I absolutely love chicken wings. And this is not a recent development over the past few years either, as I have loved them for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, our Sunday dinner was always fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and either corn or green beans or peas….all canned except for the occasional frozen veggies from Grandma’s garden. Since no one else cared about the wings all that much, I was usually able to have both of them, to my delight.
But I hated peas, so the weeks we had peas I sat at the table for a very long time. I was not to leave the table until my “peas were gone”. I was stubborn and determined, so I would sit and sit…and sit. At last my little sister would sneak in and offer to eat my peas – which she didn’t like either – if I would play with her. It was a tough decision about which was the worst fate, but eventually my sister would eat the peas and we would go play. When Dad noticed I was away from the table, he would ask, “Are those peas gone?!”, to which I could honestly reply, “Yes, Daddy”. The importance of how queries are posed cannot be overstated.
These spicy baked chicken wings are perfect for game day, a summer picnic, or anytime you need to whip up a casual, yet delicious, appetizer. Making your own homemade flavored seasonings brings out your creative side and is quite easy; however, finding the perfect balance of flavors is more of an art than a science, because individual tastes vary so widely. The proportions shared here offer a safe starting point, and you can go crazy from there.
Lemon-Pepper Baked Chicken Wings
These spicy lemon-pepper baked chicken wings are perfect for game day or anytime you need to whip up a casual, yet delicious, appetizer.
- 4-5 large organic lemons (zested)
- 1 T Kosher salt
- 1 t black peppercorns (crushed)
- 4 lbs chicken wings (tips removed and patted dry)
- 3 T olive oil (extra virgin)
- Position oven rack to center position and preheat oven to warm (lowest setting).
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
To prepare the lemon-pepper seasoning, wash the lemons and pat dry. Remove zest from each lemon with a microplane. While doing so, collect as much of the flavorful yellow outer layer as possible, while avoiding the more bitter white layer below.
Spread the zest in a thin layer on the parchment paper and place in the oven. After 20 minutes, remove pan from oven and shake to make sure zest is drying evenly. Return to oven until thoroughly dried, approximately 25-30 minutes.
Remove dried lemon zest from the oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Add dried lemon zest to spice grinder or food processor along with salt and black peppercorns. Grind ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust ratio of salt and pepper as desired.
In a large bowl, combine chicken wings with olive oil and 1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon-pepper seasoning and toss until evenly coated.
Arrange seasoned chicken wings in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not overcrowd. Place baking sheet on center rack of preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from oven and turn each wing to ensure they cook evenly on all sides. Return to oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until wings are browned and crispy.
Remove from oven and serve immediately with sliced celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing, if desired.
The whole black peppercorns impart a BOLD flavor to this seasoning, so it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust upwards until you find the level of heat you prefer. Once you do, you can create larger batches of this seasoning and store the remaining amounts in an airtight container for several months.