If you say you don’t like lamb, you probably really mean you don’t like the preparation of lamb you were served. Either that or you were served mutton, which is an older sheep, not a young lamb. If you have never savored the rich, tender, beefy (never gamey) flavor of a lamb loin chop or rack of lamb, served medium rare, no mint jelly allowed, you are missing what I consider to be one of the best nuggets of red meat in the world. Period. Really. No cow poop.
Lambs are much smaller and leaner than pork and beef, so there are fewer cuts of interest to the backyard cook. Most lambs are graded as either USDA Choice or USDA Prime. Because lamb is small and young when slaughtered, the meat is almost always tender and tasty. While beef grades are based on marbling, the thin strands of fat woven throughout the muscles, lamb is graded on the basis of the fat cap, which we usually trim off! I don’t get it.
As with beef, the best cuts are from the back of the animal.
Rack of lamb
This is a section of eight ribs with the loin meat attached, the same cut as bone-in prime rib of beef or pork crown roast. Only lamb loins are much narrower in diameter. But the meat is heavenly.
Cut between the ribs for lollipop like chops. I think the best prep is to cut every second rib making double wide chops (below). Marbled, tender, juicy, grilled to medium rare, they are simply spectacular. Click here for my recipe for Herbed Rack Of Lamb Lollipops.
You can order a lamb hind saddle, which is both legs connected to the spine and running all the way up through the sirloin. You can also order a rib saddle, which is a rib cage from the spine half way down the side, including the ribeye. Next best thing to cooking a whole lamb.
Some butchers actually sell the front seven ribs in a slab with the loin muscle removed. Not exactly a he-man meal, there is not much meat on them and a lot of fat. I don’t recommend them.
Spotlight on our favorite products
The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy
The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It’s among the best bargains for a smoker in the world. This baby cooks circles around cheap offset smokers because temperature control is so much easier. Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.
– THIS IS NOT AN AD –
Loins and loin chops
From just behind the rib section comes the loin, home of the most amazing porterhouse and T-bone type cuts. They are best when cut thick, have a bit of fat to be trimmed, and an adult serving is a minimum of three chops because they are so small, but they possess some of the most tender and flavorful meat I know on any animal. Photo below. Click her for my recipe for Lamb Loin Chops In Sheep Dip.
Legs. Cone shaped, lamb hind legs are a twisted mass of muscles, sinew, and fat, but the whole leg can be roasted, with or without smoke, and you get a whole range of doneness from well done at the tapered end by the shank, to rare at the hip end, if you wish. Or you can take the leg apart, remove the bone, and cut it into chunks that make great grilling. The leg can be cut crosswise into steaks, but they can be tough. You can also bone a lamb leg and get a huge flat slab of meat, but it will be uneven in thickness, and in the process hunks start falling off. You can buy boneless legs like the one below held together in something sort of tube shaped by netting or string. Click here for my recipe for Grill Roasted Leg Of Lamb With A Lick Of Smoke.
Another group of complex muscles that can be cut into arm chops and blade chops, but is better roasted whole or chunked for grilling. Some butchers sell boneless shoulders wrapped in mesh. Below is a whole shoulder I cooked in the same fashion as a pork shoulder, smoked low and slow for hours. Click here for my recipe for Kentucky Smoked Lamb or Mutton with Sunlite Black Sauce.
Stew and kebab meat
If you don’t want to cook a whole lamb or shoulder, take the whole jugsaw puzzle apart, trim off the excess fat and sinew, and then cut the muscles into large chunks about 2″ square. Grill them like kebabs (kabobs, kebobs), but without the metal skewer. If you cut the chunks too small it is impossible to get a dark exterior and all the rich flavors that come with it without overcooking the interior. Click here for my recipe for Binghamton Spiedies or Lamb Mechoui.
About the same size as turkey drumsticks, they are usually braised in a flavorful liquid.
If you like hamburger, you’ll love lamburger. Click here for Mary’s Little Lamburgers.
High quality websites are expensive to run. If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and a lot of freebies!
Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for high quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 2,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner to subsidize us.
Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club. But please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get MANY great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial, and help keep this site alive.
Post comments and questions below
1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.
2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.
3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.
4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.
5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.