This lemon pepper chicken is deliciously full of flavor. Coated in an easy lemon pepper butter and baked to tender perfection, this chicken dinner is super easy and quick to throw together and produces moist, flavorful chicken.
What Makes This Recipe So Good
- The lemon pepper butter sauce gives the chicken that perfect touch of flavor without being too bright or sour. The chicken stays nice and juicy, too, not at all bland or dry like some baked chicken can be.
- It’s delicious on its own, or serve it over couscous or mashed potatoes with a side of air fryer asparagus for a super easy meal that covers all the bases! You could even enjoy a lemon pepper chicken breast on a bed of leafy spinach – a super easy meal prep option!
- Speaking of meal prep, the baked chicken will keep for 4 days after cooking! Just refrigerate it in an airtight container for maximum freshness.
- This recipe isn’t just for chicken – no, no! The lemon pepper butter sauce would be great on fish, pasta, or vegetables, too!
Chicken – Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for this recipe – they’ll both turn out delicious! You can also use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts for your lemon pepper chicken, if you prefer. Just make sure to check the cook times for each cut of chicken on the recipe card below.
Lemon Pepper Seasoning – For the best flavor, try to find a lemon pepper that has minimal ingredients, and opt for one that uses actual lemon peel over one that uses citric acid. You can actually make your own lemon pepper seasoning if you want, too! In general, mix together 2 parts lemon zest (fresh or dried), 1 part freshly cracked black pepper, and 1 part salt (optional). You can adjust those ratios to your preference. You might also like to include a little onion powder and garlic powder in your homemade lemon pepper seasoning.
- Do not skip the 5 minute rest period after you take the chicken out of the oven. If you cut into it right away, all the amazing juices will run out and you’ll be stuck with dry, tough chicken. Plus, the 5 minute rest is crucial to the cooking process! Since you’re taking the lemon pepper chicken out of the oven at 161° Fahrenheit, it won’t be quite ready to eat immediately. It’ll finish cooking while it rests, though.
- Be sure to stop halfway through the cook time to baste the chicken! It’ll help prevent the top of the chicken drying out, so set an alarm if you need to. You can use a baster to squeeze some of the melted lemon pepper butter back onto the chicken, or you can just use a spoon.
- Wait to season the chicken until just before you put the dish in the oven. This’ll keep the seasoning from pulling the moisture out of the meat, which is especially important for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
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- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste, omit completely if your lemon pepper seasoning contains salt
- 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts approximately 2-2 ½ pounds total, see Notes
- 1 lemon sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
- ¼ cup butter softened
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less to taste
- chopped parsley optional, for garnish
- Baking dish 9×9 or 9×13
- Small bowl
- Meat thermometer
- Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Layer lemon rounds in bottom of baking dish.
- Sprinkle salt on bottoms of chicken. Flip and place salted-side-down on top of lemon slices.
- Using a fork, mix together lemon pepper seasoning, softened butter, salt (if using), and cayenne pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
- Rub butter mixture all over chicken. If using chicken thighs, place some butter mixture under skin.
- Bake chicken for 25 to 28 minutes (for boneless chicken breasts) or 35 to 40 minutes (for bone-in chicken thighs), or until internal temperature reaches 161° Fahrenheit. Halfway through cooktime, baste chicken with melted butter drippings from baking dish.
- Remove chicken from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 165° Fahrenheit while resting.
- Portion chicken onto serving plates. Drizzle with additional melted lemon-pepper butter, sprinkle parsley on top, and serve.
- Chicken: This recipe can be made both with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.
- Make it Keto: Be sure your lemon pepper seasoning doesn’t have any sugar (or maltitol or maltodextrin!), and use chicken thighs for a boost of fat.
- Make it Paleo/Whole30: Be sure your lemon pepper seasoning doesn’t have any sugar (or sugar substitutes, if Whole30), and use ghee instead of butter.
- Cook Times: Cook times will vary based on cut of chicken. Prepare each cut of chicken as instructed above.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Cook approximately 25 to 28 minutes
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: Cook approximately 35 to 40 minutes
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts: Cook approximately 35 to 40 minutes
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.