Lemon pepper drumsticks are an easy and flavorful protein to add to your next weeknight meal. Chicken drumsticks are lightly seasoned and baked in the oven until perfectly juicy and tender.
Looking for a meal with minimal prep involved? Make a batch of lemon pepper drumsticks in about five minutes and let the oven do the rest of the work. All you need is the zest of a lemon, chicken drumsticks, olive oil, and a few common pantry spices.
This dinner recipe is one the entire family will enjoy! Lemon pepper drumsticks have a light, peppery flavor and turn out perfectly juicy and tender.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Drumsticks - For this recipe, you'll need about four pounds of bone-in chicken drumsticks or thighs. Using thighs may increase the baking time slightly.
- Olive oil - Can be substituted with any cooking oil you have on hand.
- Lemon zest - You'll need the zest of one lemon, or about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest. Fresh lemon zest can be substituted with about 1 ½ teaspoons of dried lemon zest.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano add mild flavor to your chicken.
Can I use lemon pepper seasoning?
Yes. If you don't have fresh lemon zest or some of the listed seasonings on hand, you're welcome to use lemon pepper seasoning instead. Lemon pepper seasoning generally includes dried lemon zest, pepper, salt, garlic, and onion, but can vary by brand.
To substitute: Omit the lemon zest, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder from the written recipe. Substitute with about 1.5 tablespoons of lemon pepper seasoning.
Preparing your baking sheet
For this recipe, I recommend using an oven-safe cooling rack to bake your chicken on. This method helps the skin of your chicken bake up crispier because the drumsticks aren't sitting in grease while they bake.
First, cover your baking sheet with foil. Then, place an oven-safe cooling rack on top. I do not recommend using a cooling rack coated in nonstick material.
I use this cooling rack in the oven frequently and it works perfectly. Plus, it's easy to pop in the dishwasher along with your dinner plates.
How to prevent dry chicken
Chicken becomes dry due to overcooking. To prevent overcooking, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of your chicken in the oven.
Bake your chicken just until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as you see this temperature, remove your chicken from the oven - it's done. Any longer and you risk drying out the drumsticks.
Another tip to help prevent dry chicken - leave the skin on. Even if you don't intend to eat the skin, leaving it on while baking can help insulate the chicken meat and keep it moist and juicy.
What to serve with drumsticks
Lemon pepper drumsticks have a mild, peppery flavor that pairs well with many family-friendly side dishes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Stovetop mac and cheese
- Roasted potatoes and asparagus
- Strawberry walnut salad
- Cheesy broccoli
- Southern coleslaw
Lemon Pepper Drumsticks
- 4 pounds chicken drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a metal, oven-safe cooling rack. Set aside.
- Pat chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add lemon zest, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano. Stir to combine.
- Drizzle drumsticks with olive oil. Pour spices over drumsticks and toss to coat.
- Place drumsticks on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (time depends on the size of your drumsticks).
- Lemon zest, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder can be substituted with about 1.5 tablespoons of lemon pepper seasoning if desired. Ingredients and flavor intensity can vary brand to brand, use your best judgement.
- Drumsticks can be substituted with bone-in chicken thighs if desired (baking time may increase slightly).