These garlic lemon pepper wings will be your new game night favorite. Baked crispy wings tossed in a spiced, garlicky lemon pepper sauce that's utterly yum-tastic!
You'll want to bookmark this recipe for any time you need a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Looking for more delicious wing recipes that use lemon pepper seasoning? Try these hot honey lemon pepper wings.
Here are some helpful notes on ingredients you'll need. See the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Chicken wings –fresh or frozen, but if using frozen, thaw completely and pat dry before you begin. You'll need drumettes and flats separated but if you've got whole wings, see these cutting instructions from Stephanie Manley.
- Lemon pepper seasoning – easily available in supermarkets but if you can't find it use this seasoning recipe by Elle of Spice and Life. Also check the ingredients list – if your blend doesn't include salt, add some to the wings plus the sauce.
- Spices – ground paprika and garlic powder (not garlic salt) will go in the dry mix for baking wings. And ground black pepper and ground cayenne pepper will be needed for the sauce. You can always adjust the quantity of spicy ingredients according to your heat preference.
- Baking powder and corn starch – get aluminum free baking powder to avoid metallic taste. Remember – it's not the same as baking soda. Both these ingredients are important for crisping up the wings. Also, corn starch is known as corn flour or maize starch in some regions.
- Olive oil – or any neutral cooking oil that has a high smoke point. Applying oil to the wings helps the dry rub stick better.
- Unsalted butter – don't use salted butter as the lemon pepper seasoning usually comes heavily salted. If you can, use European-style butter for a richer creamier sauce.
- Garlic – should be finely minced or grated for an even distribution of flavor.
- All purpose flour – works as a sauce thickening agent.
- Water – used as a part of the sauce base.
- Honey – to balance the tart and savory flavors. Use more if you prefer a sweeter sauce.
- Lemon juice and zest – for fresh and bright flavor. Avoid the white pith when zesting lemon – it's bitter!
- Fresh parsley – for an herbaceous touch that adds more complexity to the overall taste.
How to make garlic lemon pepper wings
Follow these simple, photo-assisted instructions to prepare this recipe. Check out recipe card below for a printable version that has quantities, instructions and notes in one place.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Combine all the dry ingredients – lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, baking powder plus corn starch – in a small bowl and mix.
Step 2: Pat dry the wings, put in a large bowl, add olive oil and mix together. Then add the mixture of dry ingredients and mix again.
Step 3: Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place wire rack (or cooling rack) on top. Arrange the wings on the rack in a single layer – skin side down. Bake for 50 to 65 minutes. Turn after the first 25 minutes so the skin side faces up for remaining duration.
Step 4: While the wings are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add minced garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes – then add flour and stir 1 more minute. Add water and whisk until the mixture looks smooth. Now turn the heat off. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter – plus honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon pepper seasoning, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and chopped parsley. Stir until the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from burner and let the sauce cool down completely.
Step 5: Once the wings are cooked, take them out and rest them 5 minutes on the rack. Then toss in the sauce you made.
Step 6: Plate your garlic lemon pepper wings, garnish with parsley (optional) and serve right away.
- Dry chewy wings – baking too long can cause them to dry out. Start checking for doneness at 40 minute mark and bake just until golden brown and crispy. Oh and don't skip the resting period – it allows juices to redistribute.
- Sauce too thick or thin – if it's too thick, add some water and stir. If too runny, simmer a little longer. Remember that it will thicken more as it cools.
- Spice level high or low – taste the sauce before you toss wings in it. If it's too spicy, add more butter or honey. If it's mild for your liking, add a little more cayenne – but do so incrementally.
- Wings sticking to the rack – that is normal and you can move them by carefully nudging and lifting with tongs. Lightly spraying or brushing the rack with oil before putting the wings can help prevent sticking. Don't have an oil spray or basting brush? Use a paper towel dipped in oil.
- Wings losing crispness after saucing – make sure the sauce has cooled down to room temperature and the wings have rested before you mix the two. Toss in the sauce just before serving as they will start to lose crunch gradually.
Substitutions and variations
- Garnishing options – use finely sliced green onions or a sprinkle of sesame seeds instead of chopped parsley.
- Cheese topping – after tossing the wings in the sauce, sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Different cooking methods – you can air fry, deep fry or grill these wings instead of baking. I've shared the air frying method in the notes section of the recipe card below.
- Citrus variations – use lime or orange juice in place of lemon for some taste variation.
- Hot sauce – add your favorite hot sauce to the garlic lemon pepper sauce for an Atlanta-style twist.
- Ginger addition – a teaspoon of grated ginger can elevate the flavor profile of the sauce.
What to serve it with
- Celery and carrot sticks – classic accompaniments.
- French fries or sweet potato fries – for a full restaurant-style wing experience.
- Coleslaw – some crunchy texture to complement the wings.
- Ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce – traditional choice of dips.
- Lemon dill rice – a zesty rice side with an herbaceous touch.
- Corn on the bob – brushed with a little butter.
- Cucumber salad – thinly sliced cucumbers with a dill and yogurt dressing.
- Macaroni and cheese – when you want a comforting cheesy side.
- Roasted potatoes – pair even better with these garlic lemon pepper wings when tossed in a nice dressing.
Storage and reheating
- Storage – transfer to an airtight container, refrigerate and consume within 3 days.
- Reheating – preheat oven to 375°F (190°C), put wings on a lined baking sheet and heat 10 minutes or until warmed through. If using an air fryer, they'll need 5 to 6 minutes at 360°F (182°C). Don't expect the wings to crisp up again. I don't like to use microwave – it makes them chewy.
Just so you know
- Baking powder is the key to achieving a crispy exterior – don't skip it.
- You can make the garlic lemon pepper sauce a day in advance. But it's best to bake the wings fresh for the perfect texture and taste.
- Want to scale up this recipe for a game night? Use the “+” sign on the recipe card below to modify the servings – the ingredient quantities will adjust automatically.
For crispy baked wings
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning - (Note A)
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder - aluminum-free. Don't use baking soda.
- 2 teaspoons corn starch - or arrowroot starch
- 2 pounds (907 g) chicken wings - 20 to 24 split wing pieces (Note B)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
For garlic lemon pepper sauce
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic - finely minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice - (Note C)
- 1 teaspoons lemon zest - (Note C)
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper - adjust to heat preference
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley - finely chopped. Plus some extra for garnishing
- Adjust your oven rack to the center/middle position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). See Note D if using an air fryer.
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place a wire rack (or cooling rack) on top. Optionally, for easier handling, coat the rack with cooking oil spray. See Note E if you don't have a wire rack.
- In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients for baking wings (lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, baking powder plus corn starch). Mix well.
- Pat dry the wings with a paper towel, put in a large bowl, add olive oil and mix together. Then add the mixture of dry ingredients. Toss to combine.
- Arrange the wings on the wire rack in a single layer – skin side down. Bake 50 to 65 minutes or until golden and crispy. Turn them after the first 25 minutes so the skin side faces up. Cooking time will vary depending on your oven type and wing size – keep a close eye after 40 minute mark.
- While the wings are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat (reserve the rest for later). Add minced garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant – but not browned.
- Sprinkle in the flour and stir 1 more minute. Add water and whisk/stir 3 to 5 seconds until the mixture looks smooth. Then turn the heat off but don't remove the saucepan from the burner.
- Now add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Also add honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon pepper seasoning, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper plus chopped parsley. Stir until the butter is just melted then immediately remove from burner. Let the sauce cool down completely. Use a whisk if it looks lumpy.
- Once the wings are done, take them out and rest them for 5 minutes on the rack (see Note F). Then toss in the sauce until well coated.
- Plate your wings, top with extra chopped parsley (optional) and serve right away.
- Step-by-step photo instructions
- Recipe troubleshooting
- Substitutions and variations
- Serving ideas
- Storage and reheating
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