Lemon Pepper Drumsticks (Oven or Air Fryer)

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Packed full of bright lemony flavor and spicy black, these lemon pepper drumsticks will brighten up your dinner plate!

Looking for an easy meal to fit into your meal planning routine? Try our butter bean chili, air fryer kielbasa, or see our favorite last-minute dinner ideas!

air fryer lemon pepper drumsticks

Marinated in lemon juice and coated with lemon pepper seasoning, these lemon pepper chicken legs are loaded with flavor!

I firmly believe that lemon pepper is the best seasoning for chicken whether you’re serving chicken breast, thighs, wings, or the whole roasted bird!

This recipe is great because it comes together quickly yet is filling enough to really fill you up. Plus, it’s naturally low carb and you can make a ton for leftover chicken anytime.

Equipment

air fryer lemon pepper chicken legs

Ingredients for Lemon Pepper Drumsticks

Chicken legs – Feel free to use chicken thighs, drumsticks, or the whole leg for this recipe. Make sure your chicken is thawed so it bakes quickly without drying out.

Lemon Juice – Use fresh or concentrated lemon juice to tenderize the chicken and add a lemony flavor through the whole leg.

Black pepper – Add a strong shake of black pepper to your marinade to pull that heat into the meat.

Kosher salt – Always season your marinades to avoid bland chicken. I marinade it with kosher salt and still season it with lemon pepper on the outside!

Lemon pepper seasoning – Grab your lemon pepper seasoning from the spice cupboard. This is the secret to flavorful skin! I get mine from Azure Standard.

How to Make Lemon Pepper Drumsticks

There are a few ways to make this recipe. Follow the instructions below to bake your chicken drumsticks in the oven or air fryer!

how to make lemon pepper drumstick recipe

Lemon Pepper Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

  1. In a small bowl or reusable bag, add chicken legs with lemon juice, black pepper, and kosher salt. Move the chicken around to keep it fully submerged. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally 12-24 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. With tongs, move your marinated chicken legs to a baking sheet or dish.
  4. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on all sides of the chicken legs.
  5. Bake the chicken legs for about 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Stick your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the drumstick to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees F.
  6. Serve while hot with fresh lemon wedges and fresh parsley as garnish.

Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Add the chicken legs, lemon juice, pepper, and salt to a bag.
  2. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Toss with olive oil and the dry lemon pepper mixture in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add them to the air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken and return to the air fryer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

Storing & Reheating

Allow the chicken legs to cool down before storing them in an air-airtight container in the fridge. Use within 3-5 days.

To reheat your air fryer chicken legs, pop them back in the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees for about 5-10 minutes or until fully reheated. This will keep the skin crispy.

If you don’t care about crispy skin, pop the legs in the microwave for about 3-5 minutes.

how to make lemon pepper chicken legs

Tips & Variations

This is a very versatile recipe and can be used with literally any cut of chicken!

To marinate faster – Poke your drumsticks with a fork to let the marinade soak in even faster.

For the most tender meat – Marinate for at least 12-24 hours. This is a great recipe to make the night before or the morning of! Since the lemon tenderizes the chicken, this passive marinating time leads to tender chicken with a ton of flavor.

To use a Ninja air fryer – If you have a Ninja air fryer like me, I recommend using small baking sheets instead of the air fryer basket. This will help you avoid a mess when the chicken legs drip fat on the bottom of the appliance.

Make extra to store in the freezer – I like to put whole chickens or chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag with the same marinade and store them in the freezer for later. When you know you have a busy night coming up, pull out the chicken to thaw and bake. Such an easy dinner!

To get the crispiest skin – If you’re obsessed with crispy chicken skin, you can sear the chicken skin side down in a skillet before baking in the oven. This takes extra time, but it renders all of the fat out of the skin and results in a perfect crunch.

What to Serve with Lemon Pepper Drumsticks

This recipe is perfect for those busy weeknight dinners! Keep it easy and try these serving suggestions:

  • Large caesar salad with extra lemon wedges and shaved parmesan
  • Roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli (our go-to)
  • Steamed asparagus and hot couscous
  • Grill them up with corn on the cob and a summer salad
recipe for lemon pepper chicken drumsticks

FAQs

How long does it take for drumsticks to cook in the oven at 400 degrees?

Depending on size, drumsticks typically take 35-45 minutes to bake fully. Take the internal temperature of each drumstick to make sure they’ve reached 165 degrees F.

Is it better to bake chicken legs at 350 or 400?

We tried this recipe at both temperatures. Although the legs baked at 350 were really tender and full of juicy meat, the legs cooked at 400 were still tender but also had crispy skin!

This is one of my favorite easy chicken dinners! This recipe is so easy. Although other recipes call for more ingredients, this simple dinner is perfect just as it is. We love making a big batch to enjoy as leftovers throughout the week!

air fryer lemon pepper chicken legs
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Pepper Drumsticks

Print Recipe
These lemon pepper chicken legs are a super flavorful dinner that comes together on-the-fly! They can be prepared easily in either an air fryer or oven, too.
Prep Time:2 hrs
Cook Time:25 mins
Total Time:2 hrs 25 mins

Equipment

  • 1 Air fryer or oven
  • 1 Reusable bag
  • 1 Set of tongs
  • 1 Mixing bowl
  • 1 Baking sheet

Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning

Instructions

How to Make Lemon Pepper Drumsticks in the Oven

  • In a small bowl or reusable bag, add chicken legs with lemon juice, black pepper, and kosher salt. Move the chicken around to keep it fully submerged. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally 12-24 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • With tongs, move your marinated chicken legs to a baking sheet or dish.
  • Toss with olive oil and sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on all sides of the chicken legs.
  • Bake the chicken legs for about 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Stick your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the drumstick to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees F.
  • Serve while hot with fresh lemon wedges and fresh parsley as garnish.

How to Make Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Drumsticks

  • Add the chicken legs, lemon juice, pepper, and salt to a bag.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade. Toss with olive oil and the dry lemon pepper mixture in a mixing bowl.
  • Add them to the air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken and return to the air fryer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

Notes

To marinate faster – Poke your drumsticks with a fork to let the marinade soak in even faster.
For the most tender meat – Marinate for at least 12-24 hours. This is a great recipe to make the night before or the morning of! Since the lemon tenderizes the chicken, this passive marinating time leads to tender chicken with a ton of flavor.
To use a Ninja air fryer – If you have a Ninja air fryer like me, I recommend using small baking sheets instead of the air fryer basket. This will help you avoid a mess when the chicken legs drip fat on the bottom of the appliance.
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon pepper chicken
Servings: 4 servings

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