Lemon pepper is a refreshing blend of the peel of real lemons and coarsely ground pepper. It’s a classic spice for grilled or baked fresh fish (chicken or turkey) and gives fresh zing to grilled, roasted or steamed vegetables, salads, salad dressings, and hummus.
Lemon pepper is often considered a tasty alternative to salt, but beware. Not all lemon peppers are alike. There are several brands on the supermarket shelves and some include salt and sugar.

This Spice Is Nice

Spicely Lemon PepperSpicely® Organic Lemon Pepper is a pure product that’s rather herbal with a touch of tang. Best of all, it contains NO added salt, sugar, processed starches, anti-caking agents, or food colorants. This seasoning is a delicious blend of: Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Celery Seed, Organic Dill Seed, and Organic Turmeric.

Spicely also makes an Organic Lemon Peel if you like even more lemon-y zest on your food. Lemons add brightness and acidity to any dish. The lemon peel is granulated and delicious in soups and marinades as well.
Spicely states…

“All imported spices are required to go through a sterilization process before being sold in the United States. Most spice companies sterilize using synthetic chemicals or radiation. Spicely Organics uses a process called steam sterilization, which sterilizes food products without adding any chemicals or hazardous materials.” 

The Not-So-Fit Finds

McCormick Lemon Pepper with Garlic & OnionMcCormick’s California Style Lemon Pepper with Garlic & Onion – Black Pepper, Lemon Peel, Citric Acid*, Salt, Onion, Garlic, Sugar, Maltodextrin**, Lemon Juice Solids, and Natural Flavors.

*Citric Acid is a white crystalline powder produced commercially by using a culture of Aspergillus niger (a fungus) and feeding it simple sugar. Molasses is used primarily for citric acid fermentation since it’s readily available and relatively inexpensive. A. niger uses the glucose as food and produces citric acid and carbon dioxide (C02) as waste products.

NOTE: This is the same fungus that causes a disease called ‘black mold’ on certain fruits and vegetables (e.g., grapes, apricots, onions, and peanuts) and is a common contaminant of food. In foods, citric acid is used as a flavor enhancer, preservative and emulsifier.

**Maltodextrin is a cheap filler or thickener that’s added to processed foods. It’s derived from starch, i.e., carbohydrates, such as corn, wheat, potatoes, or rice. The processed starch turns into a moderately sweet or a flavorless white powder. Maltodextrin is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, in fact, as rapidly as pure glucose. This additive is used in some spice blends as we’ve just learned, but it’s often used in:   

  • Soft drinks
  • Candy
  • Soups
  • Gravies
  • Salad dressings
  • Artificial sweeteners (as a bulking agent)
  • Infant formula (as a thickener)
  • Liquid food replacements
  • Protein powders

Simply Organic Lemon PepperSimply Organic Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Thyme, Organic Rice Concentrate.

Image 5-30-16 at 10.14 PMMcCormick Perfect Pinch® Lemon & Pepper Ingredients: Salt, Black Pepper, Citric Acid, Onion, Sugar, Garlic, Calcium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, and Calcium Silicate (added to make free flowing), Celery Seed, Lemon Oil, and FD&C Yellow 5 Lake.

Penzeys Lemon Pepper  Ingredients: Salt, Special Extra Bold Black Pepper, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Garlic, and Minced Green Onion.

Lawry's Lemon PepperLawry’s Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Black Pepper, Salt, Modified Food Starch***, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Garlic, Onion, Natural Flavor, Riboflavin (for color). Contains no MSG.

***Modified Food Starch is processed from starches, such as wheat, rice, tapioca, potato, and corn and used as a thickening agent, stabilizer or emulsifier. It’s added to foods similarly as is maltodextrin.

Spice Islands Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Black Pepper, SaltModified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Onion, Natural Flavor, and Riboflavin (for color).

Karen’s Fit Tip: The print on the nutritional labels of spices and seasonings is VERY small. So if you have reading glasses, bring them with you to the grocery store in order to accurately read the ingredients! 😀
For roasting vegetables, try adding 1 tablespoon of Spicely Lemon Pepper to 2 cups of raw veggies before cooking.


  1. Hi there! Love your blog! Very informative and easy to navigate. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this information. Although I love spices, I must say I don’t have lemon pepper in my repertoire. The Spicely blend sounds delicious – I appreciate you highlighting the not-so-good choices, too. Would never have suspected MSG in Spice Islands!

    • Last week I stopped to pick up a fresh jar of lemon pepper for our camping trip. I anticipated that we would catch a lot of trout like last year and would use it on our fresh catch. (Only caught 2 small ones by the way, but the lemon pepper tasted great on the fish.)
      I was really disappointed to see how many of the lemon pepper seasonings on the shelf contained so many additives — especially since many of my patients say they replaced salt with lemon pepper. Unless you read the fine print on the label, do you realize what’s actually added to the lemon and the pepper.
      Thank you for your comments and for stopping by, ThriveSensibly! ~All the best, Karen

  2. Thanks for the tip. Not being much of a cook I have never used it, but am interested. Where do you find the Spicely?

    • Safeway has it, but they sell it in the 0.4 oz “Eco Box”. Inside the little box, the lemon pepper is contained in a cellophane bag that is NOT resealable, so it’s not real convenient. I ended up wasting some because it spilled out. According to their website, Spicely spices and seasonings are also sold in small tins or 2 oz. glass spice jars. I’ll keep an eye out.


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