Hot Honey Lemon Pepper Wings are baked at high heat for 45 minutes rendering the excess fat, giving you the crispiest, lemony, sweet and spicy wings. They are covered in a lemon black pepper dry rub, baked, and drizzled in a hot honey sauce made with Franks Red Hot, butter, and honey.
If you’ve had hot honey lemon pepper wings at a place like Buffalo Wild Wings, or seen it on the menu and wanted to try it, you can be absolutely sure that these are better. I had them recently at Buffalo Wild Wings. I was in the middle of working on this recipe (I couldn’t resist the temptation to try them and compare to homemade), and the restaurant version is not nearly as crispy and fresh as homemade.
This hot honey lemon pepper wings recipe does require you to plan a little bit ahead, however. You'll need to prep the chicken wings the night before with the lemon zest and black pepper dry rub and baking powder. The baking powder helps make it crispy. The great thing though, is it only takes 10 minutes of prep. It makes dinner (or if making for an appetizer) super easy the next day.
Choosing Chicken Wings
When buying chicken wings, look for wings that appear to have a large amount of meat on the bone. Otherwise, you’ll put in all the work to make chicken wings but will have very little to actually eat.
Also, when buying wings at the store check to make sure that the drumettes are separated from the middle flat segment. This will simplify the work that you need to do in the kitchen.
I have found good, high quality, meaty wings at a regular grocery store. While I absolutely love Trade Joes, they have did not have the best wings in my experience. They are not meaty enough. They also don't separate the drumette from the middle flat segment or the wing tip (which does not have enough meat and usually gets discarded).
Baking vs. Frying
If you bake the chicken wings at a high temperature (450℉) for a long time (45 minutes) you will render off the excess fat. This creates extra crispy wings. Just be sure to buy meaty wings, not skimpy ones. This is quite a bit different than frying, where the cooking time is relatively short and the excess fat is left on the wings.
This may of course be just what you’re looking for – fried fatty wings. But I really love and prefer these crispy wings without the excess fat. You get all the satisfaction of the crispy savoriness, but without the extra greasiness.
Baking also spares you from using (and buying) the frying oil, and is a healthier alternative to frying.
There are two ways you can create a lemon pepper dry rub. My preference is to use the zest of a lemon and freshly cracked black pepper. You’ll get a brighter lemon flavor, but you’re also eliminating any extra processed ingredients. Sometimes spice mixes include anti-caking agents or preservatives that you don’t need to worry about if you’re using lemon zest from a fresh lemon or freshly cracked black peppercorns.
However, if you would like to make this recipe easier and quicker, you can always pick up lemon pepper spice in the spice section at a regular grocery store or super Target. Use 1 tsp lemon pepper instead of the zest and black pepper. This just eliminates the step of zesting a lemon, which doesn’t take too long, but I totally get the need to streamline/simplify.
Also, if you love lemon, you can certainly add the zest of an additional lemon, or extra lemon pepper. Feel free to adjust spice level to taste preferences.
Hot Honey Sauce
Buffalo wings or chicken wings are classically coated in a Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, usually with a whole lot of butter too. To not stray too far from a classic, I use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce here (easy to find at the store, and easy to put together the sauce). A great resource for all things Buffalo Wings is The Buffalo New York Cookbook by Arthur Bovino, where he discusses frying, baking, the origin of buffalo wings, and the story behind Franks Red Hot.
This hot honey sauce calls for 2 tbsp Franks Red Hot, 1 tbsp butter, and 1 tbsp honey. I’ve made this with a higher proportion of butter. But it thinned out the sauce and diluted the other flavors. Since this is a hot honey sauce, I really want to taste the “hot” and the honey. So I kept the proportion of butter low and the hot sauce and honey proportionately high.
To keep it simple don’t worry about combining these in a sauce pan, just stick them in a microwavable bowl and microwave until the butter is melty, the honey softens, and it’s easy to stir together.
Hot Honey Lemon Pepper Wings Serving Suggestions
- Classic: Serve with ranch or blue cheese along with crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery.
- For Dinner: Make these with brown rice and lightly sautéed peppers. It’ll turn chicken wings into a well-rounded dinner, especially when served with an easy salad.
If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment down below or tag a photo on instagram! Your feedback means a lot.
If you're interested in other dinner recipes you might enjoy these:
Crispy Hot Honey Chicken: Tenderized chicken pan fried in panko and served with a simple hot honey sauce with crushed red pepper.
Grandma Pie Pizza: A sheet pan pizza with a thick pillowy crust that is great and easy for a get-together.
Crispy Cheesesteak Wraps: Shaved steak and sautéed peppers and onions folded into a crispy tortilla with melty muenster cheese.
Hot Honey Lemon Pepper Wings
Lemon Pepper Wings
- 2 lbs chicken wings (choose meaty ones)
- zest of 1 lemon ** see note above about lemon pepper substitute
- ½ tsp black pepper (~ 20 cranks fresh cracked pepper)
- 3 tsp baking powder
Hot Honey Sauce
- 2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- Place the chicken wings in a large mixing bowl add the lemon zest, black pepper (or substitute lemon pepper for lemon zest and black pepper) and baking powder. Mix to combine. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- The following day, preheat the oven to 450℉.
- Place the wings in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Using tongs or a thin, stiff spatula scrape and flip over each of the wings. Bake for another 15 minutes. Flip the wings again, then bake for a final 15 minutes, for a total baking time of 45 minutes.
- While the wings are baking in the oven, prepare the sauce. Place the Franks Red Hot, butter and honey in a small-medium sized microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter is melted. Stir to combine.
- When the wings are out of the oven, place them in a large bowl. Drizzle with sauce and toss to coat the wings evenly. Or serve plain with the sauce on the side for dipping. Serve while hot.