If you’re looking to take your grilling game to the next level, look no further than my yummy Lemon Pepper Marinade — a simple recipe that will elevate your favorite proteins to new heights of deliciousness! Crafted with only seven simple ingredients, this versatile marinade promises to be the secret weapon in your recipe arsenal. Not only does this homemade lemon pepper sauce effortlessly infuse your dishes with vibrant citrusy flavors, but it is also much healthier than store-bought alternatives.
Whether you’re after succulent grilled chicken, perfectly seasoned shrimp, or even a juicy steak, this DIY lemon pepper sauce will infuse your protein of choice with the zesty essence of fresh lemons and the warm embrace of aromatic pepper. Next time you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or preparing a quick weeknight meal, this marinade will be your go-to secret for guaranteed culinary success.
With just seven thoughtfully selected ingredients, I’ve unlocked a world of flavorful possibilities. Say goodbye to complicated marinades with lengthy ingredient lists — this simple recipe ensures that you can create an exceptional marinade with pantry staples you likely already have on hand.
Aside from adding a juicy pop of lemony flavor to everything it touches, this lemon chicken marinade is a health-conscious alternative to commercially available options like Lawry’s lemon pepper marinade. By making it from scratch, you have complete control over the ingredients, so you can avoid the unnecessary preservatives, additives, and excessive sodium content commonly found in store-bought brands.
So, whether you’re grilling, baking, or sautéing, this peppery lemon marinade for chicken, fish, pork, and more is sure to bring a burst of flavor to the table and a smile to your face. Let’s get after it!
- What is lemon pepper marinade?
- What does it taste like?
- Why You’ll Love This Lemon Pepper Marinade Recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- How To Make Lemon Pepper Marinade
- Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Success Tips
- Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken Thigh Nutrition
- Pricing Info
- Other Chicken Recipes
What is lemon pepper marinade?
This lemon pepper wet sauce recipe is a culinary magician that turns ordinary proteins into extraordinary taste sensations.
So, what exactly is this lemon pepper marinade marvel? Well, it’s a fantastic concoction made from just a handful of simple ingredients like fresh lemons, zesty black pepper, a hint of garlic, a dash of olive oil, and a few other pantry ingredients that make the flavors dance. In other words, it’s sunshine in a bottle, ready to boost your meals with bright n’ peppery goodness.
What does it taste like?
Imagine a zesty burst of sunshine, a symphony of tangy goodness, and a sprinkle of peppery enchantment all dancing in unison on your tastebuds.
When you take a bite of a dish marinated with this magical elixir, you’ll be greeted with a burst of refreshing citrusy delight. The vibrant essence of fresh lemons will tickle your tastebuds and transport you to a sunny lemon grove.
As the flavors of this lemon pepper chicken marinade continue to dance across your tongue, the enchanting pepper steps onto the stage. It adds a touch of warmth and a gentle kick of spice, like a mischievous fairy sprinkling pixie dust to awaken your senses. It’s not too overpowering, mind you. It adds just the right amount of zing to keep you on your toes.
And let’s not forget about the subtle garlicky charm that accompanies this delightful marinade. It weaves its way through the flavors, lending a gentle savory note that harmonizes with the citrus and pepper like a magical trio of taste.
Together, these enchanting flavors create a delightful balance of tanginess, zing, and a touch of savory goodness that’s sure to have you coming back for seconds. Grilled lemon pepper chicken FTW!
Why You’ll Love This Lemon Pepper Marinade Recipe
If big, bold flavor is what you’re after, you simply have to try this Roast chicken marinade! Aside from imparting gorgeous flavor to anything you use it on, this lemon pepper recipe is also:
- Quick & Easy – It only takes about 5 minutes to whip up a batch of this Wet lemon pepper wing sauce recipe. After that, all it takes is a bit of patience as the flavors infuse your favorite proteins!
- Versatile – This lemon pepper marinade for chicken, steak, tofu, pork, shrimp, and fish adds deliciously zesty flavor to any protein it touches.
- Wholesome & Nutritious – Made with only whole food ingredients, this lemon pepper grilled chicken is something you can feel good about feeding your family.
- Perfect for Meal Prep – I love to whip up a batch or two of the marinade and pour it over chicken pieces in a zip-top bag before stuffing it in the freezer. Then, when I’m in need of a flavorful dinner on the fly, all I have to do is defrost and cook the chicken. So easy!
- Budget-Friendly – Rather than spending $4-5 on a bottle of marinade that’s loaded with HFCS, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients, make your own healthier version at home for a fraction of the price.
As promised you only need a handful of ingredients to make this garlic lemon pepper chicken. Here’s what to grab:
- Olive Oil – Just your normal cooking oil is perfect.
- Lemon – We want both the zest and the juice to achieve full citrusy glory, so definitely go for fresh!
- Fresh Parsley – Parsley adds a lovely herbal freshness with extra hints of lemony goodness.
- Garlic – Fresh is best here, because we want the full bite that raw garlic provides. That said, I won’t judge if you use minced jarred garlic or frozen garlic paste to save on prep time.
- Black Pepper & Salt – These basic seasonings are omnipresent in all my savory recipes. For the best flavor, use freshly cracked black pepper rather than the pre-ground powder that comes in a tin.
- Onion Powder – For a touch of allium sweetness.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs – So you have something to soak in your delectable lemon juice chicken marinade. Chicken thighs are one of the cheapest cuts around, plus they’re also much easier to grill without drying them out.
Need to make some adjustments to your lemon pepper wet recipe? No worries. Here are some easy swaps you can make:
- Olive Oil – Any high smoke point oil can also be used. From a nutritional standpoint, avocado oil would be the best alternative, and grapeseed oil comes in second.
- Lemon Juice & Zest – In a pinch, you can swap in bottled lemon juice and a dash of lemon extract or a drop of two of lemon essential oil. It won’t have the same vibrant zing as fresh lemons, but it will still infuse your marinade with a tangy essence.
- Fresh Parsley – If you have access to other fragrant herbs like lemon thyme or lemon verbena, you can get creative and substitute a small amount of their leaves to bring a lemony twist to your marinade.
- Garlic – While the flavor will be milder and softer, feel free to use ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove of garlic. If garlic is off the table, try adding a pinch of asafoetida instead!
- Onion Powder – You can also use dried onion flakes if needed. If you’re gluten-free, make sure to read your labels.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs – Feel free to swap in the protein of your choice. Bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, steak, or protein… it’s all gravy!
How To Make Lemon Pepper Marinade
This naturally gluten-free chicken marinade comes together in no time. Here’s how:
Step 1: Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl or zip-lock bag.
Step 2: Marinate. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat. Freeze for up to 3 months, or marinate for 4-8 hours in the refrigerator, then cook chicken on the grill or in a skillet until heated to 165°.
Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
Prepare to sprinkle a dash of creativity into your kitchen! Let’s explore some optional variations and dietary adaptations that will cater to your taste preferences and dietary needs:
- Herb City: To enhance the herbal notes, consider adding a medley of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano to your marinade. Finely chop them and let their fragrant essence mingle with the lemony and peppery goodness.
- Sweet Citrus Twist: If you have a penchant for sweetness, why not incorporate a touch of honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar into the marinade? Honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs are SO GOOD.
- Fiery Fusion: Add some kick to your marinade by incorporating a pinch of chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or a splash of your favorite hot sauce.
- Citrus Medley: Experiment with different citrus fruits to create a citrus medley marinade. Squeeze in some orange juice or lime juice alongside the lemon juice to infuse your marinade with a lively burst of multi-dimensional citrus flavors.
- Vegan Delight: Swap out the chicken thighs for plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. The marinade works its magic on these options too!
- Lower Sodium Option: If you’re watching your sodium intake, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe or opt for a low-sodium alternative. You can still enjoy the flavors without sacrificing your health goals.
Get ready to make your dishes shine and impress your guests with these playful ideas:
- Grilled Magic: Fire up the grill and marinate some juicy chicken thighs or skewered shrimp in the lemon pepper marinade. Grill them to perfection, creating succulent charred edges infused with zesty flavors. Serve them as a centerpiece at your next backyard barbecue or summertime gathering. Don’t forget to sprinkle some extra freshly cracked pepper on top for an added burst of aromatic goodness!
- Citrusy Salad Dressing: Take your salads to the next level by using the homemade marinade as a zesty dressing. (Just make sure you didn’t use it to marinate anything raw in it first!) Toss together a vibrant salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite veggies. Drizzle the marinade over the salad for a refreshing citrus kick that will awaken your taste buds. It’s like sunshine in a bowl!
- Roasted Veggie Delight: Transform ordinary roasted vegetables into a flavor-packed side dish by tossing them with a generous amount of Lemon Pepper Marinade before roasting. The tangy citrus and peppery notes will beautifully complement the natural sweetness of roasted carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, and more. It’s a vibrant and healthy way to jazz up your veggie game!
- Picnic Pleasure: Pack a picnic basket filled with lemon-infused treats! Whip up some lemon pepper-marinated chicken drumsticks or wings for a portable and finger-licking delight. Pair them with refreshing lemonade, a side of zesty coleslaw, and some lemon bars or Italian lemon cake for a lemony feast that will make your picnic memorable.
- Seafood Spectacular: Dive into a sea of flavor with some lemon pepper-marinated seafood. Whether it’s grilled salmon fillets, seared scallops, or oven-baked white fish, the marinade will bring out the best in your oceanic creations. Serve alongside a citrusy quinoa salad or fluffy lemon-infused rice for a complete and satisfying meal.
- Stir-Fry Bonanza: Heat up your wok or skillet and create a stir-fry masterpiece! Toss your favorite veggies, such as bell peppers, snap peas, and broccoli, with marinated chicken or shrimp. Serve over steamed rice or noodles for a quick and flavorsome meal.
Recipe Success Tips
While this is a super simple recipe, there are a few notes to keep in mind:
- Marinating is where the flavors truly come to life, but you need to be cognizant of timing.
- For chicken, a minimum marinating time of 2 to 4 hours is suggested. If you have more time, you can marinate for up to 24 hours for an extra burst of flavor.
- Seafood, on the other hand, is more delicate and doesn’t require as much time. Aim for 30 minutes to 1 hour of marinating time for shrimp, fish fillets, or scallops.
- If you won’t be able to cook the meat after 24 hours in the marinade, pop it in the freezer to prevent it from becoming mushy.
- Taste as you go. Adjust how much lemon juice, zest, garlic, and pepper you want to achieve the balance that suits your palate.
- After marinating, allow your chicken to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking for even cooking and the juiciest results.
- While grilling is a popular choice for marinated meats, don’t be afraid to explore other cooking methods like baking, pan-searing, or even broiling.
- Basting your chicken with the leftover marinade can add an extra layer of flavor and moisture. As you cook, brush some of the marinade over the meat, ensuring it caramelizes and intensifies the flavors.
- Garnish for gold! Squeeze a little extra lemon juice over the top, garnish with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley, and add a few lemon slices for a fancy presentation without any fuss.
The marriage of lemon and pepper is a match made in culinary heaven. The bright citrusy notes of lemon intermingle with the peppery warmth, creating a lovely array of flavors that I can’t get enough of. The combination of tanginess, zing, and gentle heat creates a complex and dynamic taste experience that is both invigorating and satisfying.
IMO, lemon pepper’s versatility also contributes to its deliciousness. It pairs well with a wide variety of proteins and dishes, from chicken and fish to vegetables and salads. Its ability to play nicely with others makes it a go-to seasoning in my kitchen!
Marinating can be a wonderful way to enhance the flavor and tenderness of many proteins, including chicken. That being said, marinating is not always necessary. If you’re short on time or prefer the natural taste of whatever meat you’re cooking, it can absolutely be enjoyed without marinating.
I like to fully submerge the meat in the marinade, preferably in a zip-top bag. Make sure to keep it in the fridge or freezer as it marinates to prevent any illness-causing bacteria from growing.
Chicken: Marinate for 2 to 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor penetration.
Shrimp: Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Fish Fillets: Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Scallops: Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Steak: Marinate for 2 to 4 hours to infuse the flavors into the meat and enhance tenderness, or up to 24 hours.
Pork Chops: Marinate for 2 to 4 hours to tenderize and impart a burst of flavor, or up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.
Tofu: Marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Also, make sure to press it first so the tofu can soak up the lemony goodness!
Remember, marination times can vary depending on the thickness and desired flavor intensity. Generally speaking, fish, veggies, and tofu are more delicate and shouldn’t be marinated for longer than about 4 hours. Steak, pork, lamb, chicken, and other land-animal proteins can be marinated for up to 24 hours with no negative effects.
Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken Thigh Nutrition
Overall, I’d consider these lemony chicken thighs a very healthy meal *component.* (It’s always a good idea to consider the complete meal and balance it with other nutrient-rich foods to create a well-rounded nutritional profile.)
That said, let’s dive into the specifics of this lemon pepper chicken:
The calories in boneless, skinless chicken thighs can vary depending on the size and weight. On average, one serving of marinated chicken thighs rings in at just under 300 calories. They also tend to have a slightly higher fat content compared to leaner cuts like chicken breast. On average, one serving of this chicken provides about 17 grams of fat.
Chicken thighs are also a good source of protein, with a serving providing approximately 33 grams of protein. Chicken is also low in carbohydrates, making this a suitable choice for low-carb or keto-friendly diets.
The sodium content will primarily depend on the amount of salt used in the marinade. If you’re aiming to reduce sodium intake, you can adjust the amount of salt in the recipe to suit your dietary preferences.
Finally, while the lemon pepper marinade itself doesn’t provide significant amounts of additional fat, calories, or nutrients, the inclusion of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley can add small amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Total nutritional content per serving is:
- Calories: 297 calories
- Total Fat: 17 grams
- Protein: 33 grams
- Sodium: 740 mg
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
*This nutritional information is an estimate and calculated based on the ingredients used to create the recipe. The nutritional value of your ingredients may differ slightly. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.
This is what I personally paid to make this recipe:
- 3 tbsp olive oil: $0.48
- 2 lemons: $0.76
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley: $0.08
- 3 cloves garlic: $0.15
- 2 tsp black pepper: $0.02
- 1 tsp salt: $0.01
- ½ tsp onion powder: $0.01
- 1 ½ lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs: $5.13
The total I paid for this recipe was $6.64, roughly $1.66 per serving!
Other Chicken Recipes
Tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating in the comments below! I would really appreciate your feedback!
Lemon Pepper Marinade
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice about 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 ½ lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs or protein of choice
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl or zip-lock bag.
- Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat. Freeze for up to 3 months, or marinade 4-8 hours in the refrigerator, then cook chicken on the grill or in a skillet until heated to 165°.
If you end up making this and loving it, take a photo and tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see your versions of my recipes! And feel free to rate it down below in the comment section. I would really appreciate it!