Rack of Lamb

With Herb and Garlic Rub

Sliced rack of lamb on a platter

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Marinating Time:: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Yield: 7 to 8 chops
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
534 Calories
40g Fat
3g Carbs
42g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 534
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 17g 83%
Cholesterol 131mg 44%
Sodium 791mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 42g
Vitamin C 4mg 21%
Calcium 39mg 3%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 475mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

At first glance, you may be intimidated by the appearance or the price of a rack of lamb. But rest assured that cooking this cut of meat is surprisingly easy, quick, and customizable to your tastes and preferences.

What Is a Rack of Lamb?

A rack of lamb consists of seven or eight ribs, still connected, that come from either side of the spine. Each rack is approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, and is suitable for 2 to 3 servings. Rack of lamb is tender and flavorful, and is bound to be an impressive centerpiece on your table. 

If you are trying lamb for the first time you will notice a flavor profile that is notably different than beef. Lamb generally offers well-balanced, robust, and grassy flavor notes with a nice hint of smokiness. When cooked properly, it is also pleasantly tender.

How To Cook Rack of Lamb

Quick-cooking methods such as roasting or grilling are very suitable for this relatively tender cut of lamb. In comparison, other cuts such as lamb shoulder or leg are inherently tougher, and are better suited for slower cooking methods such as braising. For optimal flavor and texture, a rack of lamb is typically served rare or medium-rare, depending on your preference. You will definitely need a meat thermometer to ensure the proper cooking temperature. 

Seasoning Rack of Lamb

Additional flavor can be provided by everything from simple salt-and-pepper seasonings to different herb-based marinades, or even dry spice rubs. Some cooks even add breadcrumb coatings for a crispy crust. However, it is important to remember that this cut of lamb is simply tasty all on its own, and your choice of seasonings should enhance and complement the lamb rather than masking and overwhelming it. 

To Sear or Not To Sear

Searing the rack of lamb before finishing it in the oven can be a very good technique, particularly if you have chosen a simple seasoning. Searing renders excess fat from the rack, builds in additional flavor, and can also create a nice caramelization of the surface of the meat.

However, if you are using an herbal marinade or spice rub, particularly one that includes breadcrumbs, searing could burn the coating mixture. For this recipe, I have opted not to sear, but instead to start in the oven roasting at a high temperature to brown the exterior of the lamb and render some of the excess fat without burning the marinade.

Lamb Doneness Temperatures

Target Temperatures for Lamb:

Rare: 120 to 125 F

Medium-Rare: 130 to 135 F

Medium: 135 to 140 F

Well Done: 140 to 150 F

“The aromas that come from the oven while this rack of lamb is cooking are fantastic! The herb and garlic paste help keep the meat moist but also impart a delicious flavor. My lamb only needed just over 20 minutes in total to be cooked to medium-rare.” —Julia Hartbeck

Rack of Lamb with Herb and Garlic Rub/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 rack of lamb (8 chops, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make rack of lamb

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Trim any excess fat from the lamb and cross-score the fat side by making shallow diagonal cuts, about 1/4 inch deep and about 1 inch apart.

    A rack of lamb with score marks in the fat

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Rub the lamb with salt and pepper on all sides and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

    A scored rack of lamb with salt and pepper

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Place the garlic, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard in a small food processor and pulse until it becomes a paste.

    A paste made from garlic, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Rub the mixture all over the lamb, focusing in particular on pushing the mixture into the scored fat side.

    A rack of lamb coasted in the garlic mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, or up to overnight in the refrigerator. If stored in the refrigerator, be sure to bring it back to room temperature for about 1 hour for proper roasting results. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 F.

    Rack of lamb covered in plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Remove the plastic, and wrap the exposed frenched bones with foil to prevent excessive browning or burning.

    The bones on a rack of lamb covered in foil

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Roast for 10 minutes to brown the fat cap and render any excess fat from the lamb.

    A rack of lamb with rendered fat

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and roast for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the rack, until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 120 F for rare or 130 F for medium-rare.

    A roasted rack and lamb with a thermometer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Tent the lamb with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving between the bones to serve individual chops.

    A sliced rack of lamb on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Tips

  • Cooking this tender cut of lamb initially on high heat helps with browning the exposed surface of the lamb while rendering any excess fat. The temperature is then lowered to ensure proper cooking throughout the center of the lamb. 
  • To make sure that the lamb is cooked to your desired doneness level, there are many variables to consider regarding the size, shape, and fat content, so using an accurate meat thermometer is the key. Keep in mind that the temperature will continue to rise by 5 to 10 degrees during the resting period.
  • Each rack of lamb serves 2-3 people. The recipe can easily be doubled to serve 4-6.

Recipe Variations

While I definitely enjoy the flavors of a traditional roasted rack of lamb, I also enjoy applying some Persian culinary techniques. I first marinate the lamb in a combination of bloomed saffron, grated onions, yogurt, and lemon juice. In this case, the rack can be either grilled or oven-roasted. Alternatively, a simple but impactful rub of sumac, lemon zest, and garlic paste will hit all the familiar Persian notes.

3 Rubs and Marinades for Rack of Lamb:

Za'atar Rub
3 tablespoons za’atar

4 cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Herb Rub
1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

4 cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Persian Advieh

2 teaspoons each:  ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each: ground cardamom, rose petals, turmeric, cloves

Salt and pepper

How to Store

A cooked rack of lamb can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or up to a month in the freezer.

What is Frenching?

When selecting a rack of lamb you will likely encounter the term “frenching”. This is the process of removing the fat and some of the meat from the tips of the ribs to create a classic, sophisticated presentation. You may find a rack of lamb already frenched at the meat department of your supermarket, or you may simply request this service from your butcher. Alternatively, if you find yourself looking for a bit of adventure and have some time on your hands, you can certainly tackle this task on your own.