Lemon pepper is a popular and versatile seasoning blend. The best-known applications involve using it on poultry and fish; however, it can be used on beef and vegetables as well. This blend is useful enough to keep in your spice cabinet at all times. What should you do if you run out or can’t find any in the local grocery store? There are several effective lemon pepper substitutes that you may have on hand.
Your best bet: DIY lemon pepper blend
Lemon pepper is a fairly simple spice blend that contains lemon zest and ground black peppercorns primarily, but that may also contain other seasonings. You can make a simple version by combining dried lemon zest with black pepper. You also have the option of adding other spices like salt, garlic or celery seed to create a blend with a fuller flavor.
To make your own basic lemon pepper seasoning, combine 1/2 teaspoon of dried lemon zest with a 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add other spices to taste. Use your blend exactly as you would use pre-made lemon pepper.
A decent second choice: Lemon thyme
While lemon pepper refers to lemon zest combined with pepper, lemon thyme is actually a type of thyme that naturally has the lemon flavor. As its name indicates, lemon thyme offers a strong lemon flavor that does an excellent job of standing in for the lemon zest component of lemon pepper. In addition to the citrus notes of lemon thyme, it also provides an herbal flavor that can provide a savory contrast to the citrus flavor and replace the pepper element of lemon pepper. You can also combine lemon thyme with black pepper to get an even closer approximation of lemon pepper.
To replace lemon pepper with lemon thyme, use twice the amount of lemon thyme that your recipe requires for lemon pepper. Use it in exactly the same way that you would use lemon pepper.
In a pinch: Shichimi togarashi
Also known as Japanese seven spice blend, shichimi togarashi contains a variety of spices and is used to flavor various braised and grilled Japanese dishes. Among the of the ingredients that stand out in its flavor profile are Szechuan peppercorns and orange peel. The inclusion of citrus peel and Szechuan pepper allows it to stand in for lemon pepper in most applications. The other flavors in shichimi togarashi make it a closer approximation of many lemon pepper blends that contain more seasonings than just lemon and pepper.
Use the same amount of shichimi togarashi that your recipe requires for lemon pepper.
Lemon extract (natural or artificial) and black pepper can provide the flavor notes that you want from lemon pepper. Some pre-made lemon pepper blends include artificial lemon flavor to enhance the lemon flavor. If you are trying to replicate the flavor of one of these blends, this might actually be one of the better substitutions.
Lemon curry powder: Most lemon curry powder blends consist of regular curry powder with powdered lemon juice and dried lemon zest added. Curry powder blends also typically have black peppercorns among their ingredients. Lemon curry powder will provide the lemon and pepper notes along with the flavor of the different curry spices. Note that because lemon curry powder contains turmeric, it will give a bright yellow color to the dishes in which it is used.