Lemon pepper is an aromatic combination of spices, mainly used to flavor poultry, pork, fish and other seafood as well as roasted veggies. It is made of dried lemon zest and crushed black pepper which are sometimes mixed with salt.
Although it’s an easy to find and simple blend of seasonings, if you happen to forget buying it for your dish, here are good options of lemon pepper substitutes you may have in hand.
This seasoning is widely used in many cuisines as it has a fresh citrusy touch and spicy notes which make it so suitable for meat-based and other savory recipes.
Best Lemon Pepper Substitutes
1. Lemon, Black Peppercorns and Salt
It’s quite easy to make lemon pepper seasoning at home. All you need is lemon, black peppercorns and salt. If you have dried lemon or dried lemon zest, that would be perfect. If not, just use fresh lemon zest.
Zest the lemons and dehydrate the zest in the oven. Mix them with crushed black peppercorns and sea salt according to your taste. You can start with small quantities and then add as much as you want for the ideal flavor.
You can pour all of this in a spice grinder and grind until it’s close to the texture of the store-bought lemon pepper.
2. Lemon Extract and Black Peppercorns
If you don’t have fresh lemon in hand then you may have lemon extract somewhere in your spice racks. So, it can be used instead of dried lemon or fresh lemon in lemon pepper seasoning.
Secondly, check if you have black peppercorns and just mix these two ingredients to make the desired aromatic topping for your dish. Grind black peppercorns and add several drops of lemon extract.
3. Lemon Balm and Black Peppercorns
Lemon balm is a herb from the mint family and if you happen to have it fresh, you can use it in lemon pepper seasoning instead of dried lemon zest. It has the circus touch of lemon and goes well not only with savory dishes but also with sweets.
However, in the case of lemon pepper, you are supposed to mix some leaves of lemon balm with crushed black peppercorns. You may also add some salt.
4. Lemon Thyme and Black Peppercorns
Lemon thyme is another citrus herb with a strong aroma of lemon. It can be used instead of lemon juice, lemon zest or lemon extract in any dish calling for lemon. You can blend it with crushed black peppercorns and enjoy the desired spicy-citrusy taste in your dish.
Lemon thyme also holds some spicy notes and if you want a milder heat, then you can use it on its own and skip black peppercorns. This way you will also escape overpowering the seasoning.
However, those looking for spicier substitutes may need to add black pepper too.
5. Lemon Curry Powder
Curry powder is a bright yellow seasoning with slight notes of circus and black pepper. This seasoning is another good blend to use as a lemon pepper alternative. It works well especially with poultry.
It’s important to know that it contains turmeric which provides the yellow color. Therefore, it will change the color of your dish and if you mind it, then use another substitute.
6. Lemongrass and Black Peppercorns
Lemongrass is a tropical plant with a lemony and minty flavor. It is a fresh replacer for lemon zest in lemon pepper seasoning. You need to mix it with black pepper to reach a spicy and citrusy taste, and use it in recipes calling for lemon pepper.
If you don’t have fresh lemongrass, you can use its dried or powdered versions. It goes well with seafood, fish, meats, vegetables and soups.
7. Shichimi Togarashi
Choose Shichimi Togarashi to replace lemon pepper if you don’t have any of the above mentioned ingredients. This is a Japanese blend of seasonings that includes citrus peel and peppercorns. It is a great substitute for lemon pepper and goes well with meats, poultry and seafood.
Since it also has chili flakes in it, it tastes spicier, and you should be careful with the ratios. You should also consider other ingredients like sesame seeds, ginger and seaweed when adding Shichimi Togarashi to the rest of your ingredients.
8. Amchoor Powder (Dry Mango Powder)
Amchoor powder is made of dried unripe mangoes and is considered as a fruity spice. It is used to season marinades, soups and curries and is another alternative to lemon pepper.
It has a sour taste and citrusy flavor close to lime. You can use a pinch of amchoor powder with barbeques, grilled meats and roasted dishes to add a fresh citrusy and slightly acidic flavor.
9. Lemon Thyme and Minced Onion
While lemon theme provides sour and citrus notes, minced onion can be used instead of black peppers to add spicy touches. This combination is also great for people having allergies from balck pepper.
You can mix lemon theme with fresh or dried minced onion according to your recipe. If you choose fresh onions, then you should know that they will make your dish or marinade juicier. Shallots and white onions are the best choice for this case.
Is lemon pepper the same as lemon zest?
Although lemon pepper and lemon zest may appear to be similar, they are actually two very different ingredients.
Lemon pepper is a spice blend that typically contains ground black pepper, salt and dried lemon peel. Lemon zest, on the other hand, is simply the outermost layer of the lemon skin. It is bright yellow and has a strong citrus flavor.
Is lemon pepper unhealthy?
While it does have a few health benefits, such as providing vitamin C and antioxidants, lemon pepper also has some drawbacks. It often contains high levels of sodium. For people who are trying to lower their sodium intake, this can be a problem.
In addition, lemon pepper usually contains MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is seen by some people as a health risk. So, while lemon pepper isn’t necessarily unhealthy, it’s important to be aware of its potential drawbacks.
Can I use lemon juice instead of lemon pepper?
Yes, you can use lemon juice instead of lemon pepper in marinade recipes.
Is lemon pepper good on salmon?
It is just perfect on salmon. Overall, seafood tastes better with lemon and black pepper. So, this seasoning makes a heavenly match with salmon.
Is lemon pepper good on steak?
If you want your steak to taste absolutely delicious, then use these three ingredients: lemon pepper, oregano and garlic.
How long can you keep lemon pepper?
It’s better to use it for up to 6 months. Like many other herbs and spices, lemon pepper will lose its strong aroma after that.
Have you ever run out of lemon pepper seasoning and been in a bind? I have, and it’s not fun. Thankfully, there are some decent substitutes for lemon pepper that can help you out in a pinch. Check out this list of substitutes next time you find yourself without any lemon pepper on hand.