Did you purchase an expensive rack of lamb and you’re afraid of destroying it by cooking it incorrectly? Well don’t fret, you have reached the right place. In this post, I will teach you how to cook a flavorful and tender rack of lamb in the oven or on the grill with a very simple cooking technique. It truly is an easy method and literally takes no time to do. I have also provided my recipe for my simple mint and garlic sauce that you can use on your lamb in lieu of mint jelly.
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What is a Rack of Lamb and how should you purchase it?
A rack of lamb refers to the rib cut of meat from a lamb. It usually comes with 8 to 9 ribs on the rack. When you purchase your rack, you want to make sure that your butcher has already “Frenched” the bone so that you don’t have to do it. Frenching the bones, refer to cutting off the excess meat at the end of the bone so that you can easily grab each rib. Frenching your lamb also elevates it’s appearance and gives you more of a restaurant vibe.
A few things to keep in mind when it’s time when purchasing a rack of lamb:
- It is hard to find a rack of lamb when it’s not around holiday time. While you may be able to find it throughout the year at some places, I have found that I usually can purchase a rack at Whole Foods and they are usually already frenched.
- Try to find a rack with larger bones. The bones can easily burn when they are too thin, especially on the grill. Yes, you can cover them with foil to help prevent this, but you can also put the odds more in your favor by selecting a rack with larger bones.
- When you slice into your rack, each rib is pretty small. In my family everyone eats about 3-4 ribs each, so I like to purchase two racks at a time.
What type of equipment do you need when cooking a rack of lamb in the oven or on the grill?
- Pans: All you need is a large cast iron skillet when cooking your lamb. I love to use my Two Handle Staub Fry Pan (aka paella pan) when cooking my rack of lamb in both the oven and on the grill. It’s large enough to hold two racks of lamb and its two handles make it so easy to transfer from stove to oven.
- Food Processor: You will need a medium food processor to make your mint sauce. You can also use it to prepare your marinade.
- Chef’s Knife : I typically use my everyday Henckels Chef Knife to cut my garlic and herbs for this dish. I also love using it to easily slice through each rib. Using the proper knife to cut your meat allows the juices to stay in meat much more than cutting with a dull knife.
How to cook a rack of lamb in the oven or the grill
- Step 1: Start by cleaning your rack of lamb. I like to clean my meat by wiping off access blood or grit from the bone under cold water. You can also do this by using white vinegar and water. After you clean your meat, pat off any excess water with a paper towel. Also remember to immediately disinfect your sink after cleaning off your meat.
- Step 2: Next you want to prepare your marinade. My marinade is simple and classic. You only need to use rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yes, you can try so many different types of herbs and spices with your lamb, but the ingredients that I have listed are tried and true, they will not let you down. (Note that you can wait to put salt on your rack of lamb just before cooking to ensure that the salt doesn’t dry out your meat, however, I always add my salt to the marinade and have yet to dry out the meat. I prefer to add it to the marinade to get all of the flavor that I will need.)
- Step 3: Marinate your rack of lamb for at least 30 minutes if possible. In the best scenario, I like to marinate mine over night. Make sure that you rub in your marinade on both sides of the rack. Scoring the fat on your rack is not necessary, but it does not hurt. I place my racks of lamb in large storage bags, but if I’m going to marinate and then freeze for a later date, then I just use my Fresh and Save Vacuum Sealer.
- Step 4: Prepare to cook. If you are cooking your rack of lamb on the stove or on the grill, you will essentially be doing the same steps just in different places.
- Heat your skillet over medium high heat on the stove, or 400 degrees on your grill. You can use your favorite cooking oil, but I usually use grape seed oil or olive oil. If you are planning on cooking your lamb in the oven, then now is the time to pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- If you have thin bones on your rack, you can cover them with foil to help prevent burning.
- Make sure your Staub Two Handle Skillet is nice and hot before placing your rack of lamb in it. You want to hear a sear when you lay down the meat.
- Step 5: Cooking your Lamb Rack. Lay down your rack, fat side down. Let it sear for about 5 minutes. You want to try to leave it alone and not move it, only checking once or twice to make sure you do not burn the fat. You are looking for a bit of caramelization and char on the fat. You will have a bit more char when searing on the grill and that is ok. The char is what makes the lamb so delicious in my opinion. After you are done searing, flip the rack and either put in the oven or lower the heat on your grill to 375 degrees until the cooking is complete.
- Step 6: Allow your rack of lamb to rest for about 10 minutes. If you cut into it too soon then you may lose excess juice and dry out your meat. When slicing each rib, make sure you use a sharp chef or carving knife. You can enjoy your lamb with the easy mint and garlic sauce that I have listed below, or you can use mint jelly.
Cooking Temperature for Lamb
When it comes to lamb, I have often heard that the more rare, the better. That is honestly a matter of opinion. I personally like my lamb well done, but my husband Harvey enjoys his medium rare. Here are the cooking temperatures to help you NOT overcook your precious meat:
- Rare 135 degrees F
- Medium Rare 140-150 degrees F
- Medium 160 degrees F
- Well Done 165+ degrees F
Have you tried this recipe?
If you have tried this recipe, please take a moment to rate it 5 stars below. Also, please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on this recipe. You can also stay in touch with me on Instagram (that’s where I hang out the most). Tag me @RosalynnDaniels or #RosalynnDaniels if you post a photo of your dish, and I will share with my audience through Instastories.Print
1 Rack of Lamb with 8 to 9 ribs
1tbs Rosemary (You can use dried rosemary that has been grinded or fresh rosemary that has been finely chopped.)
1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic minced
2tsp Coarse Salt (or salt to taste)
1tsp Coarse Black Pepper (or pepper to taste)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil of choice over medium-high heat.
When your skillet is nice and hot, place your rack of lamb on the skillet, fat side down.
Sear your lamb for about 5 minutes or until your begin to see your desired crust and caramelization forming on the fat, then flip your rack.
Place your skillet in the oven and roast until your lamb reaches at least 160 degrees for medium.
Let your rack of lamb sit for about 10 minutes before cutting so that as much juice as possible stays in the lamb.
Slice and garnish with mint and garlic sauce.
How to make Mint and Garlic Sauce for lamb
When eating my lamb, I love to either eat it with my easy Mint and Garlic Sauce or with a simple Mint Jelly. My Mint and Garlic sauce is so easy to make, and it honestly taste delicious with so many other dishes. You just want to blend fresh mint, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor. Add your salt in one teaspoon increments to make sure you don’t add too much. Taste after you are done blending and it has reached a sauce-like consistency. If it’s too thick, just add a bit more olive oil. Feel free to add or reduce any of the ingredients so that it can fit your preferred flavor profile.Print
1 handful of Fresh Mint
1 handful of Fresh Parsley
1 Lemon (juiced)
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
In a food processor, blend all ingredients until finely chopped and forms a sauce.
If it is too thick, add more olive oil.
Add salt to the processor in 1 tsp increment until you reach your desired level of salt.
If you enjoy this recipe, then you may also enjoy my Beef Shank Osso Bucco. It’s another recipe that I love to make in my other favorite cookware, the Staub Dutch Oven. It’s perfect for the holidays and always leaves a wow-factor.