Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

5 from 12 votes
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Crispy baked lemon pepper chicken wings are an easy appetizer to make for parties and game days. I’ll show you how to make a delicious citrus sauce for the ultimate wing experience.

If you’re hosting a party and need more tasty ideas, try my buffalo chicken pizza, spinach artichoke dip, and pigs in a blanket.

Delicious crispy baked lemon pepper chicken wings on a white plate.

Recipe Science

  • Adding baking powder to the lemon pepper seasoning breaks down the proteins in the chicken skin, promoting a crispy, golden-brown texture.
  • The lemon zest in the seasoning infuses the wings with bright, tangy flavors during baking.
  • Baking the wings at high temperatures ensures the skin crisps up while locking in the juices, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.

Why It Works

When I’m not preparing spicy buffalo wings to serve as a hot appetizer, this lemon pepper wings recipe is a simple and citrusy alternative. Instead of deep frying, baking the wings with a baking powder coating delivers a super crispy texture. The oven allows you to make a large batch at once instead of constantly monitoring the hot oil when frying.

Instead of using dried lemon pepper seasoning to flavor the wings, grab a fresh lemon for a more robust citrus taste. The lemon zest and freshly cracked black pepper are infused with warm melted butter to coax the flavors. The sauce is seasoned with lemon juice and honey for a lightly sweet and tangy taste.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients and their labels called out to make chicken wings.
  • Chicken: Purchase “party wings” at the grocery store. These are packages with the wingette (also called flat) and drumette already separated. If you buy a whole chicken wing, cut it into sections between the joints and discard the wing tips. Two pounds will yield about 17 to 20 pieces.
  • Seasoning: The chicken is seasoned with a simple mixture of baking powder, kosher salt, and coarsely ground black pepper.
  • Sauce: A combination of melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  • Garnish: Freshly sliced chives add a delicate allium flavor to the wings right before serving.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you know how to make lemon pepper chicken wings feel free to switch up the flavor! Try these tasty suggestions:

  • Citrus: Add lime juice, orange juice, or both with the lemon juice to create a flavorful citrus sauce. Just substitute some of the lemon juice for the others.
  • Spicy: Make the lemon pepper sauce spicy by adding cayenne pepper, chipotle, Sriracha, or hot sauce. Start with ⅛ to ½ teaspoon at a time, increasing until the desired heat level is reached.
  • Herbs: Add dried or fresh herbs like Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, or thyme to the citrus butter sauce. Garnish the wings with sliced chives, green onion, parsley, or cilantro.

How to Make Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Set the temperature to a high 450°F to ensure the baked chicken wings dry quickly on the surface and become golden brown and crispy.

Step 2: Prepare the Baking Sheet

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, as it’s easier to clean up the grease. Place a greased wire rack on top so the hot air can circulate around the wings. If you don’t have a rack, you can back directly on the foil.

Chicken wings and drumettes on a sheet pan lined with paper towel.

Step 3: Dry the Wings

To achieve perfect crispy wings, dry off the excess moisture on the surface with a paper towel. This will prevent the chicken from steaming instead of crisping in the oven. This technique also browns the skin faster, developing a gorgeous golden brown hue.

Mixing salt and pepper in a bowl with a whisk.

Step 4: Apply the Seasonings

I use baking powder as a critical ingredient for baked chicken wings and roasted turkey when I want a crisp, golden brown skin on the meat.

Bowl of raw chicken wings being tossed in salt and pepper.

Toss the wings with the baking powder, salt, and black pepper, then prepare to bake!

Pro Tip: For even crispier skin, refrigerate the coated pieces uncovered for up to 24 hours. This process dries the skin further and works nicely if prepping ahead of time.

Crispy baked chicken wings on a wire rack.

Step 5: Bake the Chicken

Place the chicken wings in a single layer on a wire rack placed on a foil-lined baking sheet. Elevating the poultry allows the hot air to circulate around the chicken for even cooking.

Bake at a high 450ºF (230ºC) in the center of the oven to ensure crispy pieces that are moist and juicy. It takes about 40 to 45 minutes to cook the wings. I flip them over two times for even browning and crispier skin.

Step 6: Make the Lemon Pepper Sauce

To make a simple buttery citrus sauce, start by melting unsalted butter. I use fresh lemon zest and juice to add aroma and tanginess. The lemon oil in the zest will infuse into the warm butter, giving a more robust flavor.

Black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder enhance the savory taste. Let the sauce cool down for a few minutes to thicken slightly before adding it to the wings. Double the recipe if you’d like extra lemon pepper sauce for dipping.

Pouring lemon pepper sauce over a bowl of crispy chicken wings.

Step 7: Combine the Sauce and Wings

Toss the sauce and hot crispy wings in a large bowl to coat. Before serving, I quickly garnish with chives, parsley, or fresh herbs.

Plate of baked chicken wings tossed in a lemon pepper sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make the baked lemon pepper wing spicy?

Yes! Add a few teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce, Tabasco or Crystal. Alternatively, sprinkle in cayenne, chipotle, hot paprika, or chile powder until the desired heat level is reached.

Can I make the wings in an air fryer?

Cook the wings in two batches in the air fryer basket. Coat the wings with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil. Fry the wings at 400ºF (200ºC) for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Add more time if needed to make the wings crispy. Toss with the lemon pepper sauce.

Can I use store-bought lemon pepper seasoning?

As a shortcut, you can gradually add jarred lemon pepper seasoning instead of the individual salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. It’s a combination of dried lemon zest, herbs, and sugar. Add ¼ teaspoon to the melted butter, gradually adding more. Still, add the honey and lemon juice for balance.

Can I make the baked wings without baking powder?

Baking powder will create crisp skin. The alkaline baking soda in the powder is vital for breaking down the protein peptides in the skin so that it’s crispy when bitten. It also reacts with the juices in the chicken to create bubbles on the surface, which harden and fracture for extra crunch. However, you can bake the wings without the baking powder. I’ve noticed that the skin is slightly chewier and less crunchy.

Serve This With

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Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

These crispy baked lemon pepper chicken wings are easy to make for parties and game days when you need an appetizer to feed a crowd.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 20 wings
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Chicken Wings

  • vegetable oil, as needed for oiling wire rack
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, wingettes and drummettes
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

Lemon Pepper Sauce

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons honey, or maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon onion powder
  • teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Heat to 450°F (232°C).
  • Prepare the Baking Sheet – Line a large baking sheet with foil. Add vegetable oil to a folded paper towel, then grease both sides of a wire rack—alternatively, grease with cooking spray. Set the rack inside the baking sheet.
  • Dry the Meat – Line a separate baking sheet or plate with paper towels. Place the chicken wings and drumettes on top, then thoroughly pat them dry with more paper towels.
  • Season the Chicken – In a large bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Add the chicken and mix to coat the surface evenly.
  • Bake the Wings – Evenly space the chicken on the wire rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 minutes. Flip again and bake until skin is golden brown and crisp and the internal temperature reaches 165ºF (74ºC), about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Lemon Pepper Sauce – In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Let the sauce cool slightly to thicken the consistency.
  • Serve – Immediately transfer the wings to a large bowl and toss with the sauce to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped chives. Serve the remaining sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1 wing
  • Sauce Yield: About ⅓ cup
  • Extra Dipping Sauce: Double the amount of lemon pepper sauce.
  • Substituting Table Salt: Use ¾ teaspoon salt instead of 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • For Crispier Texture: Refrigerate the seasoned wings for up to 24 hours, uncovered, on top of a greased wire rack set in a foil-lined sheet pan. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven preheats, then bake in the same pan.
  • Baking Directly on Sheet Pan: You can bake these wings without a wire rack, although they will be greasier from the rendered fat.
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high heat in 15-second intervals until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 20 wings
Calories 77kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 5g (10%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0.1gCholesterol 25mg (8%)Sodium 164mg (7%)Potassium 83mg (2%)Fiber 0.1gSugar 0.5g (1%)Vitamin A 114IU (2%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 22mg (2%)Iron 0.3mg (2%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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