This Lemon Pepper Chicken takes only 40 minutes to make from start to finish (including baking time!). It's a perfect recipe for a busy weeknight that a whole family will love. Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are seasoned with lemon-pepper seasoning, baked to perfection, and served with the delicious Creamy Garlic-Lemon Sauce.
Lemon Pepper Chicken
Lemon Pepper Chicken is a simple weeknight meal that uses basic ingredients and takes only 40 minutes. The skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are coated with lemon pepper seasoning and flour, and then pan-seared until golden brown. Next, the chicken is baked in the oven to perfection. For a final touch, serve the lemon pepper chicken together with creamy Parmesan sauce. This restaurant-quality dinner might become your new favorite chicken dinner that both kids and adults will love!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Lemon pepper chicken is a comfort food meal that combines protein (chicken) with delicious creamy sauce.
- It's quick and easy and comes together in just 40 minutes!
- This delicious recipe looks fancy on a plate - perfect for an everyday dinner and also for entertaining company.
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- Make it from scratch. Lemon pepper seasoning is super easy to make! Just combine finely diced lemon peel, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
- Use store-bought seasoning. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought lemon pepper seasoning and save yourself some time.
How to make lemon pepper chicken
1) Mix 3 teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning with flour. Pat the tops (skin side) of chicken thighs with this seasoning mixture.
2) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on high-medium heat in a large skillet.
3) Add chicken thighs skin side down and cook for about 4 minutes on high-medium heat until browned, uncovered.
4) Sprinkle the other side of the chicken with 1 teaspoon more lemon pepper seasoning.
5) Flip the chicken thighs over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. The skin side of chicken thighs should be nicely browned like this:
6) Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.
7) Place chicken thighs skin side up (crispy side up) on the baking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked, the juices run clear and the chicken is no longer pink in the center:
8) In the meantime, while the chicken is baking, make the sauce with garlic, chicken stock, heavy cream, lemon pepper seasoning, and shredded cheese (Parmesan, Mozzarella, or both).
9) Add 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and top with chopped green onions:
10) Add cooked lemon pepper chicken thighs to the skillet on top of the sauce.
11) Top with chopped parsley and decorate with a few slices of lemon:
- You can use shredded Mozzarella cheese in place of shredded Parmesan cheese.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free flour.
- You can use chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken thighs. Just be sure to watch the baking times - depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs, the baking time might have to be reduced.
Recipe tips and recommendations
- To save time, while the chicken bakes, make the cream sauce. This way, the whole recipe will take only 40 minutes from start to finish, including a baking time of 20 minutes.
- Tips for making the creamy sauce. To make the cream sauce, bring all the liquids (chicken broth and heavy cream) to a brief boil, and add shredded Parmesan cheese. Immediately, reduce the heat to simmer and continue stirring the sauce on low simmer heat until all the cheese is completely melted and the creamy sauce forms.
What to serve with lemon pepper chicken
- Greens. Cook some spinach, or other greens, such as Swiss chard, or kale. Here is a recipe for a simple sautéed spinach - you can cook pretty much any leaves using this recipe.
- Green beans. Simple cooked green beans will do. If you want something a bit more interesting, try bacon and garlic green beans, sautéed in olive oil and butter in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Potatoes: Serve mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes, or try this refreshing cilantro-lime potato salad.
- Rice: Serve rice pilaf or any kind of flavored rice that you can buy in the store in a package. You can also serve this with wild rice, delicious with this lemon pepper chicken.
More chicken recipes you might like
If you like chicken thighs in a creamy sauce, here are more recipes in a similar style:
- Chicken Thighs with Creamy Bacon Mushroom Thyme Sauce- high-fat, low-carb, gluten-free chicken recipe. Fantastic for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs!
- Pan-fried chicken thighs in a creamy bacon sauce with a touch of lemon.
- Skillet Chicken Thighs with Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Sauce - made with boneless skinless chicken thighs.
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Creamy Garlic-Lemon Sauce
Lemon Pepper Chicken:
- 6 chicken thighs , skin-on, bone-in
- 4 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning , divided
- ¼ cup flour (use gluten free flour for gluten free version)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 5 garlic cloves , minced
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Parmesan , shredded
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice , freshly squeezed
- 3 green onions , chopped (use only green parts)
- freshly parsley chopped
- lemon slices
Lemon Pepper Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Mix 3 teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning with flour. Pat the tops (skin side) of chicken thighs with this seasoning mixture.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on high-medium heat in a large skillet.
- Add chicken thighs skin side down and cook for about 4 minutes on high-medium heat until browned, uncovered. Sprinkle the other side of chicken with 1 teaspoon more of lemon pepper seasoning.
- Flip the chicken thighs over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove from heat.
- Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chicken thighs skin side up (crispy side up) on the baking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked, the juices run clear and the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
- In the meantime, while the chicken is baking, make the sauce. Thoroughly clean and dry the skillet you used for cooking chicken thighs.
- Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and ½ tablespoon butter on medium heat in this cleaned skillet.
- Add minced garlic and cook, constantly stirring, for about 30 seconds.
- Add chicken stock and 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning to the skillet and bring to boil.
- Add heavy cream and bring to boil.
- Add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Reduce heat to simmer and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir in. Top with chopped green onions (chop up only green portion of green onions and don't use white portion). Keep the sauce covered.
- The lemon pepper chicken should be cooked by now. Check it for doneness and if chicken is completely cooked through, add it to the skillet on top of the sauce and on top of green onions.
- Top with chopped parsley and decorate with a few slices of lemon.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
The recipe was originally published on January 6, 2016 and republished with cooking tips and updates in June 2018.
My sauce never thickened despite following the recipe to a T. Unfortunately couldn’t find my cornstarch to make a slurry. Made it a much less enjoyable half meal-half soup disaster. And, for the record, I pride myself on being a very good home chef. Not sure what went wrong but I’m disappointed.
Made it for my hb, we both loved it!
Mandy, I am glad this recipe was a success!
Can I use chicken breasts instead of the thighs
Patti, if using bone-in chicken breasts, proceed with the recipe as is, without any changes.
If using skinless, boneless chicken breasts, then you don't even need to turn on the oven. Just cook the chicken breasts until they are completely cooked through on the stovetop, in the skillet.
Curious if coconut milk would substitute ok in this recipe?
I think it would work great here!
[I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. I made spinach and couscous with it. The two side dishes paired very well with it. I will definitely be making this again in the future.
Janice, I am glad you liked this recipe and glad you stopped by and left this wonderful and positive comment! Love your choice of side dishes: spinach and couscous!
can you make this with chicken legs and if so how to cook in the oven
Cindy, I think this should work really well with chicken legs. You will probably need a bigger pan. I think the recipe and the cooking times would be quite similar to chicken thighs. It depends on the size of the chicken legs. If they are really large, just bake them longer until the juices run clear, and they are completely cooked through.
Is it possible to use milk and cornstarch for this instead of cream?
Absolutely! Milk + cornstarch is an excellent substitution for cream.
This was a great recipe! I loved the bitterness the parm lent to the light cream sauce. I put fresh park in and on lots of dishes. I used epicure lemon pepper seasoning and it was great! Wasn’t too salty at all. Nice lightly balanced dish! I served with the option of white rice cooked in chicken broth or red roasted potatoes with side garden salad.
Lisa, thank you for the wonderful feedback! Thank you for taking the time to write such a helpful comment. Love your side dishes!
My cheese clumped and its a big gloppy mess. I followed the directions EXACTLY. What did I do wrong?
Katie, here are some troubleshooting tips.
Next time, try using 2/3 cup heavy cream and add it first (do not add chicken stock). Make the sauce by adding cheese and the rest of the ingredients. In the end, thin out the sauce by gradually adding chicken stock (you don't have to use it all). Sometimes, the sauce will curdle when there is not enough fat in the sauce.
Make sure the cheese is at room temperature. Before you start making the recipe, take the amount you need out of the fridge and set it out on the counter to warm up. Or, you might have to microwave it briefly (without, obviously, melting it in the microwave). Just bring the cheese to room temperature before adding it to the sauce. I would buy a block of cheese and grate/shred it myself. Do not use the pre-shredded kind.
Bring the sauce to a stable simmer (but not boil) - mix the sauce ingredients on a low simmer, slowly, and patiently. Do not boil the sauce - just simmer.
I hope this will help resolve the issue. Enjoy!
Nice taste but even after 15 min cooking cheese didn’t melt(( I followed the recipe and don’t understand what I did wrong
If the cheese did not melt in the sauce, it might mean that the pan was not hot enough and the sauce was not hot enough to melt the cheese. I would bring the sauce to a quick boil, then reduce to a low or a medium simmer and keep stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce acquires a nice, creamy texture.
My cheese didn’t melt either. I made sure my cream and broth was boiling and I spread the cheese throughout rather than dumping it in a clump.
So sorry to hear about that. In addition to making sure the sauce is boiling on medium when you add the cheese, I would suggest the following:
1) Use freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese that you grate yourself from a block of cheese.
2) Bring the grated/shredded Parmesan cheese to room temperature before adding it to the sauce. This might mean that you might have to heat it for 15 seconds in the microwave oven to soften it (not melt it).
The recipe is great but the ads and this video (pumpin pancakes) hovering over the screen that i cant close makes the reading experience awful. I just want to go to the recipe and not have to go through all the other stuff.