Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Wings Recipe

Buffalo wings may have been the variety that put this once-underutilized chicken part on everyone's radar, but now lemon pepper is another favorite flavor that seems to feature on every chicken wing chain's menu. Here, though, recipe developer Joe Dillard isn't sticking to a simple dry rub. Instead, he adds a honey glaze to create what he calls "a flavor-packed dish that highlights a variety of complementary flavors" and packs depth into each bite. So memorable is this chicken that Dillard suggests the recipe for people who want to "take their wings to the next level and serve them as an entree rather than simply a game day appetizer."

These wings owe their flavor not only to honey, black pepper, and lemon, but also to a secret ingredient that Dillard likes to use as a seasoning: citric acid. While you might have to hunt around to source it, he says you might be able to find it where canning equipment is sold (try craft stores if it's not available in your grocery store). While Dillard explains that citric acid "adds a really delightful brightness to the recipe," he does warn you not to be too heavy-handed with it — unless you want super sour wings.

Gather the ingredients for the air fryer lemon pepper wings

The fresh citrus flavor in these wings comes from lemon juice and zest. Dillard notes that each lemon should produce about 1 tablespoon of zest and 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice, though your results may vary based on the size of your fruit. To extract the maximum amount of juice, try microwaving the lemons for 5 seconds and then rolling them on the counter.

You're also going to need chicken wings (both drums and flats), plus some cornstarch to crisp them up and onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and citric acid to give them a seasoned coating. The glaze is as simple as butter, lemon juice, and hot honey, but if you don't want to shell out for that last ingredient, you can easily make your own version of this trendy condiment by infusing plain honey with the dried chilis of your choice. Dillard suggests simmering honey over medium heat with crushed red pepper flakes to taste, such as in our Calabrian chili honey recipe.

Season the wings

After stirring the lemon zest together with the cornstarch and seasonings, sprinkle the mixture over the wings and toss them in a bowl until they are entirely coated with the stuff. Unfortunately, there's no easy (or safe) way to taste the wings for seasoning until you cook them. If you're unsure about the salt, heat, or acidity level, cook up one wing in the air fryer and taste it before moving on with the rest.

Cook the wings

With your air fryer preheated to 400 F, place only a single layer of chicken in the basket for the best crispy texture; if the wings won't all fit without crowding, save the leftovers for another batch. Cook them for about 15 to 18 minutes total, flipping them over halfway through. You're looking for a safe internal temperature of 165 F, as well as nicely browned skin. Repeat this process as necessary until all of the wings are cooked.

Finish the wings off with a honey-lemon glaze

As the wings are merrily air-frying away, you can get started on the glaze. In a saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, and honey, then heat the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook the glaze for 7 to 8 minutes. When it's done, it should be thick enough to coat a spoon.

Toss the cooked wings into the glaze and stir them around until they're fully coated (you can use tongs for this). Dillard advises eating the wings hot and prettying them up with a garnish of parsley or lemon zest if you wish. Uneaten wings can be refrigerated for 4 days and re-heated for 2 to 5 minutes in the air fryer. You can also just eat them straight from the fridge, because who doesn't like cold leftover fried chicken?

Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Wings Recipe
5 from 48 ratings
These lemon pepper chicken wings don't just have a dry rub - they're also coated in a sweet, spicy, citrusy glaze that takes this sticky snack to a new level.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lemon pepper chicken wings
Total time: 30 minutes
  • Zest and juice of 2 medium lemons, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon citric acid
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, separated into drums and flats
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ¾ cup hot honey
  1. Combine the lemon zest, cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, peppercorns, and citric acid in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the wings and toss them until they are until evenly coated.
  3. Preheat the air fryer to 400 F.
  4. Add the wings in a single layer to the air fryer basket, working in batches as necessary.
  5. Cook the wings for 15 to 18 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice, butter, and hot honey in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook the glaze for about 7 to 8 minutes until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Add the cooked wings to the glaze, mixing until they are evenly coated.
  9. Serve the wings warm and garnished with parsley and/or additional lemon zest, if desired.
Calories per Serving 703
Total Fat 34.9 g
Saturated Fat 11.7 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 267.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 59.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Total Sugars 53.3 g
Sodium 799.3 mg
Protein 40.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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