Classic Rack of Lamb

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Rack of Lamb is so elegant! Perfect for entertaining. Tender oven-roasted rack of lamb, seasoned with rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and slathered with olive oil.

Photography Credit: 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? 8 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

Beneath the recipe I’ve included links to rack of lamb recipes from other food bloggers, and a recipe for a breaded herb crusted version from chef Gordon Ramsay that my father likes.

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

Classic Rack of Lamb Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 rack serves 2 to 3 people

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 1/4 to 2 pounds big. 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 you may need to increase the cooking time.

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.

Make sure to allow enough time for your rack of lamb to come close to room temperature before cooking. Otherwise the inside will still be raw while the outside is cooked.

Ingredients

  • 1 or more Frenched* lamb rib racks with 7 to 8 ribs each (1 1/4 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.

Special equipment:

  • Meat thermometer

Method

1 Marinate lamb in rub: 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 Bring lamb to room temp: Remove lamb rack from refrigerator to 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 will be hard for it to cook evenly.)

3 Preheat oven to 450°F, arrange the oven rack so that 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.

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

5 Roast first at high heat to brown, then reduce heat to finish: Place the roast in the oven roast 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 10-20 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), 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 15 minutes.

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

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Links:

Greek Style Rack of Lamb from Peter of Souvlaki for the Soul

Pesto Rack of Lamb from Not Quite Nigella

Chef Gordon Ramsay's herb crusted, breaded version video

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

73 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Stan

    First time making Rack of Lamb. I mostly followed the recipe in terms of ingredients, but did not double-pepper (it calls for pepper while marinading and when prepping for the oven). Since only one other reviewer mentioned it, I will mention that I found the times to be way off. I used 15 min at 450 and almost 30 minutes at 300 to get it to 133 internal temp. I had a 8-rib rack and let it sit outside the fridge for over 2 hours. However, I am certain this was not long enough since when I stuck a meat thermometer 1/3 into the length of the rack after 10 min at 450, it only read 66 deg! Not sure I am a fan of ROL though due to the fat cap, which I did not eat so it meant loss of the herbs and the value of the cut at $19/lb for mostly bones and fat. My guests raved about it though!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Joan

    Made this for the first time tonight for family Christmas eve dinner. I used thyme as my herb instead and a bit of (1/2 tbsp) soy sauce to help brown the top. Definitely slit the fatty area and then applied the soy sauce. Turned out beautifully on the outisde pieces but had to put it back in for the middle peices. Went with the high for 450 d at 10 min. and 300 d. for 20 min. Most of family likes it med rare but the flavor was wonderful. Will make again with the rosemary next time and my husband can’t wait.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Dawn

    This is the absolute easiest recipe for rack of lamb. Me personally, I don’t like it. My fiancé, well that’s a whole different ball game. He LOVES rack of lamb. Especially when I use this recipe. ELISE, thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Rod V

    Our favorite lamb rub:
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp grated onion
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/4 tsp bay leaf (crushed)
    1/4 tsp ginger
    1/4 tsp thyme
    1/4 tsp sage
    1 tbsp oil

    My mother found it about 60 years ago – have tasted few better

  • Margaret

    Made this tonight for dinner have never tasted lamb like it . Next time I would cook it less than I did but I am blaming my new cooker for this anyway it was delicious so there’s no more excuses from me .

    xxxxxyyyyy

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