Classic Rack of Lamb

Rack of lamb is so elegant! Season rack of lamb with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, then slather with olive oil and roast in the oven. It’s the perfect recipe for entertaining and the holidays!

Rack of Lamb
Elise Bauer

I live for lamb chops. Juicy, tender, rare (please please give me rare), deep reddish pink, browned, crusty, herbed, fatty goodness.

So, when my father sent me on a mission to make rack of lamb (what? Eight lamb chops in a row?) I was all over it.

My version uses a simple rub with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh chopped rosemary and thyme.

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.

Rack of Lamb
Elise Bauer

Do you have a favorite version of rack of lamb? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Shopping Tips for Rack of Lamb

When choosing lamb at the butcher's, look for meat that is pink or rosy red. Any meat that is a darker red is showing signs of age and won't be as tender. Look for firm white fat and pink meat that is fine grained.

You can buy a rack of lamb already "Frenched", which means that it's cut so the rib bones are exposed. At a full-service butcher or even at the supermarket, you can ask the butcher to French them for you.

For a cheaper option, you can also buy an untrimmed rack and trim them yourself.

For the Best Rack of Lamb, Use a Thermometer

For roasting a rack of lamb, we highly recommend using a thermometer. Why? Because racks of lamb are not that cheap, and it's something we don't cook that often. A meat thermometer takes all the guesswork out of cooking the rack of lamb.

Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to test the doneness. It should read 125°F for rare or 135°F for medium rare. Remember: the temperature still will rise a bit after you take it out of the oven to rest.

For Easy Entertaining, Season Ahead

You can season the meat 1 to 3 days before roasting. Keep it in an airtight zip-top bag in the fridge until showtime. Just be sure to bring it out 1 1/2 to 2 hours before roasting. You want it to reach room temperature for even cooking.

The Best Recipes to Serve With Lamb Chops!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Classic Rack of Lamb

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating Time 90 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 5 mins
Servings 2 to 3 servings

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.


These instructions are for a rack between 1 1/4 and 2 pounds. Figure each rack feeds 2 to 3 people. If you are cooking multiple racks (not a crown roast which is a different matter), lay them out separately on the pan, and you may need to increase the cooking time.


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.

Ingredients

  • 1 or more Frenched lamb rib racks with 7 to 8 ribs each (1 1/4 to 2 pounds for each rack)

For each rib rack:

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Marinate the lamb:

    Rub rib rack(s) all over with mixture of rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Rub with salt and 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 to catch any leaks.

    Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours as the lamb is coming to room temperature in the next step.

  2. Bring lamb to room temp:

    Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 1 1/2 to 2 hours before you cook it so that it comes to room temp. If the meat is not at room temperature, it won't cook evenly and may still be raw inside while the outside is cooked.

  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F:

    Arrange the oven rack, so the lamb will be in the middle of the oven.

  4. Score the fat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap bones in foil, place in pan fat side up:

    Score the fat, by making sharp shallow cuts through the fat, spaced about an inch apart.

    rack-of-lamb-method-600-1.5
    Elise Bauer

    Rub the rack all over with more salt and pepper. Place the lamb rack bone side down (fat side up) on a roasting pan lined with foil. Wrap the exposed rib bones in a little foil so they don't burn.

    rack-of-lamb-method-600-2
    Elise Bauer
  5. Roast at high heat to brown, then reduce heat to finish:

    Place the roast in the oven at 450°F for 10 minutes (longer if roasting more than one rack), or until the surface of the roast is nicely browned.

    Then, lower the heat to 300°F. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes longer (depending on the size of the lamb rack, if you are roasting more than one rack, and how rare or well done you want your lamb). A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat should read 125°F for rare or 135°F for medium rare.

    Use a meat thermometer. Many factors can affect cooking time like the shape of the roast, the fat marbling, and your individual oven characteristics. This is too lovely and tender a roast to risk overcooking.

  6. Rest the roast 15 minutes before serving:

    Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
524 Calories
46g Fat
1g Carbs
26g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 524
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 46g 58%
Saturated Fat 17g 85%
Cholesterol 119mg 40%
Sodium 284mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 348mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.