This really is the perfect Grilled Rack of Lamb. It’s tender in the middle, loaded with flavor from a simple spice rub, and seared to create a crispy browned crust.
Lamb seems to be the one protein that people immediately have a strong opinion on. You either love it or you don’t. Want my opinion? Anyone that doesn’t like lamb just hasn’t had the right lamb.
And let me tell you, this perfect grilled rack of lamb will convert any non-lamb lovers right over to the other side.
Prepare to be amazed.
What you need to make this recipe
- Dijon Mustard – make sure you use a good quality dijon mustard for the best flavor!
- Salt and Pepper – brings out the flavors of the other ingredients and adds just a touch of spice to the marinade.
- Rosemary – I use fresh rosemary for the best flavor. Be sure to chop it well before adding it to the rub.
- Brown Sugar – gives a touch of sweetness to the meat to offset the spicy tanginess of the other ingredients and the smokiness of the grilled lamb.
- Garlic – I recommend freshly minced garlic for a more vibrant flavor, but if you have pre-minced garlic that will work as well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – gives a subtle tangy flavor and works into the meat to create a more tender texture.
- Lamb – you’ll need two racks of lamb, frenched.
How to make the perfect grilled rack of lamb
First, be sure to clean and oil your grill, then preheat for indirect heat by building a fire only on one side of the grill.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, pepper, rosemary, brown sugar, garlic, and apple cider vinegar.
Rub the spice mixture liberally over the racks of lamb and then let it rest for 20 minutes.
Next, place the lamb, fat side down, on the hot side of the grill and allow grill marks to appear. This will take anywhere from 3-6 minutes. Transfer the lamb to the cooler side of the grill, fat side up, and cook for another 15-25 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 130. The overall thickness and weight of your rack will determine how long this takes.
Remove from the grill, wrap in foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
How to buy rack of lamb
When you’re looking for rack of lamb at the store, look for a rack that has been frenched. That means it has been trimmed with the top of the bones cleaned of meat. If you want a slightly cheaper option, you can buy a whole, untrimmed rack and do the trimming yourself. This will just require a little more work for you.
As far as the amount goes, that depends on how many people you’re serving. I usually plan on 2-3 chops per person and then buy accordingly!
How long should you grill rack of lamb?
In this recipe, I grilled the lamb on the hot side of the grill for 3-6 minutes, then for an additional 15-25 minutes on the cooler side.
The exact amount of time will depend on how well-cooked you like your lamb, which is best determined by the internal temperature. Here are my rough guidelines for doneness:
- Rare: 115-120ºF
- Medium-Rare: 120-125ºF
- Medium: 130-135ºF
- Medium-Well: 140-145ºF
- Well-Done: 150-155ºF
Tips, tricks, and notes for this recipe
- Let the lamb rest before you cook it. After you rub the spice mixture over the lamb, let it sit for 20 minutes before you grill it. This allows the vinegar to begin breaking down the meat and the flavors to soak in for better taste and texture.
- Sear on direct heat first. The first 3-6 minutes over direct heat sears the lamb which locks in the moisture and flavor and creates that rich crust on the exterior of the meat.
- Let the lamb rest after you cook it. This gives the juices and flavor time to settle back into the meat. If you cut into it right away, the moisture could run out and you’ll lose a ton of flavor.
- If the lamb isn’t quite as crispy as you prefer, you can broil it for a bit after you grill it to crisp it up a little more.
What to serve with rack of lamb
I love to serve rack of lamb roast next to a couple of delicious side dishes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Cayenne Maple Roasted Veggies
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Herb and Bacon Cottage Cheese Biscuits
How to store
Leftover grilled rack of lamb will last wrapped in foil in the fridge for up to 3 days. To freeze cooked lamb, divide it into smaller portions, wrap it in cling wrap followed by foil, then place it into a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To reheat, thaw if frozen, then warm on a sheet pan under a broiler for 2-4 minutes or in the microwave until warmed through.
What’s the difference between Lamb and Mutton?
Mutton, which is often described as ‘gamey’ and finds itself much less preferred, is a little older when slaughtered and was a staple of the food we used for our soldiers in World War II. That ‘gamey’ flavor people talk about is very present in mutton.
That’s right, mutton.
And since the 1940’s the sheep industry in America has been on the decline. There are other reasons as well, but I am sticking to food here.
Bear with me, I am getting somewhere here.
A little about Mutton
Mutton also requires different cooking methods to ensure that it is tender and has a wonderful flavor, not a chewy overpowering mouthfeel.
So, think about it. Your father, grandfather or great-grandfather probably had an awful experience with mutton. And, it wasn’t just mutton, it was canned mutton.
And yes, in the 40’s everything was canned and boiled beyond any point of return, but even I wiggle my nose at the sound of canned mutton. I’d bet your lack of experience with lamb has little to do with it at all, but more about preferences that were established at a very different point in our culinary history and under rather terrible circumstances.
Returning from WW II, most people had no desire to ever eat mutton again. Which means there was an entire generation of young people never exposed to the real deal. It’s the same time that farmers were becoming more rural and big box stores and convenience took over.
Even if there was a chance to try lamb, how would one prepare or safely cook a cut they weren’t familiar with?
Oh, and since it wasn’t on every ranch anymore, at the same time that pork, poultry, and beef harvesting were becoming more efficient, the price tag went up to. Now we have an expensive cut of meat most grandparents believed they didn’t like. It’s easy to see why sales declined. A lot.
Travel outside of the States, and you will see a lot of countries still eating a fair share of it (and mutton). Many global dishes use various cuts of savory stews and braises. I loved the fork-tender meat-filled tagines while in Morocco with fresh fruits and olives.
Australia has its lamb barbecue game on point and their production is rising rapidly (notice the label when you are sourcing your meat). And even in some places here and there throughout the US, it’s starting to make a comeback on regular menus. (Try the sausage. Seriously. Try it.)
So I am issuing a personal challenge: Do some homework. Chat with a local butcher and bring home a cut for an upcoming date night or impromptu friends celebration.
Let’s see if we can make room in our repertoire of recipes for lamb and give it a much-needed second (first?) chance.
More lamb recipes you’ll love
- Cumin Spiced Lamb Meatballs
- Lamb Stuffed Peppers
- Grilled Lamb Chops
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Lamb Burgers
- Turmeric Ground Lamb and Eggs
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Perfect Grilled Rack of Lamb
- 4 tbs good quality dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary chopped
- 1 teaspoon Brown sugar
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
- 2 racks lamb frenched
- Clean and oil your grill. Preheat grill for indirect heat by building a fire only on one side of the grill.
- In a small bowl, whisk the mustard, salt, pepper, rosemary, brown sugar, garlic, and apple cider vinegar together.
- Rub liberally all over the racks of lamb and allow the lamb to rest 20 minutes before grilling.
- When ready to grill, place the lamb, fat side down on the hot side of the grill, and allow grill marks to appear, 3 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer to the cooler side of the grill and cook, lid down, for another 15 to 25 minutes for a temperature of 130 internal.
- Remove from grill, wrap in foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing along the ribs to serve.
- Serve with Cayenne Maple Roasted Veggies