How To Cook Lamb Chops Deliciously Every Time!
Are there any meats that you're hesitant to try making at home? For me, there are some meats that I love so much when they're cooked perfectly that I find them intimidating to make at home. Lamb is one of those kinds of meat that when it is prepared well, it can be extraordinarily delicious.
I got over my fear and can now grill lamb chops that are delicious every time. Lamb chops might feel like a fancy food but they are actually not all that difficult to master at the grill. Here is everything you need to know to grill delicious lamb chops every time.
What You Will Need to Cook Lamb Chops
- 4 lamb chops (rib or loin)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Rib or loin chops are preferred because of their smooth flavor and tender meatiness, but shoulder chops are an acceptable alternative. Lamb can be expensive, and shoulder chops are one of the more affordable cuts. Shoulder chops do tend to have more fat which gives a great flavor profile but can also make the meat tough.
I prefer loin chops because they are the most flavorful and also the leanest, but shoulder chops can be very good as well. If you do use shoulder chops, it's important to note that they won't take quite as long to cook because of their higher fat content.
Another optional ingredient is cayenne pepper. You would probably only want to use a small pinch of it but it can give the lamb chops some nice heat. I would recommend first making the lamb chops without the cayenne and just stick to the classic flavors with rosemary, salt, and pepper.
After that, feel free to experiment by adding a little cayenne or any other spices that strike your fancy. I like a little fresh minced garlic. You don't want to be too heavy-handed with spices when it comes to lamb, though, as you'll risk obscuring the inherent flavor of the meat itself.
I don't think a marinade is really necessary since the salt brine method has the same end effect, but you can try a simple marinade. Just mix vinegar, olive oil, a little salt, and some garlic and let your lamb chops soak in that for least a few hours. With most marinades, I find that you get the most bang for your buck with overnight marination.
Then again, I don't think you really need to use a marinade at all for deliciously grilled lamb chops. If you're a marinade person, though, go for it. You can experiment with different flavors for your marinade as well. Here is a simple delicious marinade to go with any meat:
Step-By-Step Instructions for Perfect Lamb Chops
1. Select your chops.
If you can, be picky about the chops you buy. Thicker is better with lamb chops. I like them to be around 1.5-inches thick, but try to find chops that are at least 1-inch thick. Ideally, your chops should all be of pretty uniform thickness to ensure they all cook evenly. A thicker cut of chop helps you reach that consistent level of quality each time you grill. A thinner chop is much harder to grill to perfection.
2. Trim the fat.
With a sharp kitchen knife, trim off any extra fat around the edges of the chops. You want to keep the fat on the inside of the chop since it is key to that great lamb flavor. The extra fat on the outside edges doesn't add much to that flavor profile and will just lead to flare-ups on the grill so it's best to get rid of it.
3. Salt and Rest.
This step is key to getting the most flavorful and most tender chops. Salt each chop with a pinch of salt. Then, let the salted chops rest for at least 30-45 minutes. Salt and rest act as a kind of brine. The salt starts to draw out some of the liquid from the lamb. As the salt dissolves in this liquid, it starts to break down the muscle content of the chop.
The brine will permeate throughout the meat. By the end of the 30-45 minute period of rest, the chop is ideally prepared. It will be juicy, tender, and offer a high concentration of intense, delicious flavor.
4. Prepare the Grill.
While your salted chops are resting, get your grill ready to go. You want to have two different zones of heat in your grill, a high heat hot zone, and a lower heat cool zone. This lets you get that great grilled sear but also the tenderness of a slower roast. Make sure to clean the grill off well with your grill brush. Carefully oil the grill grate with a little olive oil.
5. Season the Chops.
You've already salted your chops so now it's just time to add the oil and other flavors. Brush both sides of the chops with oil and then sprinkle on some pepper and chopped rosemary.
6. Grill the Chops.
I've found that I get the best-tasting chops with a reverse sear. This means you want to start on the cooler zone of the grill. You need to figure out your desired end temperature. I like my lamb chops medium rare, so I'm shooting for 130°F. For medium, the end temperature you want is 155° F. For well done, you want around 165° F.
Cool Zone Slow Roast:
Start by cooking the chops on the cooler side of the grill for around 5 minutes on each side. Close the grill's cover to ensure the heat is as even as possible. After 5 minutes on each side, grab your meat thermometer and check the temperature.
You want it to be about 10° less than your desired end temperature. So for my medium rare chops, I'm looking for 120° F. If it's not there yet, give it another few minutes. A thicker chop might take 8 minutes on each side.
Hot Zone Sear:
Once you've hit a temperature that is 10° less than your desired end temperature, it's time to move the chops to the hot zone of the grill to sear them. Give the chops 1-3 minutes on each side while over the hot zone. Don't close the cover this time. Keep a close watch on them, as there's a higher likelihood of flare-ups at this point with the high heat.
If you do have a flare-up, just quickly move the chop back over to the cool zone. After the flames settle down, carefully bring the chop back to the direct heat. Check your temperature and make sure you've reached that desired point for you goal level of doneness.
The total grilling time you'll need will vary a bit depending on the thickness of your lamb chops and the temperature of your grill. A thicker chop will need a little bit of extra time. Again, that extra thickness is also key to a consistently great lamb chop. With a thin chop, you don't have much leeway and it's easy to end up with an overdone, tough chop.
It might take a few tries to really master this, but it's definitely worth it once you do. A good instant read digital thermometer is a vital tool when grilling lamb chops, since it can be pretty hard to eyeball internal temperature. Here's a quick tutorial on how to use a cooking thermometer. Just check the temperature and try to cook for equal lengths on each side of the chop. Expect the total time on the grill to be somewhere in the range of 12-20 minutes.
7. Let Them Rest.
It's time to let the chops rest one more time. This rest time will keep the lamb chops as juicy as possible. Cutting into them too soon will see you losing a lot of juice right away. You can always use this time to set the table and prepare any sides.
Or, of course, you can just stare at those perfect lamb chops and salivate in anticipation. Give them about 10 minutes, then serve. Top with more rosemary, salt, and pepper if desired or pair the lamb chops with a sauce.
There you have it - deliciously grilled lamb chops. Sit down and enjoy. Notice the flavors, the tenderness, and the perfect sear on the outside. I'm not sure I've ever tasted a better lamb chop than the first time I nailed this recipe. There's just something about doing it yourself, about trying something new and getting great results. It doesn't hurt that the end product was so very tasty either. For more variety make sure to check out another easy recipe on the blog - Balsamic Herb Lamb Chops!
Did you enjoy this tutorial? I hope it helped take away some of the fear you might have about cooking lamb chops. I'm glad I pushed myself to master this because lamb is just so good when done right and I love being able to make it at home. This is not a complicated or time-intensive process but you can get consistently delicious results.
Once you've mastered it, then you can have some fun and try some different flavors and sauces. Right now, I'm enjoying making a simple mint sauce to have with my lamb chops. . If you’re a fan of lamb, I have another quick guide for you, here you can learn how to carve a lamb leg! Let us know what you thought of this tutorial in the comments. Have you had any experience grilling lamb chops before? Do you have any questions or tips to offer?
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Lamb Chops?
Traditional lamb chops come from the ribs of the lamb and are also called rack of lamb when they come in one piece. Lamb chops can also reference loin chops, which are small T-bone steaks cut from the lamb’s waist. You can also buy shoulder chops, which is a fatty steak cut from the shoulder.
How Do you Trim Lamb Chops?
Using a sharp knife, you can trim a lamb chop by removing any extra fat around the edges of the chop. You can french rib chops by removing the fat and flesh from each side of the bone, cleaning it so only the bone is exposed.
How Thick Should Lamb Chops Be
Thick lamb chops are easier to cook because it's harder to over cook them. You want lamb chops that are uniform thickness, which helps them cook evenly. At least one inch is good, but 1 ½ inches is better.
What Temperature Do You Cook Lamb Chops On the Grill
You can grill lamb chops over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, for about 4 minutes a side until you reach medium rare. Alternatively, to make sure you don’t overcook the lamb, you can cook them first on the indirect heat side, with the lid closed, for about 8 minutes a side. Then, you can sear them on the direct heat side, with the lid open, for 1-3 minutes a side.
What Temperature Should You Grill Lamb Chops?
Lamb chops are best enjoyed as medium rare lamb, or 145 degrees F. If you want them more well done, you can cook them to medium (160) or well done (170). You should pull your lamb when it is ten degrees less than the desired temperature, as it will continue to raise in temperature as it rests.