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What is Lemon Pepper?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Lemon pepper is a spice that is made by mixing lemon zest with pepper. There are a wide range of uses for it, from a spice rub for grilled meats to a zesty topping for pasta. Many markets carry packaged flavored peppers in their spice sections, and it is also relatively easy to make it at home. By making this spice at home, cooks can control the ingredient proportions and play around with variations which might include ingredients like white or red pepper.

To make lemon pepper, all a cook needs to do is zest a lemon and mix the resulting zest with cracked pepper. To zest a lemon, cooks should use a fine toothed grater or a lemon zester to gently remove the oil-rich outer peel of a fruit. Using a heavy spoon or a mortar and pestle, the ingredients are then crushed together, promoting the release of the rich oil that makes lemons so flavorful. This fresh lemon pepper can be used immediately, or it can be dried in a dehydrator to remove moisture so that it can be stored. People who don't have a dehydrator can use a low oven setting to slowly dry out the spice.

The dried pepper blend can be pulverized to allow the ingredients to spread more easily when used as a seasoning, or it can be left chunky, depending on personal taste. The seasoning can be used on a wide assortment of meats and vegetables, and some people also like to set it out at the table so that people can dress their own food. This spice mixture pairs especially well with fish, pork, and summer vegetables like zucchini.

Basic lemon pepper is often made with black pepper, although peppercorns of different colors can be used as well. Cooks can also add salt, dried herbs, or other seasonings, depending on personal choice. In all cases, homemade spice blends should be stored in an airtight container to ensure that they stays fresh, and people should try to use it within six months to a year. If it starts to taste a little stale, it can be toasted to revive the flavor.

Commercial mixes are also available. A commercial mix can be convenient for a cook in a hurry, although it can suffer if it sits on the shelf too long. When a cook dispenses lemon pepper, he or she should try to avoid sprinkling it directly on to hot food, as the steam can damage the spice.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon943785 — On Apr 03, 2014

Seasoning tastes great on fish, preferably without breading. Yum!

By anon118859 — On Oct 15, 2010

tastes amazing. i, for one, love eating it plain.

By anon63707 — On Feb 03, 2010

try lemon pepper on hot wings. just after you take your wings out of the hot oil, sprinkle some lemon pepper on them. you will love it.

By anon42243 — On Aug 20, 2009

it is a good second layer rub for brisket.

By anon30163 — On Apr 14, 2009

Is lemon pepper seasoning used for beef?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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