Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
- Butterfly the chicken breasts.
- Mix lemon zest, ground pepper and other seasonings to your taste.
- Mix flour, lemon pepper and sugar. Cover the chicken with this mix and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the chicken and cook each side for approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and pour lemon juice.
- Serve warm and enjoy.
If you thought a healthy meal equals a dull meal; we’re here to prove you wrong. But don’t worry, you won’t be offended by us being right, because you are going to truly enjoy it.
It’s been established that lemon pepper is the bomb (if you don’t know what lemon pepper is, we’ll get to that soon enough) and it can really lighten up a healthy chicken-based dinner or lunch. Plus, it’s extremely easy to prepare. Don’t believe us yet? keep reading:
1. What is Lemon Pepper?
As the name already gives it away, lemon pepper is a seasoning made of lemon zest and cracked pepper. The mixture between the citrus flavor and the cracked pepper touch is really fresh and delicious. Lemon pepper seasoning goes great with poultry, seafood and even pasta or salad.
It is widely available in stores; but it's not difficult to prepare at home and there’s a good chance that yours is better than the supermarket version. You can even customize it by adding other spices.
2. Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning
We want to emphasize that you can either buy or make your own lemon pepper seasoning for this recipe. However, some commercial options replace lemon with citric acid; and we do believe the secret of the best lemon pepper chicken is natural fresh lemon.
There are many ways to personalize your seasoning too. For example, you can control the thickness while grinding the pepper. You can add zest from other citrus fruits like orange or tangerine (which by the way, will also result in a nice, yellowish color).
Of course, you can also add many different spices to the mix like salt, garlic, onion powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme or rosemary. This is a basic step-by-step:
- Using a lemon zester, vegetable peeler or a knife; carefully zest the lemon, avoiding the white part (this part tastes bitter).
- Grate or finely chop the zest and set it aside in a bowl.
- You have the option to ground peppercorns yourself using a grinder until you get the desired thickness.
- Mix the ground pepper with the lemon zest. Using a wooden spoon or another sturdy utensil, crush the lemon zest and pepper mixture, so that the citrus oils impregnate the pepper.
- This step is optional: spread the mix on a baking sheet and bake at 60°C for one and a half hours or until dehydrated.
- Cool to room temperature and grind (you can use a spice grinder, a pizza cutter, or even a sharp chef’s knife).
- Store in a sealed jar. You can keep it for several months and use it in many preparations.
3. Tools You’ll Need
You will need the versatility of a good chef’s knife for big tasks like cutting the chicken breasts (although if you own a boning knife for this, it works great too) and also for the small things like crushing garlic. Most likely you will also use it for preparing any side dish of your choice (ideas below).
You can also use a noble paring knife for removing lemon peels, for example, or for finely chopping your herbs.
You will need a skillet that’s large enough to comfortably accommodate the chicken. If it is oven-safe, all the better; especially if the lemon pepper chicken recipe you are preparing calls for baking.
We recommend you use at least two: one for working on the chicken breasts and the other one for vegetables, herbs and spices.
Where to mix the herbs, spices and other seasoning ingredients.
Because you should protect your skin and clothes at all times.
Optional: citrus grater
Very practical to control the amount of skin we want to remove from the lemon without dragging more than you want to get.
4. How To Butterfly Chicken Breasts
For the purpose of cooking this mouth-watering recipe; you will have to butterfly the chicken pieces. This cut will allow the chicken to cook in a better, fast, uniform way.
If this is something you’ve never done before, just grab a sharp boning knife or a chef’s knife and be ready to master this technique in a few easy steps:
- Press the chicken (boneless, skinless) firmly against your cutting board. Always curl your fingers inwards for safety.
- Now slice horizontally through the chicken, almost to the other side, but not completely.
- Open the chicken breast as if it were a book (this is the moment where you understand the “butterfly” reference).
- Optionally, if you want to flatten it even more, you can cover the chicken with plastic wrap and press it down, using either a meat mallet or just your hands.
5. Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
There are many variations to this recipe but the result will always be delicious. This dish is ideal for lunch or a quick dinner, as it doesn’t require too much cook time or effort.
Total Time: 20 min
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Pinch of sugar (used for browning the chicken, it is optional)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh juice of 1 lemon
- Finely chopped parsley
- Lemon pepper seasoning. If you’re preparing it at home with our recipe above, then you’ll need:
- 4 lemons
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- Butterfly the chicken breasts: slice through each chicken piece using a sawing motion with your sharp knife, until you get two equal halves.
- Prepare your homemade lemon pepper seasoning using our instructions above; otherwise get your store-bought seasoning ready.
- Season the chicken by mixing the flour, lemon pepper and sugar in a bowl and then cover the pieces with this mix, making sure all sides of the chicken are well coated and seasoned. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Preheat your skillet to medium heat and then melt the butter and the olive oil. They should be evenly distributed.
- Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until they show a nice golden brown on the bottom. Then turn and cook for 5 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through in the center.
- Remove from heat and pour in lemon juice.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot with some lemon wedges on the side.
Notes and tips:
- Some people like to add chicken broth a.k.a. chicken stock first and put in the oven for about 10 minutes; before marinating with lemon pepper. Chicken broth can really add flavor and texture to any dish. By the way,
- Baked lemon pepper chicken is delicious! If you're an oven fan, don’t hesitate.
- You can replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour.
- If the chicken is too moist, use a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This is essential to get a nice browning, just as making sure the skillet is well heated before adding the chicken.
- If you wish, you can use light butter or unsalted butter. Olive oil can be substituted for avocado oil.
- Instead of chicken breasts, you can also use chicken thighs or chicken wings for this recipe. Try to use smaller chicken thighs so they cook better.
- To confirm the chicken is done and ready to eat, pierce the breast with a knife or fork to check the insides: if the juices are clear, the chicken is done. If there are pink spots, it needs more cooking time. But be careful not to overcook the chicken or it will end up too dry.
- How about the serving size? How much chicken to cook for one person? It is said that 3-4 ounces is the perfect size for one serving of chicken (this translates to somewhere between 80-120 grams, or close to one half of a chicken breast)
6. Alternative Recipe: Lemon Pepper Chicken au Gratin
The recipe yields 4 servings, takes 15 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to cook.
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon of dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- In a bowl mix butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
- In another bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the lemon pepper dressing and then cover them with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan mix. Place them in a baking dish.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until properly cooked. Serve warm and enjoy!
7. Best Sides To Eat With Lemon Pepper Chicken
Any of these choices will go great with your lemon pepper chicken breast as the main dish:
- Wild rice
- Potatoes (roasted, au gratin, mashed)
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Cous Cous
- Zucchini and squash (check out this grilled zucchini recipe)
- Spinach and parmesan cheese
- Green salad with almonds
- Green beans
8. Lemon Pepper Chicken Nutrition Facts
(Estimated values per serving)
9. How To Store Leftover Chicken
If you cooked too much or intentionally prepared food for the whole week, here’s how you make sure you will enjoy it later:
- Let it cool down completely before you store it.
- Use a clean, airtight container for storage.
- In theory, you can continue to enjoy this delicious meal in the next three or four days after you cook it (although honestly, I don’t know how you could resist that long). To this end, keep in the refrigerator.
- If you’re looking at a longer period, then you can keep it in the freezer for about three months.
10. How to reheat your lemon pepper chicken?
Whether it has been stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, let it come to room temperature before reheating. You can use a skillet over medium heat or the oven at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. We don’t recommend the microwave as the chicken will tend to dry out.
Here’s an idea: Leftover chicken can also be chopped into smaller pieces and used as a filling for a sandwich or served with vegetables as a salad. Use your imagination and appetite!
11. Frequently Asked Questions About Lemon Pepper Chicken
Is lemon pepper chicken healthy?
Filled with protein, and very low in calories; lemon pepper chicken can be a super light and healthy addition to your meal plan. Although, please consider that how healthy a meal is usually depends on the ingredients you use, how you prepare it, and what sides you choose.
Is lemon pepper seasoning good for weight loss?
In theory, lemon pepper seasoning itself contains little to no calories, so it’s definitely a safe addition to a weight loss plan.
How to make keto lemon pepper chicken?
Lemon pepper chicken is, by nature, a keto-friendly recipe; as it contains very little carbs and is high in protein and fat. So if you’re following a keto diet, this delicious recipe is perfect for you!
What is lemon pepper sauce?
Lemon pepper sauce usually refers to “lemon pepper butter” , the combination of lemon pepper seasoning and butter or olive oil.
Is lemon zest the same as lemon pepper?
Lemon pepper is made of lemon zest combined with black pepper.
Can you cook lemon pepper chicken in the air fryer?
Yes! You can cook this chicken recipe in the air fryer. 375ºF is said to be a great temperature for air frying chicken.
Can you cook lemon pepper chicken in the slow cooker?
It might take a bit longer but yes! you will still end up with a delicious, healthy recipe.
Is chicken high in saturated fat?
Chicken is considered lean meat and it contains less saturated fat than other meats like beef or pork. For more info, check out the nutritional information for this recipe above.