the pepper that comes pre-ground), only use around 3/4 tsp.
3. Option to mix minced garlic into lemon zest slather instead of using powder. I prefer powder because it has a smoother flavour finish, more akin to store bought seasoning.
4. This recipe also works great with pork and seafood. It's a little too delicate for lamb and beef, in my opinion.
Homemade Lemon Pepper Chicken nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
T’was a lovely weekend for tea in the sun. Dozer is an excellent cafe dog!