Good news! We’re having Rack of Lamb for dinner tonight! Follow along for my step-by-step photos and get all the details on how to get a perfectly cooked rack of lamb at home, just like you’d order in a fine dining restaurant! I’ve been preparing rack of lamb this way, seared in a hot skillet, then coated with garlic and herbs and roasted in the oven since my days as a personal chef, more than 20 years ago!
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Fine Dining At Home: Perfect Rack of Lamb
There’s nothing more elegant than serving a beautifully roasted rack of lamb for a special occasion like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, a stay-at-home date night or someone’s birthday dinner.
Lamb is expensive and can be intimidating when you are first learning how to cook it. So if you’re splurging on the finest, then you’ll want to make sure you know just what to do before you begin. So today we’ll go over all the details of how to totally nail this culinary technique at home.
Jump Ahead to the following sections to answer your questions about the following:
Buying Lamb Rack
If you are new to buying and preparing rack of lamb at home, follow these instructions at the grocery store or meat market.
- PACKAGING: Lamb racks are the rib roast of the lamb. They can be thought of as the equivalent of the prime rib of beef or rib roast of pork. They are always 8 ribs wide and usually weigh about 1.5 to 2 pounds. They are often wrapped in cryovac or vacuum-sealed plastic packaging in which the lamb is “wet aged.”
- GRASS FED and ORIGIN: Lamb is often available grass-fed, particularly NZ lamb, so be on the lookout for it. It has great flavor and is usually a little less fatty! Naturally raised lamb (particularly from smaller local farms or spring lamb) are often smaller than those that you can find in the grocery store or Costco. Timing will vary- but this technique remains solid no matter if yours is petite or grand!
- FRENCHED: Look for “Frenched” rack of lamb if possible. This is usually a little more expensive per pound than un-trimmed rack of lamb, but there will be much less trim waste. And be aware of the fact that most of what you are discarding will be fat, so it is really not a big price difference per pound after all is said and done.
- Rack of Lamb: Look for a “Frenched” rack of lamb weighing about 2 pounds.
- Garlic: You’ll need two cloves of garlic, minced fine to mix into the herb crust.
- Dijon Mustard: The mustard acts as a glue to coat the seared lamb with the garlic and herbs. If you prefer a more mild taste, you can use brown mustard instead.
- Herbs: Choose a blend of chopped woody herbs such as fresh rosemary and thyme mixed with parsley. Other herbs that are good with lamb are mint, chives and oregano.
- Oil: You’ll need a little high-heat oil to sear the lamb in the skillet. I like avocado oil, but any neutral cooking oil will work (like refined peanut oil or organic grapeseed oil.)
- Salt and Pepper: To season the meat!
VARIATION TO TRY: Instead of fresh garlic and Dijon you can use roasted garlic instead- which is amazingly delicious. If you have time, make our Stovetop Roasted Garlic and use the roasted garlic puree instead of the Dijon, and omit the chopped garlic. This is the way I prepared rack of lamb for my Personal Chef clients, and it always won rave reviews!
How To French a Rack of Lamb
Unless you’re buying your lamb from a fancy butcher shop, what is often labeled as a Frenched Rack of Lamb will sometimes come with excess fat. I like a tidy rack- like a restaurant with a trimmed fat cap, cleaned bones and not a lot of fat between the ribs. You can trim it less if you like more exterior fat cap. This pan roasting technique works perfectly well no matter how much it’s trimmed.
- Remove the rack of lamb from the packaging and pat dry. Lay on work surface (PHOTO A.)
- Shave away the excess exterior fat with a sharp knife (PHOTO B.) Pay particular attention to the fat that is over the rib bones and leave a little fat over the loin muscle.
- Cut in between each rib bone to remove any gristle, meat or fat that connects them (PHOTO C.)
- If desired scrape away any meat from the bone to “clean” them up with the belly of your boning knife.
- Let the rack of lamb slightly come to room temperature as you prep your garlic, herb mixture and preheat the oven. Season with coarse salt and black pepper (PHOTO D) just before searing in the hot skillet.
Pan Roasting lamb is so easy! First, you sear it on the stovetop, and then you finish it in the oven! Easy peasy! For equipment, you’ll need a heavy oven-proof skillet and a meat thermometer. Here are the details:
Step 1: Preheat Oven
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Step 2: Trim Lamb
Meanwhile, using a sharp boning knife, trim the rack of lamb as described above by cutting the excess fat between the rib bones, stopping at the bulk of the lean loin. Cut away excess fat cap, leaving only ¼ inch of fat on the outside edge of the lamb. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the lamb.
PRO TIP: Some butchers will add frilly paper caps which you can use for presentation to cover up the rib bones which have browned too much. You can instead keep the bones white by using aluminum foil, and crimping it over the ends of each rib. Remove after the rack of lamb is roasted.
Step 3: Make Garlic Herb Mixture
Stir garlic and herbs in a small dish. Feel free to do this ahead if you like. Just keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Step 4: Pan Sear Presentation Side
Heat the oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the lamb, fat side down, and let it sear until the meat is browned. This searing step takes about 3 to 4 minutes. This will make a lot of smoke, so turn your fume hood on high.
PRO TIP: As we discussed in our Pan Seared Salmon, it is necessary to sear the presentation side first. Placing the meaty side into the hot skillet first ensures the best contact with the oil in the hot pan, and maximizes any browning.
Step 5: Add Garlic Herb Crust
Flip the rack over, and then spread the mustard over the seared meat. (If you are doing the roast garlic variation of this rack of lamb recipe, spread that over it instead.) Then pat the garlic and herb mixture over the mustard (or simply the herbs if using the roasted garlic as your under layer.)
Step 6: Roast
As soon as the herbs are added, immediately transfer the whole skillet into the oven and set your timer. It takes roughly 20 to 26 minutes for the rack to reach medium rare, and the cooking time will vary depending on factors including how large it is and how long you seared it. Use a high-quality digital thermometer and check in several spots. Use the lowest temp as your guide.
|Degree of Doneness
|20 to 26 minutes
|135 to 139
|26 to 30
|140 to 145
|Medium Well to Well
|31 to 35
|145 to 154
Step 7: Rest and Cut into Chops
TIP FOR ENTERTAINING: If it will be resting longer than 10 minutes, place a clean bath towel over the foil to help hold in the heat. This is a trick pit masters use for keeping the heat in while resting their barbecue and it is a handy trick for entertaining too!
When you are ready to cut the rack into chops, remove the foil from the ends of the bones if you used it and use a sharp carving knife to slice between the bones. Cut between the ribs to create lamb chops about 3/4-inch thick each.
Take note that one end of the rack is slightly more narrow than the other, so I like to start cutting from that end first. Cutting the smaller end first helps prevent the smaller chops from getting sliced too thin. Once it is cut into chops, serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many servings is one rack of lamb?
A rack of lamb has eight chops, which serves four people (2 chops each.)
Can this recipe be doubled?
Yes indeed you can prepare two racks of lamb at the same time (for 8 servings.) Use a very large skillet, and roast lamb racks side by side or use two skillets on separate burners.
Can you marinate rack of lamb for roasting?
Yes, try our Favorite Garlic Marinade for 12 hours. Drain well and discard the used marinade. Then pat dry with paper towels. Sear as directed in step 4 and continue with the recipe.
What’s the best oven temp for a roast lamb rack?
Use a hot oven for roasting bone-in meat. 450 degrees F is best. It helps brown the outside of the meat and gives the lamb delicious flavor and browned crust. A cooler oven can result in the lamb having a gray color or weep juices which can make the lamb chops rubbery.
Do I have to remove silver skin from rack of lamb?
Once you trim away the fat cap, you may notice that there is a small amount of silver skin on the exterior of the loin muscle that disappears underneath the muscle layers. You can trim it like Chef Brit does in this reverse seared rack of lamb video, but note that it’s easy to get carried away and unintentionally create a gouge that will really be noticible once the rack is cut into chops. If you are not sure know that it is okay to leave it because it is relatively tender and once the loin is cut between the ribs, it is shortened enough to eat without any bothersome texture. There is a thin membrane on the back of the rib bones that is very tender and doesn’t need to be removed.
Serving Suggestions and Menu Ideas
Make Ahead For Garlic Herb Rack Of Lamb
- Trim and French cut the rack of lamb up to 24 hours ahead. Keep wrapped well in the refrigerator.
- Mix the garlic and herbs up to 2 days ahead, and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- If following the roasted garlic variation, the puree can be made a week ahead.
- For prepping for a dinner party or special occasion, you may also sear the meat. Transfer it to a sheet pan and let it rest at room temp for up to 1 hour. Do not let it sit out for any longer than 1 hour. When you are ready to roast it, preheat the skillet in the oven until it is very hot. Then add the lamb rack. Note that it is essential to use a digital thermometer to check your internal temperature if following this method. The rack will roast much more quickly than stated in the recipe. Start checking the temp early- and use the internal temperature as your guide.
More Special Occasion Recipes
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~Katie
Follow along for my step-by-step photos and get all the details on how to get a perfectly cooked rack of lamb at home, just like you’d order in a fine dining restaurant! This recipe is tried and true and yields great results. All you need is a sharp knife, a heavy skillet and an instant-read thermometer to make it.
- 1 frenched rack of lamb, 1.75 Pounds untrimmed
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs (such as a blend of parsley, thyme and rosemary)
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil
- 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, using a sharp boning knife, trim the rack of lamb by cutting the excess fat between the rib bones, stopping at the bulk of the lean loin. Cut away excess fat cap, leaving only ¼ inch of fat on the outside edge of the lamb. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the lamb.
- Stir garlic and herbs in a small dish.
- Heat oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add lamb, fat side down, and let sear until the meat is brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Flip the rack over and spread the mustard over the browned meat. Pat the garlic herb mixture onto the mustard. Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb loin without touching the bone registers 135 for medium-rare, 20 to 26 minutes [or 140 to 145 for medium, about 28 to 30 minutes. For medium well wait until your thermometer registers 145 to 154.]
- Let the cooked rack of lamb rest 5 to 10 minutes, covered with foil, before cutting between each rib bone into lamb chops. Serve hot.
Ingredient Note: If you have roasted garlic puree, it is amazingly delicious in place of the Dijon mustard. Follow our instructions for how to make stovetop oil-poached roasted garlic here to learn how to make it.
Tip: Make sure to let the lamb rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving to allow the protein fibers to relax and allow the juices to redistribute through the meat. Rest longer by covering the foil with a towel to hold in the heat and keep it warm.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: French
- Serving Size: 2 chops
- Calories: 385
- Sugar: 1 g
- Fat: 26 g
- Carbohydrates: 2 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 47 g
Keywords: rack of lamb, herb rack of lamb, garlic rack of lamb, pan roasted rack of lamb