Lemon pepper is one of those seasonings that, despite its popularity and constant use, can be difficult to replace with a substitute.
It’s fresh and rejuvenating, adding a unique lemony flavor to the foods it’s used in. Plus, it works well on fish and chicken, making it a staple for many house cooks.
So what do you do when you’re out of lemon pepper or simply don’t want to use it? This article shares some alternative substitutes that will work just as well.
What Is Lemon Pepper?
Lemon pepper is a seasoning blend that includes lemon zest, salt, and cracked black peppercorns. Many store-bought brands also include garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices.
You can find lemon pepper in the spice section of many grocery stores and it is a key ingredient in popular foods such as lemon-pepper chicken and grilled fish. You can also use it to flavor salads, pasta dishes, and vegetables.
What Is Its Purpose in a Meal?
The purpose of lemon pepper in a meal is to impart a lemony and spicy flavor to it. Lemon pepper can be added to any recipe as a flavorful substitute for salt and pepper.
You can use it when cooking fish or chicken on the grill or stovetop. You can sprinkle some over a salad. And you can add it to your favorite pasta recipe.
Whichever way you use it, lemon pepper will add a bright flavor to your meal without chunks of lemon zest getting stuck in your teeth.
Lemon Pepper Substitute
1. Lemon Zest and Black Pepper
If you want a substitute for lemon pepper, you can’t go wrong with lemon zest and black pepper. This way, you will get the true lemon flavor with a nice dash of pepper.
To use this combo as a substitute for lemon pepper, zest a fresh lemon using a zester so you get only the thin outer layer of peel and none of the bitter white pith beneath it. If you don’t have a zester, you can also use a vegetable peeler, but be careful not to include any pith in your zest.
For each teaspoon of lemon pepper, substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. You can also omit the black pepper when using this substitute if you want a mild-flavored seasoning or don’t have any black pepper on hand.
2. Lemon Juice and Black Pepper
The second-best substitute for lemon pepper is equal parts of lemon juice and black pepper. This will give you enough of both ingredients to replicate the flavors present in lemon pepper seasoning. This substitute works well with all dishes but is especially good for chicken, fish, and vegetables.
3. Lemon Salt
Lemon salt is one of the most obvious alternatives to lemon pepper. It’s especially useful if you don’t have fresh lemons around. It’s available in many grocery stores, but you can also make it yourself by mixing table salt with dried lemon zest.
4. Lime Juice and Black Pepper
Lime juice has a similar flavor profile to lemon juice, with a bit more tartness. Like lemon juice, it pairs well with black pepper and other savory ingredients.
Combining lime juice with black pepper will add an instant citrus flavor and peppery heat to any dish, especially grilled fish and vegetables. It can also help to enhance other flavors in the dish when used in adequate amounts.
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5. Lemon Juice and Fresh Herbs
Combining lemon juice with fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and tarragon can add brightness to your dishes without overpowering them with citric acid.
You could also try using dried herbs if fresh ones aren’t available, but you’ll want to use less than you usually would. This is best suited for pasta salads, seafood salads, and potato salads. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and use them as directed in your recipe.
6. Lemon Balm and Black Pepper
If you are making a sauce, or a rub that includes lemon pepper, use lemon balm and black pepper instead. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, which means it is an herb that is easy to grow in your garden or even inside your window sill.
This herb has a lemony scent/flavor, making it a perfect substitute for lemon pepper in recipes. It also works well with stronger herbs like basil and oregano and leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.
7. Lemon Thyme
Lemon thyme has a more intense, lemon flavor than lemon pepper, but will work as a substitute if you don’t have the latter. It also works well with many recipes because it doesn’t contain salt or black pepper.
To use lemon thyme as a substitute, simply measure the herb and add it to your recipe in place of the lemon pepper. You should use about the same amount as you would have if you had used lemon pepper instead.
8. Lemon Curry Powder
Lemon curry powder is a spice blend that contains lemon, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, mustard seed, and black pepper. It has the same flavor profile as lemon pepper with an added kick of spiciness.
To swap lemon curry powder for lemon pepper, use 1 teaspoon of lemon curry powder in place of every 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper your recipe calls for. Keep in mind that lemon curry powder contains more spices, so you’ll want to add a few other spices to your dish.
9. Lemon Verbena and White Pepper
Lemon verbena is a lovely plant, with lemon-scented leaves. It’s refreshing, fragrant, and unique. The flavor is more like a lemongrass-lemon hybrid, so it can work as a substitute for lemon pepper in stir-fries and soups.
White pepper has a strong flavor that works well with the citrus notes of lemon verbena. This combination tastes similar to lemon pepper (without the sourness that comes with lemon pepper).
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10. Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice mix that contains seven different spices. It’s not as spicy as you might think but has a complex flavor profile with a bit of heat.
The only downside is that shichimi togarashi may be harder to find than lemon pepper. However, if you can get your hands on some, you can use it as a substitute for lemon pepper.
11. Lemongrass and Black Pepper
Lemongrass is a herb that people use in many types of cooking, especially in Asian-style recipes. You can use lemongrass and black pepper as a substitute for lemon pepper because they will add a nice “lemony” aroma and spicy taste to your dish without adding any actual acidity to the dish.
There are two ways that you can buy lemongrass and these are either whole or cut into small pieces. “Whole” lemongrass is the best type of lemongrass to buy because it is full of flavor and allows you to cut it according to your preferred size.
Why Does Lemon Pepper Need Substitutes?
There are many reasons why you might need a lemon pepper substitute. You might not have any on hand or you may be allergic to it.
Moreover, not everyone likes the flavor of lemon pepper, which is way too strong for them. Or you may simply be trying to make a dish healthier by using less sodium, and lemon pepper is loaded with it.
Does lemon pepper go bad?
Yes, it does. The best-by date on lemon pepper is usually about two years after production, but it may go bad earlier if you don’t store it properly. To make your lemon pepper last longer, keep it in an airtight container away from direct light.
Is lemon pepper the same thing as black pepper?
No, it is not. Lemon pepper is a spice mixture containing lemon zest, salt, and ground black pepper. It is not the same as black pepper, which has a completely different composition, taste, and color.
Is lemon pepper healthy?
Yes, it is. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is good for the immune system and helps the body absorb iron from plant-based foods. Pepper also has many health benefits, including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemon pepper is a seasoning blend that adds a unique, lemony flavor to meats and vegetables, as well as salad dressings, soups, and sauces.
The best substitutes for lemon pepper include lemon zest or lemon juice mixed with black pepper. You can also use lime juice and black pepper or lemon curry powder if you don’t have any lemons on hand.
Whichever you choose, the options above will work well in place of lemon pepper.
Thanks for reading.
To learn more about food seasonings and their substitutes, visit Cheffist today.