This Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken is such a simple recipe, but tastes so amazing! It's a great way to uses pantry ingredients in a new way for a quick dinner or appetizer.
Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken bites are a recipe that I came up with using typical Brazilian ingredients from my pantry. It's super simple for a weeknight dinner or a perfect appetizer for a party or game day. It requires only 15 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes cooking time. But, the flavor is wonderfully complex with sweet, sour, salty, and savory.
This delicious recipe starts with lemon pepper for a peppery, citrus, tangy flavor. Usually, lemon pepper is used as a dry rub, but not here! Then honey brings delightful sweetness and makes it a bit of a sticky sauce. Garlic gives the aromatic backdrop.
Finally, I used Dendê Oil, a traditional oil in Brazil which brings the beautiful yellow-orange color and unique flavor (read about this in the yellow box below). You can use Olive oil instead.
- What is Dendê Oil ~ Azeite de dendê?
- Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
- Tips for this Recipe
- How to Make this Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken
- Variations on this Lemon Pepper Honey Chicken
- Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken FAQs
- What to Serve with this Chicken Recipe
- More Easy Chicken Recipes!
- Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken
What is Dendê Oil ~ Azeite de dendê?
Dendê Oil, or Azeite de dendê, is a traditional ingredient in Bahian and African-Brazilian cuisines. Dendê oil is sometimes referred to as Palm oil, but it isn't the same palm oil that you can buy in US grocery stores. The difference is that Dendê oil is extracted from a palm nut/fruit found in northeastern Brazil, called Costa do Dendê (Dende Coast). The nut or fruit's burnt-orange flesh and orange-red colored skin give the oil it's unique orange color. Regular palm oil is generally made from the seed of the coconut. You can find Dendê Oil in traditional recipes, like Coconut Shrimp Stew ~ Moqueca de Camarão.
Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
Quick note! This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them. This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).
Here are the simple ingredients for this fast recipe.
- Chicken Breasts, boneless skinless - I used Skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but boneless, skinless chicken thighs will work great in this recipe.
- Honey – Honey brings natural sweetness. You can substitute the same quantity of white granulated sugar or even brown sugar. There are other sweeteners, such as maple syrup, pineapple juice or orange juice that bring in even more flavor and work well too.
- Dendê Oil or Olive Oil - You can buy Dendê Oil, Azeite de dendê, online and is the oil that will give you a distinct deeper flavor and orange color. See the above Yellow Box for more on this unique oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, or avocado oil are all great substitutes.
- Garlic cloves - Fresh garlic gives the best results. You can buy pre-minced garlic to save time or mince it in bulk and freeze it for use when you need it! You can also substitute in dried garlic flakes or garlic powder.
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning - You can use your favorite blend or brand of Lemon Pepper, but I like ones with low salt content so that I can control the salt. You can also make your own with freshly ground black pepper and lemon zest.
- Fresh Cilantro leaves - If you don't have fresh, you can use dried cilantro along with fresh parsley. You could also substitute fresh basil.
See recipe card for quantities.
Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
You will need a glass bowl or dish with cover or an airtight bag for marinating the chicken.
You also need a large skillet or large frying pan for cooking the chicken. My 12″ Ceramic Pan was perfect for this recipe.
Mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.
Tips for this Recipe
My top tip is to use this marinade for lots of things! Shrimp, steak bites, pork tenderloin, pork chops, potatoes, carrots, the list goes on!
My other tip is to make an extra batch of this marinated chicken and freeze it raw in an airtight container. It will last for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and then follow the cooking instructions. You get two meals out of one recipe!
How to Make this Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken
Cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces. Pat them down with paper towel.
In a storage bag or container, mix the honey, water, minced garlic, and lemon pepper.
Once the marinade is mixed, add the raw chicken breasts and toss to coat.
You can marinate the chicken for 1 hour up to 24 hours.
Preheat a skillet on high and add Olive Oil.
Add the chicken breasts to the hot skillet in a single layer so that each piece gets browned. Sear for 2-3 minutes.
Then flip the chicken and cook for another 2-3 minutes until no longer pink in the center and golden brown.
That's it! Serve with rice, pasta, potatoes, or just enjoy.
Variations on this Lemon Pepper Honey Chicken
Here are some ways to use this recipe over and over in new ways!
- Spicy - Brazilian food is not usually spicy, but I love me some spice, so how about a Hot Honey sauce? Feel free to add in red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or minced jalapeno peppers into the marinade!
- Crispy Chicken Wings - For crispy wings, prepare the marinade in a large bowl. Add 1 pound of fresh chicken wings to the bowl and toss with the marinade. Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. Spread the wings out on a baking sheet that is oiled. Bake wings for 30-35 minutes, flipping them halfway through. They are done when the internal temp reaches 165 F degrees and there is a browned crispy skin. Note, you can also follow this chicken wing recipe instructions for delicious chicken thighs.
- Honey Lemon Pepper Shrimp - This is absolutely delicious on shrimp! Just swap the chicken with shrimp. Marinate for no more than an hour and cook for 2 minutes on each side.
- Pasta Sauce - Turn this into a delicious pasta sauce! Double the marinade recipe, then split it in half, using half for the chicken and saving half for the sauce. Follow the recipe instructions, then when the chicken is done cooking, add in the reserved sauce. You can add a ¼ cup broth or half and half or heavy cream to make it even more saucy. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then mix the chicken and sauce with your favorite pasta.
- Vegetarian - Instead of chicken, try using cauliflower florets or button mushrooms.
Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken FAQs
The great thing about this marinade is that it really sticks to the chicken, so you can marinate for 5 minutes or 24 hours. Once the chicken is cut and in the marinade, you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for 2 days.
You can absolutely make this chicken ahead of time, either just in the marinade or cooked. To reheat, you can place in a covered pot on medium-low heat and warm slowly for about 5 minutes. You can reheat it in the microwave, but make sure to only do so for up to a minute at a time as chicken can overcook and get really tough.
You can freeze this marinated chicken raw in an airtight container. It will last for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and then follow the cooking instructions.
Yes, you can cook this honey lemon pepper chicken in the oven vs. on the stove. Follow the recipe instructions for marinating. Then preheat the oven to 375 F degrees. Oil a baking sheet and spread the chicken out into a single layer. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then flip the pieces and bake for another 5 minutes. Make sure there is no longer any pink inside the chicken or the internal temp reaches 165 F degrees.
To make this Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken in the air fryer, prepare the marinade and raw chicken according to the recipe instructions. Preheat the air fryer to 375 F degrees for 5 minutes. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray and arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer. Cook the chicken in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through, until the chicken is golden brown.
What to Serve with this Chicken Recipe
Here are some delicious sides and a dessert to serve with this chicken!
More Easy Chicken Recipes!
Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken
- 3 tablespoon Honey
- 1 tablespoon Water
- 1 tablespoon Dende Oil or Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Minced (1 clove)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- 16 oz Chicken Breasts
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Cilantro for garnish optional
- Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces.
- In a storage bag or storage container, mix together the honey, water, minced garlic, and lemon pepper. Once the marinade is mixed, add the raw chicken breasts and toss to coat.
- You can marinate the chicken for 1 hour up to 8 hours.
- Preheat a skillet on high and add Olive Oil. Add the chicken breasts to the hot skillet. Sear for 2-3 minutes until the the chicken starts to brown. Then flip the chicken and cook for another 2-3 minutes until no longer pink in the center. That's it! Serve with rice, pasta, potatoes, or just enjoy.