My light, crispy lemon pepper chicken recipe transforms your table into an elegant French restaurant in less than half an hour!
Of all my succulent chicken recipes, this is my favorite! It’s a one-skillet dish that can be on the table in a snap. Chicken pairs beautifully lemon — it’s why there are so many lemon chicken recipes! — but the spice of pepper creates a complex flavor that’s elegant enough for a special occasion.
Want it even faster? You can pop all the ingredients into your favorite quick-cook appliances and get Instant Pot lemon chicken!
Any recipe that can pack serious flavor while being fast and easy to make instantly rises to the top of my favorites list!
- Delicious flavor profile
- Savory and tangy!
- SO easy to make — 30 minutes or less!
- Amazing sauce
- Family favorite
How To Make Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
Here’s how to make a lemon pepper chicken recipe so good that your whole family will be licking their plates!
Start by mixing together your flour, lemon pepper, and salt in a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture.
Meanwhile, heat your oil in a large skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the chicken in a single layer without crowding the pan and cook until golden brown. Set the chicken on a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
Add your chicken broth, lemon juice, and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet — a delicious process called deglazing. Bring it to a boil, then add a cornstarch/water mixture to thicken.
Remove from the heat and add the butter. Return the chicken to the pan so it gets all cozy in that yummy sauce!
Serve with parsley and lemon slices!
You’ve likely made lemon chicken before — citrus and chicken go great together! — but a lemon pepper chicken sauce is a little more unusual. Let me walk you through the basics!
Here are some important tidbits to keep in mind as you cook!
- Sauce: Do not use a non-stick pan in this recipe! The brown bits from cooking the chicken aren’t created if the chicken doesn’t stick a bit in the pan. You want to get those brown bits for deglazing, as we talked about above! That’s when you get the nice crisped-up brown bits incorporated into your sauce for an extra flavor boost.
- Chicken: I use thinly cut chicken breast. It cooks quickly, and I love all the surface area that gets coated with the velvety sauce. You can buy chicken already prepared this way, or, if you have a good sharp chef’s knife, feel free to slice a boneless breast horizontally in half yourself. This works best when it’s slightly frozen.
- Lemon Pepper: I’m a big fan of spice blends, and lemon pepper is one of my pantry staples! Basic lemon pepper consists of lemon zest infused with freshly ground black pepper, then dried to intensify the oils and flavors of both. I’m a fan of versions I can buy at the store (this is the one I use most often), but you can certainly make your own blend! It’s a great way to control the salt content or the addition of other ingredients you may or may not be a fan of.
- Peppercorns: If you do make your lemon pepper, use freshly cracked peppercorns to bring complex floral and fruity qualities to your recipe! Peppercorns were actually used as currency in the middle ages, and there are many dishes built around the wonderful flavor of these dried berries, so make sure you enjoy them freshly-ground whenever possible. I recommend keeping a grinder in your kitchen right next to the stovetop or at least replace your pre-ground pepper regularly in order to enjoy all it has to offer.
- But those chicken wings and other pieces: If you want to use some other cut of chicken you already have on hand, particularly ones with bones in them, I suggest searing them on the stovetop and finishing them in the oven.
- Just season and bread the pieces like the recipe calls for, then brown the pieces on all sides.
- Once they’re browned, remove the pieces to a foil-lined baking sheet and finish them in a 375-degree oven. The time will vary based on what cut of chicken you use – 15 to 20 minutes for thighs, for example, but the juices should run clear with no more pink in the middle. You can prepare the sauce using the leftover bits in the pan just like in the original recipe.
What are the best ways to store your lemon butter chicken dishes? One word: REFRIGERATOR!
Can You Freeze This?
Though I prefer storing my lemon chicken leftovers in the fridge, you definitely can store it in the freezer! For up to four months. Be warned though that your breading will get a bit soggy.
To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight. I’ve found you can resuscitate your breading a bit by heating your chicken in a toaster oven!
Make Ahead Tips
Since all the steps in this recipe are dependent on each other (you need the chicken drippings for the sauce and so on), there isn’t much you can prep beforehand. And honestly, this dish tastes its absolute best right off the stove!
But I promise this recipe whips together so fast that you won’t be sad there’s no room for prepping.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Once done, this lemon pepper chicken recipe will be just fine in the fridge for up to four days. Any longer risks bacteria growth, which you don’t want to mess around with when it comes to chicken!
Looking for some delicious lemon pepper chicken sides to complete your fancy (but easy!) dinner? Here’s what I recommend!
My sauteed asparagus can be whipped up in no time! I load mine with garlic, but you can cut that back or leave it out altogether. It’s delicious either way! Another great, easy side is my roasted broccoli, which can be cooking in the oven while you’re taking care of the chicken and sauce!
Want something with a sweet twist? Try my strawberry spinach salad. This one has pecans that add the perfect texture with plump, juicy strawberries!
Serve this dish with buttered egg noodles, pasta, rice, or French bread (gotta get all the sauce!), plus these perfectly complementary sides, and you’ve got one heck of a flavor party!
How can we make this recipe even more delicious? Easy!
- Pop this dish in the oven to get all the delicious flavors in a healthier baked lemon chicken recipe! This option is great if you want to skip the grease in frying the chicken.
- For a different flavor profile, swap the pepper for garlic to get lemon garlic chicken. Or use both! There’s no such thing as too much garlic.
- Pair citrus with sweet in honey lemon chicken! This adds a delicious sugary twist that’s great for those with a sweet tooth.
- Swap the butter for heavy cream for a creamy lemon chicken recipe. This makes the dish even more luxurious!
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Lemon Pan Sauce
- 1 3/4 to 2 pounds chicken breasts thin-cut
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lemon sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley chopped
- Mix together flour, lemon pepper and salt in a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture, shaking off excess.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the chicken breast in a single layer, without crowding the pan (may need to brown in 2 batches) and cook 2-4 minutes per side until golden brown and there is no longer any pink. Remove the chicken to a plate and loosely tent with foil to keep warm.
- Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil then add cornstarch/water mixture and continue to boil until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add butter and stir to melt. Return chicken to pan. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices and serve.
Can’t get enough of that lemon pepper combo? Me neither! Try these favorites:
- Greek Lemon Chicken – Go back to the original citrus chicken recipe!
- Chinese Lemon Chicken – Great for a better-than-take-out homemade dish
- Lemon Chicken Soup – Warm your heart and soul with this tasty soup!
- Lemon Caper Chicken – Add a kick of savory with caper
- Lemon Chicken Pasta – Load up on stick-to-your-belly pasta
Savory pepper, tart lemon — this lemon pepper chicken recipe hits all the flavor notes, but what makes it a win in my book is how downright easy it is to make! Whip this up on a busy weeknight for a midweek decadent dinner treat.
What sides did you pair with this chicken dish? Let me know in the comments!