This easy Lemon Pepper Chicken is great on the grill, on the stove, or in the oven. Dinner is solved in 30 minutes or less, and it's delicious!
Serve Lemon Pepper Chicken with delicious sides like roasted spring asparagus, Greek Roasted Potatoes, and Creamy Cucumber Salad. Find more easy chicken recipes, from DIY rotisserie chicken to ready-in-under-half-an-hour breaded Chicken Milanese.
This recipe is proof that something doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming to be mouthwateringly delicious. In fact, sometimes the easy stuff tastes the best. Lemon pepper seasoning, for example.
Good lemon pepper is packed with bright citrus flavor; it's like stardust on food. Chicken, fish, vegetables, you name it. Everyone loves it. Grill up a batch of lemon pepper dusted chicken on the grill at your next backyard barbecue, and stand back! It's that good.
It's also healthy. It doesn't need butter, cream, or cheese to work its lemony magic. When you're counting your calories or just trying to lighten up your diet, lemon pepper chicken is as good as it gets.
Making Lemon Pepper Chicken for the easiest party menu ever? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How much lemon pepper do I need for chicken?
That all depends on your preference, the brand or type of lemon pepper you're using, and how much you have!
I usually aim for about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper per chicken breast. If you're making lemon pepper chicken thighs, use the same amount. For lemon pepper chicken wings, go crazy with the stuff. For a whole chicken, use about 3 tablespoons of lemon pepper.
Feel free to use more, if you love it.
What's the best lemon pepper seasoning?
There are a million different types of lemon pepper seasoning out there--too many to count. Whatever you do, read the ingredient labels. Lemon pepper doesn't mean just lemon and black pepper. Usually, brands include salt, sugar, onion powder, thyme, MSG, and bunch of other stuff, some needed, others not so much.
The one I usually use has a bit of cornstarch in it, which helps brown the chicken as it cooks.
If you're being careful about sodium intake, for example, seek out a salt-free variety. Or better yet, make your own! Which leads us to...
DIY Lemon Pepper Seasoning:
Here's a simple recipe for making homemade lemon pepper mix. You can add it to marinades, toss it with roasted vegetables, or just keep it when you need a quick chicken dinner.
Makes about 3/4 cup of lemon pepper.
- 1/2 cup dried lemon peel granules*
- 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
In a small bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix together the ingredients. Store in a dry, dark corner of the pantry. Use liberally!
*Dried lemon peel granules are made from dried or dehydrated lemon peel/zest. They're easy to find online or in well-stocked spice stores.
Yes, you can make your own dried lemon zest, but you need a lot of lemons (12 or more) to get the job done. And it's a lot more work, which could defeat the whole purpose of getting dinner on the table fast. However, it's up to you.
To make your own dried lemon zest, preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
Then zest the lemons, and spread the zest out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at the lowest temperature until dry to the touch; the zest will shrink down somewhat as it dehydrates. Let cool before grinding into a fine texture using a spice grinder, then add it to the rest of the ingredients.
How to make Lemon Pepper Chicken in the oven:
Here's a fantastic secret I'm sharing for baking chicken breasts without drying them out. Through much trial and error while perfecting my Chipotle Chicken recipe, I learned that wrapping a sheet of parchment paper over the tops of the chicken breasts keeps them super juicy--and therefore super delicious. The parchment paper also helps them cook evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start by swirling some olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Then arrange the seasoned chicken in a single layer over the oil.
- Now, use my secret: Cover the chicken with a piece of parchment paper, tucking the edges around the sides of the chicken like a blanket.
- Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees--usually about 30 to 40 minutes.
Lemon Pepper Chicken on the grill:
No matter what kind of grill you have, start the chicken in the hot zone, then finish it off in the cool zone, so it can cook through without burning.
- Start by preheating or loading up and lighting your grill. You should also clean and oil the grates.
- Next, lightly coat the chicken with olive oil and then sprinkle the lemon pepper seasoning over every side (you can use more than 2 tablespoons, if you want to).
- Sear the chicken first on the hottest part of the grill. Then flip, transfer to indirect heat, and continue cooking until the chicken hits 165 degrees on the inside.
How to make Lemon Pepper Chicken in a skillet:
Using a pan to cook chicken frees you up to get creative: a splash of white wine, heavy cream, or some softened onions and garlic beforehand take lemon pepper next level.
- Drizzle some oil in a pan and get it nice and hot over medium-high heat. The oil should start to shimmer--that's when you know you're ready to go.
- Arrange the seasoned chicken in a single layer, without crowding. Most importantly, don't move it. After it cooks for awhile, it will develop a crust that will release the chicken so you can flip it.
- Partially cover the skillet, turn the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the chicken reaches 165 degrees in internally. If you are really in a hurry, or if you're having trouble, add a 1/4 cup water (or white wine) to the skillet and cover to semi-poach the chicken over the finish line into dinner territory.
Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
- 4 (6 ounce) chicken breasts, trimmed
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
To prepare the chicken:
- Drizzle chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning, coating all sides of the chicken evenly.
To bake the chicken:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with oil or nonstick spray and arrange chicken in a single layer. Cover with parchment paper, tucking the paper around the chicken so it is completely covered.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165°F when tested with an internal thermometer. Remove to a platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes.
To grill the chicken:
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Oil grates. Grill over direct heat, close the cover, and grill 5 minutes on each side, turning once.
- Transfer to indirect heat and continue to cook until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the largest chicken breast reaches 165 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
To sauté the chicken:
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken in a single layer and cook until until browned on one side, about 5 minutes.
- Flip chicken, reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and continue cooking until until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on a thermometer, about 10 to 15 minutes.