Does snacky appetiser finger food get any better than chicken wings? Rhetorical question, since I know you’re here for these amazing honey lemon pepper wings. Crunchy, sweet, savoury and seriously yum.

Love wings as much as I do? You’ve got to try these salt and pepper chicken wings or the blog favourite sticky honey soy chicken wings.

Close up of baked golden chicken wings.

Why you’ll love it

Why fry chicken wings, when you can still get crunch from baking, without the mess and fuss of hot oil. These honey lemon pepper wings are the ultimate in comforting finger food.

  • Sweet from honey, tangy from lemon, spicy from pepper – a flavour trifecta.
  • The texture? Sticky and crunchy on the outside whilst staying moist and tender on the inside.
  • Real ingredients! Real lemon juice, zest and ground black pepper. It’s just as easy but tastes so much better than pre-made seasoning.

Since they finish their cooking in a sticky sauce, they don’t need a dipping sauce but I have a ranch dip and avocado crema that are always great with wings.

Every time I make these, they disappear so quickly, I wish I’d made more. They’re just as delicious served as an appetiser as they are a full meal, with some rice.  

Wet vs dry wings

Did you know there is such a thing as wet or dry wings? Here’s how you tell the difference.

Wings that use a dry rub for flavouring and have no sauce added to them (not referring to the dipping sauce) are known as dry wings while those that have a sauce coating, either before or after they’re cooked, are known as wet wings.

That makes these honey lemon pepper wings, wet wings. If you were to omit the honey and real lemon juice and opt for a lemon pepper dry seasoning instead, these would become dry wings.

There’s something you probably never knew you needed to know … and probably don’t. On with the recipe.

Tools you’ll need

  • A wire rack that is oven safe
  • A large baking sheet or tin
  • Mixing bowl and tongs, spoons
  • Saucepan

Ingredients you’ll need

What I love about this recipe is the minimal ingredients but also the real ingredients. Aside from some onion powder and paprika, everything here is in it’s most real form which makes these wings all the more flavourful

Ingredients for honey lemon pepper chicken wings on a marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Chicken wings: I use a kilogram (2.2lb) of whole chicken wings. Use free-range if you can – not only is it better for the chickens but the flavour is actually better.
  • Lemon: 1 large fresh lemon should get you the right amount of juice and zest.
  • Pepper: Use fresh coarsely ground pepper if you can. Whole peppercorns, freshly ground as needed, retain their flavour better than store-bought ground pepper.
  • Honey: Different honey varieties have differing flavours depending on the flowers the bees visited, so use your favourite or experiment with new flaovurs.
  • Baking powder: This is my little trick to make oven baked chicken wings even crunchier. The baking powder reacts with the moisture in the skin to get it extra crispy.
  • Salt: Where there is pepper … Salt is a great seasoning, adding flavour and intensifying the flavour of all the other ingredients.
  • Onion powder: Onion powder is really the only thing here that isn’t fresh as it’s most commonly served. I use powder here to make the dry rub at the start a true dry rub and keep those wings crispy. You could add onion to the sauce instead but, for me, it added unwanted texture there.
  • Paprika: A little paprika goes a long way and it’s a favourite spice of mine for adding earthiness to anything.
  • Garlic: I use fresh garlic in the sauce and it’s such a perfect flavour here. Feel free to add more if you love garlic or leave it out if you don’t.

I finish these off with a little parsley for colour but it’s not totally necessary. Some lemon wedges on the side are a nice touch too.

You can add chilli for some extra spice too and turn them into hot honey lemon pepper wings. Do this by adding some finely chopped fresh chilli, dried chilli flakes or make your own hot honey at home (my own recipe will be coming very soon).

How to make lemon pepper wings

I make these lemon pepper wings in the oven and with very little prep time, they’re always a winner. Crunchy, oven-baked wings are so simple to make, so let’s go.

Chicken wings on white cutting board being cut into pieces.
  1. Dry out the wings: Don’t skip this step but if you can only do it for a couple hours, it’s better than nothing. After cutting the wings into flats and drumettes with a very sharp knife (photo 1), lay them out, in a single layer, on a wire rack over a baking sheet pan lined with foil (photo 2). Place them in the fridge, uncovered, for 6 hours or overnight.
A collage of 4 images showing how to bake honey lemon pepper wings.
  1. Season and bake: Take the dried wings and toss them in the spice mixture (photo 3) so they’re thoroughly coated then lay them back out on the same wire rack (photo 4) and bake in a hot oven for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and crispy – no need to flip them.

The honey lemon pepper sauce

The honey lemon pepper sauce is all homemade, all natural and all kinds of delicious. There’s no lemon pepper seasoning here – real lemon zest, real lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper is all you need to make your own and it has so much more flavour than using a pre-mixed seasoning.

Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Cook the sauce: Place the ingredients into a large saucepan (photo 5) and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir the sauce as it simmers away for 3-4 minutes until it thickens a little and then set it aside until you’re ready.
  2. Coat the wings: Transfer the baked wings to the saucepan and toss well in the sauce, making sure they’re coated all over (photo 6), then bake for a further 10 minutes.

You can drizzle over any leftover honey lemon pepper sauce for serving, or mix it through a little mayo and sour cream, if you’d like a dip.

BE CAREFUL! Hot honey is like molten lava. Transfer them to a serving plate with tongs and let them cool for 5 minutes before trying to eat them so you don’t burn your mouth.

Golden baked chicken wings on a baking tray with a pot of honey.

Storing leftover wings

If you’re so lucky to have leftover wings, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. These honey lemon pepper wings are best served fresh but you can reheat them in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes (or eat them cold).

Honey lemon pepper wings FAQ’s

Can I use maple syrup instead?

Absolutely. Maple syrup works a treat on these wings and you can substitute it for the honey 1:1 in this recipe.

Can I use chicken drumsticks?

You can use chicken drumsticks, or for that matter any other cut of chicken but cooking times will vary.

Can I use lemon pepper seasoning mix?

You can make lemon pepper chicken wings using lemon pepper seasoning, and indeed it’s more common, but I love the natural flavour and tang of the real thing. I couldn’t tell you how much, as I’ve not tested it on this recipe and if you still want wet wings, you’ll need to add some water to the sauce in place of the lemon juice.

Do I have to cut the chicken wings?

Technically, you don’t need to cut the wings into pieces, they’re just a little easier to handle this way, especially if being served as finger food.

Can I use frozen wings?

You can use fresh or frozen wings, but make sure frozen wings are thawed before starting.

Can I air fry these wings?

Yes, and they will take a little less time. Just 24-26 minutes in the air fryer basket at 180C / 350F. I recommend flipping them half way. When you place them back in after coating, they’ll only need 3-4 minutes.

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A hand holding a baked golden chicken drummette.

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Top down view of golden wings on a baking tray with lemon slices.

Honey Lemon Pepper Wings

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Crunchy, sweet and tangy, these baked honey lemon pepper wings are loaded with flavour with just 9 simple ingredients and real, natural flavour. Perfectly sweet and savoury, they make a great appetiser, game day snack or finger food.

Ingredients

FOR THE CHICKEN WINGS

  • 1 kg chicken wings (approx 8 large wings) (2.2lb)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

FOR THE HONEY LEMON PEPPER SAUCE

  • ½ cup honey (125ml)
  • zest of one large lemon
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (60ml)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh coarsely cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Equipment

  • A wire rack that is oven safe
  • A large baking tray or sheet pan
  • Mixing bowl and tongs, spoons
  • Saucepan

Instructions
 

  • Cut the wings at the joints to separate into tips, flats and drumettes. Discard the wing tips. Pat the rest dry with paper towel.
  • Sit an oven-safe wire rack over a foil lined baking tray or sheet pan. Place the wings pieces on the rack, skin side up in a single layer. Chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight (uncovered) – this helps dry out the skin to get them extra crispy.
  • Preheat oven to 220C / 425F / 200C fan forced.
  • Place the wings in a bowl. Sprinkle over the baking powder, salt, onion powder and paprika. Give them a good mix so they are all evenly coated.
  • Space out on the same wire rack, again in a single layer, and place in the oven for 35- 45 minutes until golden and crispy.

FOR THE HONEY LEMON PEPPER SAUCE

  • While the chicken is cooking add the honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened.
  • When the wings are looking golden and crispy, tip them into the saucepan and mix well to coat (you can do it in batches if you can’t fit them all in your saucepan). Lay them back out on the wire rack and bake a further 10 minutes.
  • Transfer them to a serving plate, scatter over finely chopped parsley and serve.

Notes

  1. You can drizzle over any leftover honey lemon pepper sauce for serving, or mix it through a little mayo and sour cream, if you’d like a dip.
  2. BE CAREFUL! Hot honey is like molten lava. Transfer them to a serving plate with tongs and let them cool for 5 minutes before trying to eat them so you don’t burn your mouth.
  3. Air frying: You can air fry them and they will take a little less time. Just 24-26 minutes in the air fryer basket at 180C / 350F. I recommend flipping them half way. When you place them back in after coating, they’ll only need 3-4 minutes.
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