Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning

I am a collector of herbs and spices. I like to have a little bit of everything just in case I need a little bit of anything. I have just about every herb and spice on hand that you could possibly want. (And a few extras: anyone need za’atar or nigella? Anyone?) One thing I hadn’t bought until recently, though, was lemon pepper seasoning.

I can’t really explain why I didn’t buy it. I love lemon and pepper together. My version of using lemon pepper usually involved squeezing and zesting a lemon and grinding a bunch of pepper on top.

Last week, a coupon and a sale conspired to convince me to buy my first ever little shaker jar of lemon pepper seasoning. I got it home, opened the safety seal, dipped my finger in and took a taste. Then I made a face and scraped at my tongue with my fingernails. EW. I mean really. The top note of this well respected manufacturer’s lemon pepper seasoning blend was citric acid followed by chemical followed by IDunnoWhat.  Egads, that stuff was awful! If I thought really hard about it, I could kind of taste lemon in there somewhere, but I think that was the power of concentrating on the yellow that was provided by the yellow food dye. FOOD DYE. In seasoning. Sigh.

It’s often the little things -a pinch of this, a smidgen of that- that make the difference between a recipe that is good versus one that is great. I’ve seen quite a few recipes that call for lemon pepper seasoning and I’ve always done my lemon juice/zest/pepper hack, and it usually worked out just fine. After trying the stuff that flies off the market shelves, though, I was convinced that I could easily do much, much better at home.

And I did.

Here you have Foodie With Family’s Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning. All the GOOD stuff, and none of the crizzap. Sprinkle this over grilled fish, chicken or pork. Use in place of commercial lemon pepper seasoning in equal amounts called for in other recipes. Put a dash or two over buttered popcorn. Go nuts. Now that I have the homemade stuff, I’ll never be without it again.

Bonus: The homemade mix comes in significantly cheaper and worlds tastier than the commercial stuff. Give it a try… I know you won’t regret it!

And in case you’re wondering whatever became of the shaker top of lemon pepper seasoning I bought at the store, you’ll be glad to know it didn’t all go to waste. My kids peer pressured each other into trying it as a feat of strength, “Try THIS! It’s REALLY GROSS! Can you handle it?” What can I say? Homeschooled kids have weird peer pressure.


Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Add a punch of flavour to grilled fish, chicken, pork, popcorn, dips, salads and whatever else your heart desires with this perfect blend of salt, lemon zest, cracked black pepper rounded out with hints of onion, garlic and celery seed. You'll never want to be without it again!
  • 3 tablespoons lemon salt , preferably, or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • the zest of one lemon, just the yellow part- avoid the bitter white pith
  • a heaping ½ teaspoon of granulated onion
  • a heaping ¼ teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  1. Stir together all of the ingredients and store in an airtight jar at room temperature. This can be refrigerated if desired. Because there are no funky preservatives or anti-caking chemicals added to the mixture, you may find it has a tendency to clump slightly. Just break it up with your fingers or a fork before using if this occurs.
  2. Replace using commercial lemon pepper seasoning by substituting an equal measure of homemade lemon pepper seasoning.


  1. says

    YES, finally another person as spice-crazy as I am :-) Next time my hubby complains I buy too many spices, I will show him your page. No idea what Za/atar is though

  2. Deborah Jennings says

    I love using Lemon Pepper, but having said that, I don’t want salt in my Lemon Pepper. I only buy the lemon pepper that has NO salt added. It is just lemon zest and black pepper coarsely ground. I think I may be able to make some of this. Thank you so much for the recipe, though. I am of the opinion, you can never have too many recipes.

  3. says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, (in my best Daffy Duck voice,) “You is a GENIus!” I adore lemon & pepper, but not the store bought lemon pepper. I look forward to making my own if for no other reason than I can add another spice to the cupboard, and it gives me an excuse to use another canning jar. Grateful me on all accounts!

    P.S. I have za’tar, too. Excellent on fresh, buttered pita bread.

  4. Will G says

    I think I am spice crazy just like you and was actually contemplating selling my own spice mixes. (That’s another story).. In making my all purpose seasoning I decided to a lemon pepper element to my mix but wanted to break down the essential elements and only add what I needed. I came across this
    Lemon Peel Granules here http://www.atlanticspice.com/store/FullView.asp?URLStr=224.. This company is where I buy my bulk spices. Their lemon pepper blend is salt-free and is also very good. The lemon peel combined with citric acid makes the perfect “sour lemon” taste and color without dyes as you mentioned. Just my two cents.

  5. Mari says

    Interesting that you add sugar, onion and garlic, as they are NOT necessary, plus I use 1 salt to 2 of cracked pepper. I just use zest, salt and pepper and it is safe for all diet groups (including FODMAP).

    Have you thought of using this in Mashed potatoes, or with butter and toss new potatoes in it (slurp drool) or in stirfry veges? I use more of this mix now than I do ordinary salt and pepper. It is wonderful on all fish, chicken. pork and also in salad dressings.

    • says

      Strictly speaking, no spice or aromatic is absolutely necessary in any spice blend, but I gave the recipe as I prefer it. I always encourage people to play with recipes to suit themselves!


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