Classic Rack of Lamb

Tender oven-roasted rack of lamb, seasoned with rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and slathered with olive oil.

The cooking time depends on how big your rack of lamb is, and how rare you want it cooked. Rack of lamb should be cooked rare, or at most medium rare. The instructions are for a rack 1 1/2 to 2 pounds big. If you have a smaller roast (I've seen packages of just a pound), reduce the cooking time from 7 minutes to 5 minutes on 400, and use the lower end of the cooking time given at 300. If you are cooking multiple racks (unless you are doing a crown roast which is a different matter), lay them out separately on the pan, and estimate a starting roasting time based on just one rack, not the weight of the combined. Though you may need to add some time to the overall cooking time if cooking multiple racks. Of course, use a meat thermometer! This is too lovely and tender a roast to risk overcooking.

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 rack serves 2 to 3 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 or more Frenched* lamb rib racks with 7 to 8 ribs each (1 1/2 to 2 pounds for each rack, figure each rack feeds 2-3 people)

For each rib rack:

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

*Typically you will buy a rack of lamb already "Frenched", or cut so that the rib bones are exposed. You can also ask your butcher to french them for you. For directions on how to French them yourself, see How to French a Rack of Lamb.

Method

1 Rub rib rack(s) all over with mixture of rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Place in a thick plastic bag with olive oil. Spread oil around so that it coats the lamb rack(s) all over. Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag and seal. Place in a container so that if the bag leaks, the container catches the leak. If you want, place in the refrigerator overnight. Or, if you are not marinating overnight, let lamb rack(s) sit in the rub marinade as it comes to room temperature before cooking.

2 Remove lamb rack from refrigerator to 1-2 hours before you cook it so that it comes to room temp. (If the meat is not at room temperature it will be hard for it to cook evenly.)

rack-of-lamb-wrapped.jpgrack-of-lamb-foil.jpg

3 Preheat oven to 400°F, arrange the oven rack so that the lamb will be in the middle of the oven. Score the fat, by making sharp shallow cuts through the fat, spaced about an inch apart. Sprinkle the rack all over with salt and pepper. Place the lamb rack bone side down (fat side up) on the pan. Wrap the exposed ribs in a little foil so that they don't burn.

4 Roast at 400°F for 7 minutes, then lower the heat to 300°F. Cook for 7-15 minutes longer (depending on the size of the lamb rack, or one of the lamb racks if you are cooking more than one), until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat 125°F on a for rare or 135°F for medium rare. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Cut lamb chops away from the rack by slicing between the bones. Serve 2-3 chops per person.

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Comments

  1. rebecca h.

    Mouth watering. Rosemary and thyme really are my favorite seasonings for lamb but I do rotate with two other versions.
    Second most common for us is very, very finely chopped green olive, Worcestershire sauce and thyme as the rub seasonings, and the other is oregano, balsamic vinegar and lemon zest…all used sparingly of course!

  2. Allan Rosenberg

    I am 84 and never cooked until shortly after my wife died bout 5 years ago. Now I enjoy it thoroughly and get many of my recipes from your blog, which is part of my home page on Google. I am going to try the lamb tonight and thought I might give you my favorite lamb chop recipe.

    Large chops or rack of lamb
    garlic clove
    dijon mustard
    prepared horse radish
    bread crumbs
    parmesan cheese
    parsley

    Preheat oven to 425

    Rub all sides of the lamb with the garlic clove.
    Spread the mustard over the lamb and similarly with the horse radish. Cover all sides with bread crumbs and press down by hand. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley.

    I find it easier to completely prepare one side and then turn it over and go on to the next.

    Place on a pan and bake for 25 to 45 minutes depending on size, but do not overcook. Let rest for a few minutes.

    Small chops may only require 15 to 20 minutes baking time.

    Thank you Allan for sharing your approach to lamb chops and rack of lamb with us. I’m so delighted that you are finding the site useful. ~Elise

  3. Audrey

    Seems a pity to scrape all the tasty stuff off the bones. I always enjoy nibbling on them.

    You can grind those bits for a ground lamb dish, or freeze them to use them later in a stew. ~Elise

  4. Marion Olson

    Trader Joe has a pretty good frozen rack of New Zealand lamb that we love. It’s pre-seasoned, very tasty, and just about the right size for 2 people. Defrost, bring to room temp, and roast. And keep a very close eye on the thermometer. Get all the side dishes ready in advance – you *really* don’t want to let this get overdone!!

    I’ve got a new remote thermometer with an alarm that you can set for a specific internal temperature. This will be the perfect use for it!

    I love TJ’s rack of lamb! It’s one of the first things I learned to cook (because it’s so easy, and they do the seasoning for you.) Posted about it here. A remote thermometer would be perfect to use with this roast. ~Elise

  5. Janet

    I love lamb!!!!! I create something very similar to Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, but I don’t grind my herbs into the breadcrumbs. My crust contains, finely grind breadcrumbs, finely chopped parsley, thyme, basil and a little salt/pepper.
    I salt & pepper my rack, brown them and pop them into the oven for about 8 minutes. Remove, brush on Dijon mustard (not the yellow hot dog kind), roll and pat on the breadcrumbs. Back into the oven to finish. I like my lamb rare to medium. And yes, we’re having lamb for Easter. Yum!

  6. Erin @ FarmhouseFoodie

    The herb rub I use on my racks of lamb is very similar but I usually sear mine in a cast iron skillet before tossing the whole thing in the oven until they’re cooked to temp.

    I’ve also found that I prefer a 3/4 lb to 1 lb rack of lamb more than a larger rack because the layer of fat is thinner (though the ratio of fat to meat is the same).

  7. Chez Us - Denise

    Elise, great post and I am there with you on loving lamb. I, too, like it a little rare with a nice crispy outside. I normally keep it simple as you did with fresh herbs but sometimes I will a little garlic and the zest from either a lemon or orange, it really gives it a great flavor. Although, we just made a lamb roast and served it with an outstanding mint sauce (no mint jelly here).

  8. Ms J

    Thank you Elise for posting this! Oh lamb, how I love thee! An expat Australian now living in Japan, readily affordable and available lamb is one of the culinary things I miss most! This recipe kills me! Sigh… For curious readers, worthwhile accompaniments include mint sauce, marinated feta cheese or beetroot (beet?) chutney (NB: not necessarily at the same time!)

  9. Christine@Christine's Recipes

    Elise,
    It’s a great post on lamb. This is the most delicious meat cut in the world that I die for. I’m totally with you – “not go overboard with the herbs”.
    Whenever I cook the rack of lamb, I just sprinkle a pinch of salt, pepper, sometimes with garlic and rosemary, I found the taste of succulent lamb is so delicious already. Then let it be served hot with mint sauce. Super delicious.

  10. ben

    In Ireland, the best lamb comes from Wicklow, or the Connemara region of Galway, and it’s best at exactly this time of year.

    Sear a rack of lamb quickly on both sides in hot oil. Spread your favourite mustard on the bone side, and pack in breadcrumbs made from day-old white yeast bread and fresh rosemary. Roast in a hot oven for about 15-20 minutes or until it’s done the way you like it.

    Small new potatoes, and fresh spinach (and/or asparagus or squash or what have you).

  11. FoodMan2008

    I am looking at this lamb at the absolute wrong time of the day as it is nearly lunch time. I’ve saved the page so that I can try this the next time I have some family over. I’ll probably try to incorporate some Pleasoning Seasonings into the recipe though as I normally do. That lamb looks truly amazing though Elise. Thanks for sharing this recipe with everyone here.

  12. Julie

    This seems so easy. My go-to dish when I’m craving lamb is braised lamb shanks with orzo, tomatoes, garlic, and onions but it takes a while since the shanks need to cook longer. I think I may have to try these lamb chops for Easter. Perfect since I just have to cook for 2!

  13. Fuji Mama

    It is so refreshing to read the words “The trick is to not go overboard with the herbs. The lamb tastes so good on its own, the seasoning should complement the lamb, not dominate it.” THANK YOU. I get tired of hearing about people over-seasoning lamb so that it isn’t as “lamby.” I like that flavor thank you very much! One of my favorite versions of rack of lamb was at a restaurant in Vienna, Austria that had some kind of lemon/olive oil/sea salt rub. It was insanely good. Wish I had the recipe!

  14. SallyBR

    Rack of lamb is one of our favorite meals, so elegant, but at the same time simple to prepare…

    I’ve used a mustardy-coating before, or simple salt and pepper, but never a herb coating – sounds great!

  15. Mark

    Rack of Lamb is my favorite dish. I’m learning to BBQ it. The first time I did was two racks with a garlic paste cooked over natural charcoal and oak from wine barrels. WOW!!!!

  16. Pat Orr

    I have an allergy to Rosemary and am wondering whether anyone knows of a tasty substitute. Thanks.

  17. Holly

    First: Wash the lamb with lemon and water to remove dried blood and neutralize the possible gaminess.
    Marinate in sweet vermouth, ample rosemary, fresh ground pepper and a little sale. Before you put it in the over to roast, wipe it dry, which will leave most of the rosemary in tact.
    Rub the outside with olive oil which seals in the juices. Roast, fat side up. YES, leave the fat.
    Periodically, pour a little vermouth over it while it’s roasting.
    I put a few little slices on it to catch the vermouth.
    Serve with Chutney, not mint :)

  18. Linda Madden

    My husband just made this for New Year’s night dinner, and it was quite lovely. Simple, served with fresh green beans – and some red wine of course – dinner to be remembered.

  19. Anne

    Hi Elise,

    I am a first time roaster and plan on making this for my guests on Friday night. I have a pan with a rack – this probably sounds silly, but do I place the lamb on the rack or straight on the pan? The pan is nonstick, should I line it with foil before roasting?

    Hi Anne, you do not need to put the rack of lamb on a pan rack. And give that your pan is non-stick, lining the pan with foil would be redundant. ~Elise

  20. ursa

    thank you for this recipes, its my first time trying to cook rack of lamb. thank you for the easy to follow directions.

  21. Brittany Josewski

    I remember when I was little this was my absolute favorite dish. I never got to have it that much because not that many people like lamb apparently. However, now that I’m an adult I make this dish all the time. This one is a recipe from Bon Appetit, it’s a dijon crusted rack of lamb with a red wine vinegar mint sauce.

  22. Nataliya

    Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. Rack of lamb is my favorite dish nowadays and I cook it every week. Previously I’ve used the recipe with bread crumbs and Dijon mustard, which can be found at allrecipes website. Yesterday I’ve tried to change things up and used your recipe – it’s also unbelievably delicious and very easy to follow!

  23. Irene Chumley

    I just cooked this recipe and I have some thoughts on the cooking guidelines.
    While many of the reviewers who cooked 3/4 to 1 pound racks may have had success with the time and temperature recommendations, I tried to cook 2 racks (1 1/2 lbs each) and the time recommendation was nowhere near enough. After the initial 400 degree sear in the oven and the 22 minutes at 300 degrees (the outside recommendation), the interior meat was still at room temperature. The meat just under the fat on top was still raw. I ended up cooking the racks for twenty more minutes at 400 degrees, and again for another twenty minutes after two of the outside ribs were removed from each end of both racks.The interior of all pieces at this point was still delightfully rare to medium rare. This was in a convection oven.
    I am making these comments because the companion vegetables were cold or overcooked by the time the rack was done. As they say, timing is everything, but I and my brother and his family can in no way see how this present advice on time would help in any way to even warm the lamb.

    It was however delicious, juicy, perfectly cooked and warm, albeit medium rare, by the time I was done with it. Too bad about the vegetables.

    • Shelley

      I followed the recipe to the t with a single rack and came out with the same thing as you….a completly raw lamb nowhere near done cooking. Now in my panick I hope I can salvage it. If your someone on this site looking for a recipe, try another one as the cooking times and temps on this one are way off.

  24. Rick B

    I’ve used seedless Calamata Olives chopped up with garlic, finely chopped onions, parsley and the juice from the Olives.
    Pack the mixture above on the lamb while it comes to room temp.
    Chop some green pepper and onion chunks. Hold for later.
    Grill on very high until the outside chars on both sides. 2-3 minutes per side.
    Put a char on the peppers and onions also.
    (You can pre-cook this way.)
    Put the peppers and onions on a bed of fresh pita bread in a covered bowl.(Dirty bread!)
    Let the meat rest on this, covered.
    When the time comes, insert a meat thermometer and bake or broil until 125 Deg.
    Finish and serve.

  25. Aramis

    So a question to the lamb experts:
    I am trying to prepare 3 racks of lamb (aprx 1.5 lbs each). Normally for one rack, I sear it for about 2-3 minutes and then stick it in the oven for 10-15 minutes @ 450F. SO, how do I gauge the timing for all three racks?! Any ideas? Please help! :)

    Aramis

  26. Paul Villeneuve

    This recipe is great, but much better with two important missing elements, which I have been adding for years, e.g.:
    In addition to the Olive Oil, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Fleur de Sel, I add 1 tspn of Keen’s Hot Mustard, and 1 tspn of Soya Sauce. Try it – I think you’ll love it !

  27. brian

    i’m pretty mad, i wasted four 40 dollar racks of lamb following this recipe… triple the cooking time if you like your meat warmed up a little, quadruple the cooking time for med to med well… nobody will eat it at 130 degrees

    You know what is wasting money? Overcooking lamb. Once it’s overcooked (grey all the way through) you can’t back. If lamb is undercooked to your taste, you can always cook it longer. You might want to get your oven temp checked if you found the times way off. Or note that every time you open the oven to check the temperature of the roast, it adds another 10 minutes to the cooking time as the oven has to make up for the lost heat. ~Elise

    • Shelley

      Sorry Elise, but Brian is right. I cook in my oven nighlty and I never have problems following recipes cooking times until this one. It left my single rack raw following what you say. completely raw. I had to add another 20 minutes at 450 and then it came out medium rare and my husband did like it. I was happy to salvage it but soprry Brian couldn’t figure out how to. but seriously, cooking it the majority of the time at 300 isn’t going to properly cook it. I googled several other recipes and none went under 400 to cook it.

  28. Don

    For a change try marinating your lamb racks for a couple of hours in a mixture of roasted garlic ,balsamic vinegar,rosemary and a little olive oil —roast 4-5 heads of garlic–smear liberally put in marinating pouch with a liberal amount of decent balsamic, some chopped rosemary, and a pour of olive oil— sear and roast as normal–good eating

  29. Jeanne

    My husband and I like all out meat medium well. Can the lamb racks be cooked to medium or medium well without ruining the flavor?

    If so, how long do I cook one rack for? what temp would I be aiming for to get it medium well?