Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken (5 Ingredients!)- Slender Kitchen

All you need is 5 ingredients and 30 minutes to make this delicious Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken. Full of flavor, easy to make, and healthy.


Getting bored with chicken breast? This recipe will help shake things up. Juicy baked lemon pepper chicken that’s zesty and full of flavor.

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut when it comes to cooking chicken. We tend to reach for the same spices and marinades. Today that changes with the simplest of ingredients – lemon pepper seasoning.

It’s zesty and full of lemon flavor with a great kick of black pepper. Combined with butter and fresh lemons, it’s an easy way to make really tasty baked chicken.

Why We Love this Lemon Pepper Chicken

  • Quick and easy: 5-minute prep, 5 ingredients, and just 30 minutes in the oven
  • Versatile: Pair this with almost any side dish, add it to salad, pile it on pasta, or use it in grain bowls – the flavors go with everything
  • Flavorful: Simple ingredients but big, bold lemony flavor. No boring chicken breasts here

Looking for more lemon pepper inspiration? Try this Lemon Pepper Salmon, Sheet Pan Lemon Pepper Chicken with green beans, or Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Broccoli.

Lemon pepper chicken breasts in a baking dish with brown rice on the side.

Ingredients and Easy Swaps

Everything you need to make this tasty baked chicken.

  • Chicken: This recipe works with boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs or bone-in and skin-on chicken. Just adjust the cooking time.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon slices kick up the lemon flavor in the seasoning. I find it really makes a difference in adding a fresh lemon flavor, especially if you are using store-bought lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Butter: Melted butter adds richness, but olive oil or avocado oil also works.
  • Lemon pepper seasoning: This is where most of the flavor in this recipe comes from so make sure to choose a lemon pepper seasoning you like. Homemade is the best option but we also like Simply Organic, McCormick Culinary, Trader Joe’s, and Flavor God lemon pepper.
  • Paprika: Paprika adds a touch of smoky and sweet flavor to balance the tartness of the lemon. Swap in smoked paprika for more smoky notes or chili powder or a touch of spice. For more herbal notes, use Italian seasoning, dried basil, or coriander.
  • Optional extras: Add some minced fresh garlic or garlic powder. Sprinkle on some thyme, oregano, or basil. Add some sliced shallots or onions to the pan. Finish the dish with fresh herbs like parsley or some grated Parmesan cheese.

What is lemon pepper seasoning?

Lemon pepper is a seasoning blend made with dehydrated lemon and black pepper. Many seasoning mixes also contain salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Some also contain dried herbs like parsley or thyme

There is a ton of variation in store-bought lemon pepper seasoning. Versions with real lemon tend to have the most natural lemon flavor while versions with citric acid will have a lot of zing and tartness. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

Personally, my number one option is homemade lemon pepper (it’s so easy to make!). Usually, I have it in my spice cabinet since I always make a big batch. If I am buying it at the store, I like Trader Joe’s or Simply Organic since they both use real lemon peel.

Recipe Tips and Ideas

Find tips to make sure the chicken comes out juicy and tender every time plus some fun ideas for customizing this lemon pepper chicken.

  • Pound the chicken lightly: To make sure the chicken cooks evenly, slightly pound the chicken to a uniform thickness.
  • Speed up cooking: To cook the chicken more quickly, cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally or use chicken cutlets or tenderloins. These will cook in around 15 minutes depending on thickness.
  • Marinate the chicken: For extra flavor, marinate the chicken in a combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon pepper seasoning, and olive oil. It will only need 30-60 minutes. The lemon juice will also tenderize the chicken, making it moister.
  • Do not overcook: Many people complain about dry chicken and it is simply because the chicken is overcooked. Use an instant-read thermometer and take your chicken out when it hits 165 degrees.
  • Use more butter: If you prefer more sauce to drizzle over the chicken, use more butter.
  • Sear the chicken: If you like more browned chicken, sear it in a cast iron skillet first and then cook it right in the pan in the oven.

Side Dish Ideas for Lemon Pepper Chicken

This baked lemon pepper chicken goes with just about anything since the flavors are classic and versatile. Here are some favorites:

Chicken breasts baked with lemon pepper and lemon slices served on a plate with fresh parsley.

Leftover Love

This chicken is great to have in the fridge and the leftovers can be used in so many different ways. Keep them stored in an airtight container and then:

  • Add them to salads: Grab a big bowl of greens, add crunchy vegetables, your leftover lemon chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Build tasty grain bowls: Cook some quinoa or brown rice. Add roasted vegetables or raw vegetables. Add sliced lemon pepper chicken and a drizzle of chimichurri or pesto.
  • Serve them over pasta: Make this Lemon Broccoli Pasta or Pesto Pasta and add the sliced chicken on top.
  • Make sandwiches: Grab some bread and make a delicious chicken sandwich or chop the leftover chicken to make a zesty chicken salad sandwich.

How long does it take to bake chicken at 400 degrees?

When baking chicken in a 400-degree oven, the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the chicken:

  • Small boneless skinless chicken breast (5-6 oz): 20-25 minutes
  • Large boneless skinless chicken (8-12 oz): 30-40 minutes
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thigh: 18-24 minutes
  • Bone-in chicken breasts: 40-50 minutes
  • Bone-in chicken thighs: 35-45 minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about making this chicken recipe.

The most common reason that chicken breasts come out dry is that they are overcooked. To help ensure juicy chicken every time:

  • Always pound the chicken to a uniform thickness so it cooks evenly
  • Use an instant-read thermometer and cook until 165 degrees 
  • Let the chicken rest at least 5 minutes for the juices to redistribute

The main spice in lemon pepper is black pepper and the degree or spiciness varies a lot depending on the brand. Generally speaking, lemon pepper seasoning is not very spicy unless you are sensitive to black pepper. In does not have any “hot” spiciness like chili powder or cayenne pepper.

If there is a lot of water in your baking dish after cooking the chicken, it is most likely due to using chicken breasts that have been plumped with water or saline. Some chicken breast is injected with water and it can be up to 15% of the weight.  When possible, look for smaller chicken breast that have no added liquid. 

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