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  • Writer's pictureElise

Virtual Cook Book Club: January's Seasoning is Lemon Pepper!

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

We've made our cook book club virtual! We may not be able to meet in person and cook for one another, but that doesn't mean we can't create together. Each month we will highlight a different spice or seasoning. Kits will include this spice, a recipe that highlights it, a little history on the spice or recipe, and some best practices. I'll post the recipes and information here as well, so let's get cooking!


A Little Background on Lemon Pepper

Lemon Pepper is a timeless seasoning mix primarily comprising fresh lemon zest and fresh ground black peppercorns that is combined and baked so that the oils from the lemon infuse the peppercorns and then dried for use whenever it is desired. Little is

known about the origins of the seasoning other than that the two primary ingredients originated in India, providing some to speculate that the first people to use them together might have been from the region of southern Asia anywhere between Northeastern India over to Myanmar/Burma, as it is thought to be the birthplace of the lemon, a hybrid of the sour orange and citron. Both ingredients are common enough in Indian dishes. However, not much information is out there in terms of its history. It is almost as if it has always been.

These days, Lemon Pepper, sometimes also referred to as Pepper Lemon, can be found readily in the spice aisle of almost any supermarket or grocery store. It seems to have started out as a seafood flavoring but is also seen commonly as a seasoning for poultry and to spice up pasta dishes, or occasionally to spice up vegetables, doughs, or even steak. And it can be combined at any point in the cooking process with flavorful results.

Make Your Own Lemon Pepper

Lemon Pepper is a very simple seasoning mix that can easily be replicated or modified

on your own. It's base ingredients being the zest of a lemon and fresh ground peppercorns, you can change how much of each, what type, or, as many store-bought varieties do, add in other spices to adapt it to your taste preferences.

Many prepackaged lemon peppers include such spices as garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt, or other herbs and spices. Bottom line: You can make your own. Here is a basic recipe (but not the main event).


3 Tbs lemon zest 1/4 cup coarse ground pepper (the coarser the better) 2 Tbs salt 1 tsp garlic powder (more or less to taste) 1 tsp onion powder (more or less to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 170°F, or your oven's lowest temperature setting.

  2. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Spread the mixture out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the lemon zest is completely dried out.

  3. Transfer mixture to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.

Pretty easy, right? As stated earlier, the ingredients are fairly malleable. As long as you have primarily lemon zest and coarse ground peppercorns of your choice in your ingredient profile, you have Lemon Pepper. The rest just makes it your own.

Okay, now onto...

The Main Event:

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

As adapted and expanded from for use by the Brown Deer Library Cook Book Club

Time: 9 min. Serves: 4


1 tsp Butter 1 Tbs Oil 4 Tilapia fillets Lemon Pepper seasoning (to taste) Salt (to taste) Cornmeal or Breadcrumbs (optional)


  1. In a large frying pan, melt butter on medium heat.

  2. If using breading, place in a shallow dish with the lemon pepper and salt (if using) and combine. This will be the seasoning.

  3. Coat the fillets with the seasoning. If not doing the breading, you can skip step 2 and just sprinkle lemon pepper and salt on both sides to taste.

  4. Cook fillets for 3-4 minutes on each side or until done.

  5. Serve.

Note: The lemon pepper provided in the library kits already has salt in it, as do many store-bought varieties do. Test the seasoning before adding more salt.

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