This Rosemary & Garlic Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb is a perfect centerpiece for an elegant holiday dinner without requiring any fussy or difficult skills! Juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked to a medium-rare with a crusty exterior made with garlic, herbs, and lemon zest, this is one of the best cuts of lamb and makes an easy and impressive main dish for entertaining!
Table of Contents
- Roasted Rack of Lamb is Perfect for Holidays & Entertaining!
- What is Frenched Rack of Lamb?
- Rack of Lamb Marinade
- How to Cook Rack of Lamb
- Temperature & Time for Oven Roasted Lamb Rack
- Roasted Rack of Lamb Tips
- What to serve with Frenched Rack of Lamb
- Storing Roasted Lamb Rack
- Rack of Lamb Recipe FAQs
- More Lamb Recipes
- More Special Occasion Recipes
- Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Recipe
A perfectly cooked, medium-rare oven roasted rack of lamb is mouth-wateringly delicious. The individually carved lamb chops are juicy, rosy and so rich and tender. They present beautifully, either plated individually and served to guests or delivered up family style on a carving board or serving platter at the table.
An important thing to remember with lamb is that the flavor of the meat itself is so good that you don't want to go overboard with the seasonings and herbs. They are intended to complement and highlight the flavor of the lamb, rather than overpower and dominate it.
Roasted Rack of Lamb is Perfect for Holidays & Entertaining!
Carved into individual chops, one rack of lamb perfectly portions itself into two chops per person so it's just right for four people. If you have more people at your table, you can easily roast multiple racks of lamb at the same time, then stand them against each other with the ribs crossing for an even more impressive display.
Roasted rack of lamb is a great alternative for Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day or Easter dinner. Honestly, it's probably easier than most of the more traditional alternatives!
And really, why wait for a holiday when rack of lamb is easy enough to be prepared any night of the week? Lamb isn't nearly as popular in the United States as other meat options, but it really should be! It is generally quick and easy to prepare and really versatile!
If you haven't cooked lamb at home before, give this a try and let me know what you think!
What is Frenched Rack of Lamb?
A rack of lamb is one of the best cuts of lamb that comes from the ribs. It's such a wonderful cut of meat that it makes serving a restaurant quality meal at home almost entirely effortless, especially if you buy your rack of lamb already frenched for you.
Frenching is a technique where the rib bones are exposed by cutting away the fat and sinew covering them, and most of the lamb that you will find in many American grocery stores will already come frenched, or you can ask a butcher to do it for you.
But if you want to French a rack of lamb yourself, this tutorial from Simply Recipes has great step-by-step photos to explain the process.
Rack of Lamb Marinade
- Oil - This is the base of the marinade. I like to use olive oil, but you can use your favorite kind.
- Rosemary, Thyme & Garlic - Fresh rosemary, fresh thyme leaves, and fresh garlic cloves are best here for the best results when roasting.
- Lemon - We'll need the zest from 1 lemon, but not the lemon juice.
- Salt & Black Pepper - Use coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor.
Make the herb seasoning ahead of time and marinate the lamb overnight if you would like, or just spread it over the meaty portion of the lamb and let it sit while the lamb comes to room temperature for an hour before roasting.
I like to keep it simple with just olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, some cloves of garlic, and the zest of one lemon.
How to Cook Rack of Lamb
- Prepare and season. Remove the rack of lamb from the refrigerator and place it in a baking dish. Season both sides of the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- Make the marinade. In the bowl of a food processor , combine the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, and lemon zest and pulse until finely chopped. This can be done by hand by finely chopping the garlic and herbs, then stirring into the oil in a small bowl if you do not have a food processor .
- Marinate the lamb. Rub the marinade over the seasoned lamb and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting. Alternatively, you can seal the lamb with the marinade on it, in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container, and return it to the fridge to marinate for up to a day. If refrigerating, be sure to allow the lamb to sit outside of the fridge for an hour to come up to room temperature before roasting.
- Prepare oven and pan. Heat your oven to 450°F. Place the lamb with the fat side up in the roasting pan and roast it for 15 minutes. Rotate the roasting pan to ensure even cooking. Roast it for another 10 minutes for medium-rare meat or 15 minutes for medium doneness.
- Rest, slice, and serve. Transfer the oven roasted rack of lamb to a cutting board. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute, before slicing it into individual chops for serving. Use a sharp knife to slice between the bones, then serve immediately.
Temperature & Time for Oven Roasted Lamb Rack
We enjoy lamb cooked to a perfect medium-rare. For the record, I think rack of lamb is one of the easiest cuts of meat to cook without using a thermometer to check it's temperature just by making sure the oven is properly preheated and cooking according to the times in the recipe below.
But you certainly can use a digital meat thermometer to gauge where your lamb is a temperature scale to determine doneness.
For those who may want their lamb cooked to a different degree of doneness than medium-rare, here is a temperature chart that you will hopefully find helpful:
- Rare: 120-130 degrees F (very red inside still)
- Medium-Rare: 130-140 degrees F (bright pink inside)
- Medium: 140-145 degrees F (light pink inside)
- Medium-Well: 145-150 degrees F (barely any pink left)
- Well-Done: 150-160 degrees F (no pink at all)
Remember that the rack of lamb will need to rest for 10 minutes after you pull it out of the oven so the juices can redistribute. During this time the temperature can continue to rise another 5 degrees or so.
So for example, if I was targeting a final temperature of 130 degrees F for a perfect medium-rare, I would take the lamb out of the oven when it reached 125 degrees F and let it rise the final 5 degrees on it's own before slicing.
Roasted Rack of Lamb Tips
- Rack of lamb weight. The weight of a rack of lamb that is frenched is up to 25-30% less than a rack of lamb that is not. Be mindful of this when buying your rack of lamb.
- Marinate overnight. Make the herb seasoning ahead of time and marinate the lamb overnight for a more intense flavor.
- Frenching the rack of lamb. If you want to French a rack of lamb yourself, this tutorial from Simply Recipes has great step-by-step photos to explain the process.
What to serve with Frenched Rack of Lamb
When planning what to serve with rack of lamb, keep in mind that the main dish itself is rich on its own. Because of that, I like to serve it with vegetables like oven roasted asparagus, baked butternut squash, or the honey steamed broccolini from this post.
Storing Roasted Lamb Rack
If you have any leftovers, let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Rack of Lamb Recipe FAQs
I don't recommend searing your rack of lamb before roasting it in this case. The high oven temperature will actually do the job for you of creating a nice crust around the outside of the lamb and because a rack of lamb has a curved shape it's difficult to get a good sear anyway.
If there is a thick layer of fat on top of your rack of lamb, yes I would recommend trimming it to no more than ¼" thick or it won't render very well. Typically the excess fat will already be trimmed away if your rack of lamb is frenched for you, which is typical for many lamb racks from the store.
No, other than frenching the rack of lamb to clear away some of the fat and gristle that won't be eaten around the bones, you don't want to cut the rack of lamb apart before cooking it for this particular recipe.
This answer depends on how you like your lamb done, but a medium-rare rack of lamb (our preferred degree of doneness) should be cooked to between 130-140 degrees F.
Not at all! The finished rack of lamb cuts like a buttery steak with a steak knife. It should be very tender and not tough at all.
I do not cover the lamb when roasting because exposing the rack of lamb to the high heat from the oven will help sear the outside and get a nice crust. However, if it looks like it is getting too dark on the outside and the internal temperature isn't where you want it yet, you can tent the lamb with a piece of foil to protect it while roasting the rest of the way.
More Lamb Recipes
More Special Occasion Recipes
Looking for the perfect main dish for a special occasion? My Garlic Herb Butter Beef Tenderloin Roast or a Prime Rib Roast with Horseradish Sauce is perfect for a holiday feast or celebratory dinner. For a smaller group, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin is always a hit. And you can't go wrong with my mom's Slow Roasted Oven BBQ Beef Brisket or Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Beef & Lamb
Beef & Lamb
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Oven Roasted Lamb Rack
- 1 rack of lamb typically 8 to 9 ribs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Remove the rack of lamb from the refrigerator and place it in a baking dish. Season both sides of the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- In a food processor, combine the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, and lemon zest and pulse until finely chopped. This can be done by hand by finely chopping the garlic and herbs, then stirring into the oil in a small bowl if you do not have a food processor.
- Rub the marinade over the seasoned lamb and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting so that it will cook evenly. [See Recipe Notes]
- Heat oven to 450°F. Place the lamb with the fat side up on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes before rotating the baking sheet to ensure even cooking and roasting for another 10 minutes for medium-rare meat or 15 minutes for medium doneness (although in my opinion, lamb should is best-served medium-rare).
- Transfer the roasted rack of lamb to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute before slicing it into individual chops for serving. Use a sharp knife to slice between the bones, then serve immediately.
- Storage: Let the meat cool, then store it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.