Hello my little lamb chops!
Cooking for two? A romantic dinner perhaps? Consider the lamb chop—delicate, tender, juicy, and easy. Rub with some chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil, let sit for a bit, sear all over on high heat, let rest a few minutes, and serve.
"Lollipops" of Lamb
Lamb rib chops are cut from the "rack of lamb", the top part of the back attached to the ribs, and have incredibly tender meat.
Often the chops are French trimmed, where the meat nearest the ends of of the rib bones is scraped away, making for a more elegant presentation. Individual rib chops prepared this way are sometimes called "lamb lollipops" because the meat is attached to one or two rib bones that you can pick up with your hands like a lollipop.
Double Rib vs. Single Rib Lamb Chops
While you can cut individual rib chops from a rack of lamb (you'll need a cleaver and a rubber mallet), it's easiest to work with chops already cut.
You can either buy double rib lamb chops, with two ribs per chop, or single rib chops. Double rib chops yield a thicker piece of meat than single chops, and are more forgiving with cooking time if you like your lamb rare or medium rare.
The chops of single rib chops are thinner, and you'll have to pay closer attention and sear quickly so as to not overcook them.
Which to use? If the lamb chops are small (8 ribs to a pound), I might choose double rib lamb chops. If the lamb chops are meatier (8 ribs to 1 1/2 pounds or more), I might use single rib chops.
One pound of chops will serve 2 to 3 people, 1 1/2 pounds will serve 3 to 4.
You can also use this recipe with lamb loin chops (a tender cut of meat from further down the backbone and not attached to ribs).
How to Cook Lamb Chops
Cooking lamb chops on the stovetop couldn't be easier!
- Marinate the lamb chops in a mixture of herbs, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Sear the chops on high heat on the stovetop until browned on both sides.
- If you have thick double-rib chops and you would like them more well done, cover the pan, lower the heat to warm, or put them in the oven for a few minutes.
- Rest the lamb chops for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
Why Marinate Lamb Chops?
Marinating the chops ahead of time serves two purposes. It's an excellent way to pre-salt the meat, which helps the chops retain moisture while they cook. Marinating with herbs and garlic gives the lamb extra flavor.
The marinade in this recipe includes fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, garlic, and olive oil. You could easily substitute other herbs or seasonings if you'd like, such as thyme or herbes de Provence.
Marinate the lamb chops for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours. If you're working with double rib chops, let them sit at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes before cooking; single rib chops can be kept refrigerated until time to cook.
Best Temperature for Lamb Chops
A lamb chop is such a lovely tender cut of meat, you just don't have to do much to it. In fact, the only thing you really have to take care with is to not overcook it. Lamb is best eaten pink, from rare to medium. Overcooking tender lamb chops can result in dry, less-than-tender meat. That said, if you have eaters who prefer their meat more well done, you can always cook it longer.
Since rib chops are so small, and cook so quickly, checking for internal temperature of single rib chops with a thermometer can be impractical. For this reason I like to use the finger test to check the doneness of the chops. If you have an instant read thermometer and want to check thicker chops, aim for 125°F for rare, 135°F medium-rare, and 140°F medium.
What to Serve With Lamb Chops
My favorite adornment to lamb chops is mint chimichurri, a pesto-like sauce made with parsley, mint, and garlic. You can also make a pan sauce with the drippings by quickly sautéing some shallots in the pan, adding a little broth, water, or red wine, reducing the mixture, then stirring in a little butter at the end.
We love lamb chops served with polenta, mashed potatoes, or celery root. For a green, some stir-fried snow peas or boiled and sautéed asparagus or green beans. A light mixed green salad, simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar is lovely too.
Love Lamb? Try These Recipes:
- Lamb Curry
- Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables
- Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
- Spicy Lamb Stew with Chickpeas
Lamb Chops with Rosemary and Garlic
- 1 pound lamb rib chops
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Marinate the lamb chops:
In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil together. Coat the lamb chops with the mixture, massaging it into the meat with your fingers. If you are working with double rib chops, cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
If you are working with single rib chops, and you want the result to be rare, let the chops sit in the rub in the refrigerator, do not let come to room temp or the thin ribs will easily overcook when you sear them in the next step.
You can also marinate the chops in the fridge for up to 24 hours. (Allow double rib chops to stand at room temperature 30 to 40 minutes before cooking.)
Sear the lamb chops:
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in an oven-proof sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, sear the chops. Sear double rib chops on all sides about 2 to 3 minutes per side. If you are working with single rib chops, sear only on two sides, and only a minute (or less) on each side if you want the result to be rare or medium rare.
Check for doneness:
At this point, if you want your lamb chops rare, they are likely cooked enough.
If you would like your chops more cooked, you can put them in a 400°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or keep them in the hot pan, lower the heat to warm, and cover the pan for a few minutes.
Note that rib chops are so small, and cook so quickly, checking for internal temperature with a thermometer can be impractical. For this reason I use the finger test to check the doneness of the chops. That said, if you have an instant read thermometer and want to check thick chops, aim for 125°F for rare, 135°F medium-rare, and 140°F for medium.
Rest the chops:
When done, remove the chops from the pan, cover with foil and let rest 3 to 5 minutes before serving.