Roasted Rack of Lamb

published Mar 23, 2024
Roasted Rack of Lamb Recipe

This main course is as quick and easy as it is impressive.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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overhead shot of two cooked racks of lamb on a sheet pan.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

When I’m feeding a crowd, I usually look for a large piece of meat to serve as the centerpiece, like a roasted chicken, braised pork shoulder, and roasted beef. The thing is, all of those take a decent amount of time to cook, and I live in an apartment with one kinda-small oven. That’s why I love to serve a rack of lamb.

This recipe is easy, delicious, and looks fancy, but without all the effort. Rub a marinade of herbs, garlic, and Dijon mustard on two racks of lamb and let them hang out at room temperature for an hour or overnight in the fridge (this is the opportunity to prep any accompanying dishes). Then, slide the lamb into a hot oven and roast to a perfectly juicy and tender medium-rare. The presentation is so fun and celebratory that it’ll make any dinner feel extra special.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Unlike other large proteins, tender roasted racks of lamb cook to a perfect medium-rare in just 25 minutes.
  • A simple rosemary and Dijon mustard rub brings a lot of flavor and creates a delicious crispy herb crust. It tastes fancy but takes no effort.

Key Ingredients in Rack of Lamb

  • Lamb: Two (2-pound) racks of lamb will feed 6 to 8 people, which is a nice portion of meat per person.
  • Rosemary. Use fresh rosemary in the rub for a stronger flavor.
  • Garlic. Add six cloves of grated garlic to the rub for a robust, garlicky flavor.
  • Mustard. Dijon mustard adds flavor and acts as a base for the lamb rub.
  • Flaky salt. Although optional, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on the carved lamb adds delicious pops of flavor.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Rack of Lamb

  1. Marinate the lamb. Make a paste with grated garlic, fresh rosemary, Dijon, salt, and pepper, then rub it all over the lamb. Set out at room temperature for an hour.
  2. Cook the lamb. Arrange the lamb with the ribs pointing down. Cook for 15 minutes at 450ºF, then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes until the lamb has an internal temperature of 130ºF.
  3. Rest the lamb. Set lamb on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes to rest before carving. This gives the juice time to redistribute.
  4. Slice and serve. Cut between the rib bones into individual lamb chops.

Helpful Swaps

  • Swap fresh rosemary for another herb like thyme or parsley.
  • Use whole grain mustard instead of Dijon.
  • Add red pepper flakes to the rub for a little extra heat.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

  • The lamb can be marinated, covered, and refrigerated for up to 12 hours before roasting. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Do You Need to French the Lamb Racks?

No, but let me explain. A frenched rack of lamb means the fat cap and meat between each rib bone have been removed. This is almost entirely for presentation — those little lamb chop lollipops make for a dramatic presentation. Plus, it’s a bit easier to carve.

The fat cap on an unfrenched rack of lamb has a lot of delicious fat that will render off, which can be used later to roast veggies or potatoes. One downside to frenching is that it does remove some meat for aesthetic reasons. You can always add those bits to a stir-fry or soup to avoid waste.

How to French a Rack of Lamb

If you do want frenched racks of lamb, you can ask the butcher to do it for you, or do it yourself. Here’s how to french a rack of lamb at home.

  1. Make a deep cut through the fat layer where the rib bones meet the chop (about 2 inches above the meaty part of the chop) with a sharp chef’s knife or boning knife.
  2. Work your knife under the fat to slice off and remove the fat cap, pulling it away from the rack to expose the ribs.
  3. Carefully slice between each rib bone to remove the meat.
  4. Use your knife to scrape off any remaining bits of meat and sinew to clean up the bones. Just before you start cooking the marinated rack of lamb, you can cover the frenched bones with a piece of foil to keep them from browning in the oven. This also makes for a prettier presentation.

How Long to Cook Rack of Lamb

Lamb is traditionally cooked to medium-rare, which keeps the meat tender and juicy. A digital thermometer is key to cooking lamb (or any cut of meat) to the right temperature. Although racks of lamb are large, they aren’t very thick. Two-pound racks of lamb should cook through in about 25 minutes in a 450ºF oven.

Because the lamb will continue cooking for a few minutes after it’s removed from the oven, I recommend roasting the rack of lamb until the internal temperature reaches 130ºF, then pull it out and let it sit to redistribute the juices before slicing.

New Zealand vs. American Lamb

American lamb tends to be larger and slightly fattier than Australian or New Zealand lamb. This means that, per pound, you will likely get fewer individual lamb chops from an American lamb (although the exact number will always vary). You may even need to add about 5 extra minutes to your roasting time if they’re really sizable. 

One more key difference is their diet. While all lamb is grass-fed, American lamb is typically finished on grain, which can make it taste milder and less gamey than imported lamb.

What to Serve with Rack of Lamb

Roasted Rack of Lamb Recipe

This main course is as quick and easy as it is impressive.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6

    cloves garlic

  • 6

    large sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish if desired

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2

    (about 2-pound) racks of lamb, frenched if desired

  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Finely grate 6 garlic cloves; pick the leaves from 6 fresh rosemary sprigs, then finely chop (4 to 6 tablespoons); add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

  2. Place 2 lamb racks on a rimmed baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easier cleanup if desired). Spread the rosemary rub all over the lamb racks (about 1/4 cup each). Position the racks so the rib bones point down. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. (Alternatively, cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting uncovered.) After 30 minutes, arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 450ºF.

  3. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes. Flip the racks and roast until the thickest part registers 130ºF on an instant-read thermometer for medium-rare, about 10 minutes longer.

  4. Transfer the racks to a clean cutting board. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. To carve, cut between the rib bones into individual chops. Lightly sprinkle with flaky salt if desired. Place on a serving platter and garnish with more fresh rosemary if desired.

Recipe Notes

To french a rack of lamb: With a sharp chef’s or boning knife, make a deep cut through the fat layer where the rib bones meet the chop, about 2 inches above the meaty part of the chop. Work your knife under the fat to slice off and remove the fat cap, pulling it away from the rack to expose the ribs. Carefully slice between each rib bone to remove the meat. Scrape off any remaining bits of meat and sinew with your knife to clean them up.

Make ahead: The lamb can be marinated, covered, and refrigerated for up to 12 hours before roasting. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting uncovered.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.