Want to impress with an easy lamb recipe? My grilled herb crusted rack of lamb is simple and delicious. Take charge with my tips on how to grill rack of lamb on a gas or charcoal grill (you can even roast it in the oven). The rosemary herb garlic marinade permeates the meat and is better the longer it soaks.
Rack of lamb is one of those cuts that seems really fancy, right?
If you’ve never made one before, I can understand the intimidation factor, however, once you see how truly simple they are to prepare, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
This easy lamb recipe with garlic herb marinade, makes perfectly tender, flavorful grilled herb crusted rack of lamb every time.
recipe skill level: intermediate
This recipe isn’t difficult to make, but you’ll use your knife skills to trim away the excess fat cap and “french” the bones if its not already done for you by the butcher. Make sure your knives are sharp before trimming.
What is a rack of lamb?
If you’ve ever tried lamb chops, you know what a tender, juicy flavorful cut they are. But do you know where they come from?
Rack of lamb is made up of the rib chops of the lamb before it’s cut into individual lollipops.
A “rack” is one side of a set of ribs from the animal. There are generally seven to eight ribs per rack.
What is a frenched rack of lamb?
Ok. Don’t get weird on me. “Frenching” is a term used to describe how a rib rack is trimmed. While the meaty part of the rack of lamb is left whole, the fat, (a little) meat and connective tissue between the rib bones is removed. This gives the rack a clean look and offers a convenient handle to pick up the lamb lollipop for gnawing.
Where can I buy frenched rack of lamb?
Most butchers will trim and french a rack of lamb for you and many markets sell them like this already. I usually buy mine at Costco, where the rib bones are already frenched, however, I usually do trim a bit more of the excess fat cap before cooking the lamb.
If the rib extensions weren’t previously trimmed, this video will show you how to french a rack of lamb .
How to trim excess fat from a rack of lamb:
Even if your rack has been frenched, you’ll still want to trim off some of the excess fat cap before grilling the rack of lamb. That’s because it takes a while for the fat to render (and lambs tend to have a lot of it), but the meat itself cooks fairly quickly.
- Rest your rack of lamb, fat side up on a cutting board.
- Use a very sharp knife and cut a 1 to 2″ tab of fat horizontal to the roast along the top of the fat cap.
- Hold the tab of fat, stretched above the rack of lamb and use your knife to make shallow slices a centimeter or so above where the fat connects to the meat. Keep making shallow cuts, pulling back the fat cap as you go.
- I recommend leaving about 1/8″ to no more than 1/4″ of fat on the rack. A little fat adds flavor.
Pro-Tip: It’s easier to trim the fat from the lamb if it’s chilled first.
When the meat is trimmed of excess fat, it’s time for the rosemary garlic and herb marinade.
What you’ll need for garlic & herb marinade
- Fresh Rosemary
- Fresh Oregano
- Fresh Mint
- Lemon Zest
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A little bit of lemon zest adds a brightness to the marinade. Don’t use the lemon juice, because its acidic and will start to “cook” the meat as it sits.
This basic garlic herb marinade works well on lamb, chicken, pork and beef. The longer it marinates, the better. For the best results, I recommend letting the flavors marry for at least 8 hours or overnight. However, I’ve had readers who have only marinated their racks of lamb for up to an hour with very good results.
How to marinate rack of lamb
- Finely chop the garlic, rosemary, oregano and mint and transfer to a small bowl.
- Zest the lemon and add to the herb mixture.
- Add the kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil and stir to form a thick paste.
- Coat the rack of lamb with the marinade and rub it into the meat.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. The longer it marinates, the more the flavors will infuse the meat and the better it tastes.
- Before cooking, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for half an hour before transferring it to the grill. (You don’t want to put cold meat on a hot grill as it will take longer to cook and throw off your timing.)
Can I grill rack of lamb on a gas or charcoal grill?
Yes! You can use either your charcoal grill or gas grill for this recipe. (We typically use our Weber Genesis gas grill because it’s easy to regulate the heat and because rack of lamb cooks so quickly, it’s just less time consuming than building a fire and waiting for the charcoal to cook down to embers, but it’s up to you.
How to grill rack of lamb on a gas grill
- Preheat the grill to 500° – 525°F.
- Place the lamb, fat side down on the grates. Leave the lamb alone for about five minutes to create a good sear (watch for flare-ups and have a spray bottle of water handy for emergencies).
- Flip the meat, reduce the temperature to 425° F and continue cooking the lamb for an additional 13-15 minutes or until an instant read digital thermometer reads 120° for medium rare. (See chart below for other doneness temps.)
- Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let it rest 5-8 minutes before carving.
How to grill rack of lamb on a charcoal grill
- Stuff the lower half of a chimney starter with crumpled newspaper and set it on the bottom rack of your charcoal grill.
- Fill the top portion of the starter with charcoal briquets.
- Light the newspaper with a match or fire-starter and let the briquets start to slowly burn.
- When the charcoal is covered in ash and glowing red, turn it out onto the grate into a low mound.
- Set the top rack on the grill and cover with the lid (slightly vented).
- When the heat reaches a medium high temperature* and the charcoal has stopped smoking, it’s time to grill.
- Place the lamb, fat side down on the grates. Leave the lamb alone for about five to six minutes to create a good sear (watch for flare-ups and have a spray bottle of water handy for emergencies).
- Flip the meat and continue cooking the lamb for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read digital thermometer reads 120° for medium rare. (See chart below for other doneness temps.)
- Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let it rest 5-8 minutes before carving.
How to judge temperature on a charcoal grill
We use the “Steve Raichlen Method” (from his book, How To Grill) to gauge the temperature of a charcoal grill, which is very non-technical. Once your embers are ashy and simmering, place your hand about 4 inches above the mound and count… One Mississippi… Two Mississippi.
- Hot: Two to Three Mississippi
- Medium Hot: Four to Five Mississippi
- Medium: Six to Eight Mississippi
- Medium Low: Nine to Ten Mississippi
- Low: Eleven to Fourteen Mississippi
How to tell when grilled rack of lamb is done
My secret weapon for not over (or under) cooking the lamb is my Thermapen instant read digital thermometer. It’s accurate, reliable and intuitive, giving me spot on readings in seconds. It’s not the cheapest instant read out there, but for my money, it’s the best.
To get an accurate reading, stick the Thermapen probe into the thickest part of the rack of lamb, so that it’s not touching any of the bones. It will give you a reading in seconds. Then use this handy chart to determine when your grilled lamb is at its perfect temperature.
- Rare: 115° to 120° F
- Medium Rare: 120°-125° F
- Medium: 125°-135° F
- Medium Well: 135°-145° F
- Well Done: 145°+
Why Is Resting Time Is Important After Grilling?
- Resting allows the juices to redistribute through the meat. If you cut the meat right after removing from the grill, the juices will run onto the cutting board instead of staying in the flesh.
- Be aware of carryover cooking, which can increase the internal temperature of the grilled rack of lamb by as much as 3°-5°.
- My grill-master typically cooks his meats to about 2-3° BELOW the recommended temperatures just to factor in the carryover cooking.
How to carve grilled rack of lamb into chops
- After the meat has rested, tip the rack of lamb up to a 45° angle on the cutting board by holding 2-3 ribs.
- Guide your carving knife between the ribs and slice through, leaving equal amounts of lamb meat on either side of the bone.
- Be aware that towards the end of the rack, the bones sometimes curve inward, making it difficult to get an even cut. These tend to be the smaller portions of lamb chops, good for kids or people with lighter appetites.
- For a more impressive presentation, try double-cut chops (meaning two bones per chop). They are thicker, juicier and meatier that way. Bon(e) Appetit!
Rack of lamb FAQ’s
It depends on your guests (and what else you’re serving), but typically 2-3 ribs per person is a good gauge. I usually make one rack of lamb for my husband and I, and there’s usually a few chops leftover. If you’re having more people for dinner, figure 3 servings per rack.
Yes. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Heat a nonstick grill pan over the stovetop on Medium high heat. Spray the pan with olive oil and add the rack of lamb, fat side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip the rack over and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the lamb to the oven and finish cooking for 18-20 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness. Don’t forget to let it rest before carving.
Yes! You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe. You just want enough of the rosemary garlic and herb marinade to coat the racks for seasoning.
We like this lamb with Pinot Noir or French Bordeaux, but if you like more full bodied wines, try a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wrap leftover grilled rack of lamb in foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm the oven to 300° and place the lamb (still wrapped in foil) on a baking sheet. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until the meat is warm, but not cooking.
What to serve with grilled rack of lamb:
- Turmeric Pearl Couscous
- Lemon Garlic Green Beans
- Garlic Herb Flageolets (French White Beans)
- Simple Scalloped Potatoes
- Cauliflower Au Gratin
Sauces that go with lamb:
Grilled Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Gas or Charcoal Grill
- bbq tongs
- bbq mitt
- Carving Knife & Fork
- 1 1/2 – 2 pound rack of lamb Frenched, trimmed of excess fat
FOR THE MARINADE:
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons rosemary chopped
- 2 teaspoons oregano chopped
- 2 teaspoons mint chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
FOR THE MARINADE:
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade to form a thick paste.
FOR THE LAMB:
- Spread the marinade over the lamb rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Heat the grill on high (500°-525°). Place the rack of lamb on the grill (fat side down) to sear the meat, about 5 minutes. Stay close to the grill in case of flare ups.
- Reduce heat to 425°. Turn the lamb over and continue to roast an additional 13-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 120° for medium rare. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Let the lamb rest for an additional 5-10 minutes. (Lamb will continue to cook as it rests and will achieve temperature of 125-130° off the grill.)
- Cut the lamb into double cut chops. Arrange on a platter and pour any meat juices over the lamb. Scatter with additional fresh herbs and serve.