7 Best Lemon Pepper Substitutes

Lemon pepper seasoning is a must-have in your spice cabinet, and if you’re like me, it’s probably not something you can live without. In fact, I just had to buy more because I ran out!

But what do you do when there’s no lemon pepper seasoning left? It’s time for plan B! Luckily, I’ve got 7 perfect lemon pepper substitutes that will make your recipes taste even better than before.

The best substitutes for lemon pepper include Lemon Thyme, Shichimi Togarashi, Lemon Juice, Lemon Curry Powder, and Citrus Extract.

Moreover, you can prepare DIY Lemon Pepper Blend at home using the simple recipe that I’ve shared below.

Read on to find the best options for yourself and see which one fits your needs best!

What is Lemon Pepper Seasoning?

Lemon pepper seasoning is a blend of different spices that are heavily used in cooking and baking.

It typically consists of lemon zest (the yellow part of the peel), coarse ground black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper or red chili powder, and dried thyme.

Lemon pepper seasoning is best used in baked goods, seafood, and grilled dishes.

7 Best Lemon Pepper Substitutes

Whether you forgot to put it on your grocery list or just want something quick, there are plenty of options to substitute lemon pepper in your recipes.

1. DIY Lemon Pepper Blend

DIY Lemon Pepper Blend

Before we jump to discuss the various substitution options, let’s quickly take a look at how you can prepare a lemon pepper blend at home.

To prepare Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning, you will need the following:

  • 2 tablespoons of lemon zest (grated yellow part of the peel)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves.
  • A dash of salt

If you have a mortar and pestle, then use it to crush the peppercorns and thyme leaves.

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place all the ingredients in a jar and shake well until they are mixed well together. Your homemade lemon pepper blend is ready!

2. Lemon Thyme

Lemon Thyme

One of the best lemon pepper substitutes is Lemon Thyme. It has a very distinct citrusy, thymy flavor with a light hint of oregano and mint which can bring out the taste of your recipe.

To substitute lemon pepper with lemon thyme, use twice the amount that the recipe calls for. You can also add black pepper to bring a similar lemon pepper flavor.

Overall, this herb is great for flavoring chicken, fish cakes, and grilled recipes. 

Note: Remember that not all thyme is created equal! Lemon thyme has a different flavor than regular thyme or wild marjoram which makes it perfect for replacing lemon pepper.

3. Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi togarashi or the Japanese 7-spice blend has some similarities to lemon pepper seasoning but you can still use it as a perfect replacement in most cases.

It’s made from seven different spices including chili powder, orange peel, seaweed flakes (aonori), sesame seeds, and nori among others.

This Japanese spice mix is commonly used as a condiment to sprinkle over noodles or rice, but you can also try it in your recipes if you don’t have any lemon pepper left!

Each ingredient in this blend has its own unique effect on the taste and texture of food, but if you are missing lemon pepper, then this is the best substitute to try.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

It’s true that lemon juice can’t be used as a straight-up replacement for lemon pepper, but it can certainly help season your dish and give it a nice lemony flavor.

For example, you can use freshly squeezed lemon juice to season grilled chicken or fish.

Ideally, lemon juice is best suited when you’re preparing a salad dressing, marinade, or some sauce that calls for lemon pepper.

Just remember to add salt and black pepper for a better flavor! (i.e., 2 parts lemon juice and 1 part salt + black pepper)

5. Lemon Curry Powder

Lemon Curry Powder

Lemon curry powder is a great substitute for lemon pepper but it will only work in certain recipes that call for mild heat.

For example, you can use this curry powder to season chicken or fish. I wouldn’t recommend it for a recipe that calls for baking, deep frying, etc. as it might be too mild.

All in all, this is an excellent choice if your lemon pepper seasoning has extra salt and other flavor enhancers used during preparation. This should be in your spice cabinet if you’re a curry buff.

6. Lemon Thyme, Black Pepper, and Minced Onion

One of the easiest ways to prepare lemon pepper at home is by making a simple mixture of lemon thyme and coarse ground black pepper (1:1 ratio).

You can also incorporate dried oregano, basil, dill, etc. to achieve a similar lemon pepper taste.

If you want an extra kick, add some minced onion (1 clove for every 2 teaspoons of other herbs).

On the whole, this quick and easy blend is great for flavoring grilled chicken or fish dishes.

7. Citrus Extract

Citrus Extract

A citrus extract can be another easy substitute for lemon pepper. Citrus fruit extracts like oranges, mandarins, or limes will add a citrusy flavor to your recipe which is similar to the original ingredient.

But keep in mind that it only works if your recipe calls for a very small amount.

For example, if the recipe asks for 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper, then use just 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon citrus extract.

You might need to repeat this step until you achieve the desired flavor.

What Does Lemon Pepper Taste Like?

Lemon pepper is a blend of lemon, black pepper, and salt. It’s lightly seasoned with lots of herb and spice additions such as thyme or oregano.

It’s a pungent seasoning that has a citrusy and spicy flavor. Lemon pepper is commonly used by grilling aficionados to season their food before or after cooking.

What Are Some Dishes That Pair Well With Lemon Pepper?

Lemon pepper is a perfect seasoning for most types of meat and fish dishes. Here are some dishes that pair well with lemon pepper.

  • Lemon pepper sauce
  • Lemon pepper chicken
  • Salad dressings
  • Marinade for fish or other seafood
  • Potato or carrot side dish

Who Makes The Best Lemon Pepper Seasoning?

In the U.S., there are lots of brands that make a lemon pepper seasoning blend. Here are some notable brands that I’ve tried:

  1. McCormick Perfect Pinch Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  2. Kinder’s Organic Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  3. Tone’s Lemon Pepper
  4. Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Blend

You can find these brands on your local grocery stores or on Amazon. Just make sure to read the label and choose the one which is most suitable for your cooking.

Does Lemon Pepper Have Salt In It?

Yes, lemon pepper has salt in it. It contains a little bit more than the average sea salt which is fine.

The sodium content will add to the flavor of your dish and can be easily moderated by increasing or decreasing the amount of seasoning that you use.

Does Lemon Pepper Seasoning Go Bad?

Yes, lemon pepper seasoning does go bad. But it will take a while for the spices to lose their potency when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

I’ve kept my lemon pepper in the pantry and noticed that its flavor goes off after about 3 years. I think it might last longer if it’s properly sealed but the quality will surely go down as time passes.

Final Words

Lemon pepper is a tasty seasoning that can be used to season your dishes. But if you don’t have it on your hands, don’t worry!

The above-mentioned substitutes will get the job done or you can prepare your own lemon pepper blend at home.

Did I miss any of the alternatives that you use? Drop the knowledge bomb in the comment!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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