One of my favorite types of posts to publish here on The Rising Spoon are ones explaining how to make common kitchen ingredients (or foods).
I'm usually spurred to do this because the store-bought counterparts are loaded with atrocious additives, chemicals and generally uber processed junk.
Homemade Pantry Staples Are Easier To Make Than You Think
Things like whipped cream, barbecue sauce, almond milk, ranch dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, beef stock, hot cocoa, chocolate sauce, corn tortillas, and iced tea taste much better and are leaps and bounds more healthy when made at home. Not to mention loads cheaper in the long run. And they usually don't take long to whip up.
Lemon pepper seasoning is no exception.
It's one of the most popular spice mixes around and is commonly used in poultry recipes, especially whole roasted chicken.
Commercial Seasoning Mixes Are Often Loaded With Unsavory Ingredients
Unfortunately, if you pick up a bottle of commercial lemon pepper seasoning mix at the grocery store and flip the bottle around, you'll see a laundry list of unsavory ingredients.
Pick a bottle, any bottle, and you'll likely see additives such as:
- modified food starch
- maltodextrin (a starch made from corn or potatoes)
- yellow #5 (artificial food dye)
- silicone dioxide (anti-caking agent)
- calcium stearate (anti-caking agent)
- calcium silicate (anti-caking agent)
There's No Lemon in Your Lemon Pepper Seasoning
In fact, many lemon pepper seasoning mixes don't even contain lemon.
Instead, they use something called "citric acid". Citrus fruits naturally contain citric acid, so you're probably saying to yourself "isn't that from a natural source?".
Nope! Because citric acid is expensive to extract from natural sources like lemons & limes, pharmaceutical manufacturers instead create it in a lab using a mold called aspergillus niger.
When fed glucose or sucrose (often sourced from GMO corn), the mold cultivates a form of citric acid. The mold is then filtered out and the solution undergoes several more processes in order to become citric acid. (source & source).
That stuff...is not food.
And it shouldn't be in our foods.
Make One Batch Quickly & It'll Keep For Months
Thankfully, it's dead simple (and cheap) to make lemon pepper seasoning at home with a few quality ingredients.
If you just ran away from the screen to scan the ingredients list on the back of your spices, I don't blame you. I've done the same thing many a time.
Everyone has to start somewhere!
Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Ditch the store-bought lemon pepper seasoning mixes that don't even contain real lemon (gasp!) and are loaded with additives. Instead, make your own citrus spice mix with fresh lemon zest and a few spices. It's so easy and tasty you'll wish you'd started making it years ago!
3-4 small lemons (preferably organic), zested
2 teaspoons of freshly cracked peppercorns
1 teaspoon of quality sea salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
zester or microplane
large baking sheet
electric grinder or mortar & pestle
Want more real food & gadget recommendations? Check out my shop page.
Use a zester or microplane to remove the peel from the lemons (avoid the white pith). Spread the fresh lemon zest in a single layer onto a large baking sheet. Set your oven to the lowest temperature possible (mine is 170 degrees) and place the zest in the middle rack.
Keep the lemon zest in the oven until all the moisture is gone and it's dry to the touch. Mine took about one hour, but the time could fluctuate depending on the temperature of your oven and how much zest you're using. To be safe, check it every half hour.
Using an electric grinder, mortar and pestle or pepper mill, crack peppercorns until you have 2 teaspoons worth. You can make it as coarse or fine as you like.
Measure out 1 tablespoon of the dried lemon zest (you may have extra leftover depending on the size of your lemons) into an electric grinder OR mortar. If using a grinder, pulse 3-4 times, or until you've reached your desired texture. Be careful not to overdo it, or it will be too powdery. If you're using a mortar, crush the lemon zest with the pestle until it reaches a texture you like.
Mix the lemon zest, freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt, granulated garlic and onion powder into a small container and shake to combine. Store in an airtight container and use within three to six months for best flavor.
Notes & Tips
When I took the pictures for this recipe, I crushed the peppercorns first and then mixed them into my grinder with the dried lemon zest to blitz them together. This made the pepper super fine, which was OKAY, but turned out a bit powdery for my taste. Next time, I will do them separately and make everything slightly coarser.
Adjust the ratio of the spices to YOUR taste.
Do you like a more lemony flavor? Add more zest! A peppery kick? Use more peppercorns. Test out this batch in a few recipes and tweak it to your taste.
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I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite dish with season with lemon pepper?
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