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These honey lemon pepper wings are going to be your new tailgating favorite! It's a snap to make, and the zesty flavor packs quite a punch in an appetizer that everyone will enjoy! These will be your new "go-to" wings for any gathering or game day party. They're sweet, spicy, tangy and addictive!
We all know chicken wings are the king of game day finger foods. There's nothing like crispy chicken wings coated in all kinds of sauces and seasonings while watching the big game.
Y'all absolutely loved my classic lemon pepper wings recipe last year, especially with the lemon pepper wet wing sauce that makes those wings so good they got a tv episode about them.
But then, I tried something even more crazy, even more delicious.
Y'all rave so much about the spicy honey butter sauce we make for my popular Chicken and Waffles recipe, I put two and two together: lemon pepper wings with a delicious honey sauce glaze. Let me tell y'all: we're talking crispy. We're talking flavor impact. We're talking perfectly seasoned sticky honey-lemon-garlicky glaze that is just pure perfection.
These baked lemon pepper wings are the epitome of crispy perfection even though we're taking the baked route. They're then tossed in a honey lemon pepper sauce with plenty of tart fresh lemon juice, vibrant lemon zest, black pepper, garlic, and a little hot sauce for a sweet and spicy, zingy, fresh take on lemon pepper wings.
Origins of Lemon Pepper Wings
Lemon pepper wings originated in Atlanta, Georgia in the US, where people would add lemon pepper seasoning to hot wings covered in buffalo sauce to cool the spice.
It eventually became its own flavor at local restaurants and once chain restaurants like Wingstop caught wind of the now-iconic wing flavor.
How to Make These Wings
The great thing about these honey lemon pepper wings is that they're simple to put together whether you bake, fry, or make them in the air fryer.
This recipe itself is for baked lemon pepper wings, but I do have fried lemon pepper wings and lemon pepper air fryer chicken wings recipes on the blog so use the cooking preparation of your preference. I got you, boo! Just toss them in the lemon pepper honey sauce after you cook them.
First thing's first, I coat the wing segments in a lemon pepper dry rub mixed with baking powder. It's the secret ingredient for extra crispiness, I put it in my fried chicken and I put it on my baked wings for a perfect crunch.
Those get put on a wire rack on a baking sheet in a single layer to dry out the skin and for the salt to get absorbed into the meat for extra flavorful, extra crispy wings.
Once the skin is nice and dried out, the wings are placed in a hot 400 degrees F oven on that wire rack lined baking sheet. Why? Because air flow!
If your wings are sitting on a baking sheet getting soggy on the bottom, what was the point of trying to get them crispy in the first place? Wire rack means 360 air flow which means seriously golden brown and crispy wings.
Just look at them y'all. That was all dry rub and wire rack baking. Serious color and serious crispiness.
While the wings are roasting, we make the honey lemon pepper sauce. Simmer and whisk the ingredients together over medium heat until the sauce is bubbling.
Then cover each wing in the honey mixture before putting them back into the oven for the sauce to tighten up and give us crispy, sticky, hot honey lemon pepper chicken wings.
Garnish them up with some fresh parsley or thinly sliced green onions for color and flavor.
So easy and simple to make, yet so damn tasty!
For the crispy lemon pepper wings
Fresh Chicken Wings. You can find the wings already segmented in the grocery stores, usually under the name 'party wings'. If you can only find them whole, you can easily separate the drum, flat, and wing tip at their respective joints with a sharp paring knife. Save the wing tips for chicken stock or broth!
Lemon Pepper Seasoning. A definite must have for lemon pepper wings! I have a recipe for my homemade lemon pepper spice blend with lemon peel, freshly cracked black pepper, a little garlic and onion.
Baking Powder. Our star player in making these wings! Why? Baking powder has an alkaline pH level which raises the pH level of our chicken wings' skin. This denatures the proteins on the skin, lowers the temperature that the Maillard Reaction occurs, resulting in seriously brown and crispy skin.
At the same time, it reacts to the chicken's natural water as the salt in our dry rub draws it out while the wings are resting in the fridge, creating carbon dioxide filled bubbles on the skin that is what creates the crispiest, crackliest skin without frying.
But heed my advice here: do NOT try to use baking soda in lieu of baking powder. While you will get the same reaction, it will leave the most awful metallic taste on your food.
For the sweet, tangy, savory, sticky, hot honey lemon pepper wing sauce
Honey. Use a good quality honey because I see there's some counterfeit honey situations going on at the grocery store. If you can, buy local honey from a farmers' market.
Hot Sauce. Just a bit for a little extra oomph, I like a little hot sauce. We usually use sriracha because it's just a little bit of heat (if you know anything about Dominicans, they don't do a whole lot of spice) but if you've run out of hot sauce, cayenne pepper or chili powder for a little heat. If you don't want a hot honey lemon pepper wing sauce, you can omit the hot sauce or tone it down a tad.
Lemon Pepper Seasoning. Of course!
Lemon Zest and Juice. This loosens up the sauce and gives it even more lip-smacking tangy flavor.
Black Pepper. Man, for extra punch add a little more black pepper.
The CDC doesn't recommend washing your chicken before cooking. Any bacteria on the chicken dies once it's come to 165 degrees F, and 'washing' or rinsing the chicken in water or a mix of water and lime juice or vinegar does not kill any bacteria at all. This doesn't mean you can't 'prep' chicken by removing any excess fat or skin, pulling off any residual feathers, etc.
Yes! I have a handy air fryer lemon pepper wings recipe that is a fan favorite! After tossing and drying the wings, put them in a 390 degree air fryer for 20 minutes, flipping halfway, then tossing the wings in the sauce afterward.
You absolutely can! You can make this fried lemon pepper wings recipe for deep fried, crispy lemon pepper chicken wings.
You can use whatever sauce you love to coat these lemon pepper wings in. Buffalo sauce with lemon pepper is a classic flavor combo, but they're also super tasty with teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, and many others!
You can bake your chicken wings whole, but the timing will vary. For the best results, use a meat thermometer to check their doneness. Pull the wings out of the oven at 163 degrees F, they'll rise up to 165 while resting before you eat.
Baking wings are healthier than frying them since we aren't using my famous double-dredge flour + egg and buttermilk dip process. That does add more calories. These baked lemon pepper wings are only coated in a lemon pepper dry rub before being baked, then tossed in a sweet, tangy, delicious honey lemon pepper sauce.
If you don't have a wire rack, you're going to have to fuss a little more with the chicken wings while they're baking. Halfway through their cook time, use tongs to flip the wings over on the baking sheet so the other side
More Amazing Appetizer Recipes
- Spicy Tuna Avocado Towers
- Party Time Coconut Shrimp with Dipping Sauce
- Garlic Butter Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Bang Bang Chicken
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Lemon Pepper Wings
- 3 pounds chicken wing segments
- 2 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Honey Lemon Pepper Sauce
- ½ cup honey
- 2 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
- 4 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- ½ tablespoon lemon pepper
Make Lemon Pepper Wings
- Toss the chicken drumettes and flats with the lemon pepper seasoning and the aluminum-free baking powder in a large bowl with tongs. Give the wings segments a good toss to cover them in the seasoning, then place them onto a wire rack over a baking sheet.
- Place the wings into the fridge for at least 1 hour to overnight to dry out the skin. This is optional, but it makes the skin extremely dry and crispy.
- When ready, take the chicken wings out of the fridge while preheating the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
- Place the wings in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. While they're baking, make the honey lemon pepper sauce.
- Once done baking, put the wings into a large mixing bowl.
Make Honey Lemon Pepper Sauce and Serve
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the honey, hot sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, and lemon pepper, mixing with a wooden spoon to combine. The sauce will bubble up, but do not let it burn.
- Let the sauce cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then take the hot honey lemon pepper sauce and pour it over the wings in the mixing bowl.
- Toss the sauce with the lemon pepper wings until each wing is coated.
- Set the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the wings back onto the wire rack and bake for 5-7 minutes to set the honey lemon pepper glaze.
- Serve hot with lemon wedges and parsley.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 261Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 1995mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 3gSugar: 44gProtein: 5g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.