Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning is super easy to make at home! Whip up your own batch with only lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
The BEST Lemon Pepper Seasoning
With its bright citrus tang and its zingy peppery flavor, Lemon Pepper Seasoning is my favorite seasoning for all things chicken and fish. This stuff is addictive!
What does Lemon Pepper taste like?
The kick of pepper meets the zing of lemon in this highly addictive, all-purpose spice blend.
Healthy Lemon Pepper Seasoning Recipe
Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning is so much more natural and healthier than store bought mixes.
Here’s the label from McCormick’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning: salt, black pepper, citric acid, onion, sugar, garlic, calcium stearate, silicon dioxide, calcium silicate, celery seed, lemon oil, and FD&C yellow No. 5. It’s pretty much just salt and chemicals.
Making your own Lemon Pepper Seasoning is so much healthier with only natural ingredients. Plus, you can control the amount of salt you use. While I have included salt as an ingredient, I leave the salt out completely so that I can salt each dish exactly how I want it.
DIY Lemon Pepper Seasoning is way cheaper than store bought
I love saving money at the grocery store. Making my own homemade spice mixes is so much more economical than buying the premade mixes.
Notice the first few ingredients on McCormick’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning: salt, black pepper, citric acid, onion, sugar, calcium stearate…? On a product label, the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts.
Walmart sells McCormick’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning for about $.53 an ounce.
Considering that salt is the predominant ingredient, and Walmart sells salt (the Great Value brand) for 1.5 cents an ounce, it’s easy to see how making your own spice mix is a much better deal.
And if you normally throw away the peels after squeezing fresh lemons, the zest is pretty much free!
(Penzeys sells their Lemon Pepper Seasoning for $3.35 an ounce. Just sayin’. This stuff isn’t cheap.)
Lemon Pepper Ingredients
Lemon Pepper is made with three ingredients:
- dried lemon zest
I love the pure flavor and simplicity of Lemon Pepper made with just these three ingredients. (Actually two ingredients, because I always leave out the salt.)
However, it’s very versatile and you can make any additions to suit your own taste or the dish you’re making. For some ideas on other spices you can mix in, here are some of the ingredients in blends from well-known spice shops: (I’ve left out the preservatives.)
- Penzeys: salt, black pepper, citric acid, lemon peel, garlic, and minced green onion.
- The Spice House: pepper, salt, citric acid, powdered lemon peel, MSG, garlic, and onion.
- The Oakton Spice shop: black pepper, lemon zest, coriander, amchoor, aleppo chile flakes, green onion, thyme, turmeric, citric acid, and parsley.
- Spice Jungle: Salt, spices, citric acid, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon oil.
- American Spice: Salt, Citric Acid, Black Pepper, Sugar, Minced Onion, Minced Garlic, Granulated Onion, Natural Lemon Juice Flavor, and Lemon Oil.
Salt free Lemon Pepper Seasoning
I make a no salt Lemon Pepper by leaving the salt out when making this Lemon Pepper recipe so that I can use as much of the seasoning as I want, without over salting the food. I salt the food separately so it’s just how I like it.
Organic Lemon Pepper
I use organic lemons in my Dried Lemon Zest to avoid any pesticides that are on the peels.
Lemon Pepper add-ins
From the lists above, some common add-ins to make your Lemon Pepper Seasoning your own include:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Citric acid
Some less common add-ins are:
- Amchoor – (Amchur) dried green mango powder to add sourness and tang. It’s about five times as sour as lemon juice. One teaspoon of amchoor is equivalent to about 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons lemon juice.
- Chili flakes
How to make Dried Lemon Zest
Check out my post on How to Make Dried Lemon Zest. It’s super easy and dries out in the oven in about 30 minutes.
How to make Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Lemon Pepper is very flexible in the amounts that you use. I use about 4 parts lemon zest to 1 part pepper. If you like more peppery zing, you can increase the amount of pepper.
Simply combine the Dried Lemon Zest, black pepper, and salt – if using (I leave the salt out) – in a glass jar and shake to combine.
If you don’t have a spice grinder, zest your lemon as fine as possible and use cracked or ground pepper so that everything is already in small pieces.
Lemon Pepper Powder
If you would like your Lemon Pepper in powder form, simply give it a couple of pulses in a spice or coffee grinder.
How to use Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning is perfect for chicken, fish, shrimp, and steaks
- Mix with a little oil and use as a lemon pepper spice rub
- Lemon Pepper grilled chicken breasts (my current summer fave)
- Use it in Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings
- Sprinkle over roasted veggies or potatoes
- Tossed with pasta
- Mixed into dough for homemade crackers
- Use in lemony dishes like my Lemon Caper Chicken or Creamy Lemon Artichoke Chicken Pasta for another dimension of lemon.
- Sprinkle it on popcorn
Does Lemon Pepper go bad?
This Lemon Pepper Seasoning should stay fresh for about two years in a tightly sealed container.
Can you use fresh lemon zest?
Because the flavor and aroma of dried zest is different from fresh zest, using fresh lemon zest would change the flavor and intensity of the mix. It would also have to be used within a week as fresh lemon zest is perishable.
Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- ¼ cup dried lemon zest
- 1-2 tablespoons black pepper whole, crushed, or ground *see note*
- Optional: Salt to taste – I leave it out
- Combine the dried lemon zest, black pepper, and salt if using in a jar. Shake to combine thoroughly.
- If you want a finer powder, grind in a spice/coffee grinder.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 years. It will lose its potency as time passes. It will stay fresher longer if left unground.
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