Homemade Lemon Pepper Blend

Tuesday, May 07, 2019


Admittedly, lemon pepper wasn't a spice blend that I relied on as I learned how to cook. I found commercial rubs to be way too salty, and the lemon flavor tasted a bit artificial. But my son Jaden has always had a thing for lemon pepper wings, so I learned to whip up my own version on the fly. Homemade is always where it's at! This isn't hard to do, but you will need a spice grinder or be willing to put some elbow grease into the mortar & pestle. If you own my digital cookbooks, you know I'm a big fan of dedicating a small coffee grinder for grinding spices at home, which is what I used today.

Now, it would be easy to just mix some lemon zest and black pepper and call it a day, but to give the blend some depth I make use of black and white peppercorns as well as coriander. Coriander has a citrusy flavor that reinforces the lemon. I also add a touch of onion powder and garlic powder. My lemon pepper blend is a versatile all-purpose rub that's great on any kind of poultry, fish, pork or even veggies. There's no salt or sugar in the recipe, which leaves room to season your food with as much pepper as you want. Generally, I recommend incorporating 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound of meat when using a salt-free rub.

Lemon pepper roasted chicken & gravy


Homemade Lemon Pepper Blend

Ingredients:
4 to 5 large lemons*
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp white peppercorns**
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Recipe Notes:
*Meyer lemons have the best flavor in my experience. If you can't get those, regular lemons are fine but unwaxed, organic lemons are ideal since you will be using the peels.
**If you can't get white peppercorns, just use additional black peppercorns.

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Makes about 6 tablespoons
Special Equipment: Zester or fine graterSpice grinder or mortar & pestle


When I'm going to be using a small amount of lemon pepper, I wouldn't go through the trouble of drying the lemon zest. But to make a larger batch of a spice rub that won't clump up, it's better to dry the zest before combining with the other spices.

First, use a zester or fine grater to shave off the outer layer of the lemon peel. Be careful not to grate to the point of picking up the bitter white pith underneath - this is less of an issue with Meyer lemons, another reason why I prefer them. Four lemons should yield about three tablespoons of zest. It's okay if you end up with more, but zest the fifth lemon if you are short.

The easiest way to dry lemon zest is to spread it out on a parchment lined sheet pan and leave it out overnight. The fast way? Put the pan in the oven at 200°F for about twenty minutes. Keep an eye on the zest and pull it when it's dried, but not starting to brown at all.


For optimum flavor, you should also toast peppercorns before grinding them. Since you already have the oven on, you can simply add the black peppercorns, white peppercorns and coriander to the sheet pan for the last ten minutes of drying the zest. If you didn't oven dry the zest, simply warm the peppercorns in a dry skillet over low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.

Measure out the garlic and onion powder separately, as there's no need to toast it.


Now for the grinding. Transfer the dried lemon zest, peppercorns and coriander to your spice grinder. Pulse a few times until the mixture is coarsely ground, then add the garlic and onion powder and continue grinding until the lemon pepper blend is as fine as you'd like it.


Transfer to a container with lid, and use within a couple weeks. The volatile oils that give black peppercorns their flavor lose intensity over time. It's why pre-ground black pepper from the store lacks the punch of freshly ground black pepper from a pepper mill. So, use the lemon pepper blend often and generously, because it's easy to make more when it runs out!

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