These easy-to-make, oven-baked honey lemon pepper wings are amazingly crispy and succulent. The tender meat practically falls right off the bone. Plus, the sweet and tangy honey-lemon glaze takes these wings to the next level and makes for a fun twist on the classic appetizer.
Who doesn't love a moist, crispy, and flavorful chicken wing? There's just something so fun about getting messy and enjoying a plate full of saucy wings.
And with July right around the corner, football season in the U.S. will be here before we know it.
Chicken wings are a quintessential game day appetizer. These honey lemon pepper wings are a fun twist on the classic Buffalo-style wings. They're the perfect solution for those who don't enjoy spicy foods.
The honey lemon pepper sauce is what really makes these chicken wings so special. The bright, citrusy flavor of lemon pairs wonderfully with the floral sweetness of the honey. Plus, these wings are naturally dairy-free and gluten-free so all of your guests will be able to enjoy them.
So, if you want to learn how to make these honey lemon pepper wings for your next backyard barbecue or game day party, keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
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The Science Behind Crispy Baked Chicken Wings
Ever wish you could make restaurant-quality, crispy chicken wings at home without pulling out the deep fryer?
Achieving crispy and delicious chicken wings in the oven is possible. The secret? Baking powder.
I know. It sounds crazy, right? But, trust me, it works.
Baking powder is alkaline, meaning it has a high pH. When sprinkled on chicken wings, the baking powder actually raises the pH of the chicken wing skin, which starts to break down some of the peptide bonds. Once these bonds are broken and heat is applied, the browning process actually happens faster.
The results are extra crispy, browned chicken wings made right at home. No frying required!
One important note, however, is to use aluminum-free baking powder. Baking powder that contains aluminum can lend an off-putting, metallic taste to the chicken wings that we want to avoid. Try Bob's Red Mill brand.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Crispy- As discussed in the section above, baking powder is the secret to creating a truly crispy chicken wing. Baking these glazed chicken wings on a wire rack also keeps them from sitting in their own juices and becoming soggy.
- Sweet & Tangy Glaze- What makes these chicken wings so special is the honey-lemon glaze. If you like sweet and sour sauce with your Chinese food, you'll love these honey-lemon wings. The tangy acidity from the lemon plays wonderfully with the sweetness of the honey.
- Great for Parties- Not many things go together as well as chicken wings and a fun party. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Chicken Wings- If you can't find chicken wings that are already separated into the drumstick and the flat wing, you'll want to separate them yourself. Don't worry, it's easy. Just don't forget to remove the wing tip. I recommend using fresh chicken wings, but frozen chicken wings that have been thawed can work too.
- Lemon Juice & Zest- Since these are honey lemon pepper wings, we want the lemon flavor to really shine through. For this reason, I use both lemon juice and lemon zest in this recipe.
- Honey- One of the key components of the honey lemon pepper glaze. The honey helps to create a sticky-sweet glaze that coats the wings perfectly.
- Black Pepper- Freshly cracked black pepper is just what these wings need to balance the sweetness and the tang. The pepper contributes just a touch of heat and rounds out the rest of the flavors nicely.
- Baking Powder- Not technically a seasoning (although it is mixed with them), baking powder has a more important job. And it's all about crispy wings.
- Cornstarch- Just a bit of cornstarch helps the glaze thicken up. Make sure you mix it with water to make a slurry before adding it to the glaze.
Sustainability Tip: Save the wing tips to make homemade chicken stock. You can freeze them until you save up enough or combine them with vegetable scraps to make chicken vegetable broth.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make honey lemon pepper wings.
Step 1: Prepare the baking sheet and wings. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking spray. Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel and place them into a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Make the baking powder seasoning mix. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the baking powder, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, and lemon zest. Sprinkle the baking powder mixture over the chicken wings and toss the wings until they're evenly coated with the seasonings.
Step 3: Bake the chicken wings. Place the chicken wings in a single layer on the wire rack and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. While the chicken wings are baking, make the glaze.
Step 4: Simmer the honey-lemon glaze. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the grated garlic and lemon zest and allow them to simmer in the oil for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Step 5: Thicken the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the glaze and simmer for an additional 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Step 6: Toss the chicken wings with the glaze. Remove the chicken wings from the oven after 40 minutes and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before transferring them to a mixing bowl. Pour the honey-lemon glaze over the chicken wings and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
- Make sure your chicken wings are dry. Starting with dry chicken wings is super important for two reasons. First, the drier the chicken wings, the crispier results you will achieve. Second, you want the baking powder and seasonings to evenly coat the wings without dissolving too much.
- Let the chicken wings rest. Just like any other meat, you want to give the chicken wings a few minutes to rest after pulling them out of the oven. Resting allows the juices to redistribute in the meat, leading to a juicier chicken wing.
- Bake chicken wings in a single layer. Of course, you'll want to avoid overcrowding the chicken wings so that you don't end up steaming them. It's better to cook the chicken wings in batches than it is to pile them on top of one another. If you have the equipment, you can save time by baking two sheets at once.
- Be prepared for a little smoke. Chicken wing skin is full of fat. When baking, the fat is rendered out and will splatter and drip onto the baking sheet. Since these chicken wings are baked at high heat, the fat has a tendency to smoke.
Substitutions and Additions
Here are a few ways you can make these honey lemon pepper wings fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Chicken Wings- Not a fan of bone-in chicken wings? Try using the honey-lemon glaze with baked chicken tenders instead. Or you could switch it up altogether and make vegetarian honey lemon pepper cauliflower wings.
- Lemon- If you don't have fresh lemons on hand, you can use bottled lemon juice. The wings may not be as lemony without the lemon zest, but they'll still be delicious. And if lemon isn't your jam, you could try making these wings with lime juice or orange juice.
- Honey- While it would change the flavor profile a bit, you could swap out the honey for maple syrup. Or simply use granulated sugar, which would contribute the sweet factor without honey's signature floral, earthy flavor.
- Black Pepper- You can reduce the amount of black pepper or leave it out entirely if you're not a fan of spice. On the other hand, you could cayenne pepper instead to kick the heat up a notch.
- Baking Powder- Baking soda can work here too, but you have to use much less of it. I wouldn't use more than ½ teaspoon or you'll risk your chicken wings tasting metallic.
- Lemon Zest/Black Pepper/Salt- Try replacing all three of these ingredients with lemon pepper seasoning to make these wings even easier.
- Red Chili Pepper Flakes- If you love spicy wings, try adding a few shakes of red chili flakes to the honey-lemon glaze.
- Fresh Herbs- Sprinkle some fresh parsley, scallions, or thyme on top of the wings after you've tossed them with the glaze.
- Soy Sauce- Add a tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce to the glaze to give these wings a more salty-sweet flavor profile.
What to Serve with Honey Lemon Pepper Wings
Honey lemon pepper chicken wings are perfect for cookouts, game day parties, and summer backyard barbecues. They can be made as a drool-worthy appetizer or they can be the star of the show. Dip them in ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, or enjoy them as is.
Here are a few ideas for what to serve with honey lemon pepper wings.
- Herbed Potato Salad
- Red Lentil Pasta Salad
- Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
- Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread
- Crispy Honey-Chipotle Brussels Sprouts
- Ancient Grain Salad
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Cheesy Broccoli Bites
- Oven-Roasted Green Beans and Carrots
Other Suggestions: French fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, loaded baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, fried rice, celery and carrots, or a garden salad
Storage and Reheating
If you're serving these honey lemon pepper wings at a potluck or cookout, remember that cooked chicken should not be left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Refrigerator- Store leftover chicken wings in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. They should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in aluminum foil.
- Freezer- If you need a longer storage solution, freezing the cooked chicken wings is a great way to keep them fresh. Simply wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place inside a freezer-safe bag or container. Chicken wings will maintain optimal quality for up to 6 months in the freezer.
How to Reheat
If you froze your leftover chicken wings, you'll want to thaw them before trying any of these reheating methods.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place wings in a single layer on a greased baking sheet and bake the chicken wings for approximately 5-7 minutes per side.
- Air Fryer- Set the air fryer to 350°F and place the chicken wings in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Heat for 2-3 minutes or until warmed through.
- Microwave- Place the leftover chicken wings on a microwave-safe plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Often, chicken wings are sold with the drumstick, wing, and wing tip still in one piece. For this recipe, I recommend removing the wing tips and splitting the drumsticks from the wings. Here is a helpful step-by-step guide to follow if you're unsure how to do this.
Yes, you can! To make these wings in the air fryer, cook them at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, shaking the basket every 5 minutes or so. Then, for the last 5 minutes, turn the heat up to 425°F to get the skin nice and crisp. If your air fryer comes with a rack insert, I recommend using that.
Definitely. While the skin may not crisp up as well, it should still get decently crispy. Just line your baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and follow the recipe instructions as written.
More Chicken Wing Recipes
Honey Lemon Pepper Wings
For the Chicken Wings
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds chicken wings split, wing tips removed
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest from 1 lemon
For the Honey-Lemon Glaze
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic grated or finely minced
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup honey
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ tablespoon water
To Make the Chicken Wings
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking spray. Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel and place them into a large mixing bowl.Cooking spray, 2 pounds chicken wings
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the baking powder, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, and lemon zest. Sprinkle the baking powder mixture over the chicken wings and toss the wings until they're evenly coated with the seasonings.1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, Zest from 1 lemon
- Place the chicken wings in a single layer on the wire rack and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. While the chicken wings are baking, make the glaze.
For the Honey-Lemon Glaze
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the grated garlic and lemon zest and allow them to simmer in the oil for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5-7 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 clove garlic, Zest from 1 lemon, Juice from 1 lemon, ⅓ cup honey, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the glaze and simmer for an additional 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.½ tablespoon cornstarch, ½ tablespoon water
- Remove the chicken wings from the oven after 40 minutes and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before transferring them to a mixing bowl. Pour the honey-lemon glaze over the chicken wings and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Did you try this recipe?
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