Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings Recipe

When we think of wings, usually buffalo ones are the first to come to mind — after all buffalo wings were the ones that put this particular chicken wing on the culinary map. These days, however, there are plenty of other wing options to consider, like these lemon pepper wings. Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn feels that these wings "are a great alternative to the classic buffalo," explaining that they're "tangy and peppery," and "are a lighter-tasting and mild wing to enjoy."

This recipe has not one, but two secret ingredients, plus a special technique. For the sauce, McGlinn Iikes to use a little honey, saying this "balance[s] the tang that the lemon brings." She does say, though, that a pinch of sugar could be used in place of honey, and suggests that this be mixed directly into the lemon pepper seasoning. To coat the chicken wings, McGlinn uses a little bit of baking powder, saying it basically helps dry out the skin which allows the chicken wings to get extra-crispy. She also cooks her wings on a wire rack, telling us "it circulates the heat better and crisps both sides evenly."

Gather the ingredients for the lemon pepper wings

This recipe, of course, starts with chicken wings. You can buy the ones that are already cut up into clats and drummettes, or you can cut up whole wings yourself and, as McGlinn suggests, save the wing tips to make soup stock. Before you cook the wings, you'll coat them with baking powder and salt. After cooking, they are sauced with a mixture of honey, butter, and lemon juice and them sprinkled with homemade lemon pepper seasoning made from lemon zest, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. McGlinn does say, though, that "if you want to skip the zesting, you can always use a store-bought lemon-pepper spice mix."

Bake (but don't burn!) the wings to a crisp

For starters, preheat the oven to 400 F. You should also get out a baking sheet and a wire rack and also some cooking spray. As McGlinn says, "I do recommend spraying the rack so the wings don't stick." She also likes to line the pan for easy cleanup, but says "you can skip the parchment for sure" if you want to save any chicken grease for cooking.

Mix 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt with the baking powder. There's no need to be leery of using this ingredient for non-baking purposes since McGlinn assures us that "the baking powder does not alter the flavor." — just be sure you're using powder, not baking soda. Toss the wings in the mixture, then bake them on the rack (spaced about 1 inch apart) for about 50 minutes or until they're crispy. Set a timer for 25 minutes, though, since you'll need to turn the wings over halfway through the cooking.

McGlinn does note that if you really want extra-crunchy wings, "You can dry the chicken wings further by placing them in the refrigerator for up to 1 day."

Make your own lemon pepper seasoning

Mix the lemon zest with the pepper, then find a tiny little oven-proof pan or even a small piece of foil and bake the lemon pepper in the oven for a minute or two. This will dry out the zest, but you'll need to keep a careful eye (and nose) out to make sure it doesn't burn. Once the peel is sufficiently dry, mix the salt and garlic powder into the lemon pepper.

Coat the wings with honey butter and lemon pepper

Melt the butter, then combine it with the honey and lemon juice. Toss the cooked wings with this sauce, then sprinkle them with half of the lemon pepper. Reserve the rest of the seasoning to sprinkle on as needed — it is salty, and it's easier to add more seasoning than to remove any excess.

If you'd like a dipping sauce for your lemon pepper wings, McGlinn notes that you can go with the standard blue cheese (buffalo's best friend) or ubiquitous ranch, but says she actually used Caesar salad dressing. She also feels garlic aioli would be a good choice.

Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
Buffalo wings will always be classic, but switch things up with these tangy lemon-pepper wings.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lemon pepper wings on plate
Total time: 1 hour
  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon salt, divided
  • zest from 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel.
  3. Toss the wings with the baking powder and 1½ teaspoons salt, until coated.
  4. Place each wing 1 inch apart on a wire rack set on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the wings for about 50 minutes or until crispy, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.
  6. Mix the lemon zest with the pepper. Put the lemon pepper in the oven and bake for 1 to 2 minutes until the lemon zest is dried.
  7. Mix the lemon pepper with the remaining salt and the garlic powder. Melt the butter, then stir in the lemon juice and honey.
  8. Toss the wings with the honey butter until well coated.
  9. Sprinkle half of the lemon pepper onto the wings and toss until they are well coated. Add any more lemon pepper seasoning to taste.
  10. Serve the wings with ranch, blue cheese, or dip of choice.
Calories per Serving 1,115
Total Fat 83.0 g
Saturated Fat 33.1 g
Trans Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 564.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 11.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
Total Sugars 2.0 g
Sodium 1,211.5 mg
Protein 81.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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