Smoked Lemon Pepper Wings

5 from 1 vote
5 from 1 vote

These easy smoked lemon pepper wings blend tangy, crispy, and smoky in one perfect barbecue dish.

smoked lemon pepper chicken wings

Chicken wings are one of the best bites going, with their crispy skin, juicy meat, and plenty of flavor from added sauces and rubs. And if we’re talking flavors, lemon pepper consistently emerges as a crowd favorite. It might not sound as exciting as the spicy melt-your-face-off alternatives but the smoky aroma, charred edges, and burst of tangy lemon will always have you reaching back for more.

These wings are perfect both as a game-day snack and as a platter centerpiece. However you serve them, they are sure to impress. Add a touch of citrusy flair to your next cookout with these smoked lemon pepper wings—they’re guaranteed to elevate your barbecue game.

smoked lemon pepper chicken wings

Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings Explained

A BBQ spin on a Miami and Atlanta classic, smoked lemon pepper wings are slow-smoked chicken wings coated in a homemade seasoning made of lemon zest, salt, and black pepper. They deliver an incredible blend of citrusy tang, peppery heat, and, of course, smoke.

Our recipe for the best lemon pepper wings involves smoking them low and slow before raising the temperature to brown the skin and basting them with butter. The smoky flavor imbued into the chicken wings as they cook and the charred pieces of skin create the perfect balance when paired with the dry rub.  

As with all food greats, there’s debate on where lemon pepper chicken wings find their origin. Miami and Atlanta both lay claim to the moreish dish and cite the same reason for its invention—that lemon pepper spice was doused on buffalo wings to dial down the heat. 

Whoever created the wings, Atlanta’s the city that’s taken the concept and run with it, making the delectable bites one of their most famous flavors. Former Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms went as far as to say that “Lemon pepper wings are Atlanta”.

Lemon Pepper Rub

homemade lemon pepper seasoning

The lemon pepper rub that creates these flavorful wings is as simple as it sounds. The tangy flavor of lemon is brought to the forefront when zest is mixed with salt and cracked black pepper—the ideal blend of spicy, salty, and sour.

Some recipes include additions like garlic and onion powder, but we like to keep ours simple and let the hero ingredients sing. Another brilliant thing about keeping them easy? You’ll almost always have the ingredients you need right at home. 

We like to finish the wings off by basting them with lemon and black pepper butter as they enjoy their final crisping. This keeps the meat juicy and imparts an extra kick of flavor. 

smoked lemon pepper chicken wings

Quick Tips

  • Proper Prep: Be sure to pat the wings well with a paper towel before seasoning. This will remove excess moisture to help the rub adhere better and crisp the skin.
  • Give the Wings Time to Marinate: This step isn’t necessary, and you can certainly season the wings shortly before smoking, but marinating them in the lemon pepper rub ahead of time will give a greater depth of flavor.
  • Leave Plenty of Space: Leave enough room between the wings in the smoker to ensure an even cook.
  • Baste with Butter: Add a little extra juiciness and flavor by finishing the smoked wings with a brush of lemon black pepper butter as you grill them for a final browning.
  • Choose Your Favorite Dip: We love these wings just as they are but you can also serve them with your favorite dipping sauce to mix things up – we love ranch and buffalo with this recipe.
smoked lemon pepper chicken wings
smoked lemon pepper chicken wings

Smoked Lemon Pepper Wings

5 from 1 vote
These easy smoked lemon pepper wings blend tangy, crispy, and smoky in one perfect barbecue dish. Made with a simple homemade lemon pepper seasoning and glazed with lemon butter, these are unlike any other BBQ wing you've had before.
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Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Servings: 4


  • 2 lbs chicken wings

Lemon Black Pepper Seasoning

  • 6 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tsp salt

Lemon Black Pepper Butter

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon black pepper seasoning


  • Preheat the oven to 200ºF (95ºC) and arrange the lemon zest on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until dried out and easy to crumble.
  • Add the dried lemon zest to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar with the black pepper and salt and work until thoroughly combined. Keep 3 tbsp to season the chicken, 1 tsp to add to the butter, and store any remaining rub in an airtight container for future use.
  • Preheat the smoker to 250ºF (120ºC)
  • Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel and season with 3 tbsp of lemon and black pepper rub. Use your hands to ensure the wings are thoroughly coated.
  • Place wings in the smoker (leaving space between them) and smoke for 1-1 ½ hours, or until the internal temperature reads 165ºF (75ºC).
  • While the wings are cooking, in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter with the lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning to create the lemon black pepper butter. Set aside.
  • Increase the smoker temperature to 350ºF (175ºC) and cook the wings over direct heat for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway. While the wings cook, baste them with the lemon black pepper butter
  • Once the wings are crisp and cooked through, remove from the smoker and serve

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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